Obama Administration Oversaw Arms Shipments to Al Qaeda in Libya

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


The real story, or the heavily sanitized version of the real story, is slowly dribbling out of the mainstream media. And there are a few things to keep in mind while reading through this New York Times piece.

1. Qatar has ties to Al Qaeda, runs Al Jazeera and was responsible for much of the Arab Spring.

2. The Qatari goal was to build up a network of Islamist states.

3. Qatar has a major financial presence in Europe and is turning into the a new and even more dangerous Saudi Arabia.

This situation is slowly leaking into the mainstream media, either because Obama Inc. is breaking with Qatar or looking to shift responsibility for actions that they knew Qatar was undertaking.

The United States, which had only small numbers of C.I.A. officers on the ground in Libya during the tumult of the rebellion, provided little oversight of the arms shipments. Within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there in spring 2011, the White House began receiving reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups. They were “more antidemocratic, more hard-line, closer to an extreme version of Islam” than the main rebel alliance in Libya, said a former Defense Department official.

And again, we are not talking about the Muslim Brotherhood here. According to DC, the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate. We are talking Al Qaeda militias, officially linked or not officially linked.

He said that Qatar would not have gone through with the arms shipments if the United States had resisted them, but other current and former administration officials said Washington had little leverage at times over Qatari officials. “They march to their own drummer,” said a former senior State Department official. The White House and State Department declined to comment.

The technical term for this is plausible deniability. The State Department at this point had every reason to know what Qatar would do. The terrorist ties there were well documented.

The administration has never determined where all of the weapons, paid for by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, went inside Libya, officials said. Qatar is believed to have shipped by air and sea small arms, including machine guns, automatic rifles, and ammunition, for which it has demanded reimbursement from Libya’s new government. Some of the arms since have been moved from Libya to militants with ties to Al Qaeda in Mali, where radical jihadi factions have imposed Shariah law in the northern part of the country, the former Defense Department official said. Others have gone to Syria, according to several American and foreign officials and arms traders.

How do you say Chutzpah in Arabic again?

So we’ve got Obama giving his blessing to Qatari arms shipments to Libya, which not only go to Islamist militias in Libya, but which are then used by Islamist militias in Syria and Mali. This makes Arms for Hostages look petty.

And the cover up had begun very early. This wasn’t clean at all.

American officials say that the United Arab Emirates first approached the Obama administration during the early months of the Libyan uprising, asking for permission to ship American-built weapons that the United States had supplied for the emirates’ use. The administration rejected that request, but instead urged the emirates to ship weapons to Libya that could not be traced to the United States.

“The U.A.E. was asking for clearance to send U.S. weapons,” said one former official. “We told them it’s O.K. to ship other weapons.”

If Obama had wanted to back the rebels, why not authorize the shipment of US manufactured weapons? The only reason to need plausible deniability, and this goes beyond mere plausible deniability, is that US officials expected that the chances were good that these weapons would be used to carry out attacks against Americans or against American allies.

The American support for the arms shipments from Qatar and the emirates could not be completely hidden. NATO air and sea forces around Libya had to be alerted not to interdict the cargo planes and freighters transporting the arms into Libya from Qatar and the emirates, American officials said.

So we’ve got American forces opening the way for arms being shipped to Al Qaeda. People will suggest this could have changed the election, but for that we would have needed a candidate who could have made use of it as a talking point. And we, in any case, basically knew this all along.

“Nobody knew exactly who they were,” said the former defense official. The Qataris, the official added, are “supposedly good allies, but the Islamists they support are not in our interest.”

When your “good allies” are also good allies with terrorist groups at war with America, it might be time to decide who they really are good allies with.

Now here is where it gets interesting for those people who have speculated that Stevens was involved in arms transfers.

During the frantic early months of the Libyan rebellion, various players motivated by politics or profit — including an American arms dealer who proposed weapons transfers in an e-mail exchange with a United States emissary later killed in Benghazi — sought to aid those trying to oust Colonel Qaddafi.

