Libya Shield -- a security provider to USA in Benghazi -- and the AQ flag of jihad. As Hillary Cinton testified last week: The United States has to be "effective in partnering with the non-jihadists, whether they fly a black flag or any other color flag."
At Hillary Clinton's House "Benghazi" hearing last week, Rep. Tom Marino brought up the Library of Congress report "Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile." The August 2012 report was prepared by the Library's Federal Research Division in conjuction with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office's Irregular Warfare Support Program. Marino wanted to know whether the secretary of state had read it.
Clinton replied by talking about the many reports that cross her desk...in other words, no.
Unfortunately, Marino followed up with nothing specific. For example, he could have informed the secretary of state that the report i.d.'s the leader of Libya Shield militia, Wissam bin Hamid, a reported veteran of the Iraq insurgency (Afghanistan, too), as a suspected leader of Al Qaeda in Libya. To be sure, bin Hamid's Libya Shield militia fights and parades under the black flag of Al Qaeda (above), and bin Hamid is a vocal proponent of sharia over all in Libya ("Islamic shariah is a red line. We will not cede one rule of it....") It was Libya Shield members, not incidentally, who met -- squabbled with and delayed -- the small contingent sent to Benghazi from Tripoli on the night of September 11, 2012 (just another security shocker not noted in the Benghazi hearings). In the final cable Amb. Christopher Stevens signed on 9/11/12, bin Hamid is further id'd as having threatened US personnel with withdrawing security from the US compound if a Muslim Brotherhood candidate didn't win upcoming Libyan elections.
Wouldn't it have been logical for Marino and his colleagues to have asked: Mme. Secretary, how can it be that the United States government permitted an out-and-out jihadist, a suspected leader of Al Qaeda in Libya, to provide security for US interests in Benghazi? What were US interests in Benghazi, anyway? Why was Amb. Stevens even there on 9/11/12? In fact, could you explain what American interest is served by the administration's "Arab Spring" policy that allies the US with jihadists?
What difference does it make?! Mme. Secretary might well have responded. Anyway, bin Hamid is merely a former automobile workship owner, -- the NYT said so.
Marino went on to display photos of Al Qaeda flags from protests around the Muslim world, eliciting a classic, if grossly underreported, Clinton response:
“The United States has to be as effective in partnering with the non-jihadists, whether they fly a black flag or any other color flag, to be successful.”
The Secretary of State just declared herself blind to AQ's flag of jihad.
And Congress? It seems eqaully as to the implications of Obama-Clinton policy: that Uncle Sam has furthered the jihad over the course of "Arab Spring," and particularly in Libya and Egypt, with spillover now visible throughout the region.
This logical conclusion is getting pushback from one of the leading busybodies in the world, French "philosopher" Bernard Henri Levy, who credits himself (and made a movie about it) as having singlehandedly connected Libyan "rebels" with France's Sarkozy, who then brought along the UK and the US to join in overthrowing Qadaffi. (He even seems to be right about his role to a shocking extent.) Levy denies any connection between events in Libya and events in Mali and Algeria.
Supposedly, putting an end to Gaddafi’s dictatorship opened Pandora’s box in Africa.
Which would mean that Nicolas Sarkozy, Hillary Clinton, David Cameron, and a few others are supposedly responsible, directly or indirectly, for the rise of Islamism in the Sahel, for the collapse of the failed states of the sub-region, and for the deaths at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria.
Just wait a little longer and, when the time comes to begin complaining about the quagmire in Mali, they will still be to blame.
Ordinarily this argument could be laughed off.
But because imaginations are running wild and all are having their say on the great “destabilization” allegedly resulting from the Libyan intervention, it is vital that we dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
OK, BHL (as he likes to refer to himself): Take your best shot.
1. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was not an after-effect of the assault on Benghazi. It first appeared six years ago, a successor to the old Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which itself was a splinter group of the Armed Islamic Group in Algeria. At that time, it claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombings, savage hostage-takings for ransom, and attacks on airports and embassies. Like many of his lieutenants, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind of the In Amenas operation, is an Algerian national, a veteran of the early days of terrorism who has nothing to do—zero—with Libya.
To be sure, AQIM is mainly comprised of Algerian nationals and it indeed predates the assault on Benghazi. So what? How do those facts prevent events in LIbya, which Levy, improbably enough, helped advance, from energizing and even advancing the jihad in Africa?
