Today, no one knows how many Libyan veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are taking up the fight against Qaddafi. And while Islamists are reported to be among the most active on the fluctuating frontline, they are a small minority among the mosaic of fighters who earlier this week made huge territorial gains, backed by US and French-led allied airstrikes, only to lose the ground in panicked retreat Tuesday.
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in early 2007 publicly supported the insurgency in Iraq, calling on all “Muslim peoples” to wage jihad there. The LIFG declared in November 2007 that it had joined Al Qaeda.
The documents captured in 2007 in Sinjar, Iraq, give details of 595 foreign fighters in Iraq who crossed from Syria and listed a nationality, according to a late 2007 report by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, which first published the Sinjar documents. Most of the fighters (41 percent) were from Saudi Arabia. Libya was second, accounting for 18.8 percent.
But when tallied on a per capita basis, the documents – known as the Sinjar Records – show that Libya accounted for virtually twice the number of insurgents as came from Saudi Arabia. And of the half of Libyans who listed their intended “work” in Iraq, more than 85 percent – the highest of any nation – said they wanted to be suicide bombers, according to the documents.