News out of a Madrid meeting between Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and European interior ministers is that there are new worries that Libyan government arms might be flowing to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). According to Spain’s interior minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, “There is arms trafficking at the border between Libya and Mali and this has to worry us because it could at this moment be supplying sophisticated weapons, which are therefore dangerous, to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.” And, “If we don’t do anything, AQIM could take advantage of this situation to grow, and if AQIM grows so will the risks faced by Europe and the United States.”
To date, the worry has been that elements of al Qaeda were infiltrating the ranks of the Libyan rebel forces. But if the above intelligence is correct, the greater worry may be a Gaddafi willing to strike back at the United States and its NATO allies by supplying weapons to terrorists. Of course, this would not be the first time that Gaddafi has employed “indirect” means to attack the United States, the most devastating example being the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988 that killed 270. There is also the possibility that the weapons going to AQIM are being sold by elements within Libya’s security forces because of a breakdown in control from Tripoli. In either case, weapons appear to be getting in the hands of some pretty dangerous folks.
This is just another reason why letting the military campaign against Gaddafi drag on—as the administration has—is such a problem. Common sense says that stirring up a hornets’ nest is a sure way to get stung. If you don’t want that to happen, it’s best to destroy it—and the sooner the better.