The Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a terrorist organization and part of Al-Qaeda. It has 300-400 members and is one of the best organized terrorist groups in the world. The group was founded by Hassan Hattab, who was a member of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria. Al-Qaida in the Maghreb received support from Barack Hussein Obama in the murder and overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi and establishment of Sharia law after the Libyan War in 2011. AQIM was also responsible for the deaths of 37 hostages, including two Americans in Mali.
The Benghazi rebellion started as a series of protests in eastern Libya on February 16, 2011 after the fall of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Ansar al-Shariah, an offshoot of Al-Qaida in the Maghreb, vowed to overthrow secular strongman Muammar Gaddafi and establish Sharia.
Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi of the U.S. organized Libyan Fighting Group said jihadists who killed American troops in Iraq were now serving on the front lines in Libya. NATO's Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee days before President Obama publicly admitted he ordered intervention that U.S. intelligence knew al Qaeda and Hezbollah elements were among the Libyan insurgents.
On March 21, 2011, President Obama disclosed he had ordered U.S. military force operations in Libya two days earlier, "to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe" in his words, over the objections of his most knowledgeable experts and confidants. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates opposed the action and warned it meant attacking the legitimate government of Libya. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, and White House counterterrorism chief John O. Brennan, urged caution. Libya was not vital to American national security interests and the rebels had ties to Al Qaeda. But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "won the bureaucratic battle to use [Department of Defence] resources to achieve what's essentially the State Department's objective... and Obama let it happen." Secretary Clinton stated:
|“||We are currently doing everything we can to bomb, strafe and use missiles to carry the rebels into power in Libya. We want them to win. We just don’t know who they are.” ||”|
- See also: Hillary Rodham Clinton
A document published by the U.S. West Point Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Center revealed that jihadi rebels between 2005 and 2007 exited Libya to join the Islamic insurgency in Iraq in greater numbers than any other country. The captured Sinjar documents included background information on foreign jihadists who migrated to Iraq to kill American soldiers, many of those jihadi rebels coming from among the very people Obama pledged to protect in the name of "humanitarianism." David Wood wrote: "Almost one in five foreign fighters arriving in Iraq came from eastern Libya, from the towns of Surt, Misurata and Darnah. On a per capita basis, that’s more than twice as many than came from any other Arabic-speaking country, amounting to what the counter terrorism center called a Libyan 'surge' of young men eager to kill Americans." The report notes 82% of Libyan jihadi rebels volunteered as suicide bombers, well above the 56% of all foreign insurgents in Iraq.
The report reminded that Benghazi has long been associated with Islamic militancy in Libya, in particular for an uprising by Islamist organizations in the mid‐1990s. One group—the Libyan Fighting Group (jamaʹah al‐libiyah al‐muqatilah)—claimed to have Afghan veterans in its ranks. The West Point study noted Gaddafi had taken measures to mitigate the threat from rebel jihadi groups, and amnestied some Muslim Brotherhood activists in the hope that they would moderate the views of more violent Islamist activists.
The Combating Terrorism Center document concludes,
|“||The Syrian [ Assad regime] and Libyan [Gaddafi] governments share the United States’ concerns about violent salafi‐jihadi ideology and the violence perpetrated by its adherents. These governments [Syria, Gaddafi, and the US] like others in the Middle East, fear violence inside their borders and would much rather radical elements go to Iraq rather than cause unrest at home. U.S. and Coalition efforts to stem the flow of fighters into Iraq will be enhanced if they address the entire logistical chain that supports the movement of these individuals—beginning in their home countries – rather than just their Syrian entry points.||”|
This set off a fierce debate in the Obama administration over the wisdom of arming terrorists. It is now known sometime prior to March 31, 2011, at urging of Hillary Clinton and over the objections of his National Security Council, Obama signed a Presidential Finding authorizing support for the rebel jihadis.
Ghaddafi's murder and Sharia law installed
By October 2011, Libyan rebel fighting groups with support from NATO airstrikes, overtook the capital of Tripoli and toppled the government. Ghaddafi was captured and brutally and sadistically murdered. The jihadis were immediately recognized by the U.S. and the U.N. as the legitimate government. Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, announced that Sharia will be the source for all legislation in Libya and that all laws conflicting with Sharia are null and void. Abdel Rahim al-Kib, the country's interim prime minister, echoed Jalil's words a couple of days later. Around the same time these statements were made an Al Qaeda flag was flown above the Benghazi courthouse, and reports were surfacing that the Libyan jihadis imposed Sharia law in some parts of the country even earlier.
American Ambassador murdered
For a more detailed treatment, see Benghazi Attack.
A March 29, 2011 article in the Washington Post included these paragraphs:
|“||"It’s almost a certitude that at least part” of the Libyan opposition includes members of al-Qaeda, said Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA analyst and adviser to President Obama. Riedel said that anti-Gaddafi elements in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi have had “very close associations with al-Qaeda” dating back years....I would hope that we now have a good sense of the opposition in Libya and can say that this is 2 percent, not 20 percent,” Riedel said. “If we don’t, then we are running the risk of helping to bring to power a regime that could be very dangerous.||”|
With several U.S.embassies besieged on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declared authorities had no reason to believe the attack on the sovereign territory of the United States consulate in Benghazi less than two months before the 2012 Presidential election, resulting in the deaths of several Americans, was a terrorist attack.
|“||The unrest that we’ve seen around the region has been in reaction to a video that Muslims, many Muslims, find offensive.||”|
This became the official White House line. President Obama went on the Comedy Channel to say the deaths of Americans was "not optimal." When pressed by reporters, who pointed out evidence that the violence in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, Press Secretary Carney argued “the unrest around the region has been in response to this video.”
Leading suspected jihadis in the murders and terrorist attack were the local Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Shariah, known to have ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. A commander of the terrorist group boasted jovially about the attack over drinks with reporters for the New York Times in Benghazi.
Algeria and Mali
Two more Americans were killed, along with 35 others, after being taken hostage by rebel jihadists in Mali shortly after the Libyan upheaval.
Hillary Clinton testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the wake of the Benghazi murders that occurred under her stewardship, that weapons and fighters equipped by the Obama administration made their way into Mali and Algeria:
|“||There is no doubt that the Algerian terrorists had weapons from Libya. There is no doubt that the Malian remnants of AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] have weapons from Libya.||”|
- Al Qaeda in N. Africa backs Libya uprising: SITE
- Libya uprising.
- Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links.
- Libyan, Once a Detainee, Is Now a U.S. Ally of Sorts.
- How Obama turned on a dime toward war.
- A First Look at the Sinjar Documents
- The Sinjar Documents are a collection of al Qaeda computer data captured by Americans in 2007 in a predawn raid near Sinjar, Iraq, six miles from the Syrian border.
- Leading from behind - a critique of Obama foreign policy
- Libya: Al Qaeda flag flown above Benghazi courthouse - Daily Telegraph
- New Libyan PM backs Islamic sharia law
- U.S. Intelligence Now Says Up To 20,000 Advanced Surface-To-Air Missiles Missing From Lib, Weasel Zippers, September 27, 2011
- Hamas boosting anti-aircraft arsenal with looted Libyan missiles - Haaretz
- Interview with Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.
- Algeria: 37 Foreigner Hostages Killed in Attack, Associated Press, Jan. 21, 2013. TIME magazine.
- Clinton says militants used weapons from Libya in Algeria attack, Reuters, Jan 23, 2013.
- Counterintelligence Briefing Center: Al-Qa'ida in the Lands of the Islamic, Department of Energy Hanford.