How would Americans feel if they knew the Obama administration just agreed to hand people affiliated with a designated terrorist group a $30 billion dollar check and recognize them as the legitimate rulers of Libya?
Things weren’t looking so good for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group back in 2004 when they were designated a foreign terrorist group by the State Department. In chilling testimony, then-CIA Director George Tenet warned the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 that even if Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda was completely destroyed, “a global network of Islamic extremists bent on killing Americans had emerged.” Tenet listed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) as one of those groups.
In 2007, the LIFG formally joined al-Qaeda, an event so well documented that even Reuters covered it. Its goals, which it is now close to achieving thanks to airpower help from President Obama and NATO, include killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, setting up an Islamic caliphate in Libya and waging international jihad.
The known leaders of the Libyan rebel forces on the ground are all former LIFG fighters, some with documented personal connections to al-Qaeda. The Transitional National Council, which the Obama administration recognized last week as the official government of Libya, is packed with pro-LIFG activists, lawyers who have advocated for imprisoned LIFG fighters, and Islamic scholars from LIFG strongholds.
Something smells strongly of jihad here.
What Americans have been told about Libya is that there were some protests, some people rebelled, and Gaddafi started killing them, so we had to intervene. The media never got around to explaining that the people behind the “Day of Rage” protests in Libya that kicked off the civil war were supporters of the more than 1,000 LIFG fighters who were killed in a prison massacre in 1995 by Gaddafi after they attempted an uprising. Gaddafi had jailed them to halt their jihadist takeover of the country and save his own skin.
The LIFG has waged jihad against American forces before. Documents captured by allied forces in 2007 show LIFG fighters made up the second-largest cohort of jihadists battling in Iraq, after Saudi Arabia. After that, it appears that many of their military leaders transferred their expertise to Libya.
Gaddafi is a brutal dictator with a long history of support for terror, but his ruthless zeal for taking out the LIFG and their fellow jihadists in the post-9/11 era was one of the reasons he was able to forge a relationship with the U.S. during the Bush administration.
But that was then. In a bizarre twist that defies explanation, under Obama, Gaddafi’s repression of LIFG sympathizers and allied jihadist rebel groups—the very people Tenet once warned us about—is now being used by NATO and the Obama administration to justify taking Gaddafi out and turning over the country’s wealth to the LIFG-connected leadership.
Over the past few years, Gaddafi made a series of fatal errors. As part of a goodwill gesture aimed at quieting civil unrest in the deeply Islamic eastern part of the country, the Gaddafi family released hundreds of imprisoned LIFG fighters. They immediately took up arms against his regime, declaring the eastern part of the county an Islamic caliphate. Gaddafi had largely beaten the rebels and their sympathizers into submission when the unthinkable happened and the U.S. and NATO decided to intervene on their behalf, not his.
Allegedly, this was to save some civilians or something.
Oddly though, one of the first things the U.S.-led coalition did when it invaded Libya in March was to help the rebels capture the oil fields. If Libya’s radical Islamists can get their hands on that oil revenue, they will control oil fields capable of generating $34 billion worth of black gold a year. You can sure fund a lot of jihad with that.
Earlier this year, a debate broke out over whether there were al-Qaeda fighters in the rebel ranks. The answer the Washington establishment settled on was that there were “flickers” here and there.
But everyone was asking the wrong question.
A better question would have been about the extent to which LIFG fighters were leading the ground battle.
It is well-documented that a handful of former Gaddafi military leaders oversaw the rebellion in Libya. But the actual training of troops and fighting on the ground was largely led by LIFG veteran fighters fresh from battling U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among them were LIFG veteran fighters such as Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, who has admitted to fighting allied forces in Afghanistan and was turned over to Libya by the U.S. after his capture in 2002.
His field commander on the front lines, Salah al-Barrani, is also a well-known LIFG fighter. Before serving as a Libyan rebel commander, former Guantanamo inmate Sufyan Ben Qumu, who was transferred to Libya in 2007, was named to the military committee of the LIFG in between stints training with al-Qaeda and fighting alongside the Taliban.
Fewer than half of the 33 members of the Transitional National Council (TNC), which the LIFG-led rebels now say they answer to, are even publicly known. The rest have gone unnamed, supposedly to protect their families. Several of those who are known have ties to or were supporters of the LIFG, did legal work for LFG fighters or advocated on their behalf when they were repressed by Gaddafi.
A graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies who did an extensive technical analysis of the new Libyan leadership warned that the radical Islamists are now one of three groups vying for power among the Obama-recognized Libyan leadership, and that TNC members already sympathetic to them might ally themselves with the radical jihadists to grow their power.
At stake? Again, $30 billion in Gaddafi-frozen assets that the U.S. promised to turn over to the TNC, and Libya’s oil.
Senior militants in online chat rooms monitored by the West seem to know the score, and are urging a patient, long-term approach rather than a quick revolution, The Australian reports: “One forum leader warns that declaring an Islamic emirate in Libya would prompt a Western invasion, and stresses instead that they should build up their military forces, ‘educate the people’ on the need for an Islamic state, ‘and then declare the emirate, with weapons, economy and a people ready to fight for Allah.’”
That should be no problem with the billions provided by Obama and NATO to fund it all.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter