New York Times readers, meet former automobile workshop owner Wissam bin Hamid
Walter Duranty was an evil, venal fabulist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Soviet Russia -- only he "forgot" to cover the 1932-1933 Terror Famine in the Ukraine, where Stalin purposefully starved some five or six million people to death. Attempts to dislodge this besmirched award from the Times' grasp in the name of human decency have proved fruitless.
Moving right along to yesterday's Times, we have yet another entry in the Times storied annals of reader-deception, this one from Benghazi by reporter Kareem Fahim (with contributions from Osama al-Fitory and Suliman Ali Zway).
In an article titled "Benghazi Violence Is Beyond the Control of Even the City's Powerful Militias," Timesman Fahim interviews one Wissam bin Hamid.
Ring a bell? Wissam has popped up a number of times on this blog, notably for his role as leader of Libya Shield, or Katiba Dir' Libya, which fought Qaddafi under the black flag of Al Qaeda and has continued to parade under the same jihad flag as recently as June, as reported by John Rosenthal (wth video) here; as a reported veteran of the jihad in Iraq, maybe Afghanistan, too; as a vocal supporter of sharia rule in Libya; and even possibly, acording to a Library of Congress research division report ("Al Qaeda in Libya"), as a leader of AQ in Libya.
Wissam also appears in a cable the late Amb. Christopher Stevens signed on September 11 noted for having discussed the interlocking nature of Benghazi militias and his support for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate then running for prime minister, and, further, for having threatened US diplomats that he would withdraw security from the US compound in Benghazi if the supposedly US-backed candidate won instead.
The NYT, however, identifies Wissam thus:
And so the governmen is forced to reckon with the militias, who by virtue of their abundant weapons hold the city's real power. Men like Wissam bin Hamid, 35, who before the revolution owned an automobile workshop, is now the leader of an umbrella group of former rebel fighters.
That's it. Perfectly appalling grammar aside, meet Mr. Goodwrench.
The NYT "report" continues:
Some groups, like Mr. Hamid’s, operate with the government’s blessing, while others are called rogue. The distinctions often seem arbitrary, but either way, the militias are effectively a law unto themselves.
The kind of "law" unto themselves these militias are is sharia. It's no secret. They mount major demonstrations for sharia. They talk about sharia. The NYT never mentions sharia. Readers should demand their rather whopping $2.50 back.
Mr. Hamid and others insist that they are loyal to the state. Leading political figures said they respected Mr. Hamid but had concerns about many of the other militia leaders, among them hard-line Islamists.
Implication being Hamid is not a "hard-line Islamist." But how much more hard-line can you get than this quotation from Hamid:
“The Islamic shariah is a red line, we will not cede one rule of it, and Islam is the only law-giver and not [merely] the foundation [of the law].”
Back to see-no-sharia Timesworld:
The militias are called on for crucial tasks, including safeguarding elections. Mr. Hamid’s militia, a branch of a group called Libya Shield, has been called on to enforce order hundreds of miles away from Benghazi, in towns beyond the government’s reach.
The Times is probably referring to fighting against the Tubu, a black African separatist tribe, which Wissam's militia and other Arabs have clashed with along the Libya-Chad border.
The militia has also worked with American officials: they escorted intelligence officers and diplomats away from the besieged villas on Sept. 11, and later, provided protection for American investigators visiting the city in search of evidence in the attack, Mr. Hamid said.
They also delayed the small CIA contigent sent from Tripoli to Benghazi for hours at the airport after the September 11, 2012 attacks.
Ultimately, it could fall to Mr. Hamid and his men to confront commanders of Ansar al-Shariah, the hard-line Islamist militia that Libyan and American officials have linked to the attack, since no other government agencies seem capable of the task.
But Mr. Hamid said he would not — because he believes the militia’s leaders are innocent, but also because in Benghazi, the ties between former rebel fighters run deep. “They were with us on the front lines,” he said.
Ansar al-Shariah’s leaders have strongly denied any involvement in the attack. Mr. Hamid insisted he would act against the group, if given proof it was responsible.
Officials here seem to have no expectation that the militias will ever help solve the killings — of their top security officials, or of Mr. Stevens — if another militia may be involved.
Mr. Hamid said that a team of Americans visited his base a few weeks ago.
I wonder if Wissam's talking about this bizarro CIA-led recruitment visit?
“They were worried about Libya Shield,” he said, adding that they seemed to ask a lot of questions about one member in particular, who had appeared in an Internet video talking in front of a black jihadi flag....
Such as this one maybe perhaps?
Note to Team America in Benghazi: The pic, which comes from the unclassified Library of Congress report, is of Hafiz al-`Aghuri, alias Hayaka Alla, whom the report i.d.'s as "a close ally of Wisam bin Hamid." Hey, maybe Wisam knows where Hafiz is! The report also states that most Al Qaeda fighters in Libya are connected to three katibas, or militias: "Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah, al H'rar Libya (Free Libya) in Sirt, and Dir' Libya (Libya Shield) in Kufra. These "have so far attracted scrutiny by their radical rhetoric and allegiance to the black flag, which symbolizes the commitment to al-Qaeda-type militant jihad."
Except not scrutiny from the New York Times!
And speaking of al H'rar Libya (Free Libya) in Sirt, the LOC study further reports that the Palestinian Authority newspaper Dunia al-Watan wrote up a parade the Free Libya militia put on in Sirt in March 2012. LOC isn't sure if Free Libya militia is the same as Libya Shield militia, but Wissam was at the helm of this parade, where, the newspaper reported, Mokhtar Bel Mokhtar, leader of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) in the Sahara was "the honored guest" of, yes, that unassuming little grease monkey, Wissam bin Hamid.
And speaking of Mokhtar, the LOC also reports he 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 [Allah] on earth."
But all the Times tells its readers is that the militias want Good Government.
The militias, still wrapping themselves in the banner of the revolution, insist they will submit only to a government, and to an army that they consider clean.
"Clean"? How about sharia-compliant?
They have set a dauntingly high bar for their leaders, denouncing hard-core Qaddafi loyalists, but also army officers who simply sat out the fight.
Diplomats have become wary of this city, closing it, somewhat, to the world once again.
Ansar al-Shariah, the militia accused in the attack on Mr. Stevens, has lowered its profile, but just a little. With no one reason to hide, the group is planning to open a clinic for women and children in Benghazi.
Times-reader takeway? Awww.