ABDELHAKIM BELHADJ’S UNUSUAL LIFE
47-year-old Abdelhakim Belhadj was very young when he fled Gaddafi’s merciless repression of Islamists in his country. Brought up with the Jihad in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, he became a travelling companion of Ben Laden’s. He and a few other faithful followers set up the GICL Libyan fighters’ group, and he went on to become its emir. The GICL featured on the United Nations Security Council’s list of international terrorist organisations as a group with affiliations to Al-Qaida, and it is in fact the second most powerful armed group spawned in the shadow of Al-Qaida, but it broke away from Ben Laden before the 11 September attacks. Pursued by the United States as all Jihadists are, Belhadj was arrested in 2004, interrogated in a secret American prison then handed over to Gaddafi by the CIA. He was condemned to death by the Libyan regime, but was released from prison in March 2010 under the aegis of a reconciliation with Islamists led by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. In February 2011 he was involved from the very start in the rebellion against Gaddafi. He headed up a powerful brigade of troops who liberated Tripoli, and he became military governor of the Libyan capital, a post he abandoned only months later in order to stand in Libya’s first free elections. Belhadj has become one of the most sought after conduits of shuttle diplomacy for Western nations anxious about developments in Libya, and he now promotes political competition within a democratic system.
Isabelle Mandraud has been a reporter for Le Monde for 14 years, and has been working on the international pages for several years. She is responsible for covering the Maghreb region (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya) and therefore covered a great deal of the Arab Spring and has done extensive work on radical Islamists.
Aujourd’hui âgé de 47 ans, cet ancien compagnon de route de Ben Laden, livré en 2004 par la CIA à Kadhafi, a participé en août 2011 à la libération de Tripoli. Devenu gouverneur militaire de la capitale libyenne, Belhadj s’est ensuite présenté aux premières élections libres de Libye. Dans un pays décrit comme un nouveau sanctuaire du terrorisme, le djihadiste repenti est devenu un interlocuteur des chancelleries étrangères inquiètes, et une sorte d’ambassadeur des islamistes qui tâtonnent dans le tourbillon du « Printemps arabe ». Tournant le dos à la lutte armée, Abdelhakim Belhadj prône aujourd’hui un système pluraliste fondé sur le vote.