Ji­hadists plot to take over post-gad­hafi Libya

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

Ji­hadists among the Libyan rebels re­vealed plans two weeks ago on the In­ter­net to sub­vert the post-Moam­mar Gad­hafi govern­ment and cre­ate an Is­lamist state, ac­cord­ing to U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies.

U.S. of­fi­cials said spy agen­cies are step­ping up sur­veil­lance of Is­lamist-ori­ented el­e­ments among Libyan rebels. A govern­ment re­port cir­cu­lated Sept. 6 said ex­trem­ists were ob­served “strate­giz­ing” on In­ter­net fo­rums about how to set up an Is­lamist state in Libya af­ter the regime of Col. Gad­hafi is de­feated.

“Sev­eral fo­rum par­tic­i­pants have sug­gested that, fol­low­ing a tran­si­tional stage, the bat­tle should turn against sec­u­lar­ist rebels and mem­bers of the [rebels’] Tran­si­tional National Coun­cil,” the un­clas­si­fied re­port stated.

Some U.S. of­fi­cials sought to play down the re­marks by not­ing that such In­ter­net post­ings are not al­ways ac­cu­rate mea­sures of ji­hadist plans.

The re­port said the ji­hadists’ strength and in­flu­ence on the ground “are un­cer­tain at this time.”

How­ever, the re­port said the ji­hadist plot­ting co­in­cided with the high-pro­file emer­gence of Abu Ab­dal­lah al-Sadiq, a former leader of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Is­lamic Fight­ing Group (LIFG) and now a lead­ing rebel. He is cur­rently known as Ab­del Hakim al-Khu­lidi Bel­haj and led rebels in over­run­ning Col. Gad­hafi’s Tripoli com­pound.

A U.S. of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with in­tel­li­gence re­ports on the re­gion said there are con­cerns that some LIFG mem­bers re­main com­mit­ted to al Qaeda and oth­ers may be tem­po­rar­ily re­nounc­ing their ties to the ter­ror­ist group for “show.”

“Some mem­bers of LIFG in the past had con­nec­tions with al Qaeda in Su­dan, Afghanistan or Pak­istan, and oth­ers dropped their re­la­tion­ship with al Qaeda en­tirely,” the of­fi­cial said.

“It seems — from their state­ments and sup­port for es­tab­lish­ing a democ­racy in Libya — that this fac­tion of LIFG does not sup­port al Qaeda. We’ll def­i­nitely be watch­ing to see whether this is for real or just for show.”

A de­fense of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with ji­hadist strat­egy said Is­lamists likely will emerge in power from the tur­moil ex­pected af­ter the demise of the Gad­hafi regime and the West will be partly to blame.

“We’re help­ing pave the way for them” through NATO airstrikes and other sup­port, he said.

About 1,000 ji­hadists are op­er­at­ing covertly in Libya, No­man Benot­man, a former Libyan al Qaeda mem­ber, told The Washington Times in March.

Ac­cord­ing to a trans­la­tion of the fo­rum ex­changes, Libyan Is­lamists view the fall of Tripoli to rebels as the ini­tial phase of a bat­tle to take over the coun­try.

Ji­hadists were urged to pre­pare for the next stage in the bat­tle: tak­ing on sec­u­lar rebels and the in­terim National Tran­si­tional Coun­cil, some­times called the Tran­si­tional National Coun­cil, the sec­u­lar po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion that is mainly pro-demo­cratic.

The ji­hadists want to set up an Is­lamist state ruled by Shariah law.

A ji­hadist writ­ing as Asuli Mu­tatari, stated on the Shu­mukh al-Is­lam Net­work fo­rum that “the real war will be fought af­ter the fall of the tyrant [Col. Gad­hafi] and af­ter the es­tab­lish­ment of a tran­si­tional demo­cratic sys­tem.”

A ji­hadist writ­ing as Asuli Mu­tatari stated on the Shu­mukh al-Is­lam Net­work fo­rum that “the real war will be fought af­ter the fall of the tyrant [Col. Gad­hafi] and af­ter the es­tab­lish­ment of a tran­si­tional demo­cratic sys­tem.” “Af­ter the awak­en­ing, we will fight those out­side the [Is­lamic] law,” he wrote.

“Af­ter the awak­en­ing, we will fight those out­side the [Is­lamic] law,” he stated.

An­other fo­rum post­ing urged Is­lamists to “quickly take con­trol of cities with eco­nomic re­sources and strate­gic lo­ca­tions and es­tab­lish Is­lamic courts there.”

A ji­hadist iden­ti­fied as Abu Abra’ al-Muqadas said the National Tran­si­tional Coun­cil must be neu­tral­ized be­cause it will never al­low any­one call­ing for an Is­lamic state to be part of the new govern­ment.

“They know that merely sug­gest­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion of Is­lamic law will cause Western coun­tries to stop their sup­port,” he said.

A post­ing by a fo­rum mem­ber named Gul­lam Ashab al-Akhud said the National Tran­si­tional Coun­cil should be liq­ui­dated and re­placed by a tran­si­tional coun­cil of Is­lamic Salafi ji­hadi schol­ars in Libya.

A sec­ond In­ter­net fo­rum, Ana al-Mus­lim, quoted Ay­oub alJaza’iry as say­ing that thou­sands of Is­lamists in Libya have been trained by al Qaeda and are “work­ing silently in sleeper cells.” He warned ji­hadists to keep a low pro­file to avoid alert­ing the United States to its power.

Some of the ji­hadists crit­i­cized NATO mil­i­tary sup­port to the rebels and said post-Gad­hafi Libya should not al­low out­side as- sis­tance. Some also urged the as­sas­si­na­tions of sec­u­lar National Tran­si­tional Coun­cil lead­ers.

Mo­hamed al-Jaza’iry stated on the Ana al Mus­lim Net­work that the next phase of the rev­o­lu­tion should be the ex­pul­sion of for­eign bases and re­duc­tion of for­eign in­flu­ence.

“The Libyan peo­ple must [. . . ] turn their guns on the Cru­sader oc­cu­piers, along with col­lab­o­ra­tors and traitors,” he added.

The com­ments re­flect an in­crease in Is­lamist rhetoric since the fall of Tripoli, but the num­ber of hard-line Is­lamist and the ex­tent of their in­flu­ence or con­trol is not known, the re­port said.

A Dec. 9, 2009, cable made pub­lic by the anti-se­crecy web­site Wik­iLeaks re­vealed that the Gad­hafi regime re­leased more than 200 ji­hadists, in­clud­ing half of the im­pris­oned LIFG mem­bers, af­ter they pub­licly re­nounced vi­o­lence and claimed to have adopted a new code for ji­had. The move was an ini­tia­tive by Col. Gad­hafi’s son Seif al­Is­lam and the Gad­hafi In­ter­na­tional Char­ity and De­vel­op­ment Foun­da­tion.

Skep­tics dis­missed the ef­fort as a tem­po­rary shift in tac­tics for the ji­hadists in ex­change for win­ning their re­lease from de­ten­tion.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TOGRAPHS

Thank­ing Al­lah: A Libyan rebel prays Sept. 4 out­side a com­plex where rock­ets and shells were found. In­ter­net post­ings by ji­hadists among the rebels re­veal plot­ting to cre­ate an Is­lamic state.

Rebel fight­ers cel­e­brate in the desert out­side a mil­i­tar y base near Bani Walid, Libya, on Sept. 3. The U.S. has stepped up sur veil­lance of el­e­ments of the rebel forces in­ter­ested in set­ting up an Is­lamist state.

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