February 21, 2013
What makes someone join Al Qaeda? In the case of Abu Yahya al-Libi, the Al Qaeda luminary killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan last June, his older brother has no doubt. Americans are culpable for his sibling’s embrace of terrorism. He draws a direct line between al-Libi’s recruitment by al Qaeda and the suffering he endured at the hands of American interrogators using techniques similar to those portrayed in the movie Zero Dark Thirty.
Al-Libi’s slaying may have been one of the reasons Libyan jihadists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last September, an assault that led to the death of ambassador Christopher Stevens. In the days leading up to the attack, Al Qaeda’s amir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, focused his annual 9/11 message on the drone war, eulogized al-Libi and called on “Libyan brothers” to avenge the loss.
Lamenting American missteps in the war on terror, Abd Al-Wahhab Muhammad Qaid says his brother had been in Afghanistan for 15 years, as a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, but that he, “like all of us shunned Al Qaeda.” That is, until his mistreatment at Bagram Air Base. “He was tortured very aggressively and humiliated. Naturally, for each action there’s a reaction,” he sighs.