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  • The Libyan Opposition

    The Libyan Opposition
    We don’t know much about them, and what we’re learning isn’t pretty.
    by John Hayward

    The Libyan Opposition - HUMAN EVENTS

    The L.A. Times ran a dismal report yesterday about the behavior of the Libyan opposition, which has been cracking down on Qaddafi loyalists, oppressing black immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and dishing out “revolutionary justice” to “enemies of the revolution.”

    Well, at least they’re not actually goofball-popping janissaries of bin Laden, according to an article in the Denver Post, which says “the U.S. intelligence community has found no organized presence of al-Qaeda among the Libyan opposition.” I hope they keep looking for organized presences, and finding none.

    The resistance has been widely criticized for its lack of organization and military skill. Some of the leadership does have combat experience. Unfortunately, they earned it by fighting us in Afghanistan. The guy running things in eastern Libya, Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, admitted to an Italian newspaper that he was “captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan, where I fought against the foreign invasion.”

    By “foreign” he means “American.” We had him in custody in Islamabad for a while (apparently not in Gitmo, as has been reported in some circles) but we eventually handed him over to Qaddafi, who kept him in stir until 2008.

    We really don’t know a lot about the Libyan opposition. It was not necessary to know much, to oppose their brutal extermination, marked by the deaths of countless civilians roasted in the wreckage of burning cities. In the Middle East, it’s hard to find allies with clean hands. Any crackdown we happen to oppose is bound to have some unappealing people on both the giving and receiving ends. That doesn’t make it any less imperative to speak up on behalf of the oppressed.

    By letting the rebellion get pushed all the way back into a few cities, then launching a massive operation at the eleventh hour, Obama has married us to the Libyan opposition. If we’re really going to push Operation Odyssey Dawn until Libyan dissidents are forever safe from Qaddafi’s murderous tyranny, we’re going to be working very closely with them, and expending much blood and treasure on their behalf, for some time to come. In the end, we’ll either be sponsoring them as the new rulers of Libya, or supporting them against Qaddafi and/or his sons, after they cut some kind of deal to stay in power… or leaving them to die after we cut and run. It would be nice to think someone in the White House has gamed all those scenarios out, and taken a long look at who our partners in that game will be.

    We’ve already had some ugly surprises from our new spouses in Libya. I wonder how many of them came as a surprise to the Administration.

    John Hayward is a staff writer for HUMAN EVENTS, and author of the recently published Doctor Zero: Year One. Follow him on Twitter: Doc_0. Contact him by email at
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

  • #2
    Rebel Commander in Libya Fought Against U.S. in Afghanistan
    On his own admission, rebel leader Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi fought American troops in Afghanistan and recruited Libyans to fight American troops in Iraq. (And don't miss Rosenthal on "Gaddafi and Corruption: WikiLeaks vs. WikiLeaks" at the PJM Tatler.)
    March 25, 2011 - by John Rosenthal
    Pajamas Media » Rebel Commander in Libya Fought Against U.S. in Afghanistan
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    Shortly after unrest broke out in eastern Libya in mid-February, reports emerged that an “Islamic Emirate” had been declared in the eastern Libyan town of Darnah and that, furthermore, the alleged head of that Emirate, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, was a former detainee at the American prison camp in Guantánamo. The reports, which originated from Libyan government sources, were largely ignored or dismissed in the Western media.

    Now, however, al-Hasadi has admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that he fought against American forces in Afghanistan. (Hat-tip: Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard.) Al-Hasadi says that he is the person responsible for the defense of Darnah — not the town’s “Emir.” In a previous interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail, he claimed to have a force of about 1,000 men and to have commanded rebel units in battles around the town of Bin Jawad.

    “I have never been at Guantánamo,” al-Hasadi explained to Il Sole 24 Ore. “I was captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan where I fought against the foreign invasion. I was turned over to the Americans, detained for a few months in Islamabad, then turned over to Libya and released from prison in 2008.”

    Al-Hasadi’s account is largely confirmed by investigations conducted by Praveen Swami, the diplomatic editor of the British daily The Telegraph. Swami originally wrote about al-Hasadi’s background in the Afghan jihad in a March 21 column. In response to a query from the present author, Swami was able to obtain confirmation of al-Hasadi’s arrest and transfer to Libya from what he describes as a “senior source” in the Afghan government.

    According to a separate UK intelligence source contacted by Swami, al-Hasadi was released by the Libyan government as part of a deal that was struck with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIGF). The LIGF has long opposed the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya.

    On February 25, al-Hasadi had issued an ambiguous statement claiming that he had been a “political prisoner” and accusing the “Dictator Gaddafi” of spreading “lies.” Al-Jazeera provides an English translation of the statement here. (Scroll down to “12:46pm”.) A video of al-Hasadi reading his statement is available here.

    In his more recent remarks to Il Sole 24 Ore, al-Hasadi admits not only to fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq. As noted in my earlier PJM report here, captured al-Qaeda personnel records show that al-Hasadi’s hometown of Darnah sent more foreign fighters to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other foreign city or town and “far and away the largest per capita number of fighters.” Al-Hasadi told Il Sole 24 Ore that he personally recruited “around 25” Libyans to fight in Iraq. “Some have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya,” al-Hasadi explained, “They are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.” “The members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader,” al-Hasadi added.

    The revelations about al-Hasadi’s involvement in the anti-American jihad are particularly troubling in light of clear evidence that Western forces are coordinating their attacks on Libyan government targets with rebel forces.

