Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Al-Qaeda in Iraq's New Sponsor: Libya

After Iran, Syria and others it's now Libya's turn to sponsor terrorism in Iraq.
The news popped up for a second then it vanished; Gaddafi's son is accused by senior awakening officials in Anbar of funding and sending a group of foreign terrorists to Iraq. This particular group, awakening leaders believe, was responsible for the explosives cache that caused the devastating explosion in Mosul last week.

Col. Jubair Rashid Naief, who also is a police official in Anbar province, said those attacks were carried out by the Seifaddin Regiment, made up of about 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters who slipped into the country several months ago from Syria.
Naief said the regiment, which is working with al-Qaida in Iraq, was supported by Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, 36, the eldest son of the Libyan leader.
"I am sure of what I am talking about, and it is documented," Naief said, adding that he was "100 percent sure" of the younger Gadhafi's role with the terror group.

Does this not deserve thorough investigation?

We shouldn't be surprised to see young Gaddafi being accused of sponsoring terrorism in Iraq, not should we be surprised if he turns out to be actually involved in sponsoring that "battalion" of terrorists. The dictators of the Middle East have a long-established trend of sponsoring terrorism and provoking chaos in any relevant, or irrelevant, part of the world they have access to. The 2nd half of the 20th century was full of examples of this sort; Saddam funding insurgents in Chad, Egypt becoming part of a civil war in Yemen, Tunisia hosting the PLO, Saddam providing shelter for Dzhokhar Dudayev in 1993, and the list goes long.

However, I am very surprised that this news is being bizarrely ignored by the media.
Did the world get so used to the idea of terror-sponsoring regimes interfering sending death and murderers to Iraq, or did the world get so used to hearing about terrorist attacks in Iraq that an incident like this one is "just another bombing"?

I think this is a case that deserves a lot of attention and some serious investigation; maybe just as much attention as political assassinations in Lebanon have been getting.

On the one hand the accusation should be taken seriously simply because the accused-and his father- have the motive, the tools and a fairly long record of employing terrorism.
Gaddafi's regime is hardcore anti-American so there's every reason to think the regime would try to strike America's interest and efforts in Iraq. Although the tone changed since 2003 but I strongly doubt he did deep down. Gaddafi has also long treated Iraq as an enemy and he, along with Syria, were the only Arab regimes that were Iran's allies during the eight year war.
Moreover, there's a good reason to think that Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam want to take revenge upon America, and what's a better place than Iraq to do this!
Remember that his sister was killed in the US air strike on their home in the mid 1980s when he was still a teenager and I don’t think he forgot about it.

On the other hand, the awakening councils should be taken seriously when it comes to the intelligence they gather and offer. First and foremost the reason behind their success in Anbar was mostly their ability to gather and utilize reliable intelligence. The awakening fighters don't have the firepower, technology, training or discipline of organized armies yet they made huge success against al-Qaeda. The only asset I can think of that enabled them to do so is intelligence.
Let's not forget that those fighters were until recently close to, if not part of the network that includes al-Qaeda so it's not unlikely that some of them had access to information about operations and movements that are taking place just now. It's logical to think that terrorists would abort missions whose details have been compromised but the different times at which former insurgents split from al-Qaeda to join the awakening and the quick pace of changes on the ground provides room for confusion and mistakes.

One more important finding makes my suspicion stronger. Could it be a coincidence that the percentage that Libyan nationals make up of total foreign terrorists has spiked during 2007? According to recently captured documents that US military captured in Sinjar, a town west of Mosul, one fifth of foreign fighters who came to Iraq between in the year leading to August 2007 were Libyan nationals. Or could be another coincidence that Libya covertly sponsored a satellite TV channel in Iraq that was going to launch in late 2006, the same time the Libyan "surge" started? This is a new and surprising figure that suggests that there's an organized effort to recruit and send fighters from Libya to Iraq; an effort not easy to undertake in a repressive police state unless someone above the law is involved.

I think the least thing to do is to make sure that as operations in Mosul proceed and suspects and enemy fighters are captured that interrogators dig for information about Gaddafi's son involvement. Another thing that we can do would be to go back and interrogate all militants and suspects that were captured in and around Mosul since the estimated time of arrival of the "battalion" the awakening official mentioned.

The truth must be discovered and the criminals, whoever they are, must be exposed and made an example so that others think twice before trying to do the same.

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