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The military mission America is helping to prosecute in Libya against Gaddafi has placed us into some questionable circles – to say the least. Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, in a recent interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, admitted that some of his rebel fighters, ”around 25″ men from the Derna area in eastern Libya, had been recruited by him to fight coalition troops in Iraq. Al-Hasidi also admitted that he himself had fought against America’s “foreign invasion” in Afghanistan. Thus, it appears that America’ degradation of Gaddafi’s fighting forces, claims of “humanitarianism” notwithstanding, is aiding our Islamist enemies.
According to both U.S. and British officials, Al-Hasidi revealed he had been captured in 2002 in Peshwar, Pakistan. Handed over to the United States, and finally sent to Libya where he was released in 2008, he was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). LIFG was reportedly responsible for the killing of dozens of Libyan troops in a series of guerrilla attacks near the cities of Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996. While LIFG is not part of al Qaeda itself, American military officials point to an ”increasingly co-operative relationship” between the two organizations, and al Qaeda has come out in support of the Libyan rebel forces, claiming their victory would lead to ”the stage of Islam” in the North African nation.
Al Qaeda is also helping itself. Idriss Deby Itno, president of Chad, has reported that the terrorist organization’s offshoot in North Africa, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has helped itself to surface-to-air missiles from a Libyan arsenal. Speaking to African weekly Jeune Afrique, Deby Itno claimed he was “100 per cent sure” of his assertion. ”The Islamists of al-Qaeda took advantage of the pillaging of arsenals in the rebel zone to acquire arms, including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries in Tenere,” said Deby Itno. Tenere is part of the Sahara desert region stretching from northeast Niger to western Chad. “This is very serious. AQIM is becoming a genuine army, the best equipped in the region,” he added. And despite the fact that he and Muammar Gaddafi are enemies, Deby Itno backed the Libyan leader’s claim that al Qaeda helped to orchestrate the current uprising. ”There is a partial truth in what he says,” he said. ”Up to what point? I don’t know. But I am certain that AQIM took an active part in the uprising.” He also characterized Western intervention there as a “hasty decision.”
Other officials in the region confirmed Deby Into’s assertion regarding the stolen weapons. ”We have sure information. We are very worried for the sub-region,” said a Malian security official who wished to remain anonymous. ”We have the same information, about heavy weapons, including SAM 7 missiles. It is very worrying. This over-arming is a real danger for the whole zone,” said a military source from Niger, who also explained that ”AQIM gets the weapons in two ways; people go and look for the arms in Libya to deliver them to AQIM in the Sahel, or AQIM elements go there themselves.”
If a report by Sky Net News is any indication, the Obama administration is impervious to this reality. According to that website, “Western diplomatic officials” have confirmed that the U.S. is “considering the legality of arming the Libyan rebels.” Ostensibly, one of the “unintended consequences” of U.N. resolution 1970, requiring all member nations to ”immediately take the necessary measures” to prevent the supply or sale of weapons to the Libyan government, contained no exceptions for supplying anti-Gaddafi forces. The administration is exploring a legal framework by which rebel forces could be armed if they could prove such arms were necessary to “defend themselves from Gaddafi’s forces.”
Mark Kornblau, spokesman for US Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice, confirmed the possibility. ”Resolutions 1970 and 1973, read together, neither specify nor preclude such an action,” said Kornblau. Britain and France are reportedly considering similar options with a coalition diplomat claiming the U.N. mandate ”authorizes all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack,” and that any action taken “will be consistent with the United Nations Security Resolution and with international law.”
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