Another John Kerry Gaffe over Libya?

Just a few days after U.S. Special Forces captured Abu Anas al Libi in Tripoli, the Prime Minister of Libya was kidnapped and then released after several hours. Once again, the U.S. Secretary of State – in this case, John Kerry – may have demonstrated incompetence relative to Libya. The abductors pointed to Kerry’s comments that the Libyan government knew about the raid in Tripoli that netted a high value target for the U.S.

Libyan Prime Minister: Kidnapped thanks to John Kerry gaffe?

Libyan Prime Minister: Kidnapped thanks to John Kerry gaffe?

The BBC first reported on the abduction:

Libyan PM Ali Zeidan has been seized from his hotel in the capital, Tripoli by a former rebel militia loosely allied to the government.

The group said it arrested Mr Zeidan following a prosecutor’s warrant, but the government has denied this.

An official said he was being held at an interior ministry anti-crime department and being “treated well”.

There has been anger in Libya over a US commando raid on Saturday which seized senior al-Qaeda suspect Anas al-Liby.

Many saw the raid as a breach of Libyan sovereignty amid growing pressure on the government to explain if it was involved. {emphasis ours}

Abu Anas al Libi: John Kerry said Libyan Govt knew about operation to capture him.

Abu Anas al Libi: John Kerry said Libyan Govt knew about operation to capture him.

After several hours, Zeidan was released, via the New York Times:

Libya’s prime minister, Ali Zeidan, was briefly kidnapped from a Tripoli hotel on Thursday in an apparent act of retaliation for his supposed consent to the capture of a suspected Al Qaeda leader by American Special Forces.

He was seized before dawn and freed by early afternoon, according to Amal al Jarrari, a spokeswoman for the prime minister’s office, who could not immediately provide details.

The short-lived kidnapping was an ominous sign for the stability of Libya’s transitional government and its cooperation with American counterterrorist efforts. Mr. Zeidan’s abductors appeared to be among the semiautonomous militias who serve as his government’s primary police and security force, according to a statements from the prime minister’s office and a coalition of militia leaders.

A spokesman for the coalition, which calls it the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, said the prime minister’s “arrest” followed a statement by Secretary of State John Kerry that “the Libyan government was aware of the operation” that captured the Qaeda leader, Reuters reported. {emphasis ours}

Libya is a country in chaos. While its elected leaders are thought to be secular, the Islamists have been running the show since Gadhafi’s ouster. So, for Kerry to tell the Islamists that Libya’s government knew about the Special Forces mission to capture al Libi reflects a ‘what difference at this point does it make’ kind of attitude which, as we know, is definitely a matter of perspective. It makes a huge difference to Zeidan just as the deaths of four Americans made a huge difference to their families. To Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton, not so much.

Clinton and Kerry: Libyan gaffe masters.

Clinton and Kerry: Libyan gaffe masters.

When it comes to Libya, the U.S. State Department has an atrocious track record during the ‘Arab Spring’ era and beyond. Consider the State Department line after the Benghazi attacks. Though Susan Rice was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at the time, her talking points on September 16th were approved by the State Department. On CBS’ Face the Nation, Libyan President Mohamed Yousef El-Magariaf said the attack was “pre-planned”, that it was terrorist in nature, and that foreigners were involved.

Moments later, Rice blamed a video, which outraged El-Magariaf, according to Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ deputy, Gregory Hicks.

It appears there are Muslim Brotherhood rebels in Libya who are willing to kidnap high value targets in order to get something in return or for retribution.

There has been some evidence and continued speculation that the attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound (SMC) in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12 may have been about an attempt to kidnap U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and that it went wrong.

Several weeks after the Benghazi attack, Joan Neuhaus Schaan reported that Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video within hours before that attack which called for the death of another al Libi – Abu Yahya al Libi – to be avenged:

Al Qaeda was well familiar with the Libyan rebels, because, other than the Saudis, Libyans made up the largest number of jihadists in Iraq and have held many of the key leadership positions in Al Qaeda. He (al-Zawahiri) likewise issued a video within 48 hours of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack to avenge the death of his No. 2, Abu Yahya al Libi. {emphasis ours}

On June 5, 2012, a group that named itself after the convicted mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack (the “Blind Sheikh”) took responsibility for an attack on the SMC in Benghazi and cited a drone strike that killed Al-Qaeda’s number two, one day earlier, via CNN:

A Libyan security source told CNN a jihadist group that is suspected of carrying out the strike, the Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, left leaflets at the scene claiming the attack was in retaliation for the death of Libyan al Qaeda No. 2 Abu Yahya al Libi. {emphasis ours}

Of course, with a group named after the “Blind Sheikh”, retribution for al Libi’s death may have been short lived but the release of Abdul Rahman would have been like a tattoo – forever.

The kidnapping and brief detention of Zeidan tells us at least one thing. Muslim Brotherhood-sympathizing Islamists are willing to commit such acts for at least two reasons – retribution and exchange.

Does that give us anymore clues about what happened in Benghazi? If so, Kerry’s cluelessness may have helped to provide it.


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