al-Qaeda Sets Its Sights on Libya

Veteran jihadists reportedly dispatched to country earlier this year
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2011 7:55 AM CST
al-Qaeda Sets Its Sights on Libya
This photo provided by IntelCenter, an American private terrorist threat analysis company, purports to show Al-Qaida's new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.   (AP Photo/IntelCenter)

(Newser) – Moammar Gadhafi may be dead and gone, but Libya's woes beat on: al-Qaeda is attempting to claw its way into the country, according to a Libyan source. The source told CNN that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri personally sent a veteran jihadist to Libya earlier this year, along with other committed fighters, in an attempt to establish a force there. That veteran, known as "AA," reportedly arrived in May and has since built up a 200-strong force in the country's east, near its border with Egypt.

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CNN provides background on AA, who has apparently known Zawahiri since the 1980s. After fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, he moved to the UK, where he worked on recruiting young Muslims to al-Qaeda. He was detained there after the July 2005 London terror attacks under a "control order" that allowed authorities to keep him in custody without charging him. That order eventually lapsed, and he traveled in 2009 to the Afghan-Pakistan border area. CNN notes that there has long been support for the kind of extremist Islamic views espoused by al-Qaeda in the country: Documents found in Iraq five years ago revealed that many new al-Qaeda fighters had arrived from eastern Libya; a 2008 cable released by WikiLeaks identified a "wellspring of Libyan foreign fighters" for al-Qaeda in Iraq in the eastern town of Derna. (Read more Ayman al-Zawahri stories.)

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