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Al Libi's Life and Death Show Interesting Connections
The recent death of Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan shows several interesting things about the _jihadist_ groups operating in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, and their ties to Iraq.

The first is the prominent role that Libyans have been playing in recent times inside the al Qaeda structure and on its periphery. It is interesting to note that, in the CTC-West Point study of foreign fighters in Iraq Libyans were second only to Saudis (19 percent to 41 percent) in the number of people sent to fight.

"The obvious discrepancy between previous studies of Iraqi foreign fighters and the Sinjar Records is the percentage of Libyan fighters. No previous study has indicated that more than 4 percent of fighters were Libyan. Indeed, a June 2005 report by NBC quoted a U.S. government source indicating that Libya did not make a top ten list of origin nationalities for foreign fighters in Iraq."

As the study noted, Libya "contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality, (in the documents studied) including Saudi Arabia."

The report further noted that "The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al‐Qa’ida, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al‐Qa’ida on November 3, 2007."

This alliance was engineered by al-Libi, and seems to have paid almost immediate dividends for both the core al Qaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan, and the Iraqi jihadis. This inter-connectivity now between the groups-the ability to transfer technology, training and recruits among different fronts-is one of the most dangerous developments of the past 12-18 months.

As the NEFA Foundation translation of the ode to al-Libi noted, he was responsible for the recruitment and training of many jihadists.

European analysts who have reviewed the same documents pointed out that almost all of the Libyans whose documents were found come from the same small area of Libya, essentially one city of fewer than 100,000 people.

The second connection of interest comes in the communication and face-to-face meeting between al-Libi and Libyan officials, who are trying to reach a truce with the group.

Gadaffi may have paid his way into international respectability because of the oil reserves he sits on, but at heart remains staunchly anti-Western, pan-Islamic and pan-Africanist.

Not that these concepts and beliefs can reside in his mind as whole process without deep internal contradictions. But it does mean that he will act for his own best interests, even if it means helping (or at least reapproachment) with his enemies if it serves the various agendas in his mind-the primary being his own private interests.

The third connection, and the most obvious one, is the ongoing, public ties between senior leaders of the jihadist movements and the Pakistani political establishment and intelligence services. That is the life blood of much of the jihadist movement, and until that is cut, it matters little how much we fiddle around the edges of the problem.

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