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Fri, Oct 28, 2011 | Vice.com | By Sherif Elhelwa

Both the Libyan rebel flag and the flag of al Qaeda fluttering atop Benghazi’s courthouse. (Source: Vice.com)

 

Al Qaeda Plants Its Flag in Libya

It was here at the courthouse in Benghazi where the first spark of the Libyan revolution ignited. It’s the symbolic seat of the revolution; post-Gaddafi Libya’s equivalent of Egypt’s Tahrir Square. And it was here, in the tumultuous months of civil war, that the ragtag rebel forces established their provisional government and primitive, yet effective, media center from which to tell foreign journalists about their “fight for freedom.”

But according to multiple eyewitnesses — myself included — one can now see both the Libyan rebel flag and the flag of al Qaeda fluttering atop Benghazi’s courthouse.

According to one Benghazi resident, Islamists driving brand-new SUVs and waving the black al Qaeda flag drive the city’s streets at night shouting, “Islamiya, Islamiya! No East, nor West,” a reference to previous worries that the country would be bifurcated between Gaddafi opponents in the east and the pro-Gaddafi elements in the west.

Earlier this week, I went to the Benghazi courthouse and confirmed the rumors: an al Qaeda flag was clearly visible; its Arabic script declaring that “there is no God but Allah” and a full moon underneath. When I tried to take pictures, a Salafi-looking guard, wearing a green camouflage outfit, rushed towards me and demanded to know what I was doing. My response was straightforward: I was taking a picture of the flag. He gave me an intimidating look and hissed, “Whomever speaks ill of this flag, we will cut off his tongue. I recommend that you don’t publish these. You will bring trouble to yourself.”

[…]

But none of this should be surprising. In Tripoli, Abdelhakim Belhaj, a well-known al Qaeda fighter and founder of the notorious Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), is now leading the rebel “military counsel” in Tripoli. A few weeks ago, Belhaj ordered his fighters to take command of the Tripoli airport, then controlled by a group of Zintan fighters, a brigade of Berber Libyans who helped liberate the capital from Gaddafi loyalists. A few days later, Belhaj gave a speech emphasizing that his actions had the blessings of Libya’s National Transitional Counsel (NTC), who appointed him to the leadership of Tripoli’s military command.

[…]

The war to rid the country of the Gaddafi dictatorship might have ended, but the battle for control of post-revolutionary Libya has only just begun. And it will surprise few that assorted radicals, jihadists, Salafists, and LIFG veterans are attempting to fill the power vacuum and replace one dictatorship with another.

Read full article at Vice.com.


Posted in: Al-QaedaIslamismLibya WarSalafism  Tagged with:  

5 Comments to “Al Qaeda Plants Its Flag in Libya”

  1. Al Qaeda Plants Its Flag in Libya | Middle East, Israel, Arab World, Southwest Asia, Maghreb http://t.co/u4cYK11p

  2. avatar Bee Sting says:

    Al Qaeda Plants Its Flag in Libya http://t.co/6QuD5q8w via @AddToAny

  3. […] the way, here is an interesting first-hand account in an Italian magazine about the al-Qaida flag flying over the courthouse of Benghazi, Libya, and […]

  4. avatar Elisabeth says:

    Al Qaeda Plants Its Flag in Libya | Middle East, Israel, Arab World, Southwest Asia, Maghreb http://t.co/u4cYK11p

  5. avatar JerusalemCenter says:

    NATO may have thought they were doing something good for Libya, but their actions may have long term repercussions. This article is related, http://tinyurl.com/67jf637.

    NTC and Western officials have already stated their growing concerns that Qatar is trying to interfere in the country’s sovereignty, and the rebels are said to have received about $2 billion from the Qatari government. Qatari involvement is likely to produce a regime in Libya that follows the political orientation of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, thereby giving the Muslim Brotherhood an open door in the new Libya…


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