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The Inevitable Rise Of Al-Qaeda in Libya

The abduction and release of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan by an armed group reveals that terrorists have been empowered since the US-backed Feb. 17 revolution, which overthrew Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Protesters take part in a demonstration against the capture of Nazih al-Ragye, in Benghazi October 7, 2013. An elite U.S. interrogation team is questioning the senior al Qaeda figure, better known by the cover name Abu Anas al-Liby, who was seized by special operations forces in Libya and then whisked onto a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. officials said on Monday.    REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori    (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTX1430J

The seizure and rendition of key al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi in Tripoli on Oct. 5 is being hailed as a victory for American counterterrorism efforts. Given that Libi — or Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie, as he is known in civilian life — has been a wanted man in the United States for more than a decade, a victory undoubtedly it is. Libi is under indictment in the United States for his alleged role in the 1998 African embassy bombings. On closer inspection, however, the rendition operation also exposes the contradictions of American Libya policy and, in particular, the boon for al-Qaeda-linked and al-Qaeda-inspired groups that the US-backed Feb. 17 revolution against Moammar Gadhafi has represented.

Indeed, the very fact that Libi could have been living openly in Tripoli is a direct result of the triumph of the anti-Gadhafi revolution. Albeit little known to most Americans, during the last years of Gadhafi’s rule, the “old” Libya had become a “critical ally in US counterterrorism efforts” — as one leaked State Department memo put it. Gadhafi was particularly eager to cooperate, given his interest in taming Libya’s own homegrown al-Qaeda affiliate, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). The organization — of which Libi was a member — had long been dedicated to overturning Gadhafi's “apostate” rule and replacing it with Islamic governance.

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