    Reporting from the outskirts of Ajdabiya on Wednesday, Antoine Estève of the French news channel i-Télé noted that just “minutes” after rebel positions had been hit by artillery fire from Libyan government forces, the Libyan government positions were then bombarded by coalition aircraft. (Estève’s report can be viewed here.) In a March 19 dispatch from Benghazi for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, correspondent Lorenzo Cremonesi cites rebel leaders as saying that they were given the opportunity to provide NATO with a map indicating enemy targets that they wanted bombed.

    Editor’s note: Also read “Gaddafi and Corruption: WikiLeaks vs. WikiLeaks” at the Tatler.

    John Rosenthal writes regularly on European politics for such publications as The Weekly Standard, Policy Review and The Daily Caller. More of his work can be found at Transatlantic Intelligencer.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


    • #3
      Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links

      Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".

      His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".

      Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan". He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.
      veery good West...veery good....go support A.Q. more...
      Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy rather in power than use; and keep thy friend under thine own life's key; be checked for silence, but never taxed for speech.


      • #4
        Originally posted by troung View Post
        The revelations about al-Hasadi’s involvement in the anti-American jihad are particularly troubling in light of clear evidence that Western forces are coordinating their attacks on Libyan government targets with rebel forces.
        So what we have here is that one leader in the opposition fought in Afghanistan. It does not explain further how representative this is for the rest of the opposition. That question is left hanging.

        Why ? are we now to believe what Gaddafi said in the early days that this was nothing more than Al-Qaida ?

        The exception does not prove the rule, at least not yet. And what happens to Al-Qaida if the west supports this movement. Does it strengthen them or weaken them. If Al-Q preaches violence against the west, what good does it do them to be seen as cooperating with the west. Cuts both ways doesn't it.

        Defeat the Libyan regime. And then?-The Telegraph- March 21 2011
        This article goes into more detail about the tribal forces at play and some historical background.

        It describes one of several outcomes possible from this conflict. It's weakness i think is in failing to show that this outcome has more chances of success than not. I say that because there isn't a unified command in play here, just a motive. There's bound to be competing interests amongst the ragtag militia called the opposition.
        Last edited by Double Edge; 26 Mar 11,, 13:00.


        • #5
          al-Hasadi is supposedly the military leader of the rebels of the port town of Darnah halfway between Benghazi and Tobruk. Dernah is well-known from the Sinjar Records as being the primary source of fighters of the AQ-affiliated LIFG group. Almost 10% of all foreign fighters in Iraq identified by USSOCOM as listed in the Sinjar Records were from that town. al-Hasadi is not a member of the "national council", the representative for Darnah there is Ashour Hamed Bourashed.


          The leader of the "national council" is Mustafa Abdul Jalil Fudail, until his defection in February he was Gaddafi's Minister of Justice, with a biography as a career judge. There's a bounty of 250 grand out on him btw, which is why he went underground by early march and hasn't been seen since then.

          The actual military leader is nominally Abdel Fatah Junis. He was part of Gaddafi's unit in the coup in 1969, became Minister of the Interior under Gaddafi, and commanded a special forces unit for 42 years until he defected this year. Supposedly Fatah Junis managed to convince Gaddafi in telephone conferences not to simply carpet-bomb Bengasi.
          The nominal "defense minister" of the "national council" is Omar al-Hariri, who attempted a failed coup d'etat against Gaddafi in 1975. He was originally sentenced to death for this, sat first on death row for 5 years, then regular prison for 10 years and was then pardoned and placed under house arrest by Gaddafi in 1990. Like Fatah Junis he was also involved in Gaddafi's original coup in 1969. His position in regard to the military is a bit unclear, especially whether he has command over Fatah Junis as he claims.

          The socalled "representative of the political prisoners" in the "national council" is Zubiar Ahmed as-Sharif al-Sanussi, a cousin of the last libyan king Idris. He attempted a monarchist counter-coup immediately after the revolution, and sat in jail for it from 1970 to 2001. The council quite blatantly tries to hide the monarchist connection by calling him "al-Sharif" (al-Sanussi is the royal family tribe).
          Last edited by kato; 26 Mar 11,, 14:00.


          • #6
            NATO rules out arming Libyan rebels

            * From: NewsCore
            * March 31, 2011 9:20PM
            NATO rules out arming Libyan rebels | Herald Sun
            THE NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today the alliance was opposed to arming the Libyan rebels fighting against Muammar Gaddafi.

            Rasmussen said the alliance, which formally took command of the operation in Libya today, was in the country to protect Libyans, not arm them.

            "As far as NATO is concerned, and I speak on behalf of NATO, we will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo, and the clear purpose of an arms embargo is to stop the flow of weapons into the country," he said.

            Both Washington and London so far refused to rule out arming the rebels, who were beaten back in the past 24 hours after failing to cement an advance on Ghadafi's hometown of Sirte.
            To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


            • #7
              March 30, 2011 6:57 PM
              Al Qaeda may already be among Libya's rebels
              Posted by Joshua Norman 34 comments
              Al Qaeda may already be among Libya's rebels - World Watch - CBS News
              A Libyan rebel on the front line outside of Bin Jawaad, 150 km east of Sirte, central Libya, Monday, March 28 2011.

