A Canadian intelligence report written in late 2009 called the anti-Gaddafi stronghold of eastern Libya an “epicentre of Islamist extremism” and said “extremist cells” operated in the region, now being defended by a Canadian-led NATO coalition.
The report by the government’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre said “several Islamist insurgent groups” were based in eastern Libya and mosques in Benghazi were urging followers to fight in Iraq.
“Within the region, the population holds more conservative views compared to the rest of Libya and Islamist activism is strongly concentrated,” said the report labelled ‘‘secret’’ and released to the National Post under the Access to Information Act.
Concerns about the composition of the rebels began to surface Tuesday as the U.S., Britain, and Qatar said they would consider arming the rebels and NATO was to take charge of the coalition air campaign over Libya.
U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said there were “flickers” of al-Qaeda in the Libyan opposition. But he added there was no sign they were a significant component of the group that would replace Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
He called the opposition “responsible men and women who are struggling against Col. Gaddafi.” CNN quoted an unnamed counterterrorism official who said there was probably “a sprinkling of extremists to perhaps include al-Qaeda” in the rebels, “but no one should think the opposition is being led by al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates.”
But just over a year ago, the Canadian government, in an intelligence assessment written at the request of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, raised concerns about Islamists in eastern Libya.
“There are a number of small, independent extremist cells operating in the eastern regions of Libya that have no affiliation to other established terrorist groups,” said the report, Terrorist Threat to Canadian Interests in Libya.
It downplayed direct links to al-Qaeda but said the terror group was an influence. “Many Libyan extremists who have been detained claimed to be influenced by al-Qaeda, but do not appear to have direct links to al-Qaeda core in Pakistan.”
Can we just get over the hang-up with brand names once and for all? "Al Qaeda" may be the marqee name for jihad, but any believer in Islam can set up a franchise. In case anyone hasn't noticed, we are deep into a cycle of expansionst Islam, which means an active jihad is underway to spread Islamic law -- quickly and violently like these disparate terror groups, or more slowly and "respectably" (through mosque construction or financial & academic payola, for example) like Saudi Arabia.
But our leaders are clueless, wrangling over nonsense:
Libyan opposition leaders met in London in Tuesday with Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, and David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, who signaled they would allow Col. Gaddafi to seek exile, rather than face a war crimes tribunal.
“We are examining very closely the content, composition, the personalities, who are the leaders of these opposition forces,” Adm. Stavridis testified at a Senate hearing. “We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al-Qaeda, Hezbollah.”...
Blah, blah, blah. Any flickers of intelligence potential in our leaders?