Analyzing Al-Libi’s letter to bin Laden
S Iftikhar Murshed, The News, Nov 16, 2010
Osama bin Laden has been accused by his former associate and comrade in arms, Noman Benotman, or Abu Muhammed al-Libi as he is known in Afghanistan, of betraying Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of the Taliban. This is elaborated in an open letter of Sept 10, 2010, to the Al-Qaeda chief in which al-Libi alleges that “Afghans, including Mullah Omar and his supporters, asked us to protect their country and its people. Instead, you wanted to use their country as a launch-pad for war against America, Israel, the West and the Arab regimes. What benefit has this brought the Afghan people? Separately, when Mullah Omar asked you on several occasions to stop provoking and inviting American attacks on his country, you ignored him. How can you claim to fight for an ‘Islamic state’ and then so flagrantly disobey the ruler you helped put in place?”
Al-Libi is no stranger to jihad, and his association with Osama bin Laden dates back to the 1980s when they fought alongside the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet occupation forces. He later joined the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), whose avowed objective was the violent overthrow of the Qadhafi regime and establishing a Shariah-based government in that country. Al-Libi became exceptionally close to bin Laden when the two were in Sudan in the 1990s and this relationship intensified after they were expelled from Khartoum and compelled to return to Afghanistan in 1996. Two years later, the LIFG’s armed struggle against the Qadhafi regime collapsed and its fighters relocated to Afghanistan, where bin Laden was desperately trying to recruit jihadi outfits for his self-proclaimed war against “Jews and Crusaders” through the World Islamic Front he established in 1998.
This generated sharp differences between al-Libi and bin Laden. The leadership of the LIFG was no less opposed to taking on the US. Not because of any support for American policies but for its concern that such an enterprise would have disastrous consequences for the Taliban movement, which had given refuge not only to Al-Qaeda but also to several other Arab jihadi groups. For his part, Mullah Omar sought and obtained assurances from bin Laden that he would not launch attacks against the United States from Afghanistan.
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An open letter to Osama bin Laden - Foreign Policy