Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited “around 25” men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya”.
Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.
His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, “including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries”.
Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan”. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008. . . .
Do we have any idea what we are doing in our military interventions into the Arab world?
We assume that those who are rising up against brutal dictators–with another uprising now breaking out in Syria–are doing so for the universal desire for freedom. But aren’t we projecting our own civilization on a very different civilization with very different foundations?
The jihadists, such as the members of al-Qaeda, have long called for the overthrow of these secularist and worldly dictators. The jihadists may well be for democracy, which for them is not the expression of liberty but the vehicle for the imposition of Islamic law.
I’m not saying that this “rebel commander” is representative of all of the rebels against Gaddafi, and a mere 25 fighters are not very many, though he is suggesting that there are more. But now our pilots, under the foreign command of NATO, are put in the position of defending some of the very men who fought against them in Iraq and Afghanistan.