NEW YORK – A new civil war in Libya is heating up just as the House select committee investigating the Obama administration’s handling of the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi prepares to launch, according to Libyan expatriate tribal leaders who spoke to WND.
Once again, the sources say, Benghazi is at the epicenter of an emerging revolutionary movement in Libya in which suspected CIA-backed mercenaries posing as “freedom-fighting revolutionaries” are attempting to seize power from the provisional government established by the United States and NATO after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.
Libyan tribes claiming to represent 5 million Libyan citizens went public Wednesday with charges against the Obama administration. They claim the U.S. is continuing to sponsor al-Qaida related Islamic extremists responsible for launching the terrorist attack on the U.S. facilities in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11, 2012.
Also on Wednesday, expatriate sources told WND that a Turkish ship was sited offshore of Misurata, Libya, unloading Islamic terrorists and mercenaries from Syria to participate in the mounting internal violence in Libya.
As the internal violence once again builds, the Obama administration has issued orders for the U.S. military to be prepared to evacuate all U.S. State Department personnel stationed in Tripoli.
Renegade general leads CIA-backed coup?
France24 reported heavily armed gunmen led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, a 70-year-old former Libyan army commander, stormed Libya’s General National Congress parliament building in Tripoli. Haftar demanded the parliament suspend activities and pledge allegiance to the general’s renegade army.
France24 disclosed that Haftar, a Benghazi native, began his military career in 1969, when he was one of a small group of loyalists that overthrew King Idris and placed Gadhafi in power, where he remained for the next 42 years.
Haftar turned against Gadhafi in the final year of Libya’s nine-year disastrous war with Chad, from 1978 to 1987. Gadhafi disavowed Haftar, claiming he was not part of the Libyan army, and consigned him and his troops to prison in Chad.
Next, Haftar turned up opposing Gadhafi as part of the Libyan National Army, the military arm of the opposition Libyan National Salvation Front.
In 1991, the New York Times reported the CIA under President Reagan funded and trained Haftar and his 350-strong contingent of troops “in sabotage and other guerrilla skills” at a paramilitary base near the Chadian capital.
The New York Times reported that after the Chadian government was overthrown in 1990, the CIA found a new home for Haftar and his revolutionaries, eventually flying them to Washington and granting them asylum after failed attempts to settle them in Kenya and Zaire.
The BBC reported that for the next 20 years, Haftar lived “a seemingly quiet life with his family” in Falls Church, Virginia, a few miles away from the CIA headquarters in Langley, a move that prompted speculation he had become a CIA asset.
In the NATO-backed revolution that toppled Gadhafi in 2011, Haftar returned to Libya to participate in the uprising, only to return to relative obscurity after Gadhafi’s downfall, as did other former Gadhafi allies who joined the revolution.
Now, Haftar appears to have persuaded Libyan army commanders to join his campaign against the provisional government.
On May 18, Al-Jazeera reported Haftar’s “National Army” had launched an offensive against radical Islamic terrorist groups currently in control of Benghazi, prompting Libyan interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to denounce Haftar’s forces as “outlaws. The Libyan army, meanwhile, imposed a “no-fly” zone over Benghazi in a direct challenge to Haftar.
Haftar’s renegade army gained support this week when Libyan Special Forces Commander Wanis Bukhamada delivered a statement in Benghazi joining Haftar’s “Operation Dignity,” a military campaign in which Haftar’s forces bombed a radio station in eastern Benghazi run by the Islamic terrorist group Ansar Al-Sharia. The campaign killed more than 70 people in attacks on various militia camps in the vicinity of Benghazi.
On Wednesday, Fox News reported Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Myles Caggins said eight Ospreys and three KC-130J refueling aircraft are now positioned at Sigonella air base in Italy along with some 250 Marines deployed in the wake of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks. They are prepared to evacuate U.S. State Department personnel out of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli as violence mounts between Haftar’s renegade army, Islamic terrorists in control of Benghazi and military forces loyal to the provisional government.
