Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

The strangest of bedfellows

How the Libyan ‘revolution’ brought together neocons and Al-Qaida — again

In Libya, the world faces a Morton’s Fork: Ought we to support the sanguinary, deranged dictator who ordered the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, killing 270 people when the 747 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988? Or should we side with those rebelling against him, led in part by a senior Al-Qaida member who praises the 11 March tsunami in Japan as a judgment from Allah for Japan’s support of “the enemies of Islam”?

Abdel-Hakim Al-Hasidi

Abdel-Hakim Al-Hasidi, a Libyan rebel leader, admits that his fighters are linked to Al-Qaida...
[ Image Source ]

As those who read my posts well know, I have been unwavering in my support of all the revolutions in this Arab Spring. Until now, I’ve had no qualms about including Libya. Indeed, nowhere else can we find such unanimity: For different reasons, both the left and the right want Muammar Qaddafi (AKA Al-Majnun: “the Madman”) deposed and his government replaced with a more democratic one. And when Qaddafi exhorted Egyptians to retain in office the malignant kleptoplutocrat Hosni Mubarak, that sealed my disdain for him; for only an enemy of freedom could be a friend to Mubarak.

When Qaddafi claimed that his enemies were affiliated with Al-Qaida, and warned that any Western journalist caught in his country would be arrested on charges of such an affiliation, I laughed. What more transparent ploy could a desperate dictator essay than to try to label his adversaries as terrorists?

Then we began to learn more about the rebels, that eclectic force trying to oust Qaddafi. As I touched on in a previous essay, the revolutionary movement in Libya is far different from its cognates in Tunisia and Egypt. Not only does it differ markedly in method, rejecting the Mahatma Gandhi-reminiscent peaceful discipline shown in those countries in favor of armed insurrection, but its principals are a far more heterogeneous lot, many with reputed CIA links, and some, as we have more recently learned, also tied to Al-Qaida.

It should be noted, in this context, that links to the CIA and Al-Qaida are not only not mutually exclusive, but in fact seem to exist in a sort of unholy symbiosis. The CIA has long wanted Qaddafi overthrown, and it is perfectly willing, in the spirit of Realpolitik, to ally itself with anyone capable of mounting an initiative against him.

Now we have news on Al-Qaida from farther afield: Its putative leader, Osama bin Laden, is dead, killed in Pakistan by US special forces. This is, superficially, wonderful news: The wicked terrorist mastermind of 9/11 is dead. But it also ensures that certain questions entertained by millions around the world will never be answered. If bin Laden could somehow have been taken alive and brought to trial, we’d have a real chance of finding out — in a court setting with sworn witnesses and physical evidence — what exactly happened on 11 September 2001. No more would we have to choose, absent all means of independent confirmation, whether or not to accept at face value the formal report on the incident issued by our government — a report whose authors found their investigation stymied repeatedly by the same White House that had commissioned it.

Given the history of Al-Qaida, and its origins among the Mujahideen cultivated by the US, via the CIA, as assets against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1980s, there has always been a suspicion that bin Laden was acting as an agent provocateur under CIA direction when he launched the 9/11 attacks. It would have been worth much to have some means of refuting or verifying this idea.

Today, thanks to the direction of events in Pakistan and Libya, the question has become broader: Is Al-Qaida, in its entirety, a creature of the CIA? Certainly this is the opinion of an acquaintance of mine, serving in 2011 as an Army sniper in Afghanistan, who told me that the link was common knowledge among the soldiers, who consequently called the terrorist group “Al-CIAda.”

Originally published as a review of a article on Moammar Qaddafi.

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