Benghazi: From “See No Sharia” to Ansar al-Sharia

Followers of Ansar al-Sharia and other militias protest on September 21, 2012 in Benghazi

The Obama administration’s wall of mendacity surrounding the murderous 9/11/12 jihadist attack on our Benghazi, Libya diplomatic compound has collapsed under an avalanche of released State Department internal emails.

Even the reliable mainstream media Obama sycophants may be compelled to report the story broken by Reuters (Tuesday evening, 10/23/12). Within two hours of the attack, the State Department was aware that the jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia—declared by the State Department itself to be an al Qaeda affiliate—had claimed responsibility for the raid (or more appropriately, “razzia”).  These emails were disseminated by the State Department to sundry “redacted national security platforms,” such as the White House Situation room, the Pentagon, the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department. An estimated 300-400 national security figures obtained these emails—including persons working directly below the administration’s leading national security, military and diplomatic officials—“in real time almost as the raid was playing out and concluding.”

Who are Ansar al-Sharia? “AL-QAEDA IN LIBYA: A PROFILE” was an August, 2012 report prepared by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, a Pentagon program office under the aegis of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.  The report emphasized how Al Qaeda Senior Leadership (AQSL), working via a large, powerful, and well-established jihadist infrastructure in Libya—including, prominently, Ansar al-Sharia—sought to capitalize on the US and NATO-supported insurrection which toppled the Libyan despot Qaddafi, and fulfill its goal of making Libya part of an eventual transnational caliphate.

A sizable, ominous Ansar al-Sharia public rally during June, 2012  was highlighted in the August, 2012 Pentagon report, which also noted the unwillingness of Libya’s Sharia-supporting central government to contend with these ostensibly “more radical” avatars of Sharia supremacism:

In June 2012, Ansar al-Sharia staged a large-scale rally and military show of force involving dozens of military vehicles, with Islamists wearing the Afghan mujahidin’s traditional outfit. Some leaders described themselves as Islamists and called for implementation of sharia similar to that which the Taliban had implemented in Afghanistan or al-Qaeda in Somalia and Yemen. The military show of force consisted of a parade in which some 30 battalions from Benghazi, Darnah, Misrata, Al-Nufilyah, Ajdabiyah, and other Libyan towns took part in the first meeting in support of sharia in Benghazi. Islamist leaders pointed out that the aim of the military parade was to terrorize (Arabic: irhab) those who do not want to be judged by God’s law. Islamist leaders urged the Transitional National Council to clarify the identity of the state as Islamic or secular. Such a system of local affiliates might use neighborhood mosques as a support infrastructure for a religious and popular movement that could frighten politicians attempting to run on a moderate Islamic platform. …A weak Islamist-dominated central government is unlikely to confront such a radical movement, at least in the short term. The minister of religious affairs expressed his government’s weakness when he lamented the “hijacking” of mosques by extremist imams imposed by militiamen. Two of these local Islamist-oriented militias—Ansar al-Sharia and al-A’hrar Libya—are the tip of the iceberg. They broadcast typical al-Qaeda–type propaganda on the Internet, and they have adopted the black flag, which symbolizes commitment to violent jihad promoted by AQSL.

With resigned sobriety, the Pentagon report emphasized how such jihadist/Al-Qaeda discourse resonates among a significant swath of the Libyan population

AQSL’s discourse may attract a sizable audience, especially among disenchanted former rebels, insecure tribal leaders, and Salafist clerics that could be turned into a support network and recruiting tool for jihadists. As demonstrated by ongoing rallies of supporters of the implementation of sharia, the Salafist movement is gaining ground in Libya and is most likely to adopt an uncompromising stance with regard to sharia and secularism close to the one typically promoted by al-Qaeda.

The salient features of Sharia, Islamic law, and its appeal as demonstrated by recent polling data from Libya’s North African Muslim neighbors, Morocco and Egypt, are summarized below.

Derived from Islam’s most important canonical texts—the Koran and hadith—and their interpretation and codification by Islam’s greatest classical legists, Sharia, Islamic law, is not merely holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion, to personal hygiene, to the governance of an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia’s liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties—including freedom of conscience and speech—enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.

