Daily Archives: March 26, 2011

this is useful for the links, but cartalucci is asking the wrong question

The question he should be asking is not, who is funding these people, since funding is just a bazaar where everybody funds everything in the hope (usually misplaced) that this may purchase them some influence later on, but how many of these people are theocratic Islamist revolutionaries in the Muslim Brotherhood mould, and how many are ‘democratic activists’ in the western pluralist secularist sense? ‘Globalists’ is Birchist code for ‘communists’, which fits in with the general deception of US geopolitics, according to which imperialism is a left-wing activity. How USAians can believe this, given that any history book will tell them that in every case since WW2 that the US has intervened overseas, it has been to prevent leftists or even centrists from coming to power and to ensure that rightists come to power instead, is difficult to explain. Possibly the aim of all this is to persuade us that the Muslim Brotherhood are crypto-communists too – RB

Opposition is a conglomeration of Western-backed “human rights activists”
Tony Cartalucci, Blacklisted News, Mar 25 2011

“A prominent Syrian opposition figure says the country is “a bomb, ready to explode” as protesters demand freedom and an end to president Bashar al-Assad’s ‘cancerous regime’,” reports Australia’s ABC News. This prominent Syrian opposition figure is “human rights activist” Haitham Maleh, of the Human Rights Association of Syria, recently released from a Syrian prison. Haitham Maleh, and Muhannad al-Hassani, another activist whose plight is being used to stir up unrest, both received “pro-bono” legal services from the CFR stacked “Freedom Now” organization. Freedom Now receives funding from the Moriah Fund, the Lantos Foundation which includes Israeli President Shimon Peres as an “adviser,” Real Networks Foundation (which also funds Democracy Now) and the Charles Bronfman Prize which proclaims on its website “Jewish Values. Global Impact.” Freedom Now also receives “pro-bono” legal support from the Pillsbury law firm, a CFR corporate member.

Freedom Now specializes in “political prisoners” from various regions around the world that attract the attention of globalist ambitions. Leveraging these “human rights abuses” affords the globalists a perceived moral high ground from which they can exert pressure on target nations. This is very similar to the operation being run by Chatham House globalist Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff, who is defending western-backed Mikhail Khodorkovsky to ratchet up pressure on Russia, and Thaksin Shinawatra to exert pressure on Thailand. Understanding who these “human rights activists” are, who is supporting them, and the role they play in the latest round of the Western-backed “Arab Spring,” we can better understand articles like JPost’s ‘More than 100 killed in Syrian anti-government rallies.’ In the very first paragraph, the article concedes that the reports were cited from human rights activists and witnesses, thus a continuation of the absurd, unsubstantiated reporting seen earlier in Libya where unverified reports by the criminally irresponsible corporate media laid the groundwork for an equally criminal military intervention.

Syrian Human Rights Committee picketing Syria’s London embassy

Other actors amongst the Syrian unrest to be wary of include the London-based Syrian Human-Rights Committee whose hearsay statements posted on its website are cited by corporate news media in outlandish reports of violence that also include “activists say” after each allegation. There is also Kamal Labwani, who in 2005 was arrested in Syria after returning from a trip to Europe and the US where he met with government officials, journalists, and “human rights” groups in his effort to “change” the Syrian government. Amongst these officials Labwani consorted with was George Bush’s Deputy National Security Adviser J D Crouch. Considering that the US had openly declared Syria a rogue state, and in a speech by John Bolton, was targeted by possible US military action, Syria’s accusations that Labwani was guilty of “communicating with a foreign country and inciting it to initiate aggression against Syria” doesn’t seem so far fetched. In most nations the punishment for treason is death, under Syria’s ‘cancerous regime’ Labwani got 12 years. Once again, we see an entire movement fomented and propelled by Western-backed opposition in tandem with the corporate owned media. This is all part of a now irrefutable larger plot consuming the Middle East and Northern Africa. Just as we saw in Egypt and to a greater extent in Libya, the initial phases of unrest in Syria are marked by purposefully sloppy and confused reporting giving the destabilization efforts on the ground a chance to stampede the government from office. Should this stampeding fail, the truth will begin to trickle out, and the West’s involvement will become more overt.

foxman still blithering on

ADL slams Facebook for refusing to remove ‘third Intifada’ page
Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz, Mar 26 2011

The ADL filed Friday an official complaint against Facebook for refusing to remove a page called Third Palestinian Intifada. ADL’s Foxman said:

This Facebook page constitutes an appalling abuse of technology to promote terrorist violence. Although the managers of this group claim to be calling for peaceful demonstrations, the Third Intifada pages include calls for followers to build on the previous two intifadas. We should not be so naïve to believe that a campaign for a ‘Third Intifada’ does not portend renewed violence, especially in the current climate that has seen a dramatic increase in rocket attacks from Gaza, the brutal murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank, and a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.

The page, which has over 308,395 fans, is dedicated to encourage the outbreak a third Intifada in Israel, and warns that if Facebook removes the page “all Muslims will boycott Facebook forever.” The ADL said in a statement:

We are disappointed that Facebook has rejected our request to remove this site, which is in clear violation of their terms of service. We are especially disappointed in this case because in the past there has often been understanding and sensitivity from Facebook when we have brought violations of its own rules to its attention. We urge Facebook to reconsider its decision and remove this site, which by its very title incites violence.

ADL urges Facebook to remove ‘Third Intifada’ page
JPost, Mar 26 2011

The ADL has “reached out to Facebook” to remove a “cause” page entitled “Third Palestinian Intifada,” saying the page constitutes “an appaling abuse of technology to promote terrorist violence.” According to an official statement, the ADL’s request has not been met. ADL’s Foxman said the page misleadingly calls for peaceful demonstrations given that it asks supporters to “build on the previous two intifadas” in a current climate that has seen a dramatic increase in rocket attacks from Gaza, the brutal murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank, and a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.” The page currently has more than 312,061 supporters, and “includes inflammatory anti-Israel language calling for supporters to build on the previous two intifadas.” The page also contains links to related content on Twitter, Youtube, and in other locations. Foxman called on Facebook to “reconsider its decision an remove this site, which by its very title incites violence.” Last Wednesday Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Edelstein sent a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg asking him to make sure that a page calling for a third Palestinian Intifada be shut down. In a personal plea to the founder of Facebook, Edelstein wrote:

I turn to you with the request that you order the immediate removal of this Facebook page. I am sure that you too hold fast to these values and would prefer that all of the pages on your site operate according to them.

The founders of the Facebook group claim that they got the idea for the page from the recent uprisings throughout the Middle East that led to the ousting of the Tunisian and Egyptian leaders and the fall of their regimes.

p d scott, still googling away

Who are the Libyan Freedom Fighters and Their Patrons?
P D Scott, Asia-Pacific Journal, Mar 28 2011

The world is facing a very unpredictable and potentially dangerous situation in North Africa and the Middle East. What began as a memorable, promising, relatively non-violent achievement of new politics, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, has morphed very swiftly into a recrudescence of old habits: the US, already mired in two decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sporadic air attacks in Yemen and Somalia, now bombing yet another Third World Country, in this case Libya. The initially stated aim of this bombing was to diminish Libyan civilian casualties. But many senior figures in Washington, including Obama, have indicated that the US is gearing up for a quite different war for regime change, one that may well be protracted and could also easily expand beyond Libya. Sec Def Gates, who recently warned against any further protracted US ground war, said on Mar 23 that the end of military action in Libya is unknown and could last longer than a few weeks. ‘I think there are any number of possible outcomes here and no one is in a position to predict them,’ Gates told reporters in Egypt. If it does expand, the hope for a nonviolent transition to civilian government in Tunisia and Egypt and other Middle East nations experiencing political unrest may be lost to a hard-edged militarization of government, especially in Egypt. All of us, not just Egyptians, have a major stake in seeing that that does not happen. The present article does not attempt to propose solutions or a course of action for the US and its allies, or for the people of the Middle East. It attempts rather to examine the nature of the forces that have emerged in Libya over the last four decades that are presently being played out.

Who Are the Libyan Opposition?

