Ross Douthat mostly hit it out of the park with today’s column on questions the president must answer about Libya. But one question I wished he’d have lingered on longer is: Who are the rebels? Byron York writes:
Evidence is emerging that United States forces are waging war in Libya on behalf of rebels whose ranks include jihadis who fought against the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph reports that Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, a leader of U.S.-supported rebel forces in the fighting around Adjabiya, went to Afghanistan in 2002 to fight against the “foreign invasion” — that is, U.S. troops who invaded Afghanistan in retaliation for the September 11 attacks. The Telegraph says al-Hasidi told an Italian newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, that he was captured in 2002 in Peshawar, Pakistan. “He was later handed over to the U.S., and then held in Libya before being released in 2008,” the Telegraph reports. Al-Hasidi also told the Italian paper he recruited about 25 Libyan men to fight against U.S. forces in Iraq.
Now, we don’t really know how representative this is of the Libyan rebellion as a whole. Maybe it’s not all. But our government really should know before intervening militarily on behalf of these rebels. A major flaw of U.S. military interventions from Kosovo to Iraq is that we’ve simply asked if the ruler we’re intervening against is a bad guy, without considering what kind of guys we’d be empowering.