Former Guantanamo detainee leading fight against Gaddafi
Published 04/04/2011 | 05:00
Rebel volunteers get training on how to use an anti-aircraft gun at a military camp in Benghazi. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal
A former detainee at Guantanamo Bay has taken a leading role in the military opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, it has emerged, alongside at least one other former Afghan Mujahideen fighter.
Rebel recruits in the eastern port city of Derna are being trained by Sufyan Bin Qumu, a Libyan who was arrested following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and held at Guantanamo for six years.
Abdel Hakim al-Hasidi, a senior Libyan rebel commander in Derna, was also held following the invasion of Afghanistan and handed over to Libyan custody two months later.
Both men were said to have been released from prison in Libya in 2008 as part of a reconciliation process with Islamists in the country.
Mr Qumu (51) a Libyan army veteran, was accused by the US government of working as a lorry driver for a company owned by Osama bin Laden and as an accountant for a charity accused of terrorist links.
The appearance of Islamists in the country's revolution, and supportive statements by Islamist groups, has led to fears that Western military action may be playing into the hands of its ideological enemies.
Adml James Stavridis, Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said last week that, while the Libyan opposition's leadership appeared to be "responsible men and women", US intelligence had detected "flickers" of terrorist activity among rebel groups.
The comments were described by British government sources as "very alarming".
However, Islamists were said to form only a small minority within the rebel forces, and there was not said to have been any disagreement with the opposition's political leadership, which said it was secular.
Mr Hasidi, who spent several years in a training camp in Afghanistan, told a newspaper that he did not support a Taliban-like state and was pursuing an "inclusive ideology".
"Our view is starting to change of the US," he said. "If we hated the Americans 100pc, today it is less than 50pc.
"They have started to redeem themselves for their past mistakes by helping us to preserve the blood of our children.
"No Islamist revolution has ever succeeded. Only when the whole population was included did we succeed, and that means a more inclusive ideology."
He also called on foreign governments to supply rebels in Libya with surface-to-air missiles and called the Nato-led bombing in Libya a "blessing".
Diplomatic cables from 2008 obtained by WikiLeaks identified Derna as a breeding ground for fighters -- for causes including Afghanistan and Iraq. (© Daily Telegraph, London)