Libya: On al-Qaida and the Benghazi Defense Brigades

I have a post at Lawfare examining the Benghazi Defense Brigades*, a Libyan militia with very loose ties to al-Qaida. I make a broader point about how analytically sloppy, and politically misguided, it is to interpret these kinds of loose ties as evidence for the claim that al-Qaida core is somehow brilliantly controlling all kinds of essentially local armed groups around the world. I welcome your feedback on the piece in the comments section below.

*Probably better translated as “the Companies for Defending Benghazi,” but the name above has stuck in English.

1 thought on “Libya: On al-Qaida and the Benghazi Defense Brigades

  1. Excellent piece and your conclusion is an important takeaway “Because if Washington targets all groups with loose ties to al-Qaeda, the United States risks wasting resources—and creating new enemies.” This piece reminds me of the leader-led/leaderless jihad debate between Bruce Hoffman and Marc Sageman. The Libyan theatre, in my opinion, is not a top priority for al-Qaeda even though Abu Iyad al-Tunisi’s revelation shows AQ’s renewed interest in North Africa. In fact, I will say this has been the case for a while since the death of Abu Layth al-Libi, Abu Yahya al-Libi and Atiyatullah al-Libi. While it is important not to conflate local groups as AQ nebula, it is imperative to know the projected goal and vision of each local group. A group might not be affiliated to AQ or IS but we will need to critically dissect the goals and visions of the group before accommodation in an inclusive political transition. For example, Shekau’s faction of BH at the moment cannot be pitched as a nebula of the key actors in the global jihadosphere yet the goal of the faction cannot be accommodated.

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