TEL AVIV – In a recently released report on terrorism, the State Department concludes Libya is now a high-threat, fractured nation where “violent extremists” run rampant and export terrorism, weapons are on the loose and porous borders are partially controlled by Islamic brigades.
The document serves as a major departure from the reported trends of 2011, when Libya was hailed by the Obama administration as the lynchpin of the so-called “Arab Spring,” a country ripe for democratization and the Western-style rule of law.
On April 30, the State Department submitted its “Country Reports on Terrorism 2013” to the U.S. Congress as required by law, an annual assessment of “trends and events in international terrorism” that occurred from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013.
A summary states: “In Libya, lack of countrywide security coverage contributed to a high threat environment. Libya’s weak security institutions, coupled with ready access to loose weapons and porous borders, provided violent extremists significant opportunities to act and plan operations.”
The full document warns that Libya is proving a “permissive environment for terrorists,” listing several factors that caused the dangerous state of affairs, including:
- “A central government with weak institutions and only tenuous control over its expansive territory”;
- “The ubiquity of uncontrolled weapons and ammunition; porous and inaccessible borders”;
- “Heavily armed militias and tribes with varying loyalties and agendas.”
Unmentioned in the document is the State Department’s direct role in the weapons proliferation in Libya.
Working with NATO, the U.S. reportedly supplied vast quantities of weapons to the rebels fighting to depose Muammar Gadhafi’s regime.
Since the fall of Gadhafi, there have been numerous reports of U.S.-coordinated arms shipments from Libya to the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
WND was first to report the attacked U.S. special mission in Benghazi served as a headquarters for meetings that helped to plan of aid to the Mideast rebels, with murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens playing a central role.
How has the new Libyan government been faring in bringing law and order to the post-Gadhafi country?
The State Department document says the “central government and municipalities have largely failed to provide services to their constituencies, thereby providing fertile soil to terrorist organizations, such as Ansar al-Shari’a (AAS) Benghazi and AAS Darnah, to fill that void and recruit.”
The report warns that terrorism is being exported from Libya to other countries in the region.
“This confluence of factors has allowed violent extremist elements to use platforms in Libya to conduct short-term training for Libyan and third-country recruits en route to terrorist attack destinations in the region and to Syria,” the report says.
“Libya-based violent extremists continued to supply arms throughout the region and to fighters in Syria.”
Regarding border control, the document states: “Border security at Libya’s airports is minimal, with no collection of passenger name records, biometric screenings, or thorough travel document screening, and only limited biographic screening or use of terrorist watchlists.”
The report says that at land crossings, border security “is normally either provided by poorly trained, underpaid, and ill-equipped government border guards or by local brigades or tribes with tenuous loyalties to the State and often themselves involved in illicit cross-border trade.”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.