Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi may no longer be bringing his reign of terror to the people of Libya but now they have a new enemy to confront, the emergence of al-Qaeda in the region.
According to a Libyan source who spoke with CNN al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri sent a veteran jihadist to Libya in early 2011 along with a force of al-Qaeda fighters in order to establish a general force in the area.
The report says the veteran known simply as “AA” has been able to build up a 200-strong cell in the country’s east, right near the border of Egypt.
The CNN source is said to have known Zawahiri since the 1980s. The man says after fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan he moved to the UK to recruit Muslims to al-Qaeda.
After being detained in July 2005 following the London terror attacks “AA” moved back to the Afghan-Pakistan border area in 2009 when his arrest order eventually lapsed.
If the report is correct it wouldn’t be the first time news of al-Qaeda support was found in the area, documents uncovered in Iraq five years ago revealed that al-Qaeda fighters had arrived from eastern Libya as early as 2006. In a cable from WikiLeaks the area was also described as a “wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters” in the eastern town of Derna.
In a video released by al-Qaeda earlier in December they noted:
“At this crossroads you have found yourselves, you either choose a secular regime that pleases the greedy crocodiles of the West and for them to use it as a means to fulfill their goals, or you take a strong position and establish the religion of Allah.”
In the meantime Libya must not attempt to suppress the group before they grow, while militant groups existed in the country under Gadhafi’s reign he was able to suppress those groups with authoritarian rule, something the new governmental leaders much work diligently to succeed at.