Al Qaeda in the New Libya

Well, this sure is interesting. Hipster-ey magazine/website, Vice, is doing some firsthand reporting on ‘the new Libya’ that seems to confirm Western concerns about hard core Islamists and members of al Qaeda hijacking the movement to build a new Libya.

Vice reporter Sherif Elhelwa, penned this article showing what may be the al Qaeda flag flying alongside the National Transitional Council’s flag over the courthouse in Benghazi that was long the seat of the rebel movement.

Keep in mind that this is Vice; they admit they’re not trying to be the New York Times or Wall Street Journal with their journalistic standards, so we’ll take the reporting with a grain of salt.

Nevertheless, here’s what Elhelwa writes about post-Gadhafi libya:

Earlier this week, I went to the Benghazi courthouse and confirmed the rumors: an al Qaeda flag was clearly visible; its Arabic script declaring that “there is no God but Allah” and a full moon underneath. When I tried to take pictures, a Salafi-looking guard, wearing a green camouflage outfit, rushed towards me and demanded to know what I was doing. My response was straightforward: I was taking a picture of the flag. He gave me an intimidating look and hissed, “Whomever speaks ill of this flag, we will cut off his tongue. I recommend that you don’t publish these. You will bring trouble to yourself.”

He followed me inside the courthouse, but luckily my driver Khaled was close by, and interceded on my behalf. According to Khaled, the guard had angrily threatened to harm me. When I again engaged him in conversation, he told me “this flag is the true flag of Islam,” and was unresponsive when I argued with him that historically Islam has never been represented by a single flag. The guard claimed repeatedly that there is no al Qaeda in Libya, and that the flag flying atop the courthouse is “dark black,” while the al Qaeda flag is charcoal black. To many locals, it’s a distinction without a difference. One man approached me with a friendly warning: “I recommend that you leave now; [the Islamist fighters] could be watching you.”

But none of this should be surprising. In Tripoli, Abdelhakim Belhaj, a well-known al Qaeda fighter and founder of the notorious Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), is now leading the rebel “military counsel” in Tripoli. A few weeks ago, Belhaj ordered his fighters to take command of the Tripoli airport, then controlled by a group of Zintan fighters, a brigade of Berber Libyans who helped liberate the capital from Gaddafi loyalists. A few days later, Belhaj gave a speech emphasizing that his actions had the blessings of the NTC, who appointed him to the leadership of Tripoli’s military command.

Comforting, especially when we keep hearing about stockpiles of Gadhafi’s old weapons — including shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles — falling into al Qaeda’s hands.

On that note, happy Friday!

Read the whole article here.

  • mpower6428

    its a little too early to be drawing conclusions about the future of lybia.

  • wqedsd

    C’mon, who didn’t see this one coming.

  • RCDC

    And who started all this?

  • Skyepapa

    Someone with a match and a can of gas.

  • Stephen Russell

    Read during Libyan Civil War of Islamics turning Libya into Islamic state IE surround Israel again.
    Muslim Brotherhood organz (dated to 1920s for origins).

  • So?

    Wonderful! Just wonderful!

  • SJE

    With Qaddaffi gone, all sorts of people will be coming out of the woodwork. Concern is appropriate, but lets not over-react. The danger is that the US over-reacts and gives the Islamists more legitimacy.

    • Nasdaq7

      The US should have declared war and drove the Al Qaeda linked rebels from the country.

      • blight

        Nothing like invading an Arab country to bring out the jihadis. A third country to occupy. I wonder what the “patriots” would say about another “un-necessary war” if they grumble so about a Kosovo-style one.

  • Yes! It is too early to draw any conclusions about Libya’s future and over reacting might make them like us less or even push them into the arms of the radicals. I’m sure if we sit idly by things will work themselves out for the best.

    • SJE

      Who is advocating sitting idle? My concern is we will take any slight sign of something that could, later, evolve into something bad, as a reason for an aggressive US response now.

      I didn’t like Saddam, but was he a serious threat justified 10 years of blood and money for whatever we have now? How great is Afghanistan going? We intervened in Mogadishu, but the most successful and stable areas of Somalia are those where the locals stood up for themselves, and allied forces did mostly reconstruction.

