By Wayne Madsen
Jul 7, 2012
In what has become a self-fulfilling prophecy by the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) and various neo-conservative think tanks, the Pan-Sahel region of North Africa is rapidly falling under the control of extremist forces, most notably Ansar Dine in Mali, Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, and “al Qaeda” in the Maghreb (AQIM). However, it has become apparent that the funding for these groups originates in the Wahhabist-ruled potentates of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
When the Libyan rebellion against Muammar Qaddafi first began in Benghazi, the capital of Wahhabist-influenced Cyrenaica, the Libyan leader was ridiculed for claiming that “al-Qaeda” rebels were involved with the uprising. However, it has become quite clear that the core group of the Libyan rebels in Benghazi and surrounding towns, were, in fact, composed of Libyan and other mujahidin guerrillas from Afghanistan, many of whom fought for Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban.
French intelligence and exiled Saudi democratic opposition leaders in London pinpointed the current Saudi Crown Prince, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, as the major nexus for mujahidin travelling to Pakistan and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to fight on behalf of bin Laden and the Taliban in the years prior to the 9/11 attack on the United States. Salman, as Governor of Riyadh, allegedly provided air tickets, hotel rooms, and cash to mujahidin transiting through Riyadh on their way to Peshawar and across the border into Taliban Afghanistan. Later, a few of the veterans of Afghanistan travelled to Iraq, where they engaged US and allied forces after the ouster of Saddam Hussein. After Iraq, some of the mujahidin ended up in Benghazi as the vanguard in the rebellion against Qaddafi.
Libyan rebel commander Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, said they had fought in Iraq and were al-Qaeda veterans. Al-Hasidi told the paper that the al-Qaeda veterans, who fought with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, were “good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.” Al-Hasidi was captured in 2002 in Peshawar, Pakistan and handed over to the United States. The US released Al-Hasidi in 2008 and he eventually showed up in Libya to lead the uprising against Qaddafi. Al-Hasidi’s connections to Al Qaeda and the NATO-backed uprising in Libya provide yet more evidence of collusion between the United States, Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and, considering the support for the rebels offered by leading French Zionist, Bernard-Henri Levy, Israel. The Libyan Fighting Group and al-Qaeda veterans are known to have received the financial backing, as well as arms, from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE.
The al-Qaeda connection with the NATO-backed Libyan rebels means that Qaddafi was spot on when he stated that al-Qaeda was a major participant in the Libyan uprising. Many of the al-Qaeda guerrillas later travelled from Libya to Syria to participate in the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Currently, the same mujahidin forces that have gained a firm footing in Libya, are providing support to like-minded extremists in Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and other states in the Sahel.
From new bases in Libya, these mujahidin, who continue to receive support from the Wahhabist regimes in the Persian Gulf, are taking part in operations in support of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Ansar Dine and AQIM in Mali.
The Tuareg-led and secularist Movement for the National Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which has declared the independence of northern Mali as a Tuareg state, has appealed to the West to help it defeat Ansar Dine, AQIM, and Boko Haram forces who have been busy destroying Islamic sites honouring Muslim saints in Timbuktu (known as the City of 333 Saints), Gao, and Kidan that are protected as World Heritage sites by the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The pillaging is reminiscent of the Wahhabist destruction of Islamist shrines of saints and grave sites in Medina following the Saudi takeover of Hejaz after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
However, the United Nations has shown no interest in authorizing intervention in northern Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), AFRICOM, or anyone else. The United States and NATO, which have found themselves not only allied with, but supporting Al Qaeda in Libya and Syria, are content to allow the Wahhabist-backed extremists destroy ancient Muslim shrines, just as they took no action against the Saudi and Emirati-backed Taliban’s destruction of the ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in March 2001, six months before the 9/11 attack.
It is clear, once again, that the West is using Al Qaeda as a proxy force to destabilize the Sahel in the interest of a later full-scale military intervention on the terms of NATO and the [Persian]Gulf Cooperation Council. The casualties will be the people of the region, not the billionaire potentates who direct such activities from their luxurious palaces in Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist, author and columnist specializing in intelligence and international affairs. He is the author of the blog Wayne Madsen Report. In 2002 he suggested to the Guardian newspaper that the United States Navy had aided in an attempted overthrow of Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. In 2003 he said that he had uncovered information linking the September 11 attacks to the government of Saudi Arabia as well as to Bush administration. In 2005, he wrote than an unidentified former CIA agent claimed that the USS Cole was actually hit by a Popeye cruise missile launched from an Israeli Dolphin-class submarine.