• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Libyan Islamists Gaining Strength

    Although Libya has rid itself of the Muammar Qadhafi regime, it faces an uncertain future endangered by radical Islamist factions, warring militia commanders, tribal rivalries, a lack of democratic traditions, and a civil society ravaged by decades of authoritarian rule. Last week, two militias clashed violently in a turf war in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

    Catherine Herridge, the chief intelligence correspondent for Fox News, noted the rise of Libyan Islamists in an article earlier last week. She cited a recent report by Kronos, LLC, that assessed the prominent role in the Libyan rebellion played by Islamist militants affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a revolutionary Islamist group that merged with al-Qaeda in 2007.

    Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former leader of the LIFG who traveled to Afghanistan and joined forces with the Taliban, has emerged as one of the most powerful leaders in post-Qadhafi Libya. Belhaj led one of the strongest militias in the uprising against Qadhafi and was appointed as the head of the Tripoli Military Council. Belhaj, who asserts that he never joined al-Qaeda, was arrested in Malaysia in 2004, jailed in Libya, and released in 2010 when he ostensibly disavowed terrorism.

    Belhaj and other Libyan Islamists have been boosted by aid from foreign Islamist movements and Arab regimes, particularly Qatar. Qatar, a small but wealthy Persian Gulf kingdom endowed with enormous natural gas resources, played a leading role in supporting the anti-Qadhafi opposition with financial aid, arms, and military advisers. It gave sanctuary to Ali Sallabi, the Libyan Islamist cleric who has emerged as a “likely architect” of the new Libya. Qatar’s support for Libya’s Islamist factions has earned it the resentment of many Libyans who fear the imposition of an Islamist dictatorship.

    The opaque nature of the Libyan opposition and the important role within it played by Islamists were two reasons that The Heritage Foundation recommended last spring that the United States adopt a cautious policy towards the Libyan rebel coalition. It would be a shame if Qadhafi’s authoritarian regime, as bad as it was, is replaced with a totalitarian Islamist regime that poses even greater threats to the United States, its allies, and the Libyan people.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Libyan Islamists Gaining Strength

    1. Libyan Victim says:

      Qatar's role was/is merely a conveyor in aiding Libya's terrorists. It was PRIMARILY the United States, along with France and GB that fully orchestrated the coup and supplied the terrorists with an abundance of weapons along with a massive dose of western media propaganda. Welcome to the new pillaged Somalia # II.

    2. Todd says:

      Change is not always easy nor does it go they way you want. Qadhafi had to go but was the US and the world ready for a Libya that could get worse? The same thing may (is?) happening in Iraq. Pulling the plug and leaving a country to find its own way is a technique that worked 150 years ago, but in today's connected world, will not work. Our State Department fundamentally understands this but does not know how to put into practice in this country's polarized and political landscape. Just another example of how the American people put their faith and trust in Obama to unite the country and get us on a path of to strengthen this country both internally and globally. But he has done nothing but divide and weaken us through his incompetence, stupidity and socialist agenda.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×