Jihadists in Benghazi are declaring themselves part of an Islamic caliphate just days after tribal warfare forced American diplomatic personnel out of Libya over fears for their safety.
As WND reported Monday, in a repudiation of the premise advanced by President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the “Arab Spring” was a democracy movement, Libya has descended into lawless chaos in which various terrorist militia, including al-Qaida, vie for power.
With most of the world focused on foreign crises like the Israel-Hamas conflict and the Russian influence in Ukraine, the State Department quietly announced the withdrawal of U.S. Embassy staff on July 26.
Barely a week later, the fate of the war-torn country appears even more bleak.
"There has been a rapid deterioration over the past couple of weeks. (Friday) in Benghazi, the Ansar al-Sharia group, which of course was involved in the attacks on our special mission compound in Benghazi, has announced an Islamic Shariah state, a portion of a caliphate. They have taken over Benghazi and declared Islamic law," said reporter Ken Timmerman, author of "Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi."
Timmerman said the fighting between radical Islamic groups is steadily intensifying, and the conditions on the ground simply became untenable.
"The country is descending into chaos. I think this was a foreseeable thing. I've been talking to people who have been at the U.S. Embassy recently, who have been engaged in the security procedures. They told me this was a disaster waiting to happen," said Timmerman, who did have a bit of praise for Secretary of State John Kerry while jabbing his predecessor.
"Secretary Kerry at least had the foresight to evacuate the embassy, unlike Hillary Clinton, who left our people out to dry on Sept. 11, 2012," he said.
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Ken Timmerman:
According to Timmerman, the rapid unraveling of stability in recent weeks is particularly noticeable and alarming.
"In Tripoli, you still have ongoing fighting. The international airport has been bombed and shelled repeatedly. Aircraft have been destroyed on the ground. Libyans are basically isolated from the rest of the world. The country is going to hell in a hand basket," he said, noting that all of this was avoidable because there was no need to force Col. Muammar Gadhafi from power in 2011.
"The Obama administration engaged in the sabotage, an undermining of a regime in Libya that was no threat to the United States whatsoever. Gadhafi had given up his weapons of mass destruction. He had destroyed his ties to terrorist groups. He was helping the United States in the war on terror. Was he a nice guy? No, he wasn't. Were people in political prisons? Yes, they were. Were thousands jailed? No. He was a thug. He was a dictator, but he was not a threat to the United States and, frankly, he wasn't even a threat to the Libyan people," Timmerman said.
"We overthrew him, and the result of that was predictable," he said. "It was getting these Islamist groups, these jihadi groups, who we helped to arm by the way. We helped to arm them, in Benghazi and elsewhere. They took over the country, and since then they've been fighting for control."
Much of "Dark Forces" details how the toppling of Gadhafi led to a massive number of American-made weapons winding up in the hands of the world's worst actors. Timmerman said the risks posed to the U.S. and its allies may well end up being the most troubling legacy of U.S. involvement in Libya.
"The weapons that we delivered to the Libyan opposition, the anti-Gadhafi forces, leaked into the jihadi networks around the world," said Timmerman, noting that surface-to-air missiles have been tracked to Sinai, Gaza and even the shooting down of an American helicopter in Afghanistan.
"This is a clear threat to U.S. security interests around the world, and I think it's something that's got our officials in the intelligence community and even in the military very worried," he said.
In his book, Timmerman details how about 2,500 Russian-made surface-to-air missiles disappeared from Libya's arsenal after Gadhafi was killed. He said what happened next was even more troubling.
"I was able to document in 'Dark Forces' that about 800 of them wound up in this jihadi arms bazaar in northern Niger. That's a country in Africa, just below Libya. They were upgraded with CIA batteries and then traded amongst various jihadi groups and wound up in the Sinai, Gaza and elsewhere. That's 800 missiles that are out on the loose," he said.
In early 2011, the so-called Arab Spring was proclaimed as a wave of freedom as protests engulfed nations like Egypt, Libya and, eventually, Syria. With chaos gripping Libya, civil war and an Islamic state raging in Syria and Egypt emerging from a two-year battle with the Muslim Brotherhood, Timmerman said the early evaluations of the Arab Spring are less than rosy.
Timmerman said, "While it may have had some liberal, pro-Western leanings in the beginning, it was quickly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, quickly dominated by jihadi forces and, in fact, has ushered in an era of darkness across the Arab world."