Libyan tribes turn against Obama
Expatriate Libyan tribal leaders have expressed to WND strong opposition to remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones. She said in a C-SPAN interview Wednesday at the Stimson Center in Washington that she would not condemn Haftar’s actions.
In a statement published on the Internet, unnamed Libyan tribal leaders accused Jones of siding with radical Islamic militias that she refused to characterize as “terrorists.” The tribal leaders charge she has supported various militia operating within Libya with the sanction of the Libyan provisional government and backed a CIA-engineered coup led by Haftar.
“The USA planned to overthrow the legitimate Libya government in 1980 and hired a traitor Libyan military officer named Khalifa Haftar, trained him and several thousand mercenaries to destroy the Gadhafi government,” the Libyan tribal leaders wrote. “The change of government in Chad made the USA stop that planned overthrow. Haftar and his band of traitors were moved to the USA near Langley, Virginia, where Haftar et.al. worked for the CIA for 20 years.”
Claiming the Libyan tribes have acted “for thousands of years as the legitimate shadow government of Libya,” the statement said 85 percent of the Libyan people oppose the NATO-led revolution that toppled Gadhafi and created a U.S.-backed provisional government in 2012.
The statement continued to attack Jones:
“How can the USA think it has the right to take our country from us? Send in its spies and unlimited arms and air support to bomb and destroy our country. How dare you say that Libya had no government before the US invaded our beautiful homeland? You, madam, are a sham of a stateswoman; you meet with Al-Qaida and every other terrorist entity in Libya. You are not an ambassador for the good people of the USA. You talk as if you do not know General Haftar, when in fact he is the selected military front for the USA-CIA military division in Libya.”
The expatriate Libyan tribal leaders, in an email to WND, accused the State Department of housing Haftar in the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli in February, when he was organizing the renegade army now fighting Islamic terrorists in Benghazi and the Libyan army supporting the provisional government.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki attempted to distance the Obama administration from Haftar, telling journalists Wednesday that the U.S. has had no recent contact with him.
“We do not condone or support the actions on the ground, nor have we assisted with these actions,” Psaki said.
On Wednesday, the Libyan provisional government announced parliamentary elections will take place June 25 in a bid to reduce tensions.
CNN reported, however, that only 1.3 million Libyans out of an estimated 3.4 million eligible voters have registered to vote, according to Libya’s Higher National Elections Commission. In Libya’s last election, in February, only 14 percent of eligible voters voted, with many affected by boycotts and violence in various cities.
Benghazi terrorists roam free
Since December 2012, WND has been reporting that contrary to Obama administration claims, al-Qaida remains alive and well in Libya. Various terrorists, meanwhile, are allowed to remain free despite being suspected of masterminding or participating in the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Stevens.
In particular, the Libyan expatriates claimed Abdelhakim Belhadj was at large in Libya as of December 2012, the date of the WND report.
WND has reported that when Stevens first arrived in Libya in early 2011 on a cargo ship to serve as the official U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition, he worked directly with Belhadj, then identified as belonging to the al-Qaida-related Islamic Fighting Group.
On Dec. 4, 2012, WND identified Belhadj as a key organizer of the Benghazi attack. In November 2013, Belhadj at the top of a list of Libyan terrorists banned by the European Union from obtaining entrance visas.
In February 2012, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., met in Tripoli with Belhadj and representatives of the Misrata military council, as documented by Agence France-Presse.
A photograph from the February 2012 meeting in Libya shows McCain, with Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., standing at McCain’s left, receiving from Belhadj a plague depicting in Tripoli what is known as “Green Square,” renamed “Martyrs’ Square” after the revolution that toppled Gadhafi from power.
On June 13, 2013, WND also reported that by November 2011, Belhadj, then acting as the head of the Tripoli Military Council and a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was holding meetings with officials from the rebel Free Syrian Army officials in Turkey about providing troops and arms to Syria to assist in the fight against the Assad government.
Despite President Obama’s claims that the perpetrators of the Benghazi terrorist attack would be brought to justice, no suspects have yet to be arrested by U.S. authorities.