Dan Lieberman wrote in CounterCurrents on Mar 9 2011:

If Muammar Al Gaddafi behaved paranoid, it was for good reason. It wasn’t long after he reached the age of 27 and led a small group of junior military officers in a bloodless coup d’état against Libyan King Idris on Sep 1 1969, that threats to his power and life emerged, from monarchists, Israeli Mossad, Palestinian disaffections, Saudi security, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), British intelligence, US antagonism and, in 1995, the most serious of all, Al Qaeda-like Libyan Islamic fighting group, known as Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya. The Colonel reacted brutally, by either expelling or killing those he feared were against him.

Regarding the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), Joel Bainerman wrote in Inside the Covert Operations of the CIA & Israel’s Mossad (1994):

With the aim of overthrowing Libyan strongman Muammar Khadafy, Israel and the US trained anti-Libyan rebels in a number of West and Central African countries. The Paris-based African Confidential newsletter reported on Jan 5 1989, that the US and Israel had set up a series of bases in Chad and other neighboring countries to train 2000 Libyan rebels captured by the Chad army. The group, called the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, was based in Chad.

Richard Keeble wrote in MediaLens (2002):

US official records indicate that funding for the Chad-based secret war against Libya also came from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Israel and Iraq. The Saudis, for instance, donated $7m to an opposition group, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (also backed by French intelligence and the CIA). But a plan to assassinate Gadafi and take over the government on May 8 1984 was crushed. In the following year, the US asked Egypt to invade Libya and overthrow Gadafi but Mubarak refused. By the end of 1985, the WaPo had exposed the plan after congressional leaders opposing it wrote in protest to Reagan.

Keith Harmon Snow wrote on Mar 2 2011:

The FNSL [National Front for the Salvation of Libya] was part of the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition held in London in 2005, and British resources are being used to support the FNSL and other ‘opposition’ in Libya. The FNSL held its national congress in the USA in Jul 2007. Reports of ‘atrocities’ and civilian deaths are being channeled into the western press from operations in Washington, and the opposition FNSL is reportedly organizing resistance and military attacks from both inside and outside Libya.

Regarding the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO), Ghali Hassan wrote on Mar 17 2011:

The main group leading the insurrection is the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition which includes the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). The NFSL, which is leading the violence, is a US-sponsored armed militia of mostly Libyan expatriates and tribes opposed to al-Qaddafi.

Regarding Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, LIFG), the Center for Defense Information wrote in Jan 2005:

The LIFG was founded in 1995 by a group of mujahideen veterans who had fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Upon their return to Libya they grew angry about what they viewed as the corruption and impiety of the Libyan regime and formed the LIFG to create a state that would show what they believed to be the true character of the Libyan people. The most significant LIFG attack was a 1996 attempt to assassinate Gadhafi; LIFG members led by Wadi al-Shateh threw a bomb underneath his motorcade. The group also stages guerilla-style attacks against government security forces from its mountain bases. Although most LIFG members are strictly dedicated to toppling Gadhafi, intelligence reportedly indicates that some have joined forces with al-Qaida to wage jihad against Libyan and Western interests worldwide. As recently as Feb 2004, then-DCI Tenet testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that “one of the most immediate threats is from smaller international Sunni extremist groups that have benefited from al-Qaida links. They include the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Ian Black wrote in the Guardian on Mar 1 2011:

In recent days Libyan officials have distributed security documents giving the details of Sufiyan al-Koumi, said to be a driver for Osama bin Laden, and of another militant allegedly involved in an “Islamic emirate” in Derna, in now-liberated eastern Libya. Koumi, the documents show, was freed in Sep 2010 as part of a “reform and repent” initiative organised by Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s son. The LIFG, established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, has assassinated dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen. In 2009, to mark Gaddafi’s 40 years in power, it apologised for trying to kill him and agreed to lay down its arms. MI6 has been accused in the past of supporting it. Six LIFG leaders, still in prison, disavowed their old ways and explained why fighting Gaddafi no longer constituted “legitimate” jihad. Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, another freed LIFG member, denied the official claims. “Gaddafi is trying to divide the people,” he told al-Jazeera. “He claims that there is an Islamist emirate in Derna and that I am its emir. He is taking advantage of the fact that I am a former political prisoner.” Derna is famous as the home of a large number of suicide bombers in Iraq. It is also deeply hostile to Gaddafi. “Residents of eastern Libya in general, and Derna in particular, view the Gaddadfa (Gaddafi’s tribe) as uneducated, uncouth interlopers from an inconsequential part of the country who have ‘stolen’ the right to rule in Libya,” US diplomats were told in 2008, in a cable since released by WikiLeaks.

The last 110 members of the LIFG were freed on Feb 16, the day after the Libyan uprising began. One of those released, Abdulwahab Mohammed Kayed, is the brother of Abu Yahya Al Libi, one of al Qaida’s top propagandists. Koumi fled Libya and is said to have ended up in Afghanistan working for Bin Laden. Captured in Pakistan, he was handed over to the US and sent to Guantánamo Bay in 2002. In 2009 he was sent back to Libya. US counter-terrorist experts have expressed concern that al-Qaida could take advantage of a political vacuum if Gaddafi is overthrown. But most analysts say that, although the Islamists’ ideology has strong resonance in eastern Libya, there is no sign that the protests are going to be hijacked by them.

Qadhafi was concerned about Al Qaeda terrorism in Libya, and in 1996 Libya became the first government to place Osama bin Laden on Interpol’s Wanted List (Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror, 2002). Thereafter US and Libyan intelligence collaborated closely for some years against Al Qaeda. Beginning when? Gary Gambhill wrote for Jamestown’s Terrorism Monitor on Mar 5 2005:

Fierce clashes between security forces and Islamist guerrillas erupted in Benghazi in Sep 1995, leaving dozens killed on both sides. After weeks of intense fighting, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) formally declared its existence in a communiqué calling Qadhafi’s government “an apostate regime that has blasphemed against the faith of God Almighty” and declaring its overthrow to be “the foremost duty after faith in God.” This and future LIFG communiqués were issued by Libyan Afghans who had been granted political asylum in Britain. The involvement of the British government in the LIFG campaign against Qadhafi remains the subject of immense controversy. LIFG’s next big operation, a failed attempt to assassinate Qadhafi in Feb 1996 that killed several of his bodyguards, was later said to have been financed by British intelligence to the tune of $160,000, according to ex-MI5 officer David Shayler. While Shayler’s allegations have not been independently confirmed, it is clear that Britain allowed LIFG to develop a base of logistical support and fundraising on its soil. At any rate, financing by bin Laden appears to have been much more important. According to one report, LIFG received up to $50,000 from the Saudi terrorist mastermind for each of its militants killed on the battlefield.

Yoichi Shimatsu wrote on Mar 20 2011:

The US, the UK and the French are finding themselves as comrades in arms with the rebel Islamic Fighting Group, the most radical element in the Al Qaeda network. Sec State Clinton admitted the risks of the unholy alliance in a congressional hearing, saying that the Libyan opposition is probably more anti-US than Muammar Gaddhafi. A decade ago, this very same delusion of a Western-Islamist partnership in Kosovo, Bosnia and Chechnya ended abruptly in the 9/11 attacks.

Regarding the Transitional National Council, according to the Australian on Mar 1 2011:

A rival transitional government to the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi looks set to win US and other international support as momentum builds to oust the longtime dictator. US Sec StateClinton confirmed yesterday that the Obama administration was reaching out to opponents of Colonel Gaddafi. She said the US was willing to offer ‘any kind of assistance’ to remove him from power. Protest leaders who have taken control in Libya’s eastern cities claim to have established a transitional “national council” that amounts to rival rule. They have called on the country’s army to join them as they prepare for an attack on the capital, Tripoli, where the Libyan leader retains control. Confident the Libyan leader’s 42-year rule was coming to an end, Clinton said yesterday: ‘We are just at the beginning of what will follow Gaddafi.’

