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Obama Administration Oversaw Arms Shipments to Al Qaeda in Libya

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On December 5, 2012 @ 8:17 pm In The Point | 13 Comments

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.


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