Libya’s New Islamist Leaders Seek to Oust Gadhafi Defectors

Religious Scholars, Militia Leaders Hold Broad Sway

The Gadhafi defectors in Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) have been hard at work for a while trying to take over the rebel movement and sideline the Islamists. That particular ambition cuts both ways, it seems.

Reports now have the Islamist leadership in the NTC doing virtually the same thing, with claims that military leader and former CIA torture victim Abdulhakim Behlaj is on the verge of removing NTC Prime Minister Mahmoud Jabril.

Libya’s new politics is split between the many Gadhafi defectors on one side, and a combination of terrorists-turned-freedom fighters and religious scholars-turned-politicians on the other.

The Islamist factions have such broad influence in the rebel military, near absolute since the assassination of Gadhafi defector General Younes, that they have considerable control over where the foreign military aid goes. The NTC’s political leadership, the face it puts forward to the west, is mostly defector controlled, and the defectors have NATO support. It was an ideal combination when fighting the Gadhafi regime, but now that the regime is gone, neither seems content to be just “part” of the new government.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.