Ex-CIA officer points to al-Qaeda banners appearing in Libya
November 14, 2011 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Amidst the excitement in the West over the toppling of the late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, few have been paying attention at the frequent appearances of the al-Qaeda banner in locations around Libya. The characteristic black flag bears the Arabic inscription of the shahada, the Islamic creed, which states that “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger [prophet]”. Within hours following the official pronouncement of the lynching of Colonel Gaddafi, al-Qaeda banners were flying over the de facto headquarters of Libya’s US-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) in Benghazi, as well as in numerous other locations around the North African country. There have even been reports of threats leveled against reporters who were observed trying to photograph or film the unmistakable banners. Former CIA covert operations officer Charles Faddis, who spent several years working in the Middle East, has penned a new article urging Western policy makers to stop viewing the NTC as a force promoting some sort of Western-type democratic administration in Libya. Undoubtedly, he says, some NTC members do “wish for a Libya with a Western style democratic government”. But the NTC is an umbrella group bringing together “individuals from many walks of life in the opposition”, he says, including fighters motivated primarily by tribal and regional loyalties, as well as Islamist activists guided by distinctly conservative interpretations of the Qur’an. One such activist is Mustafa Abdul Jalil, leader of the NTC, who in his historic celebratory speech following the formal end of the civil war, told ecstatic supporters that, from now on, Libya would be “an Islamic state”, and that all legal provisions that conflicted with the Sharia —Qur’anic law— would be invalidated. Since that day, there have been reports of beauty salons closing and of women being forced to wear the hijab, says Faddis. The former CIA officer, who led the first covert CIA team into Iraq in preparation for the 2003 US invasion, also notes the al-Qaeda links of the NTC’s most prominent military commander, Abd al-Hakim Belhaj. Belhaj currently commands Tripoli’s Military Council, which controls the capital and the country’s major international airport. He is the former commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which merged with al-Qaeda in 2007. Where does all this leave the NTC’s Western supporters? Faddis argues in favor of a “hard, objective, clear-eyed appraisal of the forces at work” in Libya, and advises for the “need to ensure that we see the world as it is and not simply as we wish it to be”.