Skip to main content

Al Qaeda's North African wing says it backs Libya uprising

By the CNN Wire Staff
Libya's old national flag flutters in front of a bridge during an anti-Gadhafi protest in the eastern Libyan town of Derna.
Libya's old national flag flutters in front of a bridge during an anti-Gadhafi protest in the eastern Libyan town of Derna.
  • The group's statement was posted by a terror-tracking site
  • Libya has denounced al Qaeda in the past
  • Documents show that more Libyans than citizens in other Arab nations join al Qaeda
  • Al Qaeda
  • Moammar Gadhafi
  • Libya

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda's North African wing has said "it will do whatever we can to help" the uprising in Libya, according to a statement the militant group posted on jihadist websites

The statement by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was posted Thursday, said SITE, a terrorist-tracking organization based outside Washington.

In the statement, the group said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's decision to hire mercenaries and use planes to fire on protesters invalidates claims that the group is killing innocent civilians.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb started as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat with aspirations to overthrow the Algerian government.

Around 2004, it joined forces with al Qaeda and extended its reach across North and West Africa.

To stop the militant group's growing influence in Libya, the country has in the past denounced al Qaeda and formed an alliance with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which once was aligned with al Qaeda before it formally ended a nearly two-decades armed struggle against Gadhafi's regime.

In 2006, al Qaeda documents found by U.S. forces in Iraq showed that per capita, Libya surpassed other Arab nations in the number of citizens joining al Qaeda. The regime's fear was that the terror group would bring its fight back to Libya.

Part of complete coverage on
'Sons of Mubarak' in plea for respect
Pro-Mubarak supporters believe Egypt's former president is innocent of charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Timeline of the conflict in Libya
Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a nationwide civil war.
Who are these rebels?
After months of seeming stalemate, Libyan rebels declared they were moving in on Tripoli. But who are they?
Why NATO's Libya mission has shifted
Six months and more than 17,000 air sorties after it began, NATO's Operation Unified Protector in the skies over Libya grinds on.
Interactive map: Arab unrest
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
Send your videos, stories
Are you in the Middle East or North Africa? Send iReport your images. Don't do anything that could put you at risk.
Libya through Gadhafi's keyhole
Behind the official smiles for the cameras some people in Libya's capital are waiting for the rebels, reports CNN's Ivan Watson.
How Arab youth found its voice
Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi not only ignited a series of revolts but heralded the first appearance of Arab youth on the stage of modern history.