Libya: The Islamists Respond

by Steven Stalinsky

MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor just finished a review of what the online forums and websites of Islamist organizations are saying about the situation in Libya. The main jihadi forums such as Shumukh Al-Islam include comments and responses in various forms:

1) Members commenting on news from various news channels — for example, a member re-posting news from Al-Arabiyya about European forces moving on to the shores of Libya. Other members responded by saying that NATO is planning to get involved in containing the situation.

2) A constantly updated topic, where a member, for example, starts a thread under the name of “situation in Libya”: Such threads provide members the opportunity to give “live” feedback about the situation, either from being personally in Libya or via contacts, friends, and family members from that region. A similar thread that was opened two days ago has already generated 67 entire pages of responses (in comparison, a typical Osama bin Laden video generates about 15 to 20 pages of responses/comments).

3) Threats to countries attempting to get involved in Libya (in support of Gaddafi). One example would be a member threatening retaliation against Italy, if it decides to get involved in what’s happening in Libya, and another suggesting that a call for help be directed to their Egyptian brothers, who recently had their own successful uprising.

4) Calls to various jihadi organizations to take action on Libya — for example, a call by a member to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to get “involved.” Members responding to the topic said that LIFG had already declared its allegiance to al-Qaeda (meaning, it should be an AQ involvement). Other members called for jihad in Libya.

The general sentiment is anti-Gaddafi and against the current Libyan regime. There are numerous calls to overthrow Gaddafi, and to support those who died so far during the protests. There are also suggestions on how to overcome the general media blackout in Libya, including the use of certain Internet servers that are not being blocked and censored by the government.

— Steven Stalinsky is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.