Toronto Globe & Mail on Mar 4 2011:

He [Omar El- Hariri, Chief of Armed Forces for the Transitional National Council] remained under close surveillance by the security forces until Feb 17, when the revolution started. It was not initiated by prominent figures of the older generation, he said, but began spontaneously when Tunisia and Egypt inspired the youth. ‘Children of Facebook!’ he declared, in English, with a broad smile.

Bloomberg, Mar 22 2011:

Libyan rebels in Benghazi said they have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by leader Muammar Qaddafi whose assets were frozen by the UNSC. The Transitional National Council released a statement announcing the decision made at a Mar 19 meeting to establish the Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general of the company. The Council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.

Where Are the Libyan Rebel Arms Coming From?

According to Robert Fisk on Mar 7 2011:

Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the US have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10% Shi’a community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago. Washington’s request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to US efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980. But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain, even though the arms would be US-made and paid for by the Saudis. The Saudis have been told that opponents of Gaddafi need anti-tank rockets and mortars as a first priority to hold off attacks by Gaddafi’s armour, and ground-to-air missiles to shoot down his fighter-bombers. Supplies could reach Benghazi within 48 hours but they would need to be delivered to air bases in Libya or to Benghazi airport. If the guerrillas can then go on to the offensive and assault Gaddafi’s strongholds in western Libya, the political pressure on the US and NATO, not least from Republican members of Congress, to establish a no-fly zone would be reduced. US military planners have already made it clear that a zone of this kind would necessitate US air attacks on Libya’s functioning, if seriously depleted, anti-aircraft missile bases, thus bringing Washington directly into the war on the side of Gaddafi’s opponents.

For several days now, US AWACS surveillance aircraft have been flying around Libya, making constant contact with Malta air traffic control and requesting details of Libyan flight patterns, including journeys made in the past 48 hours by Gaddafi’s private jet which flew to Jordan and back to Libya just before the weekend. Officially, NATO will only describe the presence of US AWACS planes as part of its post-9/11 Operation Active Endeavour, which has broad reach to undertake aerial counter-terrorism measures in the Middle East region. The data from the AWACS is streamed to all NATO countries under the mission’s existing mandate. Now that Gaddafi has been reinstated as a super-terrorist in the West’s lexicon, however, the NATO mission can easily be used to search for targets of opportunity in Libya if active military operations are undertaken. Al Jazeera English television channel last night broadcast recordings made by US aircraft to Maltese air traffic control, requesting information about Libyan flights, especially that of Gaddafi’s jet. A US AWACS aircraft, tail number LX-N90442, could be heard contacting the Malta control tower on Saturday for information about a Libyan Dassault-Falcon 900 jet 5A-DCN on its way from Amman to Mitiga, Gaddafi’s own VIP airport. NATO AWACS 07 is heard to say: “Do you have information on an aircraft with the Squawk 2017 position about 85 miles east of our?” Malta air traffic control replies: “Seven, that sounds to be Falcon 900, at flight level 340, with a destination Mitiga, according to flight plan.”

But Saudi Arabia is already facing dangers from a co-ordinated day of protest by its own Shi’a Muslim citizens who, emboldened by the Shi’a uprising in the neighbouring island of Bahrain, have called for street protests against the ruling family of al-Saud on Friday. After pouring troops and security police into the province of Qatif last week, the Saudis announced a nationwide ban on all public demonstrations. Shi’a organisers claim that up to 20,000 protesters plan to demonstrate with women in the front rows to prevent the Saudi army from opening fire. If the Saudi government accedes to the US request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shi’as of the north-east provinces. Thus has the Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shi’a revolt and the rising against Gaddafi become entangled in the space of just a few hours with US military priorities in the region.

The LA Times reported on Mar 24 2011:

Reports from the region suggest that the Saudis and Egyptians have been providing arms. Though US officials could not confirm that, they say it is plausible.

The WSJ on Mar 17 2011:

Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, US and Libyan rebel officials said. The shipments, mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition, appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The Egyptian shipments are the strongest indication to date that some Arab countries are heeding Western calls to take a lead in efforts to intervene on behalf of pro-democracy rebels in their fight against Gadhafi in Libya. Washington and other Western countries have long voiced frustration with Arab states’ unwillingness to help resolve crises in their own region, even as they criticized Western powers for attempting to do so. The shipments also follow an unusually robust diplomatic response from Arab states. There have been rare public calls for foreign military intervention in an Arab country, including a vote by the 23-member Arab League last week urging the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The vote provided critical political cover to Western powers wary of intervening militarily without a broad regional and international mandate. On Thursday evening, the UNSC voted on a resolution endorsing a no-fly zone in Libya and authorizing military action in support of the rebels. Within the council, Lebanon took a lead role drafting and circulating the draft of the resolution, which calls for “all necessary measures” to enforce a ban on flights over Libya. The UAE and Qatar have taken the lead in offering to participate in enforcing a no-fly zone, according to UN diplomats.

Libyan rebel officials in Benghazi, meanwhile, have praised Qatar from the first days of the uprising, calling the small Gulf state their staunchest ally. Qatar has consistently pressed behind the scenes for tough and urgent international action behind the scenes, these officials said. Qatari flags fly prominently in rebel-held Benghazi. After pro-Gadhafi forces retook the town of Ras Lanuf last week, Libyan state TV broadcast images of food-aid packages bearing the Qatari flag. The White House has been reluctant to back calls from leaders in Congress for arming Libya’s rebels directly, arguing that the US must first fully assess who the fighters are and what policies they will pursue if they succeeded in toppling Gadhafi. US officials believe the opposition includes some Islamist elements. They fear that Islamist groups hostile to the US could try to hijack the opposition and take any arms that are provided. The Egyptian weapons transfers began ‘a few days ago’ and are ongoing, according to a senior US official. ‘There’s no formal US policy or acknowledgement that this is going on,’ said the senior official. But ‘this is something we have knowledge of.’ Calls to Egypt’s foreign ministry and the spokesman for the prime minister seeking comment went unanswered. There is no means of reaching Egypt’s military for comment. An Egyptian official in Washington said he had no knowledge of weapon shipments. The US official also noted that the shipments appeared to come “too little, too late” to tip the military balance in favor of the rebels, who have faced an onslaught from Libyan forces backed by tanks, artillery and aircraft.

“We know the Egyptian military council is helping us, but they can’t be so visible,” said Hani Souflakis, a Libyan businessman in Cairo who has been acting as a rebel liaison with the Egyptian government since the uprising began. “Weapons are getting through,” said Souflakis, who says he has regular contacts with Egyptian officials in Cairo and the rebel leadership in Libya. “the US have given the green light to the Egyptians to help. The US don’t want to be involved in a direct level, but the Egyptians wouldn’t do it if they didn’t get the green light.” Western officials and rebel leaders in Libya said the US has wanted to avoid being seen as taking a leadership role in any military action against Gadhafi after its invasions of Iraq and Afganistan fueled anger and mistrust with Washington throughout the region. But the US stated clearly it wants Gadhafi out of power and has signaled it would support those offering help to the rebels militarily or otherwise. A spokesman for the rebel government in Benghazi said arms shipments have begun arriving to the rebels but declined to specify where they came from. “Our military committee is purchasing arms and arming our people. The weapons are coming, but the nature of the weapons, the amount, where it’s coming from, that has been classified,” said the spokesman, Mustafa al-Gherryani.

The US official said Egypt wanted to keep the shipments covert. In public, Egypt has sought to maintain a neutral stance toward the rebel uprising in Libya. Egypt abstained during the Arab League’s vote calling for the UN to impose a no-fly zone on Gadhafi, according to people familiar with the internal Arab League deliberations. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian laborers are believed to still be in Libya. On the other hand, the Egyptian military’s covert support for the rebels suggests that it has calculated that Gadhafi is unlikely to remain in power, at least in the eastern half of the country, and therefore Egypt is eager to begin to build good relations with the rebels. Rebel forces in the past 24 hours appeared to make some progress fending off pro-Gadhafi forces’ assaults and have rolled out new weapons for the first time since the uprising began last month. Among them are rebel tanks that have taken up positions on the front lines in recent days. Rebels also launched fighter-jet attacks on government positions on Wednesday for the first time so far. The tanks and fighter jets are believed to have been among the weapons seized by rebels from defected units of the Libyan army in the eastern half of the country, but they have received spare parts or trained mechanics from outside the country to help them deploy them, some rebel officials have speculated.

