The Corner

Anti-Qaddafi Forces Flew al-Qaeda Flag During Siege of Sirte

Sightings of the black al-Qaeda flag flying atop the courthouse of Benghazi only days after the declared “liberation” of Libya on October 23 have raised concerns about the role being played by the Islamic terror organization in post-Qaddafi Libya. For pictorial evidence and eyewitness accounts, see Sherif Elhelwa’s report at Vice here and Raymond Pagnucco’s video on CNN’s user-generated iReport here. But according to a report in the Arab press, the so-called “Islamic Caliphate” flag — the basis of the al-Qaeda flag — was already being flown by anti-Qaddafi forces during the siege of Sirte that would lead to the deposed Libyan leader’s capture and death three days earlier.

According to a translation provided on the “Roads to Iraq” blog, a journalist from the Algerian newspaper Echorouk reported seeing a number of anti-Qaddafi fighters at Sirte “wearing Afghani cloaks and … holding the black banners and flags of ‘There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger,’ the Islamic Caliphate flag.” A photo accompanying the Echorouk article appears to show a vehicle of the anti-Qaddafi forces flying the black Caliphate flag.

What is commonly known nowadays as the al-Qaeda flag is similar to the Islamic Caliphate flag, but in addition to the Arabic script it also contains a white circle on the black background. It was reportedly first used by the late Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq.

As shown by the captured al-Qaeda personnel records known as the “Sinjar Records,” in per capita terms the eastern Libyan heartland of the anti-Qaddafi rebellion sent more foreign recruits to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other region in the Middle East or the world. (See here.) One of the military commanders of the rebellion, Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, has admitted to personally recruiting many of the Libyan al-Qaeda members.

The appearance of the al-Qaeda flag over the Benghazi courthouse has been generally spun by commentators in the Western media as a sign that Islamic extremists are now rushing to fill the “vacuum” left by the fall of the ancien régime in Libya. But the Echorouk report and the accompanying photo indicate that anti-Qaddafi forces in fact fought under the “Islamic Caliphate” banner in the decisive battle of the rebellion.

— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook.

Most Popular

Religion

Understanding the Mind of Modern Atheists

‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Anthony DeStefano uses this Bible quote toward the end of his new book Inside the Atheist Mind: Unmasking the Religion of Those Who Say There Is No God, pointing to the resiliency and truth of Christianity. “You can hide it, ... Read More
Economy & Business

How the Constitution Limits State Taxes

Must a company have a physical presence in a state for that state to require it to collect taxes? The Supreme Court is considering that question, which has grown more important as online sales have taken off. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has submitted an excellent brief arguing that the answer is yes, at ... Read More
Culture

Off the Shelf: Suicide of the West

Editor’s Note: Every week, Michael Brendan Dougherty writes an “Off the Shelf” column sharing casual observations on the books he's reading and the passing scene. Before social media, Jonah Goldberg would respond to obstreperous emails from a much younger version of me with a characteristically light ... Read More
Education

The Scholarship/Activism Balance — A Rejoinder

The Martin Center recently published an article by sociology professor Fabio Rojas, in which he argued that professors should maintain the right balance between their teaching and scholarship on the one hand, and activism on the other. In today's article, the Center's Jay Schalin pushes back somewhat. Schalin ... Read More