In an exclusive interview with PJ Media, the Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman, Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, says that President Obama and Hillary Clinton “abandoned the Libyan people to face these terrorists alone.”
He also implicates the Obama administration in supporting terrorist militias — including Libyan al-Qaeda leader Abdelhakim Belhadj and Muslim Brotherhood militias allied to al-Qaeda.
Rather than backing the LNA and the elected Tobruk-based Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) in the fight against these terror groups, the Obama administration — along with the United Nations and the European Union — have been trying to impose a “Government of National Accord” (GNA) that has zero constituency in Libya. Further, it is accused of working with terror-linked militias in Tripoli.
With the continuing crisis between several Arab nations — including the Libyan HoR and Qatar — Col. al-Mesmari discusses Qatar’s role in arming and financing terrorist militias in Libya. He also connects the Muslim Brotherhood militias that have been fighting against the LNA with al-Qaeda and ISIS elements operating in the country.
Col. al-Mesmari also claims that the February 17th Martyrs Brigade — hired by Hillary Clinton’s State Department to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi — cooperated with Ansar al-Sharia in attacking the consulate compound on September 12, 2012.
That attack led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Libyans celebrated last week when, after three years of battle, the LNA finally liberated Benghazi from all terrorist groups in the city:
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 5, 2017
Libya's eastern commander declares victory in battle for Benghazi https://t.co/W2tEI5Ydhg
— Reuters (@Reuters) July 5, 2017
And over the past month, Col. al-Mesmari has publicly charged Qatar with direct support of terrorist groups operating in Libya:
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) June 9, 2017
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) June 29, 2017
The following is an exclusive interview I conducted by email earlier today with Col. Ahmed al-Mesmari, official spokesman for the Libyan National Army:
1) It’s been six years since the U.S.-led NATO intervention in Libya. Hillary Clinton was the leading voice in the Obama administration for the U.S. action. What responsibility does she and Obama bear for that decision?
The main responsibility falls on NATO, which interfered in Libya in 2011 to end the Gaddafi regime and destroyed all Libyan army weapons and infrastructure, only to then leave Libya alone to fight the terrorists. They took none of the necessary measures to help rebuild the Libyan Army or even help to reactivate other security facilities.
The U.S. administration led by Obama and Hilary Clinton was not up to the challenge in Libya and didn’t give much attention to the Libyan situation.
We don’t have any doubts that the Obama administration and his ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, had considerable contact with militias and terrorist groups in Libya.
There was a U.S. plan for Libya that we still don’t know the details about, but in the end they abandoned the Libyan people to face these terrorists alone.
2) Given the current crisis over Qatar’s role in financing extremism, what kind of interference by Qatar has been seen in Libya?
Qatar started working in Libya even before NATO arrived. Qatar interfered in Libya under the cover that it was willing to help the Libyan people’s uprising. Later NATO left the scene and Qatar was all over Libya with their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and other militias.
Qatar also supported these groups with money, weapons, ammunition, in addition to transporting fighters from Libya to Syria via Turkey.
Qatar continues until today supporting al-Qaeda militias and Muslim Brotherhood Shield militias in Tripoli and Misrata.
3) Many in the U.S. remember the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. What role, if any, did Qatar play in financing and arming Ansar al-Sharia, which conducted the attack?
First, this operation was led by Ansar al-Sharia, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya, and also another militia called the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, which is one of the Muslim Brotherhood Shield militias that took part in this attack. Qatar is the main supporter and financier of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda in Libya. In this particular brutal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi they provided weapons and communication equipment to the terrorist militias.
The paradox here is that the 17 February Muslim Brotherhood militia was the militia that the U.S. contracted to protect the consulate. They had an agreement with the attackers to fake a weapons clash, then later opened the gates into the consulate for them.
4) What role does Qatar play now in financing and arming extremists in Libya?
The last clear support of Qatar to terrorist groups was their support of the so-called “Benghazi Defense Brigades,” another al-Qaeda affiliate that was labeled a terrorist group by the Libyan HoR and by other Arab countries. The Qatari support to them arrived in Al Jufrah in form of weapons, ammunition, armored vehicles, telecommunication equipment, and money in cash.
5) The Libyan House of Representatives recently designated several Muslim Brotherhood leaders as terrorists. What connections have been discovered tying the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya to extremists?
In Benghazi we fought against the Muslim Brotherhood militias known as Libyan Shields. These militias fought next to Ansar al-Sharia (al-Qaeda) and ISIS against the Libyan Army.
This alliance shows clearly that the Muslim Brotherhood had an alliance with ISIS and al-Qaeda, and we know that all these groups including the Muslim Brotherhood all have terrorist religious views.
6) What connections have been discovered linking the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt with extremists in Libya?
The Muslim Brotherhood is an international terrorist group and all their groups in any country ideologically go back to their “murshid” or supreme guide who is in Egypt.
7) One of the leading militia leaders backed by the U.S. has been former al-Qaeda leader Abdelhakim Belhadj. Many U.S. media outlets describe Belhadj as a former extremist.
Based on the available evidence now, is it true that Belhadj has abandoned extremism, or is he still involved in extremist activity?
Not at all — Belhadj is still a terrorist leader. In addition, he has a lot of money to support his terrorist group as well as financing other groups in Tunisia and Syria.
Belhadj is a founder of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and will not let go of his terrorist views. For us Belhadj is the leader of LIFG, an al-Qaeda affiliate.
8) We know that arms from various parties in Libya were being sent to extremists in Syria, particularly in 2011 and 2012. What do we know now about those networks, and who exactly were these arms being sent to? What way, if any, was the U.S. involved in those arms transfers?
First, it wasn’t just sending weapons and ammunition, but also fighters from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and other nationalities.
Their first stops were training camps in Sabratha, Tripoli, Misrata, Derna and Benghazi, then later airlifted and transported by sea to Syria via Turkey.
Liwa Al-Umma in Syria was established from these fighters and their commander was the al-Qaeda terrorist Mahdi al-Harati, who is a Libyan-Irish national. He is one of Belhadj’s inner circle and was fully supported by Belhadj and Qatar. Liwa Al-Umma fought next to Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) in Syria.
We still don’t know exactly what the American role in this was, but we have what makes us believe that the U.S. knew all about it as well as some European countries.
9) This week we saw, after several years of fighting, the Libyan National Army recover all of Benghazi. With that accomplished, what are the next major objectives for the LNA?
Our duty is to protect the Libyan people and we will always be after terrorism and terrorist groups wherever they are. We have no doubt that we will target every al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group in Libya, or any group that affects the security of the Libyan people.
10) We have seen a rise in the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe over the past two years. What role do extremists take in human trafficking in Libya?
You must know that there is zero illegal immigration to Europe from the areas under our control.
We know that some organized crime groups are human trafficking, so some of these groups simply engage in this activity for the sake of the financial income.
We also know that other groups do it to send terrorists to Europe masking them in forms of illegal immigration.
11) Now with a new U.S. administration under President Trump, what are the steps the U.S. can take to assist Libya in moving forward with political and security solutions for the future?
Politics is not my field, so I will leave it to the politicians to answer that question.
Military-wise, we ask the Trump administration to support our armed forces and its leadership so we could easily and fully control our own soil, then we could end illegal immigration by protecting our borders and coast.