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It turns out that major Libyan rebel commander Mahdi al-Harati was one of the jihadists on the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship that tried to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza in May 2010. As John Rosenthal notes, “after the seizure of Tripoli, al-Harati was named second-in-command to Abdul-Hakim Belhadj, the head of the newly formed Tripoli Military Council.” Belhadj also has an interesting pedigree, having been in phone contact with the leader of the 2004 Madrid train bombings just weeks before they were perpetrated.
Al-Harati, for his part, told the Spanish daily ABC in December that “I was wounded on the Mavi Marmara and spent nine days in an Israeli prison.” ABC reporter Daniel Iriarte had come upon al-Harati and two more of Belhadj’s men in Syria; they candidly told him they were there to help their “Syrian revolutionary brothers.” That should raise alarms as to just what sort of elements might be replacing Bashar Assad—who, like Gaddafi before him, is a brutal thug but not necessarily the worst the region has to offer.
That al-Harati’s résumé includes the Mavi Marmara is, however, rich in irony from an Israeli standpoint. The nine Turkish club- and knife-wielding lynch-mob members who were killed on the ship became, as I noted back then, the most internationally regretted jihadists of all time. This despite the fact that anyone with access to YouTube could see that the mob had savagely assaulted the Israeli naval commandos who boarded the ship bearing paintball guns.
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