But was he? Only one of these raids was successful. In Somalia, they failed to get their man and it just doesn't look good to say that Seal Team 6 had to beat a hasty retreat. While we know who they didn't kill in Somalia, we have heard very little about who they did kill and these operations usually have that dark underside.
In Libya, however, they got their man, Abu Anas al-Libi, and they have branded it a success. But is it, when viewed in terms of the overall fight against al-Qaeda? Consider these factors:
The real battle with al-Qaeda is one for the hearts and minds of young Arabs. As long as they are seen as some kind of heroes, they can always recruit faster that the US can special rendition. On the other hand, if they see a better way to struggle against their enemies and for a better life, they with chose that.
The raid was carried out on Libyan soil without the consent of the Libyan government. That makes it completely illegal by both international and Libyan law and a kidnapping. This is to be up held as an example of the "rule of law" to the world?
This flagrant violation of Libyan sovereignty only serves to weaken an already weak Libyan government when a strong Libyan government can be the only thing that can stop the proliferation of al Qaeda in Libya.
It will win sympathy from many young Arabs for al-Qaeda precisely because it was an illegal act by the imperialist superpower and a violation of the sovereignty of an Arab state.
Libyan Youth Movement ran this Op/Ed that alerted me to these aspects of the question:
Op/Ed: The Kidnapping of Abu Anas al-Libi:
The Risk of Libyanizing al-Qaeda
October 9, 2013
By Ezieddin Elmahjub
As a Muslim, I condemn al-Qaeda. I feel that they hijacked my religion and started to cherry pick texts from Islamic scriptures to justify the killing of innocent lives. Al-Qaeda thugs were not successful in anything but in making Muslims look bad in the eyes of millions of fellow humans who do not have adequate background about Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance, respect and mutual existing.
Again, as a Muslim, I recognise the right of every human being to live in peace and prosperity. Attacks on innocent Westerners are a reflection of ill and hostile mentalities and cannot be accepted or justified by any means. Western nations have the right to defend the rights its citizens to live in peace without fear, but have no rights to use terror and disrespect of the sovereignty of other nation to do so.
The recent American operation in Tripoli that led to the kidnapping of Abu Anas al-Libi is an example of unintelligent American response to al-Qaeda threats. It is true that the recent Hollywood-style operation of kidnapping Abu Anas will secure to the U.S authorities short term benefits such as intelligence from Abu Anas and the joy of victory and demonstration of American might but, in the long run, this operation will lead to more al-Qaeda activities in Libya and therefore, to the likelihood of more threats to the Libyan and American interests. Currently, Libya is instable nation and its official authorities are weak. The recent American operation is going to make the situation even worse.
I’m not saying that the U.S should not respond to al-Qaeda threats. I’m simply saying that there are better ways to respond to those threats. Libyans are most likely to perceive Abu Anas’ kidnapping operation as an insult to their land and honour. Many of the Libyan youth will sympathise with Abu Anas’s family and blame the Libyan and U.S Governments for his kidnapping in this way. This, in turn, may lead to increasing the likelihood of providing al-Qaeda with a supporting environment to operate and carry on its activities in Libya. Some innocent Libyan soldier, police man or government employee will bear the brunt of the recent U.S operation. Practically, al-Qaeda only has access to innocent lives in Libya to exact revenge.
The U.S Administration must seek alternative approaches to respond to threats posed by al-Qaeda in Libya. As a start, the Administration may find it useful to negotiate an agreement with the Libyan authorities by which the Americans offer training, technical assistance and intelligence support. The Libyans, in turn, can offer legitimate and full cooperation with the American authorities. It is better to have the Libyan authorities deal with Libyans who embrace al-Qaeda’s ideology, rather than kidnapping them and creating heroes out of them. This approach is better for the two nations. It secures information for the Americans and supports the position of the Libyan Government to secure sovereignty over the Libyan soil.
However, if the Americans wish to act unilaterally, they will risk undermining the fragile powers of the new Libyan state. This may lead to more chaos, and we all know that al-Qaeda will grow by leaps and bounds if Libya turned into a failed state. At that point, the Americans might find themselves in a position where individual operation will never protect their interests and the interests of their allies.
You may contact Ezieddin via email at: Ez_m_elmahjub@yahoo.com.au
*This article solely represents the views of its author and does not necessarily reflect the Libyan Youth Movement.