Libyans say no to Islamist gangsters in Benghazi


By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis

In an article on 13 September (“Israeli film-maker, Jewish donors and the Salafis“) I expressed the hope that the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi by members of a Libyan Salafi militia would jolt the Libyan “authorities”, such as they are, into ditching their cavalier attitude towards the chronic lack of security afflicting the country. I also said:

The Libyan authorities – out of a mixture of incompetence, stupidity, irresponsibility and inexperience – seem to believe that security can be achieved through alliances with or by co-opting the militias. This is a serious mistake that borders on criminal negligence. As a result, religious charlatans, in the form of Salafis and Wahhabis, criminal groups and remnants of Gaddafi’s “Revolutionary” Committees are exploiting the vacuum to achieve their differing ends.

There’s no doubt that, of the above-mentioned groups, the Salafis/Wahhabis are the most dangerous because of their foreign links, including possible funding from Saudis and Qataris and links with Al-Qaeda’s North African franchise.

So, it is with tremendous relief and pride that I witnessed last night and today on television and read on the wires that my compatriots in Libya’s second city – ordinary people, not the pretend government – have taken matters into their own hands and trounced the worst of the Salafi militias, the so-called “Katibat Ansar al-Sharia” (Partisans of Islamic Law Brigade).

That’s not all. Fed up with the chaos and arbitrariness brought about by the armed gangs, the people also stormed the headquarters of another militia, the “Rafallah Sahati Islamic Brigade”, which is affiliated to the “Ministry of Defence” – a virtual body that exists on paper only – as part of the “government’s” ill-conceived policy of achieving security through alliances with armed groups.

This is people’s power at its best. After 42 years of neglect and arbitrariness under Gaddafi, Libyans are determined to guard their freedom, whatever the cost, and not to allow Islamist outlaws to replace Gaddafi’s armed gangsters, the so-called “Revolutionary Committees”.

But freedom does not come cheap. At least 11 citizens were martyred and dozens wounded in the operation to cleanse Benghazi of armed gangs and Islamists.

We owe them so much!

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