Let's see what the LOC August 2012 report, "Al Qaeda in LIbya: A Profle," has to say about AQIM and Libya. The report's preface opens:
This report attempts to assess al Qaeda's presence in LIbya. Al-Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have sought to take advantage of the Libyan Revolution to recruit militants and to reinforce their operational capabilities in an attempt to create a safe haven and possibly to extend their area of operations to Libya.
Sounds like the overthrow of Qaddafi was a boon to all branches of AQ, non?
Reports have indicated that AQSL is seeking to create an al-Qaeda clandestine network in Libya that could be activated in the future to destabilize the government and/or to offer logistical support to al- Qaeda’s activities in North Africa and the Sahel. AQIM has reportedly formed sleeper cells that are probably connected to an al-Qaeda underground network in Libya, likely as a way, primarily, to secure the supply of arms for its ongoing jihadist operations in Algeria and the Sahel. This report discusses how al-Qaeda and its North African affiliate are using communications media and face-to-face contacts to shift the still-evolving post-revolutionary political and social dynamic in Libya in a direction that is conducive to jihad and hateful of the West.
Onto pp. 36-37:
Like AQSL, AQIM has shown great interest in the Libyan Revolution. AQIM’s leaders have praised and congratulated the Libyan rebels for their victory, referring to them as mujahidin and “grandsons” of ‘Umar al-Mukhtar, an anticolonial figure, as a way of linking the Libyan Revolution with anticolonial jihad, which is a central tenet of AQIM’s jihadist discourse. While they called on Libyans to distrust NATO, AQIM’s leaders promised to join in combat only in case of a foreign ground invasion and did not take credit for any participation in the Libyan rebellion, probably in an attempt to demonstrate support without giving the impression of meddling in the internal affairs of the Libyan rebels.71
Probably in line with AQSL’s penchant for secrecy, AQIM has denied any direct involvement in the Libyan rebellion, and its message is inclusive of all rebels. Its apparent intent is to focus on local alliances, likely with militias close to its Islamist paradigm, as a way of extending its safe haven and procuring weapons for its ongoing jihadist operations in Algeria and northern Mali.
For instance, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the AQIM leader in the Sahel, was reportedly in Libya and allegedly attended the al-Qaeda–type parade in Sirt as the guest of Wisam Ben Hamid, the leader of Katiba al-A’hrar Libya [Libya Shield].
What was that about Mokhtar having "zero" -- nussing -- to do with Libya? He was in Libya last spring as Grand Marshal of US security coordinator Wissam bin Hamid's "Al Qaeda-type" parade! Meanwhile, the LOC report goes on:
Belmokhtar was the first AQIM leader to acknowledge the Libyan Revolution’s advantages for his organization, specifically in terms of procurement of weapons, and the two movements share a commitment to jihad for the sake of establishing the rule of God on earth.72
That would be "Allah," by the way. And this is the common thread, the thread of jihad, that Hillary Clinton and Monsieur Levy close their eyes to. NATO made war in Libya believing that eliminating Qaddafi (like eliminating Mubarak in Egypt) would unleash Western(ish) values yearning to be free, or something. This same see-no-Islam view led us to expect the same basic thing to take place in the wake of "the surge" in Iraq and nation-building in Afghanistan. (Wrong again.) You can actually see the nub of this Libyan policy taking shape in Wikileaks cables written by the late Christopher Stevens in 2008, which begin to feature the particularly eastern Libyan desire to remove Qaddafi as a means to neutralize local "radicalism." (Eastern Libya sent more jihadists to fight Americans in Iraq per capita than anywhere in the world.) The elimination of Qaddafi pleased the "radicals" of eastern Libya, all right, but eliminating Qaddafi didn't eliminate jihad. On the contrary, it served jihad, which now continues, energized. And now they run from it -- Levy denying it outright, Mrs. Clinton now talking "spreading jihadist threat" like she's been a tough guy all along. Obama ... saying nothing.
The LOC report continues:
...al-Qaeda’s clandestine network in Libya will probably continue to provide critical support to AQIM, especially with regard to arms procurement and safe passage of militants, which are essential to sustain AQIM’s war in northern Mali. These arms and militants are critically needed to maintain the strategic advance that AQIM and its allies, the Movement of Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) and Ansar-Din (Supporters of the Religion), achieved when they expelled the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (local name for the territory historically inhabited by the Tuareg) from the main cities in the north of Mali in June 2012. Since then, AQIM and its allies have controlled the northern two-thirds of Mali, and the region has become an autonomous land in which terrorists roam, train, and plot.
More, alas, to come.