Wednesday, August 31, 2011

US and al-Qaeda unite against Qaddafi in Libya

(many thanks to I. for pointing me to this article - S)

Successive US regimes have claimed that al-Qaeda is their enemy number one and that no effort would be spared in costs or human lives to eliminate it. Does empirical evidence support this claim? Let us examine the facts. The US and its allies are involved in a brutal campaign to oust the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi from power. Not only military installations but even residential neighborhoods have been bombed under the spurious pretext that they are command and control centres. The result has been massive civilian casualties, many of them children.

These cynical claims aside whose real purpose is something altogether different (for details, see Crescent International, June 2011), the US and al-Qaeda operatives are working hand-in-glove in Libya. When Colonel Qaddafi’s regime said that al-Qaeda was involved in the rebellion in the east of the country, this was not mere propaganda. There is ample proof for this. Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu may not be a household name outside Libya and perhaps not even for many in Libya but here is a little detail about him that should raise some eyebrows and lead to some questions.

Abu Sufian, as he is locally known, spent five years in the notorious US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Analysts there concluded that he was “a probable member of al-Qaeda” and that if he were released, he would represent a “medium to high risk, as he is likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests and allies.” Yet he was released in 2007 and has surfaced as a prominent figure in the Libyan rebel movement working closely with the US and NATO troops attacking Libyan government positions. He is the leader of what is referred to as the Darnah Brigade, the group taking its name from the northeastern port town of 100,000 where he was born.

Abu Sufian was a tank driver in the Libyan Army in the 1980s, when the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was spending billions of dollars to support the Afghans to drive Soviet troops out of Afghanistan. This was the time when all Arabian regimes, led by Saudi Arabia, wanted to show their support for the “Afghan mujahideen fightingthe godless communists.” Their support, however, had an altogether different motive: they wanted to get rid of all the troublesome youth that wanted Islamic rule in their societies. What better way to get rid of them than by sending them to Afghanistan where the regimes hoped they would get killed. Many were killed but some also survived, among them Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Abu Sufian also moved to Afghanistan but in the early 1990s. This was after the Soviets had been driven out of Afghanistan (February 1989). He is reported to have joined the militant Libyan Islamic Fighting Group whose avowed aim was to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi’s regime. That is where the situation gets murky. While the Saudi regime was opposed to the likes of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri because they called for the overthrow of Saudi and Egyptian regimes respectively, the House of Saud actively supported the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group because the Saudis viewed (and still do) Qaddafi as their nemesis. Their violent verbal clashes during Arab League and Organization of Islamic Conference summits are no secret.

The situation, however, took a radical turn with the events of 9/11. Every militant group, whether struggling for freedom in the Muslim East, Kashmir or elsewhere became the target of the US crusade. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group also came under the US radar screen and it was branded a terrorist organization. Many Arabian fighters fled Afghanistan following the US attack and subsequent ouster of Taliban from power in October–November 2001. They sought refuge in Pakistan but this proved a temporary respite. Under pressure from the Americans, the military regime of General Pervez Musharraf rounded up hundreds of Arabian fighters, and after collecting millions of dollars in bounty, handed them over to the US. They were all shipped to the black hole called Guantanamo Bay. Abu Sufian also ended up there, in part based on information provided by the Libyan government.

“The Libyan Government considers Abu Sufian a ‘dangerous man with no qualms about committing terrorist acts,’” said the classified 2005 assessment, evidently quoting Libyan intelligence findings, according to the New York Times (April 24, 2011). “He was known as one of the extremist commanders of the Afghan Arabs,” Libyan intelligence information stated. The US readily accepted such findings. The CIA and Libyan intelligence were working closely together at the time.

The shoe is now on the other foot. The US and its NATO allies are trying to oust Qaddafi from power and Abu Sufian suddenly finds himself as a Washington ally after spending five years in Guantanamo under torture. How fortunes can change, but this should be a warning to all those working as mercenaries for the US. Their position at any given time is conditional upon US interests and that can change all of a sudden. Qaddafi was rehabilitated after he agreed in 2004 to pay compensation for the Lockerbie bombing. He was allowed to visit Rome and Paris and even received Condoleezza Rice in Tripoli in 2008, famously calling her “that black woman.” Who says Colonel Qaddafi does not have a sense of humor!

Before his arrival in Afghanistan, Abu Sufian had spent some time in a Libyan jail charged with drug addiction, drug dealing and accusations of murder and armed assault. In 1993, he escaped from prison, and first fled to Egypt before heading to Afghanistan where he trained at a camp run by Osama. During interrogation at Guantanamo, Abu Sufian denied knowledge of terrorist activities and insisted that if he were returned to Libya, where he faced criminal charges, he would be tortured. He asked to be sent to some other country.

Nonetheless, in 2007, he was released from Guantánamo and sent to Libya where he was imprisoned. The following year, he was released under an amnesty granted by the Qaddafi regime for militants. Many of them have now joined the rebels in the east. While not all of them may be al-Qaeda, the US has admitted that there are several al-Qaeda operatives among the rebel ranks. Washington and its NATO allies, however, seem to have few qualms about this as long as they align themselves with people who are willing to fight against whomever the US considers to be its enemy at any particular time.

So much for the US war on terror and its vow to fight terrorism; it is actually the greatest purveyor of terrorism. Darnah, Abu Sufian’s birth place, also supplied the largest number of suicide bombers to the fight against the US in Iraq, surpassing even Riyadh in Saudi Arabia that is 40 times more populous. Welcome to the real world of US-sponsored terrorism.