By Scott Taylor
Last Friday there was news out of Libya a top leader of al-Qaeda had been killed in a military operation in the southern city of Sabha. Known as Abu Talha al-Libi, this senior al-Qaeda terrorist was allegedly killed in a raid mounted by troops loyal to General Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar is just one of numerous ruthless warlords vying to control Libya which has been gripped by violent anarchy since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and executed in October 2011.
On the surface, the elimination of Abu Talha must been seen as a good thing: One less nasty al-Qaeda sleazebag to walk the planet.
Unfortunately, his death also allows us to recall his career highlights as a terrorist. It turns out the Abu Talha was first apprehended by Libyan security forces in 1996 when he attempted to kill President Gaddafi.
He was safely behind bars until the NATO –backed Libyan rebels overthrew the Gaddafi regime and emptied all the Libyan jails.
Technically, Abu Talha was a political prisoner and his anti-Gaddafi street credit was solid since he had attempted to kill him.
The fact that he was also an avowed Islamic extremist matters not because at that juncture, Western media had so demonized Gaddafi and his loyalists that anyone opposed to him simply had to be a good guy.
Fast forward to 2013 and Abu Talha is somehow transported from war-ravaged Libya to Syria where Western backed rebels were attempting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
Canada’s then Foreign Minister, Conservative John Baird was among the loudest of the international voices demanding, “Assad must go!”
Abu Talha and other members of al-Qaeda were quick to heed Baird’s call-to-arms. These extremists soon created a new fighting force known as the al-Nusra Front and they quickly became the most effective of all the anti-Assad factions on the Syrian battlefield.
Despite their known links to al-Qaeda, the Western media had so demonized Assad by this point, that it seemed to matter naught that his enemies were in fact Islamic extremists.
By 2014, certain elements of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra in Syria created an even nastier gang of evildoers known as Daesh (aka ISIS OR ISIL). Daesh fighters soon swarmed into Iraq and captured vast tracts of land in what is known as the Sunni Triangle, including the city of Mosul.
In response, Canadian fighter jets and Special Forces troops joined a U.S. led international coalition to contain and ultimately defeat the Daesh threat.
Abu Talha’s work was done in Syria however and in 2014, he returned to the still war-ravaged Libya. Coincidentally, it was at that juncture when Daesh emerged as a fighting force in Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Now that Abu Talha has been killed he is once again categorized as a vile member of al-Qaeda, the Osama bin Laden led terror organization that attacked the Twin Towers on 9/11. Bad guy dead equals good news.
What it also exemplifies is the power of our propaganda to oversimplify conflicts into good versus evil scenarios.
We were told Gaddafi was bad, we needed to fight him, and since we know that we are intrinsically the good guys, by extension anyone else fighting him must be good too.
There was plenty of evidence at the time that the rag-tag forces fighting Gaddafi were comprised of unsavoury elements – Islamic extremists, criminals, etc – but everyone acted surprised when the war ended and this truth could no longer be hidden.
The numerous militias, which the West armed and supported with a Canadian-led NATO air armada – refused to disarm in the wake of Gaddafi’s murder. Instead, they immediately began fighting amongst themselves to establish personal fiefdoms and criminal empires.
Had the Western media been more diligent in their duty and questioned whom we were fighting for in Libya rather than simply regurgitating the demonizing press lines about what a bad guy Gaddafi was, Abu Talha would never have been released from his Libyan jail.
In Afghanistan, for more than a decade Canadian soldiers fought and died to prop up the most corrupt regime in the world. This was in part due to the media again focusing on demonizing those who we were fighting against – the Taliban, rather than providing an equally honest look at the scumbags we were fighting for.
This is in no way the fault of our military. As an institution, the Canadian Armed Forces are to obey authority without question. It is the media’s role in a democracy to question authority. In this they have failed.