Whether these individuals are Al Qaeda operatives who were "turned" by their American captors or have simply changed allegiance under changed circumstances is unclear. But their role in the Libyan opposition further undermines the longstanding propaganda of the US government about the supposedly unbridgeable gulf between Al Qaeda and American imperialism.
For a decade, the US government, under Bush and now Obama, has used the terrorist actions of Al Qaeda and its alleged supporters as a pretext for one military intervention after another in the Muslim world -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, the Philippines, Indonesia and now Libya.
There has long been reason to doubt the "war on terror" narrative, not least the fact that Al Qaeda was effectively created by the CIA through its activities in recruiting and mobilizing radical Islamists to go to Afghanistan in the 1980s and join the mujaheddin guerrillas fighting the Soviet army there. Many of the 9/11 suicide hijackers were known to the CIA as Al Qaeda operatives, and in some cases under active surveillance, but were nonetheless allowed to enter the country, receive training at US flight schools and carry out the terrorist attacks.
An incident during a hearing Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee demonstrates the sensitivity of the US government concerning the links between US intelligence services and Al Qaeda. Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman questioned a witness, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, about the role of Abdel Hakim al-Hasady. Steinberg refused to discuss the matter, suggesting it could be taken up only in a closed-door session where US covert operations are regularly reviewed.