Al-Libi has been one of the most wanted terrorists in the world since 1998. His capture came in broad daylight at his home while he was parking his car in his driveway. The ultra-successful military operation by U.S. Delta forces was a precision attack, but its relative ease and the timing are raising the eyebrows of some observers.
While there is never a bad time to rid the world of influential Islamic jihadists, there are two aspects of the publicity surrounding their incarceration, or extermination, that must never be overlooked or diminished.
First is the fact that regardless of how high a captive may be in a terrorist organization’s chain of command, there is always someone else ready to step in to fill the vacancy. Killing Osama bin Laden was a major coup. It was also highly desirable. But, in the end, it was largely symbolic. Al-Qaeda still thrives, as does Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and countless other terror groups.
Al-Libi, whose real name is Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, has a deeply complicated personal history which includes ties with Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and an Egyptian-American double agent name Ali Muhammad who became a U.S. Army instructor at Ft. Bragg before training extremists for bin Laden.
Clearly that makes al-Libi a valuable asset in obtaining information about al Qaeda’s activities.
Which leads to the second facet of reacting to the capture of radical Islamists such as al-Libi. Al Qaeda is a work in progress. It has always been and will remain that way. Gathering intelligence about operations that were underway when bin Laden was alive are likely long since obsolete. For that reason, we must be ever-vigilant to stay abreast of the continuous metamorphosis of global terrorist activities.
Following al-Libi’s capture, Secretary of State John Kerry stated during an economic conference in Indonesia, “I hope the perception is in the world that people who commit acts of terror and who have been appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process, will know that the United States of America is going to do anything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and to protect our security.”
That is all well and good, but we must never forget that the global war on terror is an on-going process. The cancer created in the 7th century has been active for more than 1,400 years. It is not going away because we kill Osama bin Laden or capture Abu Anas al-Libi.
To make proud proclamations that such accomplishments have significance beyond the continuous war that must be waged is to establish false hope that terrorist elements can be eradicated. More accurately the problem is increasing rather than decreasing. What we must learn is how better to contain them, to learn how to think as they do and to keep ahead of them rather than working from behind.
That task is virtually impossible, but it is a necessary strategy that must be maintained at all times no matter what else is diverting our attention.
Clare Lopez provides a detailed account of the historical background behind al-Libi in an article in The Clarion Project. The in-depth information also includes his close working relationship with Christopher Stevens who was killed with three other Americans in a raid in
As Lopez points out, al-Libi is expected to be interrogated about al Qaeda operations in
You can read Stevens messages in Die Hard in Derna to learn even greater insights into the events leading up to the
Which then begs the question, why get al-Libi now? John Kerry said, “You can run but you can’t hide.”
The problem is, al-Libi wasn’t hiding. They captured him out in the open in his driveway.
So, why now? It’s a legitimate question that just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
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