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Benghazi and Willful Sharia Blindness

Libyan “rebel” spokesperson Mustafa Abduljalil, born in 1952 in Al Baida, one of the first cities to rise against Qaddafi, studied law and Islamic jurisprudence in Benghazi before embarking on a legal career that culminated in his appointment in 2007 as Qaddafi’s “minister of justice.” A foreboding Wikileaks memo from February 27, 2010, revealed:

"In the course of the discussion of the Criminal Code, Abduljalil abruptly changed the subject from freedom of speech to the 'Libyan people’s concern about the U.S. government’s support for Israel.' He averred that Libya cares deeply about Muslims everywhere, and about Muslim countries. In his view, the root cause of terrorism stems from the perception that Europe and the U.S. are against Muslims."

By August of 2011, Abduljalil’s “vision” for Libya was apparent in his championing of Libya’s draft constitution whose salient feature was Part 1, Article 1, which stated:

"Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)."

Following Qaddafi’s removal, a Sunday October 23, 2011 pronouncement by Abduljalil, now the leader of Libya’s Transitional Council, reiterated the overarching general role of Sharia, and included this specific example:

"He [Abduljalil] also announced the annulment of an existing [secular] family law that limits the number of wives [a] Libyan [male] can take, contradicting the provision in the Muslim holy book, the Quran (i.e., Koran 4:3), that allows men up to four wives."

Thus “liberated” Libya appeared bent on reinstituting Sharia-based polygamy, in pious conformity with Koran 4:3.

Simultaneously, in late October 2011 reporter Sherif Elhelwa confirmed that the al-Qaeda flag was aloft on the Benghazi courthouse. Several months later during a trip to Libya in early 2012, Elhelwa noted the al-Qaeda flag was still flying atop Benghazi’s courthouse, but more importantly, he ventured to the jihadist flashpoint of Eastern Libya, Derna, to expose Libya’s Sharia enforcers. Unofficial Derna leader and local al-Qaeda head Abdel Hakim Al-Hasadi proclaimed:

"If you establish the Sharia, we’re with you. We’re your soldiers. We’re ready to die alongside you if you establish Sharia law."

Al-Qaeda in Libya: A PROFILE” was an August 2012 report prepared by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, a Pentagon program office, within a month of the murderous 9/11/12 attacks which left 4 dead: U.S. Libyan ambassador Christopher Stevens, two heroic former U.S. Navy Seals (Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods), and a U.S. Air Force veteran (Sean Smith). The report emphasized how al-Qaeda senior leadership working via a large, powerful, and well-established jihadist infrastructure in Libya -- including, prominently, Ansar al-Sharia, the group believed responsible for the Benghazi consulate attack -- sought to capitalize on the U.S. and NATO-supported insurrection which toppled the Libyan despot Qaddafi and to fulfill its goal of making Libya part of an eventual transnational caliphate.

A sizable, ominous Ansar al-Sharia public rally during June 2012 was highlighted in the August 2012 Pentagon report, which also noted the unwillingness of Libya’s Sharia-supporting central government to contend with these ostensibly “more radical” avatars of Sharia supremacism. With resigned sobriety, the Pentagon report emphasized how such jihadist/al-Qaeda discourse resonates among a significant swath of the Libyan population. Finally, the Pentagon report’s EXECUTIVE SUMMARY raises serious questions about the callous inattention to security for U.S. diplomatic and ancillary personnel in Benghazi, and more importantly, the abysmal “See No Sharia” failure of imagination regarding overall U.S. policy in Libya, which has abetted the most fanatical jihadist movement extant – al-Qaeda itself. The report concluded:

"Al-Qaeda has established a core network in Libya, but it remains clandestine and refrains from using the al-Qaeda name. … Ansar al-Sharia, led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, has increasingly embodied al-Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States. Al-Qaeda adherents in Libya used the 2011 Revolution to establish well-armed, well-trained, and combat-experienced militias. … The al-Qaeda clandestine network is currently in an expansion phase, running training camps and media campaigns on social-media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube. However, it will likely continue to mask its presence under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement, with which it shares a radical ideology and a general intent to implement sharia in Libya and elsewhere."

And one of the apparent U.S. avatars of this grossly misbegotten policy is now its most prominent victim cum “martyr” -- namely, Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Diana West brought to my attention two profoundly disturbing classified cables written by Stevens during 2008, which capture this warped mindset. Stevens made a pilgrimage to Eastern Libyan Derna, the longstanding, proud hotbed of jihad which was a hub of the aggressive late 18th through early 19th century North African Barbary jihad campaigns against the U.S. Moreover, even in the absence of strict Sharia compliance, anthropologist Evans-Pritchard’s 1949 characterization revealed how the Muslim Bedouin of Eastern Libya “compensated” for their less than assiduous fulfillment of the ritual requirements of Islam by their zealous commitment to jihad. Here is Evans-Pritchard’s description:

"It would [also] be a questionable judgment to assert that the Bedouin of Cyrenaica [Eastern Libya] are not religious because they do not pay the same attention to outward ritual as do townspeople and peasants, for piety and holiness, as we have often been admonished, are not the same. … Perhaps the Bedouin make up for their shortcomings by their enthusiasm for the jihad, holy war against unbelievers. They consider that they have fulfilled their obligation under this head in ample measure by their long and courageous fight, formally declared a holy war by the Caliph of Islam, against the Italians, French, and British. A Bedouin once said to me when I remarked how rarely I had seen Bedouin at prayer: '(But) we fast and wage holy war.'”

The 2008 cables reveal a Stevens cavorting with the very Libyan Muslim denizens of Derna who were proudly sending their sons to be homicide bombers, etc., in Iraq attacking, and killing or grievously wounding U.S. troops there, at the highest per capita rate of any location in Islamdom. One memo is more than sympathetic to this hotbed of jihadism, it is almost reverent (Stevens repeats uncritically their self-characterization as being like Bruce Willis in the movie Die Hard -- even titling his cable as “Diehard in Derna”) -- and one can perhaps see, as Diana West suggests, the germ of the idea for the strategy ultimately employed to overthrow Qaddafi spearheaded by jihadists like Stevens’ “colleagues” in Derna.

The horrific, depressing spectacle of our great nation’s willing exploitation by violent Sharia supremacists brings to mind a remarkably candid assessment by the 18th century Moroccan Sufi “master” Ibn Ajibah from his Koranic commentary, a work I was made aware of by my colleague, Dr. Mark Durie. Describing unabashedly the purpose of the humiliating Koranic poll tax of submission for non-Muslims brought under Islamic hegemony by jihad (who become so-called “dhimmis,” as per Koran 9:29), Ibn Ajibah makes clear the ultimate goal of its imposition was to achieve what he called the death of the “soul,” through the dhimmis’ execution of their own humanity:

"[The dhimmi] is commanded to put his soul, good fortune and desires to death. Above all he should kill the love of life, leadership and honor. [The dhimmi] is to invert the longings of his soul, he is to load it down more heavily than it can bear until it is completely submissive. Thereafter nothing will be unbearable for him. He will be indifferent to subjugation or might. Poverty and wealth will be the same to him; praise and insult will be the same; preventing and yielding will be the same; lost and found will be the same. Then, when all things are the same, it [the soul] will be submissive and yield willingly what it should give."

Cynically ignoring Sharia doctrines and practices that permanently endanger the life, liberty, and property of non-Muslims, U.S. policymakers -- epitomized by the murdered Libyan Ambassador Stevens -- have sacrificed U.S. lives, and our nation’s soul.