The Secularist-Islamist Struggle in Libya Begins


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The conflict in Libya has entered a new phase, as the Islamists, some of whom have had Al-Qaeda ties, are locking horns with the secularists over who will lead the country. NATO is worried enough about the outcome to warn of the possibility of an Islamist takeover.

The first shot was fired between the two sides when the NTC’s top military commander, General Abdul Fattah Younes, was assassinated. It was blamed on the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade, an Islamist militia with many fighters affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The two sides have been focused on their common enemy — until now.

The Islamists seek to depose Mahmoud Jibril, the Prime Minister of the NTC, who is an opponent of them. The vice chairman of the NTC has also stated, “There is no place for an Islamic state in Libya.” The two leading Islamists are a popular preacher named Ali Sallabi and Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, the commander of forces in Libya. The rivalry became heated recently after the NTC established the Supreme Security Committee to bring all of the militias under its control, including that of Belhaj’s. The Islamists are condemning Jibril, with Sallabi calling him part of a group of “extreme secularists” who will bring about a “new era of tyranny and dictatorship” that will be worse than Qaddafi’s.

One problem facing the NTC is that 50-70 percent of the rebel fighters have Islamist ties. Belhaj was a founder of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda. In 1996, he declared jihad against “all the deviant groups that call for democracy or fight for the sake of it.” In 2007, Ayman al-Zawahiri endorsed him as the “emir” of the Libyan mujahideen. Another rebel commander, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, has praised Al-Qaeda and was arrested in Pakistan. At least 25 of his fighters battled the U.S. military in Iraq. An NTC official says they were concerned about al-Hasidi, but overlooked his past when he agreed to work under the body’s authority. Islamist militias in Libya also have foreign sources of backing, such as the U.S. “ally,” Qatar.

The Islamists are wisely crafting their language so as not to alarm the West or the Libyan forces that seek genuine democracy. Sallabi, for example, says the Islamists are democratic and will follow the will of the people. “If people choose a woman to lead, as president, we have no problem with that. Women can dress the way they like; they are free,” he says.

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  • StephenD

    And the world is surprised why? Like what has been said of addicts:
    "All Islam wants from you is 2 things. It wants your last breath…and everything in between."
    To not expect the M.B. to lie, cheat, steal their way to power is naiveté of the highest order. My only surprise is our State Department or W.H. hasn’t come out an endorsed them yet.

  • Bukkdems

    I miss GWB's support of democracy across the globe. He would be assisting the secular groups in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iran. I think they would welcome American "interference". The no-touch policy of Obama is a tragedy of incalculable proportions.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Yeah me too since as everyone knows Islam is really a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. Thus, we must assist the “moderates” to defeat the extremists in order to ensure that “moderate Islam,” which is a political correct myth, inevitably prevails. Indeed, the GWB neo-con strategy worked so wonderfully well for us in Afghanistan and Iraq that it must be duplicated, which is why both countries today are shining beacons of freedom and democracy in an otherwise sea of totalitarianism, even as Muslims are executed for blasphemy and apostasy and Christians are being massacred. Indeed, they are also extremely reliable and valuable allies for the USA, Israel, and the West too. Some of you neo-cons are more than a little incapable of learning anything from your insane suicidal mistakes.

  • Linda Rivera

    Several days ago, Gaza acquired anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets from rebel-controlled Libya. Every Muslim terrorist organization on earth
    must be rejoicing over the US/France/NATO/Libyan rebel victory.

    As US/NATO won the war for the rebels, US/NATO is now responsible for removing these rockets from Gaza – rockets that will be fired on Israel’s civilians.

  • Linda Rivera

    STOP THE GENOCIDE!

    The Obama-supported rebels left in charge are now conducting a “large
    scale cleaning in the areas under their control with the extermination
    of all blacks in the capital”, according to The Independent.

    Ruthless genocide of blacks in Libya by US/France/NATO backed Al-Qaeda linked rebels has been going on for months. US/NATO who waged war for months for the Al-Qaeda linked rebels-who murder our troops in Iraq-are RESPONSIBLE for stopping the genocide.

    US/NATO are also responsible for
    rescuing the many blacks kidnapped by the rebels, including the
    kidnapped black children who have been horrendously abused by the
    black-hater Muslim rebels.

    Human rights for Blacks now!

    STOP THE GENOCIDE!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Belhaj was a founder of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a terrorist group affiliated with Al-Qaeda. In 1996, he declared jihad against “all the deviant groups that call for democracy or fight for the sake of it.”

    Uhm….he declared jihad, but yet he isn't a jihadists, according to the writer he is a terrorists instead. Damn…no wonder so many Americans are so damn confused. Sort of like our federal government declared war on terror instead of jihad, despite the fact that terrorism is a product of Western civilization and jihad is a product of Islamic civilization, as jihad and terrorism are mutually exclusive and two entirely different things altogether.

    To our federal government, jihad, which is holy fighting in the cause of Allah, is not holy fighting in the cause of Allah, but instead an internal personal struggle. Of course, if our federal government were honest about what jihad really is, it would have to acknowledge the fact that we are really at war with Islamic civilization as opposed to certain people and groups that it can conveniently label terrorists and extremists at our pleasure while maintaining the charade.

    Islamist militias in Libya also have foreign sources of backing, such as the U.S. “ally,” Qatar.

    Yeah right, sure….Qatar is a US ally in the same vein that Pakistan is a US ally too.

    The U.S. and its allies must come up with a plan now to help the liberal secularists compete with the Islamists.

    You mean sort of like the fantasy based plans that worked so well for us in Iraq and Afghanistan whereby today both those countries are shining beacons of freedom and democracy in the Islamic world and wonderful and reliable allies for the USA, Israel and the West? Yeah right…where have I heard that one before? Indeed, let's continue to duplicate over and over again ad nauseum the failures of the past. Why don't we?

    If the West does not, then a decisive Islamist victory will have come with American and European munitions and tax dollars.

    It already did, you are just too gullible and naive to realize it. In fact, there is nothing we can do in that part of the world to prevent it. Indeed, it is why our involvement in that monstrosity was so totally absurd.

  • Ellman

    Billy Carter, Democrat, gave us the Ayattolah in 1979. Obama will do the same in 2012. Thanks to Obama, NATO and the 'Arab Spring' we will have 2 or 3 more Iran's do deal with in the near future. Armaggedon is appearing more probable all the time. The conditions are almost perfect. The Obama-Islamist Alliance will almost certainly achieve this result unless God intervenes to prevent it. Men, too imperfect, too stupid cannot!