Aaron Y. Zelin has a great piece over at Al-Wasat blog about signs of al-Qaeda activity and support in post-Gaddafi Libya:
“On Sunday the jihadi forums posted two videos of a caravan of cars and then marchers carrying similar flags as well as others linked to AQ. This made me rethink my initial reaction to the flag controversy, which led me to what I believe is a more nuanced take in the paragraph above that outlines how Libyan foreign fighters were exposed to AQI’s ideology. Although the LIFG’s trajectory following the Libyan uprising appears to conform to their moderation during their revision process since they have changed their group name to the Libyan Islamic Movement for Change, the second generation of jihadis now that Qadhafi is dead are slowly flexing their muscle in a society rife with violence, revenge, and potential tribal war.”
Zelin points to other troubling signs such as the posting of an AQIM video on a Libyan uprising Facebook page – most certainly not a good sign. He concludes, as have I so far, that while this must be watched closely it’s too early to call. Libya is not Somalia (yet) and I think there are sufficient counterbalancing forces to prevent it from becoming a failed state. However, those countering forces (think stabilization, militia disarmament, democratic institutions, economic restoration, collaboration with international partners on intelligence and aid) have to be applied quickly and skillfully. A few stumbles, or negligence, and this could turn ugly.
Recommended on Twitter: @azelin. Aaron Y. Zelin is a research associate in the Department of Politics at Brandeis University. He is interested in Islamic intellectual history, Tunisia, and Yemen.