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NYT: Libya Democracy Clashes With Fervor for Jihad

Author: David Kirkpatrick
June 23, 2012

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Two jihadis in Libya represent opposing directions for Islamists: democracy or militancy with Taliban-style rule. For the moment, democracy appears to have the upper hand, writes David Kirkpatrick for the New York Times.

DARNAH, Libya — Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi first took up arms nearly 20 years ago to try to bring Islamic law to Libya. He studied under the Taliban in Afghanistan, and during last year's uprising he led a local militia council here in a city famous as a cradle of Islamic jihad.

But now Mr. Hasadi has refashioned himself as an eager politician running for local office, looking to the ballot box to promote his Islamic values. "There is no reason for weapons now," he said. "Words are our weapons. Politics needs politics. It doesn't need force."

In the same town, Sufian bin Qumu leads a militia that flies the black flag of militant Islam. A former truck driver for Osama bin Laden who spent six years as a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Qumu says the Koran is the only constitution he knows. He insists that he will remain armed until Libya adopts a Taliban-style Islamic government.

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