Libyan rebels are a rogues' gallery
Here are three things Americans need to know about the Libyan "rebels" that the U.S. government isn't telling us.
One: The inspiration of the Libyan war is as much anti-Western as it is anti-Gadhafi.
The "Day of Rage" that kick-started the Libyan war on Feb. 17 marked the fifth anniversary of violent protests in Benghazi, which included an assault on the Italian consulate during which at least 11 were killed. The 2006 mayhem, as John Rosenthal has reported, during which consulate staff was evacuated after 1,000 to several thousand men tried to storm and burn the building, may be linked to the Italian TV appearance two days earlier of Italian minister Roberto Calderoli. It was then that Calderoli, in defiance of worldwide Islamic rioting against cartoons of Muhammad in a tiny Danish newspaper, revealed he was wearing an undershirt decorated with such a cartoon. In remarks widely reported in Arab media, Calderoli explained that "the gesture was a matter of a 'battle for freedom.'" The minister said: "When they (the cartoon rioters) recognize our rights, I'll take off the shirt."
Unfortunately -- and not just for the Italian minister -- Calderoli's boss, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, didn't recognize those rights. One day after the Benghazi rioting ("We feared for our lives," the consul general's wife told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera), Calderoli resigned, a political collapse indicative of Western tendencies to renounce rights that conflict with Islamic law (Shariah).
Two: The anti-Gadhafi, anti-Western forces that NATO power has brought to apparent victory through an air war and not-so-secret deployment of special forces (so far costing U.S. taxpayers $1 billion) include jihadist forces the U.S. and NATO allies have been fighting for the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Captured al-Qaida documents analyzed at West Point reveal that not only did Libya send far more recruits per capita to fight with al-Qaida in Iraq than any other nation (including Saudi Arabia), but also that the "rebel" stronghold of Darnah sent more recruits per capita than any other city. Bonus info: 85 percent of Libyan recruits in Iraq listed their "work" as "suicide bombers."
This Libyan surge, the report explains, may have been due to the "increasingly cooperative relationship" with al-Qaida of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). What is the LIFG? Designated a terrorist organization by the United States in 2004, the LIFG is a prominent faction among anti-Gadhafi forces today. Little wonder the Los Angeles Times discovered there are "at least 20 former Islamic militant leaders in battlefield roles" in Libya (while what the paper called "hundreds of Islamists" are either "participating or watching from the sidelines").
These include LIFG leader Abdelhakim Belhaj, described in recent days as the rebel commander in Tripoli. Another rebel leader and LIFG member, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, is also an ex-Gitmo detainee, as The New York Times has pointed out. And another rebel leader, Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, as John Rosenthal has reported, admitted to Italian media earlier this year not only to "fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq." Some of those same recruits "have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya," al-Hasadi explained, referring to a northeastern Libyan town. "They are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists. The members of al-Qaida are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader," al-Hasadi added.
Three: The draft constitution of the anti-Gadhafi forces cites "Shariah" as the "principal source of legislation."
Shariah is Islamic law, the basis of conquest or control of non-Muslims, conscience, speech and other Western-style liberties. Not too surprisingly, rebel spokeman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, former Libyan justice minister, sports a "zabibah," the forehead bruise of fanatical adherence to Islamic law. He also has animus toward Israel on the brain. WikiLeaks tells us, as Andrew Bostom has reported: "In the course of the discussion of the Criminal Code (with U.S. Ambassador Gene A. Cretz in 2010), Abdul Jalil abruptly changed the subject from freedom of speech to the 'Libyan people's concern about the U.S. government's support for Israel.'" In 1998, Abdul Jalil grotesquely sentenced six Bulgarian nurses to death in a notorious show trial.
Such is the man touted as one of the powers-to-be in post-Gadhafi Libya, which U.S. government officials, such as Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, promise will be "moderate," "modern" and "secular." But don't laugh too hard. The joke is on us.
Diana West blogs at dianawest.net. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.