Since the beginning of the Libyan uprising, Col. Muammar Qaddafi has been ignoring the legitimate concerns of opposition groups and instead painting them as tools of al Qaeda. “What is happening now is not the people’s power. It is international terrorism led by al-Qaeda,” Qaddafi said on February 24. While his claim “has been dismissed at home and abroad as propaganda,” some U.S. conservatives are clinging to that bit of propaganda.
Especially in recent days, some prominent conservatives have been attacking President Obama for essentially fighting on behalf of al Qaeda by joining the international intervention in Libya, without offering any evidence for this inflammatory charge:
— On Facebook, former Speaker Newt Gingrich asked “Does President Obama acknowledge the danger of Al Qaeda allies among the anti-Qaddafi forces and pledge to work for a moderate replacement government without extremist factions?” [03/28/11]
— Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN): “I have been very reluctant to see the United States to go into Libya. For one thing, we haven’t identified yet who the opposition even is to Qaddafi. We don’t know if this is led by Hamas, Hezbollah, or possibly al Qaeda of North Africa. Are we really better off, are United States, our interests better off, if let’s say Al-Qaeda of North Africa now runs Libya?” [03/24/11]
— AFA’s Bryan Fischer: “Al Qaeda is behind the rebellion in Libya. So this no-fly zone is in fact helping the Muslims who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. But helping our sworn enemies, especially if they are Muslims, does not seem to be a bother to Obama.” [03/22/11]
— Hateblogger Pam Geller, writing at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment: “And now [President Obama] is essentially backing Al-Qaeda in Libya. Al-Qaeda has already established an Islamic emirate in eastern Libya, and is playing a leading role in the revolt against Gaddafi. The Libyan Islamist Fighting Group is also involved.” [03/21/11]
It’s necessary to have a public debate about the U.S. role in Libya, but it’s important to get the facts right — al Qaeda is not driving the Libyan resistance. The Los Angeles Times reports that “the U.S. intelligence community has found no organized presence of Al Qaeda or its allies among the Libyan opposition, American officials say. A U.S. intelligence-gathering effort that began shortly after anti-Kadafi forces started seizing towns in eastern Libya last month has not uncovered a significant presence of Islamic militants among the insurgents.”