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Libya's future!

Interesting Article: "Libya: The New Al-Qaeda Stronghold" by Frank Crimi / Washington, DC published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

An interesting article mentioned that According to Western counter-terrorism officials, al-Qaeda terrorists have established a 200-strong fighting force near the Egyptian border in eastern Libya. The creation of the al-Qaeda unit comes at the same time as the Libyan interim government is threatened by a growing internecine conflict among Libya’s myriad group of armed rebel militias. The jihadists are purportedly led by a veteran al-Qaeda fighter known simply as “AA,” a terrorist insurgent who began his terror career fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan before coming to Britain to recruit Muslims for al-Qaeda. Most of these insurgents have been members of the al-Qaeda affiliate, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Founded in 1995 to wage jihad against the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, the LIFG officially joined Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network in 2007. A little more on this story…

Not too surprisingly then, many Libyans with al-Qaeda ties continue to pepper the leading ranks of Libya’s interim government, the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). The most notable al-Qaeda alum serving in the NTC is Abd al-Hakim Belhadj, head of the powerful Tripoli Military Council and former emir of the LIFG. In addition to having to deal with al-Qaeda in Libya, Libya is also plagued by North Africa’s other al-Qaeda terror group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has used the chaos in Libya to acquire some of the Gadhafi regime’s most powerful and deadly weapons. Their success in this endeavor has prompted one AQIM leader to boast that AQIM had been “one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world. As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.” The threat these groups pose to the security of the interim government is being witnessed in the increasing frequency in which these groups are engaging each other in armed conflict. The most recent of these fights took place 50 miles south of the capital of Tripoli when fighters from the town of Gharyan engaged in machine gun and rocket attacks with a militia from al-Asabia, 10 miles to the southwest, an encounter which left several dead and wounded. Throughout the country, Libyans are discovering that their hard fought battle to win freedoms is at risk. Puritanical Muslims known as Salafis are applying a rigid form of Islam in more and more communities. They have clamped down on the sale of alcohol and demolished the tombs of saints where many local people worship. The small town of Zuwara near the Tunisian border, dominated by a heterodox Muslim sect despised by the Salafis, is quickly becoming the battlefield for competing visions of Libya's future. Throughout Libya, Gaddafi's fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even hoisted the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. In the capital of Tripoli, Salafis have destroyed more than six shrines. In one incident, dozens swarmed mausoleums belonging to two Muslim mystics and dug up their bodies so that worshippers could no longer visit their tombs. They also burned the relics around the shrines. What is scary is that Al Qaeda's leadership has sent experienced jihadists to Libya in an effort to build a fighting force there, according to a Libyan source briefed by Western counter-terrorism officials. The source describes "AA" as committed to al Qaeda's global cause and to attacking U.S. interests. The source told CNN that the al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, personally dispatched the former British detainee to Libya earlier this year as the Gadhafi regime lost control of large swathes of the country. A good source for TIME magazine said it well in describing these jihadists, the diplomat who traveled to Derna quoted a local businessman who had "likened young men in the town to Bruce Willis' character in the action picture 'Die Hard,' who stubbornly refused to die quietly. For them, resistance against coalition forces in Iraq is an important act of 'jihad' and a last act of defiance against the Gadhafi regime." High youth unemployment, discrimination by the Gadhafi regime and the influence of veteran Libyan jihadists from Afghanistan all played a role in radicalizing a new generation. As I stated before, Libya will not be Tunisia.



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