On July 15, without much fanfare, and barely a few lines in the New York Times, President Obama formally recognized the rebel leadership in Libya, the Transitional National Council (TNC), as the country’s legitimate government. This American recognition is no formality, and far more than merely an encouraging pat on the back to the rebel forces. This recognition allows the rebels to access the $30 billion in Libyan assets held in the USA. Most of those assets are not liquid, but about $3.5 billion is liquid and can be provided to the TNC immediately.
In the early stages of the war, western allies hesitated to extend recognition to the rebels because of uncertainties about exactly who they were and about their connections or allegiances to el-Qaeda or other terrorist groups at war with the USA or European countries; but protestations by rebel leaders calmed these fears as TNC spokespersons assured the West that their goal is a democratic state. No one seems to have the perspicacity to ask just how reliable these assurances are.
On February 15, 2008, long before the revolt against Gaddafi began, the US embassy in Tripoli (capitol of Libya) sent a secret cable to Washington warning our government that eastern Libya, the area from which the revolt started and where the rebels have their strongest base and greatest number of supporters is rife with anti-American, pro-jihad sentiment. Three years later, with the revolt in full swing, we learn that Gaddafi is accusing al-Qaeda of fomenting the revolt. Of course Gaddafi is such an erratic personality, as well as a tyrant in trouble, that it might be hard to take him seriously; except that in addition to the warning that our State Department received in 2008, al-Qaeda documents captured in Iraq in 2007 reveal that almost 20% of all al-Qaeda fighters coming to Iraq to fight Americans came from Libya.
Moreover, one of the Libyan rebel leaders, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, stated in a March, 2011 interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, that he and his troops are allies of al-Qaeda who came from eastern Libya to Iraq to fight the Americans, and now they are back in Libya to fight Gaddafi, and they are still allies of al-Qaeda.
The original fears of the western allies may have been well founded; but President Obama seems not to be concerned that the $3.5 billion in cash that his recognition of the TNC will put at the rebels’ disposal might end up in the hands of al-Qaeda operatives or their allies.
He should be concerned because the Libyan rebels are already supplying large quantities of sophisticated arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, using the same subterfuges and smuggling routes across Egypt and the Sinai that serve smugglers operating out of Sudan. These are not peaceful folks who want a western-style democracy and egalitarian society. They march arm in arm with Hamas and al-Qaeda.
Moreover, Ayman az-Zawahiri, now the leader of al-Qaeda, has come out in support of the Libyan rebels and declared that al-Qaeda forces are fighting in the mountains of Libya against Gadaffi.
To understand the significance of az-Zawahiri’s support, we must recall that over the past few years, Abu Yusuf el-Qaradhawi, az-Zawahiri’s colleague and now number two in al-Qaeda, has adumbrated al-Qaeda’s priorities by urging all Muslims to acquire nuclear weapons in order to terrorize Muslim enemies and urging them to kill Israeli women because they serve in the Israeli army. He has frequently expressed his support for suicide bombers, promised a second holocaust for the Jews, this time at the hands of “the believers;” and he has expressed his great longing for an opportunity to personally kill Jews so that he might acquire the blessing of true Islamic martyrdom. These are not the kind of guys we want supporting our new friends among the rebels of Libya in their quest for what we hope will be the first successful democratic secular state in the Arab world.
Now let’s connect the al-Qaeda and Hamas dots listed above with another set of dots: Obama plans to establish formal contact with the Muslim Brotherhood.[i]\
Elliot Abrams, a deputy national security adviser handling Middle East affairs under President Bush, noted that Muslim Brotherhood positions on women, on freedom of religion and on religious tests for candidacy to public office are all “an anathema” to the USA. He went on to explain that there is a great likelihood that those in the Muslim Brotherhood who preach the need for the supremacy of Shari’a law in Arab states will prevail. Nonetheless, he agrees with the President that formal contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood open the doors to American influence, and that influence may moderate the Brotherhood’s extremist Islamists positions. In addition he expressed the belief that there are divisions in the Brotherhood which could be exploited and deepened by meetings with American representatives.
Abrams’ assessment is very reminiscent of Israel’s western allies believing that political responsibility would moderate Arafat after Oslo in 1993; or that Hamas would be forced to self-moderate once it was saddled with the administration of the Gaza Strip after its bloody coup. Neither belief was founded in reality.
It is important to recall that the Muslim Brotherhood, since its inception more than 80 years ago, has been consistent in its ideology: the imposition of Shari’a law, by violence, on the entire world. Repression by Arab governments has never moderated it. Its core motivations arise from the jihadist Islamist belief in the obligation incumbent upon all Muslims to make Islam the only, or at least dominant, religion in the world. It is the oldest and among the best organized and wide-spread Islamic extremist terrorist organizations in the world. Its program for a “cultural invasion” of western countries, outlining a phased plan for infiltrating western societies and governments until it has the power to escalate its activities into political or violent confrontation, has been public for more than 20 years. Hamas, a self-proclaimed genocidal terrorist organization whose charter establishes its goal of destroying Israel, is a franchise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have expressed the desire to destroy the United States and make Islam the only, or the dominant, religion in the world. Why would a few western carrots or sticks make it change its core beliefs?
It seems likely that whatever his intentions, Obama’s contacts with the Brotherhood will strengthen it politically and increase its chances of becoming one of the dominant, if not the dominant, political force in Egypt. Being able to boast of Obama’s implicit recognition of the Brotherhood’s importance, the Brotherhood will now have an easier time gaining recruits, soliciting funds, and engaging with other major powers in Europe and elsewhere.
In short, Obama has just handed both al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, two of the most powerful of our jihadist enemies, a major political victory. Granted, at this stage the victory is merely a symbolic one. But in doing so, Obama runs the very real risk of substantively facilitating their struggle for political domination in the Arab countries currently in upheaval, and of enabling their even more substantive successes in the fields of political and military battle against their avowed and most hated enemy: Western civilization.
In short Obama is helping two of the most ruthless and radical Islamic terrorist forces in the world to achieve their long-awaited goal: “Islam uber Alles.”
One cannot help but wonder, which side is he on?
By David Meir-Levi