NATO has intervened. So what’s next? Gaddafi is only part of the problem. In every conflict since 9-11, terrorists have sought opportunity in chaos and tried to flood the battleground with foreign fighters.
The Examiner's Byron York highlighed the issue yesterday, pointing out “An analysis of the so-called ‘Sinjar documents’ found that Libya sent more fighters to the Iraqi front than any other country except Saudi Arabia; Libyans accounted for nearly 20 percent of the foreign fighters in the Sinjar documents.” This analysis was done by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which does some of the best cutting-edge research on the subject.
Most Libyans who went to war in Iraq were affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LFIG). According to another great research institution, the Jamestown Foundation, the LIFG allied itself to al-Qaeda in 2007, “but was defeated by Gaddafi’s forces and by 2009 was essentially out of combat…Therefore, it was not in a position to support the recent uprisings and did not inspire the current Libyan opposition, whose public posture is incompatible with al-Qaeda’s doctrine.”
The Jamestown report concluded that Libya has never been a priority for al Qaeda and its affiliates. But that could change.
Having set up a pipeline to bring fighters out of Libya, al Qaeda affiliates may well attempt to reverse the flow and bring fighters into the country. It would take time, of course. And such a maneuver may not become apparent for weeks or even months after it begins.
At this point, it remains only a possibility. But it’s one with which the Libyans fighting for freedom and President Obama’s “international community” must be prepared to deal.