      At some point, we have to recognize our limitations, and be willing to accept that we can’t get everything exactly as we want.

    • blight

      They worked out alright in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo pre-intervention. The poor guys at Prague Spring had things work out for them too. We didn’t intervene to support Fulgenico in Cuba either.

      I’ll be the first one to say intervention is no guarantee that things will go well either (Somalia, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, El Salvador), but intervention saved the remainder of the Republic of China and South Korea and that should count for something.

      • SJE

        Agreed. Another example: the Australian military intervention in East Timor saved many lives.

        I think that it is the nature of the intervention that matters. People are, unsurprisingly, happy to welcome liberators, but are not happy to welcome “invaders.” So, the Australians were not so popular with the Timorese after the Australians pushed for favorable dividing up of oil and gas reserves.

        The USA was clearly invading Germany during WWII, and occupied it, but did so in a way that was seen as benevolent and therefore co-opted German society to the benefit of the USA.

        Another example: the British were very successful in colonizing India while they were more interested in trading, and were willing to leave Indian cultural practices alone. The serious rebellions started after they tried to force British cultural and religious norms on the locals.

  • Nadnerbus

    Islamists are the most organized and well funded political groups in the whole region. It’s not like there as a well funded Muslim ACLU hanging out, waiting to assert power in a vacuum. This is really one of the largest reasons for the last forty or more years of reapolitik and the backing of strongmen. Dictators are nasty, but sometimes you can do business with them. Religious nut jobs and ideological purists not so much.

    Muslim culture in general, and Arab culture in particular need to go through their own turmoil before they will ever move beyond this stuff. I just don’t know if the rest of the world will survive it. We really live in interesting times.

  • Hahahahaha

    Organized? Hahaha, Gadhafi, Assad, Mubarak (our ally) were the peeps who blocked and took out the TERRORISTS in their countries.

    • blight

      Now you see why America built relationships with dictators, because democracy is untidy. Hope people can sleep at night.

  • steve


  • Armchair Warlord

    Wow – an article based on rumor, an argument with a “salafi-looking” guard and finding a jihadist flag strung up in an unofficial fashion on a building festooned with flags.

    News flash – Libyans are pretty devout people, and many conceptualized their struggle against Gaddafi as jihad. Jihadist flags show up sometimes in revolutionary imagery. That does not mean these people are in with Al Qaeda.

  • Zap

    you get what you pay for

  • DhuntAUS

    Well im pretty sure gadafi didnt like islam and that would be while the uprising was so popular. It was pretty obvious from the start. . . . which just gave AQ a country and a military. . . . .

    • blight

      As if they didn’t already have a country.

      More likely than not they have a local sovereignty agenda, and hopefully aren’t going for the whole pan-Muslim-make-a-new-caliphate agenda, because that’ll suck.

  • pedestrian

    I didn’t want to disclose the topic, but there is an Al Qaida member in the high ranking of TNC of Libya.

    • oppervlakkig

      Name? Source?

    • blight

      There are communists in the state department, you hear. I can’t divulge my sources, but they are in Hollywood too.

      • crackedlenses

        They also are quickly retaking Russia; what’s your point?…..

        • blight

          Considering the alternative for the Russian people was kleptocrats who were ex-commies anyways, why is either alternative “better” for “the people”?

          • crackedlenses

            Just because you’re dead if you do or dead if you don’t doesn’t make it a good decision; anyhow, the Russians can see what’s happening. Why don’t they stage their own “Arab spring”?…..

          • blight

            Communism is their Arab spring to kleptocracy. Which was an Arab spring to iron-fisted communism, which was Arab spring to the Russian monarchy.

  • Lance

    Told you this was going to happen. Never should have backed those lousy rebels.

  • Deadeye

    Now that we’ve made Libya & Egypt safe for Islam, who will make it safe for all the rest? :-(

  • Richard Cranium

    Hijacking my Ass, It’s been the Plan from Day one. hey, just look around at
    Washington DC., the white house and go inside the so Called THINK TANK, use
    some common sence and don’t be a doo-doo.

    Richard R. Cranium

  • danielhamlett

    as of fear led dog time as come to look at 911 and the new high jacker at a posed as new theat to the new acomny todays commietiunty to the state issuies stae of law and suipem count thank you daniel hamlett