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Al Qaeda larger influence in Libya than originally reported!

Interesting Article: Benghazi: A Sea of Al-Qaeda Flags by JOHN ROSENTHAL / DC published Saturday, November 5, 2011

According to a recent entry in the National Review, the emergence of images of a black al-Qaeda flag flying atop the Benghazi courthouse, the symbolic cradle of Libya’s anti-Qaddafi rebellion, has provoked hasty efforts at damage control by defenders of the rebellion and the new Libyan order. Pictorial evidence posted on an Arabic-language Islamic Internet forum reveals that the Benghazi waterfront was in fact covered by a veritable sea of al-Qaeda flags last week: both the “classic” black version and a more novel white one. What is commonly known as the al-Qaeda flag was reportedly first used by the late Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq. The Arabic script represents the Islamic shahada or declaration of faith: “There is no god but God [Allah], and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” The script that appears on the Libyan flags is slightly different in style from that on the “original” Iraqi ones. The design is identical. The Middle East Media Research Institute has posted a two-minute-long video clip, dated October 25, that shows a parade of vehicles in Libya flying the al-Qaeda flag. The exact location is not given, but it appears also to be Benghazi. The images of the “vehicle parade” are followed by images of a traditional march in which demonstrators chanting “Allahu Akbar!” can likewise be seen flying the flag. So is this al Qaeda's first time in Libya?

As was pointed out in the Los Angeles Times, the intelligence community has poor collection inside Libya and the real answer it should be giving is: “We don’t know.” This is actually not al Qaeda's first time in Libya. In fact, Were it not for the deficiencies of reporting on Libya in the mainstream Western media, the appearance of al-Qaeda flags in the capital of the anti-Qaddafi rebellion should come as no surprise. As shown by the captured al-Qaeda personnel records known as the “Sinjar Records,” the eastern Libyan heartland of the anti-Qaddafi rebellion was one of the major sources of the foreign recruits that joined al-Qaeda in Iraq to fight against American and coalition forces. Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, a leading military commander of the rebellion on the Eastern front, has admitted to personally recruiting many of the Libyan al-Qaeda members and that some of them returned to Libya to participate in the “jihad” against Qaddafi. Al Hasadi, who he is in charge of defending Derna, stated in a recent interview with the Il Sole, an Italian publication: “I have never been to Guantanamo. I was captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan where I fought against the foreign invasion. I was handed over to the Americans, and held for a few months in Islamabad, delivered to Libya, and released in 2008." Libya has been an exporter of jihadists for decades, and especially since September 11, 2001. So, we know a jihadist infrastructure exists there. In particular, Derna, in eastern Libya, is a hotbed for Islamic extremism. And the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a known al Qaeda affiliate, has a longstanding presence in the country. This doesn’t inspire confidence. While dismissing his ties to al Qaeda and condemning the September 11 attacks, al Hasadi concedes that he fought in Afghanistan, sent 25 more jihadists to fight in Iraq, and calls al Qaeda members “good Muslims.” And as John Rosenthal stated, al Hasadi praised Osama bin Laden’s “good points” during an interview with The New York Times. Given his jihadist ties and double-speak on al Qaeda, how can the U.S. intelligence community be so sure that al Hasadi and his ilk are not part of an “organized” al Qaeda-affiliated (or like-minded jihadist) “presence…among the Libyan opposition”? Al-Hasadi's account is largely confirmed by investigations conducted by Praveen Swami, the diplomatic editor of the British daily The Telegraph. Swami originally wrote about al-Hasadi's background in the Afghan jihad in a March 21 column. Swami was able to obtain confirmation of al-Hasadi's arrest and transfer to Libya from what he describes as a "senior source" in the Afghan government. With the fall of Gaddafi, we must be careful that players like al Hasadi, do not play both sides, with the final victory being handed to al Qaeda.



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