              Libyan freedom fighter or al Qaeda operative?
              (Credit: AP Photo)

              The roots of al Qaeda were famously planted in Afghanistan in the 1980s, fighting the Soviet Union. Many current al Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden, were then mujaheddin rebels that benefited greatly from American arms and covert military training against a better-equipped fighting force.

              Today, in Libya, a ragtag group of rebels fight a seesaw battle against Muammar Qaddafi's better-equipped forces, and a debate rages over whether to provide them arms and training.

              However, whispers are growing that al Qaeda may already be among them, complicating the current debate over arming the rebels.

              Qaddafi's troops push rebels further from Tripoli
              Top Libyan minister defects to the U.K.
              Complete coverage: Anger in the Arab World

              Admiral James Stavridis, NATO supreme commander for Europe, said of Libya's rebel force: "We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah."

              Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel took things a step further, telling the Hindustan Times: "There is no question that al Qaeda's Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition. It has always been Qaddafi's biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi. What is unclear is how much of the opposition is al Qaeda/Libyan Islamic Fighting Group - 2 percent or 80 percent."

              For al Qaeda, Libya may represent a rare opportunity and a blank slate, as uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia seem almost certain to result in democratic governments. An Afghan Taliban operative told The Daily Beast earlier this month that, for al Qaeda, the Libya rebellion "is the fresh breeze they've been waiting years for. They realize that if they don't use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was."

              Arming Libya's rebels would be a tricky gamble

              At the outset of tensions, Qaddafi blamed al Qaeda for the uprising, a charge which rebel leaders have repeatedly denied.

              Regardless of Qaddafi's well-documented penchant for exaggeration and distortion, his message was heard and vetted by his Western opponents. In an interview with "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill in New York Tuesday, President Barack Obama conceded that, "Among all the people who (are) opposed (to) Qaddafi, there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests. ... And that's why I think it's important for us not to -- jump in with both feet" with all of them.

              Following that interview, reports surfaced that Obama signed an executive order allowing the CIA to open contacts with rebels, so the extent of al Qaeda's role in the Libyan rebellion may be clarified soon.

              As Mr. Obama has already authorized covert support for the rebels, that answer may still not come soon enough.
              To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


              • #8
                Doesn't inspire much confidence, his only military experience is being routed by people on pick up trucks his solution to his current problems; M-16s, Javelins, and Strykers/LAVs. At least he knows enough to want foreigners to come in and do the training and leading that he should be doing.

                Libyan Rebel Commander Is From Fairfax, Virginia
                Gen. Khalifa Haftr Wears Pinstripe Suit Instead of Camouflage
                Libyan Rebel General Is From Fairfax, Virginia - ABC News
                BENGHAZI, Libya March 30, 2011—

                Gen. Khalifa Haftr, the self-proclaimed commander of the Free Libyan Army, does not dress for battle. On a recent day after his forces had reclaimed much of the territory they had lost, the commander was wearing a pinstripe suit and a black turtleneck sweater.

                Haftr, who lived in Fairfax, Va., until recent weeks when he returned to join the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi, was appointed to lead the rebel army earlier this month. His top aides appear to be his sons.

                It is difficult for the media as well as the Obama administration to determine who, if anyone, is in charge of the rebellion. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently, "We don't know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know. We're picking up information."

                A U.S. official said, "There's still a fair amount of uncertainty here on who's who in the opposition camp."

                After a surge across eastern Libya following allied aerial attacks on Gadhafi's forces, the rebel army is again in retreat from the city key oil city of Ras Lanouf, and it's not clear who is commanding them.

                Haftr, a general in Gadhafi's army during the 1980s, claims to be in charge. Haftr told ABC News that he doesn't officially report to Omar Hariri, the rebels' defense minister; or to Gen. Abdel Fattah Younes, who has the title of chief of staff. Haftr spoke with ABC News earlier this week at a time the rebels were on the march behind allied air power. At the time, Haftr predicted that the rebels' advance on Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte would not be a major test for his ragtag army, and that the city would fall easily.

                Instead, the rebels ran into tanks and artillery and are now fleeing for safety.

                The opposition's military command structure -- what is known of it -- has some inherent problems. A U.S. official pointed out that Haftr and Younes have been on opposite sides for a long time.

                When Haftr served under Gadhafi, he fought in Chad, a military debacle in which thousands of Libyan soldiers died. After being arrested in Chad, Haftr says he was sentenced to death by Gadhafi, but managed to seek asylum in the U.S. He said he returned to Libya in recent weeks and was promptly put in charge of the rebel forces.

                Libyan Rebel General Lived in Virginia Until Recently

                Haftr insists that he is well known in Libya and can rally and organize forces against Gadhafi.

                Younes defected from Gadhafi's forces only in the last month. While his long-lasting loyalty to Gadhafi has aroused suspicion among some opposition elements, he brings with him recent military experience and knowledge of Gadhafi's forces and capabilities.

                "Libyan opposition forces are a patchwork. Gen. Khalifa Haftr and Abdel Fattah Younes are two of the players. They've been on opposite sides in Libya for quite a while and are probably just beginning to build a relationship. After all, Haftr's been an opposition figure for some 20 years and Younes just left the Gadhafi regime," said the U.S. official who had asked not to be named.

                Haftr says his forces need M16 rifles, anti-tank missiles, armored personnel carriers and communication equipment. The general said he would welcome foreign military trainers to whip his army into shape.

                CLICK HERE to follow the ABC News Investigative Team and Brian Ross on Facebook and join in on the discussion.

