Thursday, 24 March 2011

No Al-Qa'ida presence in the Libyan revolution

The US has reported that, despite fears of Al-Qa'ida presence in the opposition, rebelling against long- term leader Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi, it has found no evidence to support such suspicions. The US began gathering intelligence when anti-Qadhafi rebels started seizing towns in eastern Libya last month.

Speaking about the exercise, a US counter-terrorism official said: "We're keeping an eye out for extremist activity in Libya, but we haven't seen much, if any, to date.”

Eastern Libya has always been synonymous with Islamic militants, with the vast majority coming from Benghazi and nearby Derna. The US is, therefore, concerned that long-term instability may prove a fertile breeding ground for Al-Qa'ida and its subsidiaries. There is no concrete evidence, however, to suggest this may be the case.

In the past, Qadhafi has always claimed that eastern Libya has long been dominated by Al-Qa'ida, a charge vehemently contested by opposition leaders in the region. With most of Libya's domestic Islamists in prison, the anti-Qadhafi revolution is being led by ordinary people.

Speaking about it, Menas Associates Managing Director Charles Gurdon said: “Although Libya's revolution has very broad support in Cyrenaicia, its leadership structure is loose and unwieldy and includes, secular technocrats and intellectuals; more conservative tribal and religious leaders; representatives of the youth population; and some officials and military officers who defected from the regime.”

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Bellingham Herald, The Business Insider

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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