Libya to release 'pro-al-Qaida' rebels

Gaddafi's son says talks renewed with organization that wants to overthrow "un-Islamic" leadership.

Gaddafi 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaddafi 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Libyan security forces are preparing to release a group of rebels allegedly allied with al-Qaida, following talks between the group and the Libyan regime. Discreet talks between members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and the government were renewed a few weeks ago after a long break, the London-based Al-Hayyat reported. The Al-Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (LIFG), an organization headed by the president's son, Seif Al-Islam Al-Gadaffi, issued a statement on Sunday that talks had begun with LIFG under his direct supervision. The LIFG was formed in the mid-1995 by Libyans or supporters of Libyans who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, whose aim is to overthrow the current Libyan leadership, which they deem un-Islamic, and install an Islamic regime in its place. Abu Leith A-Libbi, a senior member of the LIFG, announced its alignment with al-Qaida in November 2007. However, this alliance was not accepted by everyone in the organization. The LIFG claimed responsibility for the failed assassination attempt on the life of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 1996. Experts are questioning the timing of this apparent thaw. "Most things come as a surprise in Libya," said Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, "especially when they come from Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi… who, like his father, specializes in making announcements that take everybody by surprise." The group became publicly known after 9/11, when Washington listed it as a group linked to al-Qaida. It insists it must consult with its leaders in Afghanistan and Iran before reaching any agreement with Gaddafi's government.