Benjamin Gottlieb wrote on Mar 17 2011:

Arms shipments from Egypt’s military have begun flowing across the border into Libya with US knowledge, Libyan rebels and US officials said Thursday. Made up mostly of small arms, such as assault rifles and ammunition, the shipments are the first confirmed reports of an outside government supporting rebel fighters with weapons. Rebels have been loosing ground for days against pro-Gaddafi forces aiming to end the conflict before foreign intervention plans are finalized. Although the UN approved a “no-fly zone” over Libya late Thursday, rebel forces fear that any planned foreign intervention would be too little to late. The shipment of arms indicated an unusually bold response by an Arab nation intervening in a conflict outside its borders. There have also been rare public decrees for the West to intervene in the conflict. The Arab League voted 23-0 last week encouraging the UN to impose the “no-fly zone” over Libya. In spite of reports of arms flowing across the Egyptian boarder, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Menha Bakhoum told Reuters that Egypt would not be involved in any military intervention in neighboring Libya. “Egypt will not be among those Arab states. We will not be involved in any military intervention. No intervention period,” Bakhoum said. Bakhoum was responding to comments by US Sec State Clinton, who said Thursday that discussions were on the table regarding Arab involvement in US and European intervention in the conflict. Clinton has said repeatedly that the U.S. desires involvement from a neighboring Arab nation in any planned intervention. A Libyan rebel government spokesman in Benghazi, Mustafa al-Gherryani, said rebels have begun receiving arms shipments from neighboring nations, however he declined to reveal their origin. “Our military committee is purchasing arms and arming our people. The weapons are coming, but the nature of the weapons, the amount, where it’s coming from, that has been classified,” he said.

Finally, Yoichi Shimatsu wrote on Mar 1 2011:

It may puzzle and perhaps dismay young protesters in Benghazi, Cairo and Tunisia that their democratic hopes are being manipulated by an ultra-conservative Arab elite which has underhandedly backed a surge of militant Islamist radicals across North Africa. Credible US intelligence reports have cited evidence pointing to Qatar’s long-running support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and jihadist fighters returning from Afghanistan. The links to Qatar uncovered by anti-terrorism investigators in the wake of 9-11 need to be reexamined now that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an on-and-off affiliate of Al Qaeda, has seized armories across half of the North African country. Libya’s well-stocked arsenals contain high-power explosives, rocket launchers and chemical weapons. LIFG is on the State Dept’s terrorist list. Most worrying, according to a US intelligence official cited by CNN, is the probable loss of chemical weapons. The FAS reports that, as of 2008, only 40% of Libya’s mustard gas was destroyed in the second round of decommissioning. Chemical canisters along the Egyptian border were yet to be retrieved and are now presumably in the hands of armed militants.

After initially letting slip that the earliest Libyan protests were organized by the LIFG, Al Jazeera quickly changed its line to present a heavily filtered account portraying the events as ‘peaceful protests’. To explain away the gunshot deaths of Libyan soldiers during the uprising, the Qatar-based network presented a bizarre scenario of 150 dead soldiers in Libya having been executed by their officers for ‘refusing to fight’. The mysterious officers then miraculously vacated their base disappearing into thin air while surrounded by angry protesters! Off the record, one US intelligence analyst called these media claims an ‘absurdity’ and suggested instead the obvious: that the soldiers were gunned down in an armed assault by war-hardened returned militants from Iraq and Afghanistan. ccording to a Congressional Research Service report of Jan 2008, ‘Some observers have raised questions about possible support for Al Qaeda by some Qatari citizens, including members of Qatar’s large ruling family. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, Qatar’s Interior Minister provided a safe haven to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed during the mid-1990s, and press reports indicate other terrorists may have received financial support or safe haven in Qatar after 9/11.’ The national security chief, Interior Minister Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, is further mentioned as paying for a 1995 trip by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed ‘to join the Bosnia jihad.’ The report recalls how after the 1993 WTC bombing, FBI officials “narrowly missed an opportunity to capture” the suspect in Qatar. ‘Former US officials have since stated their belief that a high-ranking member of the Qatari government alerted him to the impending raid, allowing him to flee the country.’

The al-Thani family’s protection of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is confirmed by former CIA officer Robert Baer (LA Times, Mar 23 2003). Cf. Robert Baer, Sleeping with the Devil (2003); Peter Lance, Triple Cross (2006).

US: not very different from yeltsin’s (or putin’s) russia

Indiana Prosecutor Suggested Fake Attack on Wisconsin Governor
AP, Mar 25 2011

An Indiana prosecutor said one of his deputies resigned Thursday after admitting he sent an email to Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker suggesting the Republican fake an attack on himself to discredit the public employee unions protesting his plan to strip them of nearly all collective bargaining rights. Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper said Carlos Lam resigned in a phone call about 5 a.m. Thursday after acknowledging that he sent the Feb 19 email to Walker. Cooper said Lam initially denied sending the email and said someone had hacked into his email account. But Lam later acknowledged he had written the message, and resigned hours before the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reported the contents publicly Thursday. Cooper told the Daily Journal newspaper in Franklin, south of Indianapolis:

He wanted to come clean, I guess, and said he is the one who sent that email.

A message left by the AP at a telephone listing for Lam was not immediately returned Thursday. Lam’s email was sent amid daily protests at the Wisconsin Capitol against Walker’s plan to take away public employees’ rights to collectively bargain for anything except wages no higher than inflation. Lam is the second Indiana prosecutor to lose his job over volatile comments about the Wisconsin protests. Jeffrey Cox, a deputy attorney general, was fired last month after tweeting that police should use live ammunition against labor protesters. Wisconsin Republicans eventually used a procedural maneuver to pass the collective bargaining measure without Democrats who had fled to block a vote and Walker has signed it in to law. But a judge has issued a temporary restraining order to block the law from taking effect while courts consider a lawsuit alleging the Republicans’ move violated the state’s open meetings law and constitution.

US: we’re really good at bringing al qaeda to power where it suits us

Libyan War And Control Of The Mediterranean
Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, Mar 25 2011

A year after assuming the post of president of the French Republic in 2007, and while his nation held the rotating EU presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy invited the heads of state of the EU’s 27 members and those of 17 non-EU Mediterranean countries to attend a conference in Paris to launch a Mediterranean Union. In the words of Britain’s Daily Telegraph on Jul 10 2008, heralding the subsequent summit held for the purpose on Jul 13 2008:

Sarkozy’s big idea is to use imperial Rome’s centre of the world as a unifying factor linking 44 countries that are home to 800 million people.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, however, announced that his nation would boycott the gathering, denouncing the initiative as one aimed at dividing both Africa and the Arab world, and stating:

We shall have another Roman empire and imperialist design. There are imperialist maps and designs that we have already rolled up. We should not have them again.

The Telegraph added on Jul 14 that the unprecedented summit was held with the intention of “shifting Europe’s strategic focus towards the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans.” The Mediterranean Union was renamed the less controversial Union for the Mediterranean and its members include all 44 nations originally invited to join except for Libya. Less than three years later, Sarkozy’s Mirage and Rafale warplanes were bombing Libyan government targets, initiating an ongoing war being waged by France, the US, Britain and what the world news media refer to as an international coalition (12 members of NATO plus Qatar) to overthrow the Gaddafi government and implant a more pliant replacement. The Mediterranean Sea is the main battlefront in the world currently, superseding the AfPak war theater, and the empire of the new third millennium, that of the US and its NATO partners, is completing the transformation of the Mediterranean into its mare nostrum.