                He also denied that extremist Islamists are in his army, although U.S. experts told Congress this week that there was evidence that militant Muslims make up a small number of rebel fighters.

                ABC News' Luis Martinez and Matthew Cole contributed to this report

                Copyright © 2011 ABC News Internet Ventures
                Last edited by troung; 31 Mar 11,, 13:23.
                To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                • #9
                  The Interim National Council Manifesto-House of Commons Library

                  29th‘ March 2011

                  A Vision of a Democratic Libya

                  The lnterim National Council hereby presents its vision for rebuilding the democratic State of Libya. This vision responds to the needs and aspirations of our people, while incorporating the historical changes brought about by the 17th February revolution.

                  We have leamt from the struggles of our past during the dark days of dictatorship that there is no altemative to building a free and democratic society and ensuring the supremacy of lntemational humanitarian law and Human Rights Declarations. This can only be achieved through dialogue, tolerance, cooperation, national cohesiveness and the active participation of all citizens. As we are familiar with being ruled by the authoritarian dictatorship of one man, the political authority that we seek must represent the free will of the people, without exclusion or suppression of any voice. The lessons of our past will outline our social contract through the need to respect the interests of all groups and classes that comprise the fabric of our society and not compromise the interests of one at the expense of the other. lt is this social contract that must lead us to a civil society that recognizes intellectual and political pluralism and allows for the peaceful transfer of power through legal institutions and ballot boxes; in accordance with a national constitution crafted by the people and endorsed in a referendum.

                  To that end, we will outline our aspirations for a modern, free and united State, following the defeat of the illegal Gaddafi regime. The Interim National Council will be guided by the following in our continuing march to freedom, through espousing the principles of political democracy. We recognize without reservation our obligation to:

                  1. Draft a national constitution that clearly defines its nature, essence and purpose and establishes legal, political, civil, legislative, executive and judicial institutions. The constitution will also clarify the rights and obligations of citizens in a transparent manner, thus separating and balancing the three branches of legislative, executive and judicial powers.

                  2. Form political organizations and civil institutions including the foundation of political parties, popular organizations, unions, societies and other civil and peaceful associations.

                  3. Maintain a constitutional civil and Free State by upholding intellectual and political pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power, opening the way for genuine political participation, without discrimination.

                  4. Guarantee every Libyan citizen, of statutory age, the right to vote in free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as the right to run for office.

                  5. Guarantee and respect the freedom of expression through media, peaceful protests, demonstrations and sit-ins and other means of communication, in accordance with the constitution and its laws in a way that protects public security and social peace.

                  6. A State that draws strength from our strong religious beliefs in peace, truth, justice and equality.

                  7. Political democracy and the values of social justice, which include:
                  a) The nation’s economy to be used for the benefit of the Libyan people by creating effective economic institutions in order to eradicate poverty and unemployment- working towards a healthy society, a green environment and a prosperous economy.

                  b) The development of genuine economic partnerships between a strong and productive public sector, a free private sector and a supportive and effective civil society, which overstands corruption and waste.

                  c) Support the use of science and technology for the betterment of society, through investments in education, research and development, thus enabling the encouragement of an innovative culture and enhancing the spirit of creativity. Focus on emphasizing individual rights in a way that guarantees social freedoms that were denied to the Libyan people during the rule of dictatorship. In addition to building efficient public and private institutions and funds for social care, integration and solidarity, the State will guarantee the rights and empowerment of women in all legal, political, economic and cultural spheres.

                  d) A constitutional civil State which respects the sanctity of religious doctrine and condemns intolerance, extremism and violence that are manufactured by certain political, social or economic interests. The State to which we aspire will denounce violence, terrorism, intolerance and cultural isolation; while respecting Human Rights, rules and principles of citizenship and the rights of minorities and those most vulnerable. Every individual will enjoy the full rights of citizenship, regardless of color, gender, ethnicity or social status.

                  8. Build a democratic Libya whose intemational and regional relationships will be based upon:
                  a) The embodiment of democratic values and institutions which respects its neighbors, builds partnerships and recognizes the independence and sovereignty of other nations. The State will also seek to enhance regional integration and intemational cooperation through its participation with members of the intemational community in achieving intemational peace and security.

                  b) A State which will uphold the values of intemational justice, citizenship, the respect of intemational humanitarian law and Human Rights Declarations, as well as condemning authoritarian and despotic regimes. The interests and rights of foreign nationals and companies will be protected. Immigration, residency and citizenship will be managed by govemment institutions, respecting the principles and rights of political asylum and public liberties.

                  c) A State which will join the intemational community in rejecting and denouncing racism, discrimination and terrorism while strongly supporting peace, democracy and freedom.

                  Political and Intemational Affairs Committee
                  The Interim National Council Libya
                  Last edited by Double Edge; 31 Mar 11,, 17:17.


                  • #10
                    Libyan rebels losing their nerve
                    Visions of Moammar Kadafi falling quickly to the revolution have given way to low morale and a tendency to flee.
                    Libya fighting: Rebel effort beginning to fray -
                    By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times

                    April 1, 2011

                    Reporting from Ajdabiya, Libya

                    The nascent rebel effort in eastern Libya, sustained for weeks by revolutionary passion and zeal, has begun to fray in the face of chaotic battlefield collapses and ineffective leadership.

                    Many of the idealistic young men who looted army depots of gun trucks and weapons six weeks ago believed the tyrannical 41-year reign of Col. Moammar Kadafi would quickly collapse under the weight of a mass rebellion.

