last updates Sept. 12, 2012
Bumped Sept. 12 in response to the news of the US envoy to Libya's killing during Salafi protests, and roughly on the anniversary of 9/11 to boot.
Happy Halloween, everyone. You want something spooky? As usual, you can find something to fit the bill here.How about the flag of al Qaeda in Iraq being flown surreptitiously above the flag of new Libya, over the NTC headquarters-cum-capitol building in Benghazi?
Via Libya S.O.S., a video and a story from Vice.com.
AL QAEDA PLANTS ITS FLAG IN LIBYA
By Sherif Elhelwa
... [A]ccording to multiple eyewitnesses—myself included—one can now see both the Libyan rebel flag and the flag of al Qaeda fluttering atop Benghazi’s courthouse.
According to one Benghazi resident, Islamists driving brand-new SUVs and waving the black al Qaeda flag drive the city’s streets at night shouting, "Islamiya, Islamiya! No East, nor West," a reference to previous worries that the country would be bifurcated between Gaddafi opponents in the east and the pro-Gaddafi elements in the west.
Earlier this week, I went to the Benghazi courthouse and confirmed the rumors: an al Qaeda flag was clearly visible; its Arabic script declaring that “there is no God but Allah” and a full moon underneath. When I tried to take pictures, a Salafi-looking guard, wearing a green camouflage outfit, rushed towards me and demanded to know what I was doing. My response was straightforward: I was taking a picture of the flag. He gave me an intimidating look and hissed, "Whomever speaks ill of this flag, we will cut off his tongue. I recommend that you don't publish these. You will bring trouble to yourself.”Update Nov 1:
He followed me inside the courthouse, but luckily my driver Khaled was close by, and interceded on my behalf. According to Khaled, the guard had angrily threatened to harm me. When I again engaged him in conversation, he told me "this flag is the true flag of Islam," and was unresponsive when I argued with him that historically Islam has never been represented by a single flag. The guard claimed repeatedly that there is no al Qaeda in Libya, and that the flag flying atop the courthouse is “dark black,” while the al Qaeda flag is charcoal black.
Reader Peet73 alerts me the same flag can be seen in a demonstration last Friday in Benghazi. The New York Times made no mention of the flags, but showed a photo with at least five of them, the most common one carried, per that image. The demonstration was in support of extremist Sharia law, particularly to support the Jibril/NTC stance on marriage (no-consent polygamy, rescinding of female-friendly divorce laws). How their terrorist flag wound up atop the main courthouse (the same spot as the famous Benghazi beheading, by the way) is a puzzle that was bound to make news. In fact:
Fox News (readers vote it "scary")
Daily Caller: "A CNN report on Saturday [the 29th] showed al-Qaida’s black flag flying over the Benghazi courthouse, which was one of the rebellion’s starting points."
The CNN video, submitted to them, is the one shown above.
There was also this:
Anti-Qaddafi Forces Flew al-Qaeda Flag During Siege of Sirte (National Review Online)
John Rosenthal here conflates the similar "Emirates flag" and the al Qaeda flag, the former actually being seen flown in Sirte. Hence, no al Qaeda.
The appearance of the al-Qaeda flag over the Benghazi courthouse has been generally spun by commentators in the Western media as a sign that Islamic extremists are now rushing to fill the “vacuum” left by the fall of the ancien régime in Libya. But the Echorouk report and the accompanying photo indicate that anti-Qaddafi forces in fact fought under the “Islamic Caliphate” banner in the decisive battle of the rebellion.Only one or the other flag can be flown, apparently, and it was this one. So see, these aren't bad guys. That other black (bad) flag of Islamist extremists helped them to lay siege to Sirte and mop up afterwards. Far from a troublesome symbol of Islamist terrorist war criminals, the AQ/Emirates flag is now just another way of saying "FREEEEEDOOOOMMM!"
But reader Sam 1 alerts me, in comments below, new video (if not a new procession) of rebel fighting vehicles in Sirte flying the same al Qaeda flag with the full moon. The occupants of those vehicles are all disguised too, like bank robbers or snuff film makers. Was this from October, during the slaughter, or more recently, to mop up again inside the shattered and scattered onetime "capitol of the resistance?"
Others think it's possibly new. ABC News (US) has picked up the story, saying these are "police" vehicles." Similar processions have been seen in Tripoli. Ibrahim Dabbashi says:
But the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told ABC News that the video is not what it seems. Libyan brigades have flown similar flags in the past and, when questioned about them, the brigade commanders always said they were simply the "flag of the Prophet Muhammad," Dabbashi said.So it is al Qaeda then. Great.
"These brigades have no relation whatsoever with al Qaeda," he said. "There are no al Qaeda elements in Libya."