The fall of Muammar Gaddafi is making some in the West giddy with the usual “Arab Spring” wishful visions of democracy and freedom flourishing throughout the Muslim Middle East, even as the last binge of democratic intoxication, the fall of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, has left the hangover of a newly empowered Muslim Brotherhood, increasing assaults on Christian Copts, growing anti-Americanism, and terrorist attacks on Israel originating in Egypt and including Egyptian citizens among the attackers. And now, according to DEBKAfile, we may see Libya heading in the same anti-Western, Islamist direction.
“Members of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – LIFG, are in control of the former strongholds of Muammar Qaddafi captured by Libyan rebels last Sunday,” DEBKAfile reports. “They are fighting under the command of Abd Al-Hakim Belhadj, an al Qaeda veteran from Afghanistan whom the CIA captured in Malaysia in 2003 and extradited six years later to Libya where Qaddafi held him in prison. Belhadj is on record as rejecting any political form of coexistence with the Crusaders excepting jihad.” Despite the media’s depiction of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) as a coherent, controlling leadership structure, it is unclear who controls Tripoli at this point, the NTC, or the LIFG, and it is doubtful that the NTC will in the future be able (assuming they are willing) to control or disarm the Islamist outfits.
Worse yet, in addition to being armed with weapons looted from Gaddafi’s weapons depots, the fighters in Tripoli succeeded in capturing the compound because they were given advanced weapons by British and French special operations forces, in addition to U.S.-supplied intelligence. As DEBKA concludes, “Tripoli’s institutions of government have wound up in the hands of fighting Islamist brigades belonging to al Qaeda, who are now armed to the teeth with the hardware seized from Qaddafi’s arsenals. No Western or Libyan military force can conceive of dislodging the Islamists from the Libyan capital in the foreseeable future.” And let’s not forget the remnants of Libya’s WMD program––including 10 tons of mustard gas and dumps of raw nuclear fuel––that we are depending on the NTC to secure, on the assumption that the NTC actually is in control of the country. This is the same TNC, by the way, that has just announced it will not hand over Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.
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