                    Now those same volunteer fighters, most of whom had never before fired a gun, have fled a determined onslaught by Kadafi's forces, which have shown resilience after being bombarded and routed by allied airstrikes a week ago.

                    Some exhausted rebels capped a 200-plus mile retreat up the Libyan coast by fleeing all the way to Benghazi, the rebels' de facto capital, to rest and regroup. Others remained at thinly manned positions at the strategic crossroads city of Ajdabiya on Thursday.

                    Small groups of rebels stood their ground and fought Kadafi militiamen who seemed on the verge late Thursday of recapturing the oil city of Port Brega.

                    For many rebel fighters, the absence of competent military leadership and a tendency to flee at the first shot have contributed to sagging morale. Despite perfunctory V-for-victory signs and cries of "Allahu akbar!" (God is great), the eager volunteers acknowledge that they are in for a long, uphill fight.

                    "Kadafi is too strong for us, with too many heavy weapons. What can we do except fall back to protect ourselves?" said Salah Chaiky, 41, a businessman, who said he fired his assault rifle while fleeing Port Brega even though he was too far away to possibly hit the enemy.

                    Retreating rebels paused only to wolf down lunches provided by volunteers supporting their cause. Two in mismatched military uniforms took time out in Ajdabiya to sneak into a blown-out police post and smoke hashish.

                    With many rebels headed home, the 140 miles of highway between Port Brega and Benghazi was only lightly guarded Thursday. But fighters and spokesmen for the opposition movement predicted that Kadafi's forces would not chase them up the highway for fear of another pounding from allied warplanes.

                    Rebels surrounded by garbage and swarms of flies at a checkpoint in Ajdabiya complained that their erstwhile commanders were nowhere to be found. They griped about comrades who had fled to the relative safety of Benghazi, and about a dearth of weapons and ammunition.

                    They say orders are never issued, except by fellow fighters, and that those are routinely ignored. Kadafi family members who control Libya's cellphone network have cut most cell communications in the rebel-held east, leaving each gun truck to fight on its own.

                    A Libyan telecommunications specialist who works for the opposition said forces in Benghazi had monopolized 400 donated field radios and 400 more Thuraya and Iridium satellite phones intended for the battlefield.

                    Several fighters said they were now being charged one Libyan dinar (about 80 cents) per bullet because rebels had wasted thousands of precious rounds firing wildly into the air. During the panicked retreat from the desert hamlet of Bin Jawwad on Tuesday, many fighters fired randomly as they fled, sometimes just over the heads of fellow rebels.

                    Few, if any, T-72 tanks and BM-21 rocket launchers recovered from government forces who abandoned the weapons during Western-led airstrikes have been brought to the front. Opposition leaders, who say defecting government soldiers are qualified to supervise rebel volunteers, say those same regulars aren't trained to operate the tanks and rockets.

                    "These guys weren't taught anything under Kadafi," said Mustafa Gheriani, an opposition spokesman. "He made sure they didn't know how to operate these kinds of weapons" because he feared a coup.

                    Opposition leaders say they are struggling to bring discipline to their rudderless forces by reshuffling the military command. But rebels say commanders rarely visit the battlefield and exercise little authority because many fighters don't trust them.

                    Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis, Kadafi's former interior minister and ex-commander of army special forces, is viewed with suspicion by some rebels and political leaders in Benghazi. He was the nominal rebel commander until last weekend and still holds a prominent position.

                    : "A lot of people wonder why he joined the revolution," said Zahi Mogherbi, a retired political science professor who advises the opposition's national council. Younis' role "has delayed the integration and coordination of regular army forces," Mogherbi said.

                    Younis has been challenged by another former Kadafi confidant, Khalifa Hefter, a former army officer who broke with Kadafi years ago and moved to the U.S. Hefter has clashed with Younis since returning recently to Libya and replacing him as titular commander of the rebel movement.

                    "Both are very high commanders, very strong commanders, who need to reach an understanding on how to collaborate effectively," said Essam Gheriani, another opposition spokesman.

                    He said opposition leaders met late Thursday to come up with "genuine change" in the command structure.

                    Several rebel fighters said some Kadafi loyalists are seeking to evade airstrikes by fighting from pickups similar to the white, Chinese-made vehicles favored by rebel forces.

                    "They want to confuse the airplanes," said Ali Gweidy, a fighter from Benghazi. "They're terrified of those planes."

                    Even so, many rebels in gun trucks turned and fled Thursday, even though their heavy machine guns and antiaircraft guns seemed a match for any similar government vehicle.

                    "Would you stay and fight if you were getting shelled from 20 kilometers away?" Mustafa Gheriani said, referring to Grad rockets fired by government forces.

                    Another battlefield problem for the rebels is the scores of teenagers who have flocked to the front. They seem drawn by the idea of fighting and the spirit of revolution, but they carry no weapons.

                    Five friends, all age 19, piled into a battered blue Mazda in a coastal town east of Benghazi on Thursday and drove to the front near Port Brega. They watched a rocket or grenade slam into a rebel gun truck, wounding a fighter.

                    "We came to help, with ammunition, with the wounded, anything to be of service," said Tarik Abdel Gadar, who said he had paid about $15 for his army fatigues.

                    In Ajdabiya, eight teens from east of Benghazi said they had followed the rebels into battle for the last 17 days after hitching rides to the front. They sat gorging on food handouts, singing and mocking Kadafi with chants of "Forward to the front! No return!" — favorite phrases of the Libyan leader.

