Jihadis who killed Americans get U.S. support in Libya (WASHINGTON EXAMINER) By: Byron York 03/28/11 8:05 PM)
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There´s no question that the rebels Americans are currently fighting
for in Libya include in their ranks jihadis who in recent years
traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to kill Americans. The only question
is whether that worries you or not.
Take Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, a leader of U.S.-supported rebels in the
fighting for Adjabiya. His hometown, Darnah, has produced many
jihadis, and after the Sept. 11 attacks al-Hasidi traveled to
Afghanistan to fight the "foreign invasion" -- that is, the U.S.
military. According to a report in Britain´s Daily Telegraph, al-
Hasidi says he was later captured in Pakistan, handed over to the
U.S., then held in prison in Libya before being released in 2008.
In addition to fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan, al-Hasidi also says
he recruited about two dozen men to fight the U.S. in Iraq.
Now al-Hasidi and his allies are moving toward Tripoli, which would
not be possible without the military power of the United States. The
men who devoted so much energy to killing Americans are now
thankfully watching Americans kill for them.
To some observers, that´s no big deal. "No one seems all that
frightened by him," the New York Times wrote of al-Hasidi after a
visit to Darnah in early March. Al-Hasidi, the paper
reported, "praises Osama bin Laden´s ´good points´ but denounces the
9/11 attacks on the United States." And besides, the Times reported,
al-Hasidi finds it amusing that the government of Moammar Gadhafi
considers him an al Qaeda terrorist. "He promised to lay down his
arms once victory is won and return, he said, to teaching," the Times
Maybe you believe that. Maybe you don´t. The problem is, al-Hasidi is
by no means alone. We know that from intelligence gained in the Iraq
During that war, American strategists became increasingly concerned
by the number of foreign fighters who came to Iraq to take up arms
against the U.S. In an October 2007 raid near Sinjar, Iraq, American
forces captured a computer that had biographical information on about
700 foreign terrorists who had come to Iraq between August 2006 and
August 2007. An analysis of the so-called "Sinjar documents" found
that Libya sent more fighters to the Iraqi front than any other
country except Saudi Arabia; Libyans accounted for nearly 20 percent
of the foreign fighters in the Sinjar documents.
Some of those Libyans were from an al Qaeda-affiliated organization
called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose membership reportedly
included one Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi. In 2004, then-CIA Director George
Tenet named the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group part of the "next wave"
of terrorism that could threaten U.S. security whether or not al
Qaeda was destroyed.
So what should the United States do about Libyan fighters who went to
Iraq to kill Americans? And Libyans who went to Afghanistan to kill
Americans? And Libyans who recruited them and helped them with their
travels? Should we be hunting those people down? Or should we be
fighting on their behalf?
"It´s a real concern, there´s no ifs, ands or buts about it," says
Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the conservative American
Enterprise Institute. "The question for policymakers is, does that
concern mean we should not be seeking change in those countries?"
Rubin supports U.S. involvement in the Libyan war and believes the
number of people like al-Hasidi is relatively small. "It´s not a
reason not to support the rebels," he says. "It is a reason not to
arm them, or not to trust others to arm them."
As for the jihadis who killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Rubin would like to see U.S. "hit teams" take care of them. But that,
of course, would be way, way, way outside the United Nations Security
Council Resolution that guides American actions in Libya. If the U.S.-
led coalition prevails, it seems likely that some of the jihadis will
choose not to return to lives as humble schoolteachers, as al-Hasidi
claims, but instead become part of the new leadership of Libya.
There´s no way the U.S. can be involved in an action like the Libyan
war without coming in contact with some pretty bad actors. That´s a
good reason not to be involved in an action like the Libyan war. But
even if involvement is an ugly necessity, do we have to give active
support and protection to people who have devoted their lives to
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