Thursday, June 18, 2009

Salafi Jihadism in Libya

The LIFG looks to back away from its merger with al-Qaeda:
"It has been more than two years since talks started between the Libyan authorities and the imprisoned leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (Al-Jama’a al-Islamiya al-Muqatilah bi Libya – LIFG). As both sides acknowledge past mistakes, there are finally signs that the longtime antagonists may be getting closer to reconciliation, a process that will rely in part on the LIFG’s renunciation of its merger with al-Qaeda.

"Dr. Ali Sallabi, a Qatar-based Libyan Islamist and the main mediator between the imprisoned LIFG leaders and the authorities, has been quoted as saying the talks 'are very encouraging' after meeting the six Shura Council members of the LIFG in their Tripoli prison (Dar al-Hayat, June 15). The six leaders have for some time been allowed by the security services to meet freely with the rest of the Islamists in prison so they could consult with them regarding a review of LIFG policies and principles. The six are writing a religious study that is expected to be published in August. This study, similar to al-muraja’at ('revisions') released by other jihadi groups in the Arab world, will refute from a religious point of view the ideology and methods of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, according to Noman Bin Othman, a former leader of the LIFG (Dar al-Hayat, June 15).

"This positive news coincided with the announcement by another former leader of the LIFG outside Libya that he now supports peace talks with the government."

UPDATE: In the comments to this post, Alle, who actually knows North Africa, walks this story back a little.

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Anonymous alle said...

I think this is a case of poor headlining (by Jamestown). I have the greatest respect for Camille Tawil as a scholar on Jihadism -- and I may be wrong -- but he doesn't make it quite clear here that what happened in 2007 was that a faction of the tattered remains of the LIFG joined AQ. (Zawahiri even stressed later in his Q & A-sessions that it was a group from LIFG that joined, as opposed to a formal organizational merger of LIFG with AQ.)

The point is that LIFG has long since ceased to be as a cohesive entity. Most leaders are in jail in Libya, while a few are free and in exile, pushing reconciliation/mediating (eg. bin Uthman), while yet another group has merged with AQ in Pakistan (Abu Laith el-Libi). As far as I know, group one has no contact with group three.

So, what is happening is that one faction is about to renounce violence à la el-Gamaa in Egypt, and in that process also distance themselves from the merger of their ex-colleagues with AQ. But they're not "backing away" from joining AQ, since the people about to publish these denunciations have never joined AQ in the first place.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Brian Ulrich said...

Thanks for the insight - North Africa isn't my forte.

11:14 PM  

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