                    Essam Gheriani said rebels staffing checkpoints had been instructed to keep unarmed youths from reaching the front.

                    "They act like this is some kind of Rambo movie," he said. "This is a war, not a picnic."

                    Despite the battlefield losses and confusion, opposition spokesmen pointed to two positive developments.

                    The opposition has recently begun dispatching fishing boats to carry supplies and medicine from Benghazi to besieged rebels in Misurata in the west, they said. Rebels there control the city's port.

                    The opposition is also finalizing a deal for the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar to broker oil produced for export in rebel-controlled oil fields in eastern Libya, which accounts for 75% of Libya's production.


                    Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times
                    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                    • #11
                      Not all rebels are useless. Mistra has yet to fall.


                      • #12

                        Rebels: Gaddafi using Israeli weapons

                        Libyan opposition forces say army is using bombs, rockets that originated in Israel, Al Jazeera reports
                        Rebels: Gaddafi using Israeli weapons - Israel News, Ynetnews
                        Elior Levy
                        Published: 03.31.11, 22:30 / Israel News

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                        The Qatari news network Al Jazeera reported on Thursday that opposition forces in the Libyan city of Misrata displayed weapons that they claim originated in Israel. The weapons were allegedly siezed from the forces supporting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

                        Operation New Dawn
                        NATO takes sole control of Libya air operations / Associated Press
                        No more Odyssey Dawn: US eager to be rid of Libyan strike control taking back seat to NATO as operation renamed Unified Protector. 'We are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the people,' says NATO chief
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                        The opposition leaders alleged that some of the confiscated rockets and bombs had Stars of David imprinted on them. The photographs that were broadcast during the report showed different explosive devices, but no Israeli symbols or serial numbers were discernable.

                        Weapons from Israel? (Photo from Al Jazeera)

                        Meanwhile, Thursday's battles focused on the region between Brega and Ajdabiya, where the opposition forces have come under heavy fire from Gaddafi's army. Earlier it was reported that Gaddafi's forces have placed several explosives around Ajdabiya. The rebel-controlled Misrata continued to be under attack as well. The superior firepower of Gaddafi's army has been damaged, but not destroyed, by Western-led air strikes.

                        '40 civilians killed in air strike'

                        About 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi, the British government said in a human rights report published on Thursday.

                        The UK's Foreign Office also said it was "appalled by widespread reports of other serious human rights violations, including the use of torture and extra-judicial executions, illegal arrests and detentions (including incommunicado detention), denial of medical assistance and humanitarian aid."

                        Gaddafi forces planted bombs near Ajdabiya (Photo: Reuters)

                        The top Vatican official in Tripoli, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, said on Thursday that 40 civilians were killed in air strikes by Western forces on the Libyan capital, citing what he called reliable sources in close contact with residents.

                        "The air strikes are meant to protect civilians, but they are killing dozens of civilians," the apostolic vicar of Tripoli told Reuters by phone.

                        NATO said it was investigating Martinelli's report but had no confirmation of civilian casualties in Tripoli.

                        NATO assumed command of all air operations over Libya early Thursday, taking over from the US, which had been eager to be rid of that responsibility. NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Stockholm that NATO's position is that "we are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the people."

                        The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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                        To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                        • #13
                          April 2, 2011

                          Ex-Mujahedeen Help Lead Libyan Rebels
                          By CHARLES LEVINSON
                          [LIBJIHAD] Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

                          Libyans in the eastern town of Derna shout anti-Gadhafi slogans in a protest in February.

                          DARNA, Libya—Two former Afghan Mujahedeen and a six-year detainee at Guantanamo Bay have stepped to the fore of this city's military campaign, training new recruits for the front and to protect the city from infiltrators loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

                          The presence of Islamists like these amid the opposition has raised concerns, among some fellow rebels as well as their Western allies, that the goal of some Libyan fighters in battling Col. Gadhafi is to propagate Islamist extremism.
                          Regional Upheaval

                          Abdel Hakim al-Hasady, an influential Islamic preacher and high-school teacher who spent five years at a training camp in eastern Afghanistan, oversees the recruitment, training and deployment of about 300 rebel fighters from Darna.

                          Mr. Hasady's field commander on the front lines is Salah al-Barrani, a former fighter from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which was formed in the 1990s by Libyan mujahedeen returning home after helping to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan and dedicated to ousting Mr. Gadhafi from power.

                          Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden's holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan, is training many of the city's rebel recruits.

                          Both Messrs. Hasady and Ben Qumu were picked up by Pakistani authorities after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and were turned over to the U.S. Mr. Hasady was released to Libyan custody two months later. Mr. Ben Qumu spent six years at Guantanamo Bay before he was turned over to Libyan custody in 2007.

                          They were both released from Libyan prisons in 2008 as part of a reconciliation with Islamists in Libya.

                          Islamist leaders and their contingent of followers represent a relatively small minority within the rebel cause. They have served the rebels' secular leadership with little friction. Their discipline and fighting experience is badly needed by the rebels' ragtag army.

                          Among his followers, Mr. Hasady has the reputation of a trained warrior who stood fearlessly at the front ranks of young protesters during the first days of the uprising.

                          And his discourse has become dramatically more pro-American, now that he stands in alliance with the West in a battle against Col. Gadhafi.

