If Tawil did indeed interview an impostor, however, the impostor did a very plausible job of impersonating an al-Qaeda representative. He did not only refer to the establishment of Islamic emirates in eastern Libya. He also took pains to bash NATO as the “Devil’s Alliance” and to cite Ayman al-Zawahiri’s call to fight against NATO ground forces should they enter Libya. Al-Zawahiri is widely described as the “no. 2” in the al-Qaeda hierarchy and he is sometimes considered to be the organization’s de facto leader.
The real or false Salah Abu Muhammad likewise bashed the ostensible political leadership of the Libyan rebellion, the so-called Interim Transitional National Council, referring to it instead as the “Interim Council of Heresy.” Interestingly, he insisted that the actual “mujahideen” fighting against Libyan government forces “have no connection” to the council.
It should be noted, moreover, the Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi’s ties to al-Qaeda are well-known and indeed admitted. In per capita terms, his hometown of Darnah is known to have sent more foreign fighters to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other city or town. Al-Hasadi has admitted to recruiting some of those fighters. Before that, he fought against American and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
As reported here on PJM, when a French journalist ran into al-Hasadi on a recent visit to Darnah, the rebel commander explained that he had rejoined the jihad in order to “cut Gaddafi’s throat and establish an Islamic state.”
(Photo: Salah Abu Muhammad with face obscured in a 2008 AQIM video. Source: MEMRI.)