The case of Marc Turi, the American arms merchant who had sought to provide weapons to Libya, demonstrates other challenges the United States faced in dealing with Libya. A dealer who lives in both Arizona and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Mr. Turi sells small arms to buyers in the Middle East and Africa, relying primarily on suppliers of Russian-designed weapons in Eastern Europe.

In March 2011, just as the Libyan civil war was intensifying, Mr. Turi realized that Libya could be a lucrative new market, and applied to the State Department for a license to provide weapons to the rebels there, according to e-mails and other documents he has provided.

He also e-mailed with J. Christopher Stevens, then the special representative to the Libyan rebel alliance. The diplomat said he would “share” Mr. Turi’s proposal with colleagues in Washington, according to e-mails provided by Mr. Turi. Mr. Stevens, who became the United States ambassador to Libya, was one of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11.

Mr. Turi’s application for a license was rejected in late March 2011. Undeterred, he applied again, this time stating only that he planned to ship arms worth more than $200 million to Qatar. In May 2011, his application was approved. Mr. Turi, in an interview, said that his intent was to get weapons to Qatar and that what “the U.S. government and Qatar allowed from there was between them. “

Two months later, though, his home near Phoenix was raided by agents from the Department of Homeland Security. Administration officials say he remains under investigation in connection with his arms dealings. The Justice Department would not comment.

Mr. Turi said he believed that United States officials had shut down his proposed arms pipeline because he was getting in the way of the Obama administration’s dealings with Qatar. The Qataris, he complained, imposed no controls on who got the weapons. “They just handed them out like candy,” he said.

The relevance of this story to matters at hand is shaky. So why include it and make it so large a part of the article? That’s an interesting question. And a trail worth following.

  • dan

    Obama a Muslim ..

  • Arlie

    Now there are massive amounts of weapons, tons of them all over the Middle East and all of these weapons are in the hands of jihad militants. All of the innocent and Christian people are being slaughtered and have no defense or voice. There is clearly blood on US Administration and Qatar and Saudi Arabia and all the Al Qaeda groups. I read an interesting post today at american thinker. "Back in the early 70's Secretary of State Henry Kissinger brokered a deal with the house of Saud; in return for agreeing to conduct all business of OPEC in US dollars, the Nixon administration agreed to arm the Saudis and keep the Royal Family in power. Soon after the deal was cut in secret, oil prices quadrupled. No formal treaty was ever sent to the Senate for ratification. This was an under the table quid pro quo.
    I never have trusted the likes of Kissinger or any of the deals made during that era. It seems the same things keep happening no matter who is in charge. Where is the sanity? Is this the elites' utopia? The vile witch Clinton sure seems to thrive on all the blood lust.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "If Obama had wanted to back the rebels, why not authorize the shipment of US manufactured weapons? The only reason to need plausible deniability, and this goes beyond mere plausible deniability, is that US officials expected that the chances were good that these weapons would be used to carry out attacks against Americans or against American allies."

    Let's see, maybe he was worried American weapons would be used against the Soviets, which would provoke the superpower against us. Or maybe "some other" superpower might be attacked and we wouldn't want anyone to know the US was behind that one either. He was worried that the weapons would leak out to be used against China?

    He wasn't worried about anything. He gets away with all of the important lies and he knows it will continue this way.

  • Mary Sue

    Something's rotten in Washington. I mean, more than usual :p

  • broken arrow

    Looks like someone is starting with the false premise that arms were intentially dropped in the laps of Al Queda in Libya . The same probbility exists in providings arms covertly for any entity in the middle east . If arms are coming to Libya via Qatar , then the possibiity will exist , if for no other reason , the fact that arabs and muslims in any given country , be it freind or foe [ Israel being the exception] may be sympathtic to Al Queda to varying degrees . The greatest examples are Pakistan and Egypt . Our own weapons used to supply the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan to drive the Soviets out were eventually on occaision used against us . When dealing in the middle east these things are calculated risks . To pose them as intentionally anti-thetical ton the US is to be unaware of the realities in the M.E. For everything Reagan's Iran-Contra was or was not , level heads can rightly assume that the intentions of that Admin.were not intentionally anti-thetical to the US .

