Deal Put al-Qaida in Charge of Tripoli Security; Libyan Diplomat Blames U.S., NATO for Power Vacuum

A 2011 letter obtained by a former Muslim Brotherhood member seems to show that the Obama Administration handed over control of security in Tripoli, Libya, to a member of al-Qaida.

The document obtained by Walid Shoebat, who converted from Islam to Christianity, is addressed to Abdel Hakim al-Khowailidi Belhaj, and is signed by Mustafa Muhammad Abdul Jalil on behalf of the National Transitional Council, a group that was working with the U.S. on the power transition after Moammar Gaddafi was deposed.

In a 2007 interview played on ABC, Belhaj was described as “the amir of the mujahideen” by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida kingpin.

The August 2011 letter, which presumably would have been approved by the U.S. in its work with the Libyans, translates in part as saying, “We would like to inform you (Belhaj) that you have been commissioned to the duties and responsibilities of the military committee of the city of Tripoli. These include taking all necessary procedures to secure the safety of the Capital and its citizens, its public and private property, and institutions, to include all international embassies. To coordinate with the local community of the city of Tripoli and the security assembly and defense on a national level.”

On Wednesday, Libyan diplomat Mahmoud Jibril, president of the Libyan National Forces Alliance, a prominent political group, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that radical Islamist groups have become more powerful in Libya because the U.S. and NATO left the country too hastily after the fall of Gaddafi.

“After the collapse of the regime, the immediate task of our friends was to help us rebuild the government before they withdrew from Libya. The moment the regime fell down, they felt that their mission has been accomplished. I think it was a premature decision,” Jibril said.

He blamed the resultant power vacuum for an increase in violence, such as the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans. Jibril said he believes the Islamists in Libya are being armed by another Arab country, though he declined to name it, only saying it was a country other than Iran.

“I don’t want to get into that. We have enough problems,” Jibril said.

Both the White House and State Department have declined to respond to Jibril’s comments.

While not directly related to the attack in Benghazi, for which an al-Qaida-linked group called Ansar al-Sharia has claimed responsibility, the possibility that the U.S. signed off on having an al-Qaida-affiliated official oversee security in Tripoli, along with Jibril’s comments about the U.S. fumbling the aftermath of Gaddafi’s overthrow, shed light on the backdrop for the attack.

Information about the Benghazi attack suggests that the mission — not “consulate” — was actually a CIA outpost coordinating the transit of heavy weapons and Islamist fighters to Syria via Turkey. The Administration’s dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist-linked groups has become a central point of interest in the investigation of what really happened.