The attack on Libya followed by slightly more than three weeks a move in the parliament of the Eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus to drag that state into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, which if ultimately successful would leave only three of twenty nations (excluding microstate Monaco) on or in the Mediterranean Sea not full members of NATO or beholden to it through partnership entanglements, including those of the Mediterranean Dialogue (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia): Libya, Lebanon and Syria. NATO membership and partnerships obligate the affected governments to open their countries to the US military. For example, less than a year after becoming independent, Montenegro had already joined the Partnership for Peace and was visited by then-commander of US Naval Forces Europe Adm Ulrich and the submarine tender Emory Land in an effort “to provide training and assistance for the Montenegrin Navy and to strengthen the relationship between the two navies.” The next month four NATO warships, including the guided missile destroyer Roosevelt, docked in Montenegro’s Tivat harbor. If the current Libyan model is duplicated in Syria, as increasingly seems to be the case, and with Lebanon already blockaded by warships from NATO nations since 2006 in what is the prototype for what NATO will soon replicate off the coast of Libya, the Mediterranean Sea will be entirely under the control of NATO and its leading member, the US.

Cyprus in the only EU member, and indeed the only European nation except for microstates, that is for the time being not a NATO member or partner, and Libya is the only African nation bordering the Mediterranean not a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership program. Libya is also one of only five of Africa’s 54 countries that have not been integrated into, which is to say subordinated to, AFRICOM. The others are: Sudan, which is being balkanized as Libya may also soon be; Ivory Coast, now embroiled in what is for all intents a civil war with the West backing the armed groups of Alassane Ouattara against standing president Laurent Gbagbo and under the threat of foreign military intervention, likely by the AFRICOM- and NATO-supported West African Standby Force and possibly with direct Western involvement; Eritrea, which borders Djibouti where some 5,000 US and French troops are based and which was involved in an armed border conflict with its neighbor three years ago in which French military forces intervened on behalf of Djibouti; and Zimbabwe, which is among likely candidates for the next US-NATO Operation Odyssey Dawn-type military intervention.

The Mediterranean has been history’s most strategically important sea and is the only one whose waves lap the shores of three continents. Control of the sea has been fought over by the Persian, Alexandrian, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Spanish, British and Napoleonic empires, in part or in whole, and by Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. Since the end of WW2, the major military power in the sea has been the US. In 1946 Washington established Naval Forces Mediterranean, which in 1950 became the US Sixth Fleet and has its headquarters in the Mediterranean port city of Naples. In fact the genesis of the US Navy was the Naval Act of 1794, passed in response to the capture of US merchant vessels off the coast of North Africa. The Mediterranean Squadron (also Station) was created in reaction to the first Barbary War of 1801-1805, also known as the Tripolitan War after what is now northwestern Libya. The US fought its first naval battle outside the Western Hemisphere against Tripolitania in 1801. US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, also based in Naples, is assigned to the Sixth Fleet and provides forces for both EUCOM and AFRICOM. Its commander is Adm Locklear, who is also commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples. He has been coordinating US and NATO air and missile strikes against Libya from the flagship of the Sixth Fleet, the Mount Whitney, as commander of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, the AFRICO operation in charge of US guided missile destroyers, submarines and stealth bombers conducting attacks inside Libya.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm Roughead, the highest-ranking officer in the US Navy, recently stated that the permanent US military presence in the Mediterranean allowed the Pentagon, which “already was positioned for operations over Libya,” to launch Odyssey Dawn on Mar 19:

The need, for example in the opening rounds, for the Tomahawk strikes, the shooters were already in place. They were already loaded, and that went off as we expected it would. That’s what you get when you have a global Navy that’s forward all the time. We’re there, and when the guns go off, we’re ready to conduct combat operations.

On Mar 22, new AFRICOM chief Gen Ham visited the US air base in Ramstein, Germany and met with British, French and Italian air force leaders to evaluate the bombing campaign in Libya. He praised cooperation with NATO partners before the war began, stating:

You can’t bring 14 different nations together without ever having prepared for this before.

As the AFRICOM commander was in Germany, Sec Def Gates was in Egypt to meet with Field Marshal Tantawi, commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces and chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to coordinate the campaign against Libya. The Pentagon’s website reported on Mar 23 that forces attached to AFRICOM’s Task Force Odyssey Dawn had flown 336 air sorties, 108 of them launching strikes and 212 conducted by the US. The operations included 162 Tomahawk cruise missile attacks. Adm Roughead stated that he envisioned “no problem in keeping operations going,” as the Tomahawks will be replaced from the existing inventory of 3,200. Enough to level Libya and still have plenty left over for the next war. The defeat and conquest, directly or by proxy, of Libya would secure a key outpost for the Pentagon and NATO on the Mediterranean Sea. The consolidation of US control over North Africa would have more than just regional repercussions, important as they are. In Feb 2007, shortly after the inauguration of AFRICOM, Lin Zhiyuan, deputy director of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, wrote the following in People’s Daily:

By building a dozen forward bases or establishments in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and other African nations, the US will gradually establish a network of military bases to cover the entire continent and make essential preparations for docking an aircraft carrier fleet in the region. NATO with the US at the head had [in 2006] carried out a large-scale military exercise in Cape Verde, a western African island nation, with the sole purpose of controlling the sea and air corridors of crude oil extracting zones and monitoring how the situation is with oil pipelines operating there. AFRICOM represents a vital, crucial link for the US adjustment of its global military deployment. At present, it is moving the gravity of its forces in Europe eastward and opening new bases in Eastern Europe. The present US global military redeployment centers mainly on an ‘arc of instability’ from the Caucasus, Central and Southern Asia down to the Korean Peninsula, and so the African continent is taken as a strong point to prop up the US global strategy. Therefore, AFRICOM facilitates the US advancing on the African continent, taking control of the Eurasian continent and proceeding to take the helm of the entire globe.

Far more is at stake in the war with Libya than control of Africa’s largest proven oil reserves and subjugating the last North African nation not yet under the thumb of the US and NATO. Even more than domination of the Mediterranean Sea region.

gee, officer krupke…

EXTREMISM IN EASTERN LIBYA
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1.(C) Summary: A US-Libyan dual national who regularly visits family members in eastern Libya recently described for us social, political and economic factors that have contributed to and facilitated participation by a disproportionately large number of eastern Libya’s native sons in “martyrdom acts” and other insurgency operations in Libya and Iraq. A reportedly deliberate GOL policy to keep the east poor as a means by which to limit the potential political threat to Qadhafi’s regime has helped fuel the perception among many young eastern Libyan men that they have nothing to lose by participating in extremist violence at home and in Iraq. The prospect of financial compensation for their impoverished families motivates some, but local pride in eastern Libya’s historical role as a locus of opposition to occupying forces of various stripes is also an important factor. The fact that eastern Libyan mosques are more numerous and remote, together with tight local social networks, has reportedly circumscribed the ability of GOL security organizations to monitor and control the activities of radical imams as effectively as elsewhere in Libya. Unlike the rest of the country, sermons in eastern Libyan mosques are laced with phraseology urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere through direct participation or financial contributions. While senior regime figures, including Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, appear to have recognized that the east merits more attention and investment, the reported ability of radical imams to propagate messages urging support for and participation in jihad despite GOL security organizations’ efforts suggests that claims by senior GOL officials that the east is under control may be overstated. End summary.

2.(S/NF) In a meeting Feb 5, US-Libyan dual national xxxxxxxxxxxx(strictly protect) told P/E Chief that eastern Libya remains a locus of extremist activity over which GOL security services have comparatively limited control.

GOL KEEPS EAST POOR TO KEEP IT POLITICALLY DISENFRANCHISED …

3.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx said eastern Libya suffers from a disproportionately high level of unemployment, particularly for young men between the ages of 18 and 34. “At least half” of the young men in that demographic are unemployed or only intermittently employed. The situation reflects in part the Qadhafi regime’s belief that if it keeps the east poor enough, it will be unable to mount any serious political opposition to the regime. Explaining the rationale, he cited a Libyan proverb: “If you treat them like dogs, they will follow you like dogs”.