  • broken arrow

    In fact Qatar itself is such an example . It has paid millins towards the US Base in Qatar , essential for the US presence in that region . We have a large presence in Saudi Arabia , yet where did Al Queda originate , and who continues to fund Al Queda covertly other than a number of Saudi Sheiks . To deal with muslims is to deal with duplicitousness of those peoples …that is the reality of the M.E .

  • Ar'nun

    3,000 civilians died at the hands of al Qaeda, thousands more US Soldiers died at their hands on the Battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. And the left wonders why some people would be apprehensive of a President, just 8 years later named Barack Hussein Obama.

  • boon doggle

    He's arming the enemies of free speech. Gun running, mercenary trafficking, firing into crowds to spark his type of revolution. The one time self-proclaimed community organizer of change is running amok. Chicago mobsters must be proud of their son, like the one time self-proclaimed colonel of Libya once was. As far as the M/E is concerned, he's working his new territory for all it's worth. Almost makes one feel sorry for that poor arms dealer. A bigger hood has muscled in on his racket. I bet he didn't expect competition from the WH. While it's never wise in the long run to do deals with those who have a thinly disguised agenda that keeps them in control by spreading hatred of you amongst their own people while they screw them, this takes it all to a whole new level. Get your tin hat orders in. As soon as someone responsible takes over, there will be some lost ground to reclaim, starting with free speech at home.

  • AntiWacko

    Looks like “Front Page Mag” is a home for far-right psychopaths and Obama-haters. If this article is an example, it’s also the home for pathetic journalism.

    This article seeks to blame Pres Obama for not micro-managing the arms shipments to the Libyan militia groups. It ignores that Britain, France, Qatar & others were US allies for this operation. Also, due to the nature of the operation, the shipments were semi-organized chaos. It was always expected that some weapons would fall into the hands of extremists and that’s what the CIA post in Benghazi had been tasked to do .. recover as many of those weapons as they could. after the chaos that was the Libyan uprising.

    This could have been a good story if the author had not let his anti-Obama bigotry get in they way.

    • http://www.themadjewess.wordpress.com MAD JEWESS

      REFUTE IT.

      All of your stupidity offers NO refute. REFUTE IT

    • GUEST

      The article comes from the New York Times. THIS article merely points out somethings to think about when reading it. It is really sad that all you Barry lovers are so blinded by the way that man deliberately hides things from the American public. Can you honestly say you do not have any niggling thoughts about why anyone running for the highest postition on our country (who must be legitimately eligible) would deliberately have his past erradicated… think school records, birth certificate (the one the WH put online was proven to be phoney), passports, associations with specific types of organizations and persons… the list goes on and on. IF one day you see the truths that have been buried by the media and his administration, it won't be pretty.

  • Raymond in DC

    It appears the Libya debacle is being repeated in Syria. We're allowing Qatar and Saudi Arabia to fund and arm their favored rebels, most of whom appear to be Islamic fundamentalists of one stripe or another, including "veterans" of Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq. We've also, thus far, failed to secure the chemical weapons stores, as we failed to secure Qaddafi's conventional weapons stores.

  • Misteprogram

    Daniel Greenfield, you are a hack and a shill. This is not journalism. You are not presenting campaigns or government actions in line with administration policies. You are punting “talking points,” or rhetoric, for RWNJ’s who are not going to read through this swill twice, to notice you have no references for your propaganda. You sound like a radical zionist who dislikes any American President who does not lick the bottom of Israeli’s shoes. You are linking details of one thing and radicalizing it by linking it to details of another thing and stringing together a ball of hyperbole and insinuation. America is involved in the Middle East for other reasons than JUST to look out for Israel. YOU are just another Cliven Bundy who sees the RWNJ’s as easy prey to stir up because they haven’t mastered critical thinking on account of they be edumicated in Red States.