Aug 23, 2011
With the imminent departure of Muammar Gaddafi from absolute power as the rebels are closing on Tripoli two CIA-backed Libyan groups and an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a declared foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the US State Department since 2004, could emerge as real power in Libya when it is clear that the rebel military forces are a patchwork of armed groups, former soldiers and freelance militias including self-appointed neighborhood gangs.
The main rebel group, based in Benghazi in the country’s east, consists of former government ministers who have defected, and longstanding opposition figures, representing a range of political views including Arab nationalists, Islamists, secularists, socialists and businessmen.
With the fall of Gaddafi’s 42-year rule the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), the Libyan National Army (LNA), military wing of the NFSL and Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) are likely to emerge to become the real power behind any administration in post-Gaddafi Libya.
Groups who had been organizing against Gadhafi for years are at least partly responsible for provoking the protests which started last February. The composition of forces opposing Gadhafi consists of a wide range of groups of people each with their own agenda but whose common purpose is his overthrow.
Some of these groups formed the National Transitional Council (TNC) in Benghazi on February 27, 2011 to act as the political face of the revolution. Politicians, former military officers, tribal leaders, academics and businessmen from Eastern Libya created the Council to serve as a transitional government and to wrap the opposition in an aura of respectability.
But the three well organized movements are the NFSL, its military arm LNA and the Islamist LIFG.
The National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) established on October 7, 1981, was trained and supported by the CIA and was involved in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Gadhafi on May 8, 1984.
The Libyan National Army (LNA), military wing of the NFSL, was founded on June 21, 1988 by Khalifa Hafter who, according to a Washington-based think tank, the Jamestown Foundation, had: “strong backing from the Central Intelligence agency”. The think tank also reports that the CIA arranged the entry of LNA officers into the United States where they established a training camp. Hafter arrived in Benghazi in March 2011 to join the forces attempting to overthrow Gadhafi.
Another major organization engaged in overthrowing Gadhafi is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which has close ties to al Qaida and has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) by the US State Department in 2004. The LIFG was established in 1995 to oppose Gadhafi’s secular state by Libyans who had fought in Afghanistan. They have been committed to supporting jihadi groups everywhere and contributed a significant number of people to fight the U.S. in Iraq.
The LIFG appeared to be largely defunct by the mid-2000s, until documents captured in Sinjar, Iraq by Coalition Forces showed that over 100 Libyans from LIFG strongholds in eastern Libya had joined al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) between 2006 and 2007.
The Asian Tribune reported this influx of Libyan fighters to Afghanistan and Iraq based on US military documents.
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is dedicated to two principle objectives. The founding goal of the terrorist group is to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. From the time it was founded until the late ’90s, LIFG attacked Libyan security forces in armed altercations. LIFG is suspected as one of the terrorist entities to provide materials for the May 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca.
David Model, a professor of political science at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada tells us that “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group also maintains a second objective beyond Libya’s border, to contribute to the international jihadist campaign. This objective has become increasingly central to LIFG’s activities and overall goals. In November 2007, al-Qaeda leaders released an audio recording officially declaring LIFG had been joined with the al-Qaeda organization. It is believed that certain LIFG senior leaders maintain positions in al-Qaeda’s senior command structure.”
In November 2007, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri released an audio tape announcing that the LIFG had joined al-Qaeda. Several high ranking al-Qaeda members are associated with the LIFG, most notably Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaeda’s propaganda chief, and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed by a drone strike in January 2008.
New York Times and Washington Post articles have admitted that the opposition forces have been coordinated by Special Forces in Libya belonging to the CIA and British MI6. The articles also claim that President Obama signed a finding dispatching CIA operatives to identify targets for bombing by NATO forces.
A UK paper, the Independent, on April 3, reports that: “Military and diplomatic advisors from the US and Western Europe — usually described as experts, consultants and advisors — turned up in the rebel capital Benghazi.”
These evidences clearly denote that the CIA-backed NFSL and LNA, and al-Qaeda affiliated LIFG may become the real political power behind whatever regime is established once Gaddafi relinquish power.