… BUT RECENT VIOLENCE SUGGESTS GOL’S APPROACH FLAWED

4.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx said recent events in Benghazi and Derna suggest that the GOL’s premise is flawed. Family members with whom he is in regular contact told him during his visit that there were violent clashes between local extremists and GOL elements late last year. In one incident, extremists opened fire in proximity to a Benghazi hospital in connection with their attempts to secure medical assistance for a sick or injured comrade. In another, there was an explosion or an exchange of gunfire (accounts differed) at a traffic circle in a Benghazi exurb in connection with an attempt by a police officer to stop a vehicle being used by extremists. (Note: Both incidents were reported late last year in other channels. This is the first mention we’ve heard of these events from other sources. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx also offered non-specific accounts of raids by extremists, whom they understood to be affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, on police and military installations to secure weapons.

“NOTHING TO LOSE”

5.(S/NF) Citing conversations with relatives, xxxxxxxxxxxx said the unemployed, disenfranchised young men of eastern Libya “have nothing to lose” and are therefore “willing to sacrifice themselves” for something greater than themselves by engaging in extremism in the name of religion. “Their lives mean nothing and they know it, so they seek to give meaning to their existence through their deaths”, he said. The lack of jobs and dim prospects for future employment, together with increased costs of living, mean that many young men lack the means to marry, leaving them without a key measure of social status and stability in what remains a traditional society. As in parts of neighboring Egypt, the average age at which men marry has increased in many parts of eastern Libya. Many now marry in their early to mid-30’s, which would have been considered “middle age” in the not too distant past.

COMPENSATION FOR MARTYRS’ FAMILIES AN INCENTIVE FOR SOME

6.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx flatly stated that some young men, particularly those from more impoverished clans, are motivated by the promise of long-term financial compensation for their families should they complete “martyrdom acts” in Iraq or elsewhere. Noting that incomes in the east are low, he offered that extremist networks are able to incentivize young men to kill themselves by offering comparatively small payments of 150-200 Libyan dinar/month (approximately $120-160/month) to families of “martyrs”. (Note: As a point of reference, most government salaries range from 250 to 330 Libyan dinar/month. End note.)

“PERVERSE PRIDE” AS GEOGRAPHICAL LOCUS OF RESISTANCE A DRAW FOR OTHERS

7.(S/NF) The fact that the east has been comparatively disenfranchised, together with its historical role as a locus of opposition to the Ottoman and Italian occupations, contribute to a “perverse sense of pride” among eastern Libyans in their role as a main supplier of young men for jihad efforts in Iraq and elsewhere, xxxxxxxxxxxx said. He recounted a large dinner in Derna hosted by a family friend that he attended in summer 2007. Conversation among the mostly middle-aged male group of guests focused on news that two young men from Derna had recently killed themselves in suicide operations in Iraq. Dinner guests offered a mix of “condolences and congratulations” to the two young men’s relatives.

8.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx said he was struck by the level sentiment against Coalition forces in Iraq, and by the obvious pride the dinner guests took in the fact that two of their native sons had “struck a blow” against “occupying Crusader forces in Iraq”. He emphasized that the dinner was one of the relatively few occasions in Libya in which he felt uncomfortable by dint of having US citizenship. In xxxxxxxxxxxx view, eastern Libyans are not necessarily anti-US, but are strongly opposed to a US military presence in Iraq or any other Muslim country. In the 1980’s, the talk had been directed against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; now, it was focused on the US presence in Iraq.

9.(S/NF) Noting that the leader of Libya’s resistance against the Italian occupation in the early 20th century, national hero Omar Mukhtar, was from the eastern village of Janzour, xxxxxxxxxxxx cautioned that it would be a mistake to think that young men from Derna were motivated to undertake suicide operations in Iraq solely by unemployment and the chance to secure a stipend for their families The region had a long, proud history of opposing occupation forces of one stripe or another; its residents took pride in their willingness to “fight for justice and their faith” despite their relative poverty.

IRAQ SEEN AS A “LOCAL” ISSUE FOR YOUNG EASTERN LIBYANS

10.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that for many young eastern men, jihad in Iraq was perceived to be a local issue. Among the factors fueling that perception, he pointed to the proselytizing influence of Libyan fighters who had fought in Afghanistan and now recruited young eastern Libyans for operations in Iraq, the influence of Arabic-language satellite television broadcasts, use of the Internet to exchange information and coordinate logistics, and the comparative ease of travel to/from Iraq. During his last visit to the east, relatives and friends cited media reports to the effect that Libyans, most of them from Derna and points east, comprised the second largest cohort of foreign fighters identified in documents seized during last September’s Objective Massey operation on the Syria-Iraq border. xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that a majority of those in Derna who raised the issue appeared to take pride in the fact that their small city had contributed disproportionately to the jihad against coalition forces in Iraq.

“CODED” MOSQUE SERMONS MORE RADICAL IN EAST

11.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx partly attributed the fierce mindset in Benghazi and Derna to the message preached by imams in eastern Libyan mosques, which he said is markedly more radical than that heard in other parts of the country. xxxxxxxxxxxx makes a point of frequenting mosques whenever he visits Libya as a means to connect with neighbors and relatives and take the political pulse. Sermons in eastern mosques, particularly the Friday ‘khutba’, are laced with “coded phrases” urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere through direct participation or financial contributions. The language is often ambiguous enough to be plausibly denied, he said, but for devout Muslims it is clear, incendiary and unambiguously supportive of jihad. Direct and indirect references to “martyrdom operations” were not uncommon. By contrast with mosques in Tripoli and elsewhere in the country, where references to jihad are extremely rare, in Benghazi and Derna they are fairly frequent subjects.

ARCHITECTURE, GEOGRAPHY COMPLICATE GOL CONTROL OF EASTERN MOSQUES

12.(S/NF) Part of the difficulty for GOL authorities in controlling eastern mosques is that the most zealous imams tend to preach in small suburban and rural mosques. He mentioned the almost festive atmosphere of one trip, when relatives gathered to travel to a remote rural mosque to hear a “controversial” imam’s sermon. Unlike Tripoli, mosques in the east tend to be smaller and more numerous, making it harder to monitor all of them. Architecture and local heritage also play a role: many mosques in the east don’t physically resemble traditional mosques elsewhere in the country, reflecting in part the pseudo-secret tradition of the Sanussi lodges that evolved in eastern Libya in the mid-19th century. The fact that many eastern mosques are less readily identifiable make it harder for GOL security organizations to identify them and easier to hold unobserved meetings and sermons, xxxxxxxxxxxx said. He claimed that it is “widely known” in the east that mosques in town centers are more closely monitored by GOL security organizations; however, it has been more difficult for security organizations to monitor smaller, more remote mosques in exurbs and towns around Benghazi and Derna.

AS DO TIGHT FAMILY, SOCIAL CIRCLES

13.(S/NF) Citing conversations with relatives, xxxxxxxxxxxx said it is “common knowledge” that GOL security organizations attempt to monitor mosque sermons and activities, particularly Friday ‘khutba’ sermons. (Note: In Tripoli and other parts of the country, an officially-sanctioned Friday ‘khutba’ theme and talking point-equivalents are distributed to mosques, often by facsimile. End note.) In addition to the proliferation of smaller, less visible mosques, the ability of security organizations to effectively monitor eastern Libyan mosques is circumscribed by the comparatively tight social and familial structure. Communities in the east tend to be smaller and more tightly knit; outsiders are easier to spot and families “watch out” for members who may have been turned by GOL security organizations to report on the activities of their relatives and neighbors.

14.(S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx related the story of a young man from Derna who was recently suspected of reporting to GOL security organizations on who attended his local mosque and what was said there. The alleged informant was ostracized by his fellow worshippers, townsmen and even family members. After losing his job, reportedly in part because of his “treachery”, he fled to Egypt and has not been heard from since.

