The Libyan port city of Derna has become a hell of apocalyptic violence as jihadists increase their grip. Ansar al-Sharia opened offices there a few months ago and now Sufian al-Quma (he used to chauffeur for Osama bin Laden) is running most of the city. Other terrorists are also active there, including Ahmed Boutkhtala who is accused of taking part in the U.S. Embassy Benghazi attack.
Young people of Derna are increasingly recruited and then shipped to Syria to fight against Assad. Ironically, some join with al-Nusra and others with ISIL. This means that they have been tricked into travelling to Syria to kill each other.
That movement we call al-Qaeda (AQ) has become a tangle of serpents often fighting with each other. Their shared dream of a world unified under Sharia is not theirs alone. Other groups wish for such a world. Within all major religions you can find people who wish the world would become one under their banner. But AQ groups are different.
One thing that distinguishes AQ groups is their commitment to killing anyone who does not agree with them. Each AQ group has their own interpreters of Sharia and their own definition of who is allowed to be called a Muslim. They seek a mythic world of the past which never existed, and apocalyptic violence is the only way the can conceive of its creation.
The impossibility of achieving their unrealistic goal only seems to drive them further into their commitment. They cover their internal frustration of not getting what they want in adrenalin fueled violence, drowning self-doubt in the blood of innocents.
Derna, now infected with jihadist poison, is rotting. It did not have to be this way. The neighboring cities Al Qubah and Martouba resisted terrorist incursions by quickly forming local self-defense militias and creating strong checkpoints at the first signs of trouble. Perhaps the initial forces arrayed against Derna were too strong to overcome without outside help. Unfortunately the central Libyan government was poorly and ineffectively represented.
Once again AQ has taken advantage of a weak state to insert itself and create the chaos it thrives on.
March 3, 2014 by Bruce Wallace, 121Contact