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Libya frees 90 militants close to al Qaeda

Latest update : 2008-04-09

Libyan authorities said they had released 90 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group after establishing "dialogue" with the militant organisation, reported to have joined al Qaeda's jihadist network last November.

Libya has freed 90 members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an Islamist group that Al-Qaeda hailed as a new affiliate last November, the Kadhafi Foundation headed by the son of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said on Tuesday.
  
"The dialogue opened with leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group .. has resulted in the release of 90 members, which represents one third of the membership of this group," said the foundation headed by Seif al-Islam Kadhafi.
  
The prisoners were paraded for photographers as they were released amid tight security from the Abu Salim prison in the Libyan capital Tripoli.
  
Al-Qaeda had announced in an audiotape posted on an Islamist website last November that the Libyan group had joined the jihadist network.
  
"The esteemed leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group have announced their allegiance to the Al-Qaeda network," Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri said in the recording.
  
The Libyan group was the second Islamist organization in North Africa whose allegiance was claimed by Al-Qaeda after Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat joined in January last year.
  
Formed clandestinely in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, the Libyan group first came to wider knowledge in 1995 as it launched an armed campaign against Kadhafi's regime.
  
From his base in central Asia, its leader Abu Laith al-Libi became a trusted lieutenant of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden but was reported killed in February in a US missile strike on one of the tribal agencies of northwest Pakistan that border Afghanistan.

Date created : 2008-04-09

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