15.(S/NF) Comment: xxxxxxxxxxxx account affords a relatively rare insider’s look at the social, political and economic factors in eastern Libya that have contributed to and facilitated participation by a disproportionately large number of its native sons in “martyrdom acts” and other insurgency operations in Iraq. Conventional wisdom holds that the east is poorer and more disenfranchised in part by deliberate design; however, senior GOL officials have recently made a point of spending more time and investing more effort there. Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, the regime’s most public face of political and economic reform, chose to hold the first and second meetings of his annual Youth Forum in Benghazi in 2006 and 2007, and gave important addresses to large crowds there. In the run-up to both events, he spent considerable time in and around Benghazi, promoting economic and social development projects under the auspices of the ostensibly non-governmental Qadhafi Development Foundation, which he heads. Among them was a billion dollar-plus “green” project for development of an environmentally-friendly tourism/business zone adjacent to the Graeco-Roman ruins at Cyrene, near Benghazi. Work on an extensive renovation of Benghazi’s port, designed to help rejuvenate shipping volume and create local jobs, also continues. The most troubling and difficult aspect of xxxxxxxxxxxx’s account is the pride that many eastern Libyans, particularly those in and around Derna, appear to take in the role their native sons have played in the insurgency in Iraq. The reported ability of radical imams to propagate messages urging support for and participation in jihad despite GOL security organizations’ efforts suggests that claims by senior GOL officials that the east is under control may be overstated. End comment. STEVENS

DIE HARD IN DERNA
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1. (C) Summary: Frustration at the inability of eastern Libyans to effectively challenge Qadhafi’s regime, together with a concerted ideological campaign by returned Libyan fighters from earlier conflicts, have played important roles in Derna’s development as a wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters in Iraq. Other factors include a dearth of social outlets for young people, local pride in Derna’s history as a locus of fierce opposition to occupation, economic disenfranchisement among the town’s young men. Depictions on satellite television of events in Iraq and Palestine fuel the widespread view that resistance to coalition forces is justified and necessary. One Libyan interlocutor likened young men in Derna to Bruce Willis’ character in the action picture “Die Hard”, who stubbornly refused to die quietly. For them, resistance against coalition forces in Iraq is an important act of ‘jihad’ and a last act of defiance against the Qadhafi regime. End summary.

2. (C) P/E Chief paid an unofficial visit to the eastern Libyan town of Derna in early May in conjunction with a trip to Benghazi and the ancient Graeco-Roman ruins of Cyrene. P/E Chief traveled from Benghazi in a rented car with a driver/guide. (Note: An apparent lapse in coordination between security officials in Tripoli and Benghazi led to what appeared to be a rare gap in surveillance by security organizations. End note.) Located along Libya’s eastern littoral in an area bracketed with rocky hills, Derna’s beautiful, if bleak, setting and Soviet-style poured concrete buildings evoke Tyre and Sidon in South Lebanon. While asking directions to the city’s old fort, P/E Chief met local resident xxxxxxxxxxxx(strictly protect), who happened to hail from the same tribe as P/E Chief’s driver/guide. In typical fashion, xxxxxxxxxxxx promptly dropped what he was doing and spent the next several hours accompanying us around Derna, a town of some 50,000 people. Asked about his livelihood, xxxxxxxxxxxx described himself as “a free businessman”, usually indicating someone who does not hold a full-time job, but instead gets by on a mix of odd jobs and commercial activities.

BAAB AL-SHIHA: WELLSPRING OF LIBYAN FOREIGN FIGHTERS

3. (C) P/E Chief visited the Baab al-Shiha neighborhood, site of the town’s old fort (now all but gone) and the district from which a large number of the Libyan foreign fighters identified in documents captured during September’s Objective Massey operation in Iraq had hailed. The lower-middle class neighborhood, comprising poured concrete homes crowded along largely unpaved streets, sits on a hill overlooking the town. Unbidden, xxxxxxxxxxxx pointed out a number of small, discrete mosques tucked away in side alleys, noting that the profusion of “popular mosques” complicated effective monitoring by security forces. (Note: As reported reftel, another contact indicated previously that while mosques in town centers are closely monitored, it has been more difficult for secruity organizations to effectively monitor smaller, more remote mosques in exurbs and towns in eastern Libya. End note.)

4. (C) A number of residents were on the streets; however, they were visibly more wary and less friendly than in other Libyan towns. xxxxxxxxxxxx later noted that some residents were closely questioned by security officials after speaking with a visiting Newsweek reporter in April. Told P/E Chief was a USAian, xxxxxxxxxxxx jokingly swore and said “there goes my evening.” Clarifying, he said he had plans that night, but would likely be detained and questioned by security officials about his interactions with an Emboff. While P/E Chief had not obviously been followed, word would doubtless reach security officials’ ears that foreigners had visited and inquiries would be made. He dismissed the idea of parting company to avoid creating problems for him, saying it was important that he, as a son of Derna, not bow down to the central government’s authority. “They may have their boot on our throat, but it’s important that they know that we are still breathing and kicking,” he said.

PERCEIVED US SUPPORT FOR QADHAFI FUELS DESIRE TO FIGHT IN IRAQ

5. (C) Over lunch at a popular restaurant just off the waterfront, xxxxxxxxxxxx and his business partner (who declined to give his name)discussed at length the local political-economic, cultural and religious scene, noting that it was “well-known” that a large number of suicide bombers (invariably described as “martyrs”) and foreign fighters in Iraq hailed from Derna, a fact in which the town “takes great pride”. xxxxxxxxxxxx stressed the importance of the link between the domestic political situation in Libya and the flow of foreign fighters in Iraq. Residents of eastern Libya in general, and Derna in particular, view the al-Qadhafa clan as uneducated, uncouth interlopers from an inconsequential part of the country who have “stolen” the right to rule in Libya. (Note: Qadhafi’s hometown, Sirte, is a remote spot located on the coast midway between the leading cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. End note.) Easterners had tried and failed to bring down Qadhafi’s regime via the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) insurgency in the 1990s.

6. (C) There was a strong perception, he said, that the US had decided in the wake of Qadhafi’s decision to abandon WMD aspirations and renounce terrorism to support the regime to secure counter-terrorism cooperation and ensure continued oil and natural gas production. Many easterners feared the US would not allow Qadhafi’s regime to fall and therefore viewed direct confrontation with the GOL in the near-term as a fool’s errand. At the same time, sending young Libyans to fight in Iraq was “an embarrassment” to Qadhafi. Fighting against US and coalition forces in Iraq represented a way for frustrated young radicals to strike a blow against both Qadhafi and against his perceived American backers. Dismissing P/E Chief’s argument that we have privately pressed the GOL to adopt further political and economic reforms, xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that human rights activist Fathi el-Jahmi (who hails from Benghazi), remained in detention. The US surely had the wherewithal to secure el-Jahmi’s release if it really cared about human rights; the fact that el-Jahmi remained in detention was viewed as one sign that the US tacitly supported Qadhafi, regardless of his actions. (Note: We heard a similar line of reasoning from Libyan contacts in Benghazi. End note.)

TARGETED IDEOLOGICAL CAMPAIGN IN EASTERN LIBYA

7. (C) Rejecting the idea that Derna was uniformly extremist, xxxxxxxxxxxx and his business partner described the town as being divided between religiously conservative and secular residents. A “large number” of Derna’s citizens were not happy about the increasingly conservative religious atmosphere that had prevailed since the 1980’s, he claimed. Elaborating, al-Mansuri attributed adherence to more extreme iterations of Islam to “unnatural foreign influences” on religious practices in Derna. A number of Libyans who had fought and in some cases undergone “religious and ideological training” in Afghanistan, Lebanon and the West Bank in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s had returned to eastern Libya, including Derna, in the mid to late 1980’s. Claiming their return was “not coincidental”, he described a deliberate, coordinated campaign to propagate more conservative iterations of Islam, in part to prepare the ground for the eventual overthrow by the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) of Muammar Qadhafi’s regime, which is “hated” by conservative Islamists. (Note: After taking pains to curry favor with the ‘ulema’ in Libya in the years immediately after the 1969 revolution, Qadhafi broke with them in the late 1970’s, criticizing aspects of Islam as “un-revolutionary”. Although he renewed efforts to cultivate Muslim leaders in the 1990’s, deep suspicions remain. The LIFG waged a successful low-level guerrilla insurgency in the early to mid-1990’s, specializing in robbery and raids on remote military garrisons to sustain itself. End note.)

