The utterly shocking video footage which has surfaced showing the desecration of the graves of more than 150 British servicemen from the Second World War by Libyan extremists is disturbing in many respects.
These are, after all, amongst the same fighters whom Nato backed to topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi last year.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once famously said regarding the Taleban: “the people we are fighting today, we funded 20 years ago.”
Indeed the disgraceful behaviour of these Libyans brings to mind the mentality of the Taleban when they destroyed the 1,500 year old Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001. When it comes to radical Islam, the parallels between Libya and Afghanistan are worrying.
It is a little known fact that it was the Libyan government that first referred the name of Osama bin Laden to Interpol in 1998. This was in connection with the murder of two German nationals killed in Libya.
Abdelhakim Belhaj, a prominent rebel leader who fought with the rebels against Gaddafi, was among the founders of the radical Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG.) This is an organisation which security analysts have previously linked to al-Qaeda.
In the Nineties the LIFG had made attempts to assassinate Gaddafi. One prominent member of this group, Abdel Hakim al-Hasidi, even fought in Afghanistan and has been quoted saying that “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.
In fact al-Qaeda was among those who declared jihad against the Gaddafi government when protests broke out in Benghazi last year. It is also a fact that Libyan jihadists formed a substantial number of the foreign nationals who went to fight in Iraq during the sectarian insurgency which took so many civilian lives.
Yet this video of the desecration of British graves, including the barbaric smashing of headstones and crucifixes, is not the only example of atrocities committed by some of those associated with the rebellion.
Amnesty International recently condemned Libyan militias for its treatment of detainees seen to be loyal to Gaddafi, many of whom have been tortured.
Besides reports of links with radical Islam, and the various disturbing accounts of human rights abuses, the Libyan rebels have also been accused of racism against those of darker skin. Tawergha, a town once inhabited by 30,000 black Libyans, is today completely deserted. Misratan rebels are said have been involved in the destruction and looting of homes in the town. Many who lived there are today refugees living in camps and facing continuing attacks from militias who see them as being Gaddafi loyalists. For example witnesses told Human Rights Watch they saw a guard at a Misrata facility whip one dark skinned Tawerghan detainee while forcing him to run around a courtyard and telling him to climb a pole shouting “monkey needs a banana.”
And recently a shocking video emerged which showed Libyan rebels holding some black people inside what appears to be a zoo cage. Their hands are tied behind their backs and being force-fed the old Libyan flag. They are also ordered to jump as spectators watch. In the background a man is heard shouting: “Eat the flag, you dog. Patience you dog, patience. God is great.”
Perhaps “evolution, not revolution” would have been a more pertinent mantra for these Libyan rebels.