BENGHAZI (Reuters/AFP) - A Libyan Salafi group which has denied it was involved in a deadly assault on the American consulate in Benghazi said on Tuesday Libya would turn into “an inferno for US troops” if the US military retaliated.

Yousef Jehani, a senior member of Ansar al-Sharia, told Reuters that the armed group, which espouses an austere form of Islam, wanted to avoid confrontation but was ready for a showdown if Washington acted “foolishly”.

Any US military intervention could push Libyans to wage a holy war, or “jihad”, to defend their nation, said Jehani, whose group is a powerful force in Benghazi, a stronghold for Islamists and cradle of the revolution which toppled Muammar Gaddafi last year.

“If one US soldier arrives, not for the purpose of defending the embassy, but to repeat what happened in Iraq or Afghanistan, be sure that all battalions in Libya and all Libyans will put aside all their differences and rally behind one goal of hitting America and Americans,” Jehani said.

Libya closed its air space over Benghazi airport temporarily due to heavy anti-aircraft fire by Islamists aiming at US reconnaissance drones flying over the city, days after the US ambassador and three other Americans died in the attack.

“We are against the killing of the ambassador as he has not committed a crime to be killed for but if America uses this as an excuse, Libya will be an inferno for US troops,” Jehani said, adding that his group was “highly” prepared.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, some Libyan officials and foreign analysts have pointed the finger at the Salafi group.

Egypt’s public prosecutor on Tuesday ordered that seven US-based Egyptian Copts be tried over their role in an anti-Islam film that sparked violent clashes around the world, his office said.

The seven - Adel Riad, Morris Sadek, Nabil Bissada, Esmat Zaklama, Elia Bassily, Ihab Yaacoub and Jack Atallah - were accused of “insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the holy Prophet and inciting sectarian strife.” The prosecution said they were involved in either the production or the distribution of the film. No trial date has yet been set.

A court in Egypt also jailed an Egyptian Christian for six years for mocking the holy Prophet and for insulting Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on social networking sites, a judicial source said. Beheiry, a teacher, was sentenced to an additional two years for insulting Morsi and one year for insulting the person who brought a lawsuit against him over the cartoons.

Meanwhile, the Muslims from all over the world remained on protesting against the anti-Islam movie, which flamed the sentiments of the Muslims.

Hundreds of Muslims, many carrying placards and chanting “Down with America”, rallied outside the US embassy in Bangkok Tuesday, as protests over an anti-Islam film spread to the Thai capital.

Defying heavy rain and a big police presence, around 400 protesters massed outside the US embassy, which was shut in advance of the rally, an AFP reporter said. Holding banners in Thai, Arabic and English and flags the crowd shouted “Down with America” and called for the director of the incendiary film to be punished.