On trouve dans The Independent on Sunday du 28 août 2011 ample confirmation de l’identité du chef des rebelles à Tripoli, comme le signalait Pépé Escobar le 27 août 2011. On trouve d’autres précisions sur la présence (importante, de l’ordre de 30%) d’islamistes dans les rangs des rebelles libyens.
Les informations ainsi publiées viennent d’une source bien identifiée : un membre de la Quilliam Foundation (connue plus simplement sous le nom de Quilliam), organisation installée à Londres luttant contre l’interprétation “extrémiste” du phénomène islamiste et pour l’intégration des musulmans en Occident). Il s’agit manifestement d’une appréciation qui se veut apaisante de la présence des islamistes dans les rangs des rebelles. On peut d’ailleurs accepter cette interprétation, sauf d’observer que le comportement américaniste-occidentaliste peut, bien entendu, susciter à lui seul des réactions extrémistes ; c’est en général l’explication la plus évidente du phénomène de la radicalisation (islamiste et autres).
«Yesterday, The Independent on Sunday learned that the rebel military commander behind the successful assault on Tripoli had fought in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban and was an Islamist terror suspect interrogated by the CIA. Abdelhakim Belhadj, the newly appointed commander of the Tripoli Military Council is a former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – banned by Britain and the US as a terrorist organisation after the 9/11 attacks.
»The 45-year-old first went to Afghanistan in the late 1980s, where he fought against occupying Soviet forces. Arrested in Malaysia in 2004, he was interrogated by the CIA in Thailand before being extradited to Libya, where he was released from prison last year; he has since renounced violence. Mr Belhadj has become a hero of the Libyan revolution – and ally of the West.
»A former comrade-in-arms insisted the rebel leader was not a future enemy in waiting. Noman Benotman, once a senior LIFG figure, and now senior analyst at the Quilliam think-tank, said: “I strongly believe he is capable of rationalising even the rogue elements within the rebels. He will do everything possible to prevent chaos.”
»He insisted Mr Belhadj “was never ever convinced by al-Qa'ida”. But he added: “If the West delays supporting the NTC it runs a high risk that the capital and maybe the country will start to gradually drag into a situation of chaos.” If this happens, “al-Qa'ida will not need any invitations or permissions to enter”. The former LIFG member conceded there was a risk that some of the rebels could turn against the West. But he added: “I don't think there is a real or significant threat.”
»Founded in the 1990s by Libyan fighters returning from Afghanistan, the LIFG merged with al-Qa'ida in 2007, and in March 2011 renamed itself the Libyan Islamic Movement. Hundreds of its members are taking part in the fighting in Libya.
»Mr Benotman said Islamists make up a large proportion of rebel forces. “About 20 per cent of the rebel forces are soldiers and officers that defected; within the 80 per cent I believe 30 per cent of them are Islamists.” Fighters from an Islamist brigade were responsible for the shooting of General Abdel Fattah Younes, commander of rebel forces, earlier this year, according to Mr Benotman. “They are an isolated Islamist brigade that has been dismantled,” he said.»