West’s Fears over Spectre of al-Qaeda among Rebels

March 30, 2011

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: It should come as no surprise to the West that intelligence officials have identified “flickers” of al-Qaeda among the Libyan rebels seeking to overthrow the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Since widespread anti-government protests erupted in Libya last month Col Gaddafi has repeatedly claimed that al-Qaeda was actively involved in stirring up the unrest. At the start of the uprising he even made the bizarre claim that al-Qaeda had supplied Libyans with pills that induced them to revolt. “Our children have been manipulated by al-Qaeda,” he declared.
Saif al-Islam, his second eldest son and heir apparent, has also made much of al-Qaeda’s role in the revolt, warning the West that it has made a “terrible mistake” in backing the rebels. “Believe me, one day when you wake up, you will find that you support the wrong people,” he said after French warplanes had bombed Libya’s air defences. “You’ve made a terrible mistake.”
While the Gaddafi regime has undoubtedly exaggerated the extent of al-Qaeda’s influence in their country, there is nevertheless disturbing evidence that the Islamist terror group is seeking to turn the current political unrest to its advantage.
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a militant Islamist group committed to the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Libya, was set up in 1995 by groups of Libyan jihadi fighters who had returned home after fighting with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.
The LIFG later established ties with like-minded organisations, particularly al-Qaeda’s North African wing, which is predominantly based in Algeria and has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against European targets. » | Con Coughlin | Tuesday, March 29, 2011