                          "Our view is starting to change of the U.S.," said Mr. Hasady. "If we hated the Americans 100%, today it is less than 50%. They have started to redeem themselves for their past mistakes by helping us to preserve the blood of our children."

                          Mr. Hasady also offered a reconsideration of his past approach. "No Islamist revolution has ever succeeded. Only when the whole population was included did we succeed, and that means a more inclusive ideology."

                          Messrs. Ben Qumu and Barrani were on the front lines and couldn't be reached for comment.

                          Some rebel leaders are wary of their roles. "Many of us were concerned about these people's backgrounds," said Ashour Abu Rashed, one of Darna's representatives on the rebel's provisional government body, the Transitional National Council.

                          "Al-Hasady told me he only wants to remove Gadhafi and will serve under the authority of the local governing councils, and so far he has been true to his word."

                          After the uprising began in Libya, Mr. Hasady told several journalists that he had joined the fight against the Americans during his time in Afghanistan. He now says he was misquoted and that he only settled in Afghanistan because Islamists of his ilk were unwelcome everywhere else.

                          For the U.S., the situation recalls the problems that followed America's ill-fated alliance with the Afghan Mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s. Many went on to al Qaeda and other violent radical Islamist groups.

                          Adm. James Stavridis, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's supreme allied commander in Europe, pointed to this concern when he told a Senate committee on Tuesday that U.S. intelligence has picked up "flickers" of al Qaeda among rebel groups in Libya. He also said they were a minor element among the rebels.

                          Col. Gadhafi has gone out of his way to paint the popular uprising against his rule as an al Qaeda plot. He has singled out Mr. Hasady and the city of Darna as the capital of an alleged Islamist emirate, a baseless claim.

                          Local enmity for the Libyan leader runs deep. The first uprising against Col. Gadhafi's rule took place in Darna in 1970, less than a year after he seized power. The city proudly boasts that the first political prisoner killed by the Gadhafi regime was a Darna native.

                          Write to Charles Levinson at
                          To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                          • #14
                            Some more excerpts from Fareed's show yesterday. He had a french intellectual credited with influencing Sarkozy with moving on the intervention.

                            ZAKARIA: And we are back. Joining me now, a truly terrific panel. Bernard-Henri Levy, the French intellectual who is said to have convinced President Sarkozy to presume military action against Gadhafi. Did he? I'll ask him.

                            You found yourself in -- you were in Egypt. You heard about what was going on in Libya. You went to Libya. You chartered a plane. You met the opposition. You then ended up taking them to see Sarkozy.

                            What -- at that meeting between you -- with you, the Libyan opposition leaders and Sarkozy, what happened that convinced France to take such a strong position?

                            BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, FRENCH INTELLECTUAL: I think that Sarkozy was convinced before, a few days before, when I called him from Benghazi, when I made him the -- when I extended to him the proposal of bringing the opponents, he said immediately yes. And when I saw him in Paris a few days after, when I proposed the idea of recognizing them as a legitimate representative of the Libyan people, again he said yes.

                            ZAKARIA: Why? Because this is -- France has not tended to be so active in the past.

                            LEVY: Many reasons. I think that Nicolas Sarkozy, a long time ago, when he was minister of Balladur, 15 years ago, he was in favor intimately, in his heart, of intervention in Bosnia. And I think that he was one of the ministers of this time who was ashamed of France doing nothing in Rwanda, and not only doing nothing, probably helping --

                            ZAKARIA: The wrong side.

                            LEVY: -- (INAUDIBLE) the wrong side.

                            So Sarkozy -- this is my opinion -- had this sort of guiltiness since years and years. So maybe when -- when some people, including me, came to him and told him there was an occasion here. You have defenseless people, you have a threatening blood bath, you have a political solution available, and you can help that, I think he said, of course. Why not?

                            ZAKARIA: You met with all of these people, these opposition leaders. One of the big questions people have is, whom are we getting in bed with? You are convinced that these people are liberals, democrats?

                            LEVY: I did not go in bed with them, but I propose whoever wants to come with me there, and they will see, they are not ghosts. They are not (INAUDIBLE) secret army. It is not the Cambodian Ankara (ph). They are open. Anybody can see them, and anybody, if we see them, will admit that they are secular, that they are democrats, not Churchillian democrats but wanting to make serious steps on the world of democracy, that they are Western -- West-inclined, they are in favor of links with the Western world and so on.

                            It's quite clear. Everybody goes as if they were a secret government, as if they were a sort of dark, secret army. No. They came to Paris. They came to London when there was this summit last week. Any journalist can -- can speak with them.

                            ZAKARIA: Well, one of journalists who has spoken with them is Robert Worth.

                            Robert, you were in Benghazi. You met with these people. Would you agree with Bernard-Henri Levy's characterization?

                            ROBERT WORTH, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think there are mix. It's difficult to be really certain about who they are because I think for one thing they're all fighting on the same side of a war right now and so people with different perspectives are reluctant to talk about divisions.

                            There are certainly plenty of religious people. Are some of them Jihadists? Perhaps. But I think circumstances really depend a lot. I mean, I think another thing that's important is their ultimate identity is probably up for grabs, to some extent, in the sense that they're in the midst of a movement whose outcome could really help define how -- how they -- how they see themselves. And, if it goes right, I think this movement could help to undercut the power of radicalism across the whole region, not just in Libya, in way that even 100 years of drone strikes could not achieve.

