Jihadist Leaders of Obama-Backed Libyan Rebellion Fought Against U.S. in Iraq

Terence P. Jeffrey | December 19, 2012 | 1:52am EST
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A Libyan rebel south of Benghazi on March 18, 2011. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The special Accountability Review Board that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton set up to investigate the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, says that among the leaders of the 2011 Libyan revolution that President Barack Obama backed with U.S. military force—but without congressional authorization—were Benghazi-based jihadists who had fought against the United States in Iraq.

The report describes post-revoluationary Benghazi as a “a lawless town ... in reality run by a diverse group of local Islamist militias” that had a long history of violent antagonism toward the United States.

“Jihadis from Benghazi engaged in Afghanistan against the Soviets and took up arms against U.S. forces in the post-2003 Iraq insurgency,” says the report. “Many of them reemerged in 2011 as leaders of anti-Qaddafi militias in eastern Libya.”

“Benghazi, the largest city and historical power center in eastern Libya, was the launching point for the uprising against Qaddafi and a long time nexus of anti-regime activism,” says the report. “It also served as the rebel-led Transitional National Council’s base of operations. Eastern Libya (Cyrenaica) had long felt neglected and oppressed by Qaddafi, and there had been historic tensions between it and the rest of the country.”

“Benghazi was the seat of the Senussi monarchy until 1954, the site of a U.S. consulate, which was overrun by a mob and burned in 1967, and the place where Qaddafi began his 1969 revolution against the monarchy,” says the report.

“Qaddafi’s subsequent combination of oppression and neglect enhanced the city’s sense of marginalization, and its after-effects were felt more widely in the eastern region where a Salafist jihadist movement took root,” it says.

Obama announced on March 19, 2011 that he was ordering the U.S. military to take action in support of the Libyan revolutionaries. "Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians."

Obama did not ask for authorization from the U.S. Congress to take this action, but instead said he drew his authority from what he called “the writ” of the international community.

"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people," Obama said in a speech delivered in Brazil.

"Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced," he said. "That is the cause of this coalition."

Two weeks after Obama ordered the U.S. intervention, the State Department sent Chris Steven to Benghazi on a cargo ship to act as a special envoy to the revolutionaries.

“On April 5, 2011, then-Special Envoy to the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) Chris Stevens arrived via a Greek cargo ship at the rebel-held city of Benghazi to re-establish a U.S. presence in Libya,” says the report.

“Stevens’ presence in the city was seen as a significant sign of U.S. support for the TNC [Transitional National Council] and a recognition of the resurgence of eastern Libya’s political influence,” says the report.

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