8. (C) According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, these returned former fighters deliberately targeted towns and areas known to be less heavily surveilled and controlled by government security officials. Many of those were located in eastern Libya, where authorities have since Ottoman times experienced difficulty extending the writ of the central government. xxxxxxxxxxxx mentioned a small group of Libyans who had reportedly fought in Afghanistan, subsequently undergone religious training in northern Syria and Lebanon, and then returned to Derna in the late 1980’s as having been particularly instrumental in steering the community in a more conservative direction. Stressing their conservatism, he said they had spearheaded campaigns against many aspects of daily life, such as smoking cigarettes, which they deemed “un-Islamic”. He pointed out the large number of religiously-themed audio cassettes and DVDs on offer in Derna’s markets. Many featured sermons and speeches by conservative imams in Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Egypt.

LIMITED SOCIAL OUTLETS CREATE FERTILE ENVIRONMENT; SATELLITE TV FOSTERS “HARD VIEW”

9. (C) A dearth of social outlets for young people in Derna “created space” for the message of returned fighters and conservative imams, who deliberately sought to eliminate the few social activities on offer for young people to monopolize the social and cultural environment. While Derna’s social life had never been robust, there had been public cinemas, sports leagues and some youth activities organized outside the auspices of mosques. Virtually all of those had petered out in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, in part because of a campaign to label such activities as “un-Islamic”. He cited a popular youth theater group that had staged up to half a dozen productions a year, including western plays. Clerics criticized “un-Islamic” themes and the fact that boys and girls were cast together in some productions; the resulting social stigmatization of families whose children had participated led to the group’s demise in the late 1980’s.

10. (C) The fact that Derna’s educational system was weak had also enabled conservative clerics. xxxxxxxxxxxx described a situation in which mosques and imams effectively offered the only alternative to schools, sports leagues and after-school activities. A heavy influx of Arabic-language satellite television, a phenomenon that dated to the late-1990s, also fostered a “hard view” of the world, xxxxxxxxxxxx said. Most young men watched a mix of al-Jazeera news, religious sermons and western action films on English language satellite channels broadcast from the Gulf. The result was a heady mixture of violence, religious conservatism and hatred of US policy in Iraq and Palestine. The consensus view in Derna is that the US blindly supports Israel and has invaded Iraq to secure oil reserves and position itself to attack Iran, he said. He dismissed P/E Chief’s attempts to clarify US policy, stressing that most people base their judgments on information they receive from satellite television and at the mosque.

PRIDE IN DERNA’S HISTORY AS A TOWN OF FIGHTERS

11. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx attributed the flow of foreign fighters from Derna in part to local pride in the town’s reputation as a historical locus of resistance to occupation. While many of the town’s citizens were uncomfortable with the town’s increasingly conservative Islamist bent, the fact that young men from Derna traveled to Iraq in disproportionate numbers to fight against coalition forces was viewed through a different lens. Not everyone liked the “bearded ones” (a reference to conservative imams) or their message, xxxxxxxxxxxx said, but the duty of a Muslim in general, and of a son of Derna in particular, was to resist occupation of Muslim lands through jihad. “It’s jihad, it’s our duty, and you’re talking about people who don’t have much else to be proud of.” Derna’s residents might take issue with attempts to ban smoking or restrict social activities, but there was consensus on “basic issues” like jihad. Depictions on al-Jazeera of events in Iraq and Palestine fueled the widely-held view in Derna that resistance to coalition forces was “correct and necessary”. Referring to actor Bruce Willis’ character in the action picture “Die Hard”, who stubbornly refused to die quietly, he said many young men in Derna viewed resistance against Qadhafi’s regime and against coalition forces in Iraq as an important last act of defiance.

12. (C) Claiming “most Libyans” shared that sentiment, xxxxxxxxxxxx proudly said the difference was that Derna’s sons actually acted on their beliefs. Derna had historically resisted “occupations of all kinds: Ottoman, Italian, USAian (a reference to the 1805 attack on Derna led by William Eaton), and Qadhafi’s.” Derna’s role in opposing the Italian occupation in the early 20th century helped foster the near-deification of Libyan resistance leader Omar al-Mukhtar, who hailed from eastern Libya. A visit to the al-Sahab mosque near the town’s center was telling. Large murals on the mosque’s exterior (inaccurately) depicted Islamic warriors besting what appeared to be Roman soldiers. The mosque’s imam showed P/E Chief a series of small shrines to medieval holy men and a small cemetery filled with graves of “martyrs” who had resisted Ottoman and Italian occupation. Many of the markers were garlanded with flowers; xxxxxxxxxxxx said families often come to picnic in the mosque’s garden on holidays and pay their respects at the cemetery.

WEAK ECONOMY HURTS MARRIAGE PROSPECTS, FUELS FRUSTRATION

13. (C) As discussed reftel, xxxxxxxxxxxx drew a direct line between the parlous local economy and the willingness of Derna’s sons to travel to Iraq for jihad. A military base in Derna closed in the early 1990’s, taking with it a large number of jobs (cooks, washerwomen, auto mechanics, electricians, etc.) who helped support the base. Derna has a small fishing and maritime transport industry; other economic activities are largely restricted to services and smuggling. While a military prison, located along the town’s waterfront, remains open, the closure of the base hit the town hard and ushered in a more difficult era of economic austerity. Unemployment, particularly among young men between the ages of 18 and 40, is high; xxxxxxxxxxxx put the percentage of un- and under-employed men in that demographic at 60%-70%. Dim employment prospects leave many young men in Derna without the means to marry, a key social anchor in what remains a traditional society, and the average age at which men marry has crept upwards. Asked about reports that many now marry in their early- to mid-30’s (reftel), xxxxxxxxxxxx said most of his friends and acquaintances actually did not marry until their mid-30’s to early- 40’s. He half-jokingly noted that the cumulative level of sexual frustration among Derna’s young men was “a big problem”.

14. (C) In addition, while Benghazi and other parts of eastern Libya had benefited in the last several years from increased government patronage, Derna continued to “suffer from neglect”. Citing an indeterminate grudge between Libya’s former monarch, King Idriss al-Sanussi, and leading citizens of Derna, xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed that Derna had long been the victim of a deliberate government campaign to keep it poor. He compared Derna’s plight to the fortunes of another conservative eastern Libyan town, Bayda. While Bayda had been the summer retreat for King Idriss and was initially shunned in the early years of Qadhafi’s rule, its fortunes changed after Qadhafi married Sadia Farkhis, daughter of a prominent citizen of the town. The government subsequently established the Omar al-Mukhtar University in what had been the royal palace and sited a number of government-owned enterprises there. By contrast, Derna had not benefited from any such measures.

15. (C) Comment: xxxxxxxxxxxx remarks suggest that frustration at the inability of eastern Libyans to effectively challenge Qadhafi’s regime, together with a concerted ideological campaign by returned Libyan fighters from earlier conflicts, have played an important role in in Derna’s development as a wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters in Iraq. The GOL’s limited ability to extend its writ in eastern Libya, along with limited social outlets, dim economic prospects and the town’s historical role as a center of resistance, have fostered a landscape in which Derna’s angry young men view the conflict in Iraq through the lens of dissatisfaction with their government and with the USG’s perceived support of it. Observations of the town, together with information reported reftel, strongly suggest that comments by senior GOL officials to the effect that the east is under control are exaggerated. End comment. STEVENS

and yet more on our new arab league, al qaeda

Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links
Praveen Swami, Nick Squires, Duncan Gardham, Telegraph, Mar 25 2011

Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited “around 25” men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya.” 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.” Al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshawar, in Pakistan.” He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008. US and UK government sources said al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995-6. Even though the LIFG is not part of the al-Qaeda organisation, the US military’s West Point academy has said the two share an “increasingly co-operative relationship.” In 2007, documents captured by allied forces from the town of Sinjar showed LIFG members made up the second-largest cohort of foreign fighters in Iraq after Saudi Arabia. Earlier this month, al-Qaeda issued a call for supporters to back the Libyan rebellion, which it said would lead to the imposition of “the stage of Islam” in the country.