Al-Qaida plants its flag — literally — in Libya

Zach Gorelick Contributor
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If there were questions about al-Qaida’s role in post-Gadhafi Libya, VICE reporter Sherif Elhelwa provides some answers in a new story with eyewitness descriptions.

Al-Qaida flags, Elhelwa reports, are popping up around Benghazi. At the city courthouse, which played a prominent role in the Libyan revolution, residents are flying the late terrorist’s Osama bin Laden’s colors.

Similarly, Elhelwa recounts a regular evening sight: “Islamists driving brand-new SUVs and waving the black al Qaeda flag drive the city’s streets at night.”

Armed guards walk the streets, he reports, inspiring fear. Friendly civilians hurriedly warn Elhelwa that he is being watched by the Islamists. “I recommend that you leave now,” he is told.

Confirming his suspicion that Islamist extremists may have a larger foothold in the recovering region, one partisan near the courthouse threatens Elhelwa, warning him that if he disparages the al-Qaida flag, “we will cut off [your] tongue. I recommend that you don’t publish these [images]. You will bring trouble to yourself.”

“The war to rid the country of the Gadhafi dictatorship might have ended,” Elhelwa says, “but the battle for control of post-revolutionary Libya has only just begun.”

Full Story: Al Qaeda plants its flag in Libya

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