Det er mange ukjente i den libyske ligningen. En av dem er Al-Qaida. Hvis Vesten skulle lykkes med å styrte Gaddafi og resultatet ble en islamistisk stat med olje ved Middelhavet, ville det være katastrofalt.
Ingen vet hvor sterkt jihadistene står. Gaddafis regime har gjort etterretning vanskelig.
Men det er et faktum at mange selvmordsbombere i Irak var fra Libya, nærmere bestemt Benghazi-området.
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a militant Islamist group committed to the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Libya, was set up in 1995 by groups of Libyan jihadi fighters who had returned home after fighting with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.
The LIFG later established ties with like-minded organisations, particularly al-Qaeda’s North African wing, which is predominantly based in Algeria and has claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks against European targets.
Bekymring for jihadister var en av grunnene til at Gaddafi innledet et samarbeid med Vesten i 2003, hevder Con Coughlin.
British intelligence officials have said it was mainly because of Col Gaddafi’s concern about the growing influence of jihadist groups in Libya that he was persuaded to give up his nuclear weapons programme in 2003. In return he agreed to work closely with MI6 and the CIA to share information of mutual interest on al-Qaeda’s terrorist activities. As a consequence in 2005 the British government proscribed the LIFG and banned a number of its leaders from entering the country.
But Libyan militants continued their campaign for an Islamic state, and Libyan suicide bombers played a prominent role in attacking US forces in Iraq during the insurgency. US officials claim many of them came from the Benghazi area.
En opprørsleder, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, innrømmet sist uke til en italiensk avis at hjemvendte jihadister sloss på opprørernes side.
West’s fears over spectre of al-Qaeda among rebels
It should come as no surprise to the West that intelligence officials have identified «flickers» of al-Qaeda among the Libyan rebels seeking to overthrow the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.