But is this ancient, brutally oppressive totalitarian system still popular amongst the Muslim masses, particularly within North Africa? In a word, “yes.” Polling data were released April 24, 2007 from a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ interview survey of Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007. Seventy-one percent (71%) of the 1000 Moroccans, and  67% of the 1000 Egyptians surveyed, desired this outcome: “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate.”  The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate was strongly suggested by a concordant result: 76% of Moroccan Muslims and 74% of Egyptian Muslims approved the proposition “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Sharia law in every Islamic country.”

Returning to the August, 2012 Pentagon report, its EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  raises serious questions about the callous in attention to security for US diplomatic and ancillary personnel in Benghazi, and more importantly, the abysmal “See No Sharia” failure of imagination regarding overall US policy in Libya, which has abetted the most fanatical jihadist movement extant—Al Qaeda itself.

Al-Qaeda has established a core network in Libya, but it remains clandestine and refrains from using the al-Qaeda name…Ansar al-Sharia, led by Sufian Ben Qhumu, a former Guantanamo detainee, has increasingly embodied al-Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States. Al-Qaeda adherents in Libya used the 2011 Revolution to establish well-armed, well-trained, and combat-experienced militias… The al-Qaeda clandestine network is currently in an expansion phase, running training camps and media campaigns on social-media platforms, such as Facebook and YouTube. However, it will likely continue to mask its presence under the umbrella of the Libyan Salafist movement, with which it shares a radical ideology and a general intent to implement sharia in Libya and elsewhere.

And one of the apparent US avatars of this grossly misbegotten policy is now its most prominent victim cum “martyr”—namely, Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  Two (here; here) profoundly disturbing classified cables written by Stevens during 2008, capture this warped mindset. They reveal a Stevens cavorting with the very Libyan Muslim denizens of Derna—a longstanding, proud hotbed of jihad which was a hub of the aggressive late 18th through early 19th century North African Barbary jihad campaigns against the US—who were proudly sending their sons to be homicide bombers, etc., in Iraq attacking, and killing or grievously wounding US troops there, at the highest per capita rate of any location in Islamdom. One memo is more than sympathetic to this hotbed of jihadism, it is almost reverent (Stevens repeats uncritically their self-characterization as being like Bruce Willis in the movie “Die Hard”—even entitling his cable as “Diehard in Derna”)— and one can see the germ of the idea for the strategy ultimately employed overthrow Qaddafi spearheaded by jihadists like Stevens’ “colleagues” in Derna.

The horrific, depressing spectacle of our great nation’s willing exploitation by violent Sharia supremacists brings to mind a remarkably candid assessment by the 18th century Moroccan Sufi “master” Ibn Ajibah from his Koranic commentary, a work I was made aware of by my colleague, Dr. Mark Durie.  Describing  the purpose of the humiliating Koranic poll tax (as per Koran 9:29) of submission for non-Muslims brought under Islamic hegemony by jihad, Ibn Ajibah makes clear the ultimate goal of its imposition was to achieve what he called the death of the “soul”, through the dhimmi’s execution of their own humanity:

[The dhimmi] is commanded to put his soul, good fortune and desires to death.  Above all he should kill the love of life, leadership and honor. [The dhimmi] is to invert the longings of his soul, he is to load it down more heavily than it can bear until it is completely submissive. Thereafter nothing will be unbearable for him. He will be indifferent to subjugation or might. Poverty and wealth will be the same to him; praise and insult will be the same; preventing and yielding will be the same; lost and found will be the same. Then, when all things are the same, it [the soul] will be submissive and yield willingly what it should give.  [Tafsir ibn ‘Ajibah.  Commentary on Q9:29. Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ibn ‘Ajibah]  

Cynically ignoring Sharia doctrines and practices that permanently endanger the life, liberty, and property of non-Muslims, US policymakers—epitomized by the murdered Libyan Ambassador Stevens—have sacrificed US lives, and our nation’s soul.

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