                            So, I think, you know, I get -- at the moment, it's difficult to be sure of exactly who they are.

                            LEVY: Can I have one -- you know, (INAUDIBLE) Jihadists among the 11 who are known now, can you quote me? Because I was in Benghazi two weeks ago. I saw all of them. Do you have one name? Can you quote him, who is, as you said, perhaps a Jihadist?

                            WORTH: Well, I'm not talking about the leadership council necessarily. I mean, I've -- I spent a lot of time with a whole lot of younger people, and also with some of the fighters who went to break out the fight.

                            LEVY: No, but the reason --


                            WORTH: I'm not saying -- I'm not saying the leadership are Jihadists.

                            LEVY: Thank you very much.
                            Later, Zakaria also spoke with an ex-Jihadi from Libya

                            ZAKARIA: Welcome back to GPS. I'm Fareed Zakaria. Time now for the part of the show we call "What in the World." With all the allegations of al Qaeda's involvement with the Libyan rebels, we thought we'd try to separate fact from fiction. So who better to speak with than a Libyan former associate of bin Laden. Our guest, Noman Benotman, used to be a jihadist, a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an associate of al Qaeda. But he now works for the counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation. He joins us now from London. Noman, welcome.

                            NOMAN BENOTMAN, QUILLIAM FOUNDATION: Thank you, Zakaria.

                            ZAKARIA: Let me ask you very simply. You know these people who are involved in the Libyan affiliate of al Qaeda. Does it strike you that the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi, that the rebels, the opposition leaders in Benghazi, are they al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliated, al Qaeda associated in any way?

                            BENOTMAN: Look, Zakaria, I think any claims like this, it's a baseless claim. It's the bottom line, it's clear, because the revolution or the uprising in Libya, it's -- the main force behind it, it was the Libyans themselves, you know. If you were there, you will see there's like a lot of professors, doctors, engineers, cookers, taxi drivers, unemployment coming from like different aspects of life in Libya. So it has nothing to do with al Qaeda or even any Islamist agenda as well. It's not just al Qaeda. The agenda it's just based on one concept, which is like free, democratic country. That's it.

                            ZAKARIA: Let me --

                            BENOTMAN: So it suggests I think --

                            ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, though. One thing that worries people is that Libya sent a large number of jihadist fighters to Iraq. By some calculations, Libya was the country that had the largest number of jihadists in Iraq. So it makes people think in Libya, there must be a large number of jihadist fighters. Is that true?

                            BENOTMAN: Look, it's a fact. You know, when you have like for many years, like many movements, adapted like jihadi or radical Islamic agenda, you'll still see these people.

                            But my point is, when you have like few hundred jihadists in Libya, the point is, are they organized based under one organization or umbrella, what's the leadership, what's their agenda? This is the most important thing. And there is one issue here as well. Should we ask them, because they have like past or some of them they are still like would be able to label as a jihadist, should we ask them just to stay home and watch while their own people and families and, you know, like, mothers, they are slaughtered by their own regime. Doesn't make any sense.

                            Yes, there is jihadists in Libya, of course. You know, but my point is they are insignificant and there is no way on earth they are going to be like the most powerful or dominant movement behind the revolution.

                            ZAKARIA: Is there--

                            BENOTMAN: It's 100 percent, I can assure you.

                            ZAKARIA: Is there a danger that as the violence goes on, Libya becomes a magnet for some of -- for jihadists for al Qaeda? Is, you know, al Qaeda seems interested in Libya. Could they move in?

                            BENOTMAN: Yes, of course, I agree with you. Al Qaeda is always interested in Libya, you know, like, either the al Qaeda leadership in FATA, around Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Ayman Zawahiri, or if we talk about al Qaeda like AQIM, al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb. They are, I think for them, when there's a chaos or war, it's always a chance. And they'll do everything possible, you know, to make -- to utilize that chance.

                            But I can assure you until today, until today, it's very difficult for them. And I know they are working very hard, especially Al Qaeda In Islamic Maghreb, and just recently they tried to send some people across the borders, the southern border of Libya through (ph) Algeria. But I think it's very difficult for them.

                            Yes, myself, I'll share my concern with you if the -- if the conflict it allowed to last for long, and the escalation of violence increased. It's a war situation, and when you are in a war situation, I'm not going to lie to you, that means the uncertainty is 100 percent. That's why every day Libya, we don't have a situation. Basically, we have a flow of situations. It's like the stock market, you need to follow it every single hour.

                            ZAKARIA: Noman Benotman, thank you very much.


                            • #15
                              Britain urges Koussa to answer Lockerbie questions
                              31 mins ago

                              LONDON – Britain says it has encouraged Libyan envoy Moussa Koussa to answer questions from Scottish police and prosecutors over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

                              British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that officials have told the former Libyan foreign minister, who fled Tripoli and arrived in Britain on Wednesday, that he should cooperate fully with authorities over an inquiry into the airline bombing.

                              Scottish prosecutors are seeking to interview Koussa about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people — most of them Americans.

                              Hague also told legislators that Britain is considering plans to supply Libya's rebel forces with non-lethal equipment.

                              Like the U.S., Britain has suggested it could also supply weapons to rebel forces in some circumstances — despite a U.N. arms embargo covering Libya — but that it has not yet made a decision to do so.

                              Hague also said the new international contact group on Libya will meet next week in Qatar. The group was set up to provide political oversight to NATO-led airstrikes and humanitarian assistance efforts in Libya.

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                              To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway