March 23rd, 2010
09:21 PM ET

Libya frees jihad leaders in peace bid

Libyan authorities Tuesday released three top leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, successfully concluding a three-year peace process that has produced an alliance against al Qaeda.

"This was a big event," Noman Benotman, a former commander in the LIFG and a key intermediary in the peace talks, told CNN. "The leaders still have big credibility in the jihadist movement, and they can now play a big role in the future in countering al Qaeda's ideology. Al Qaeda [leaders] are not going to be happy about this."

In September, the leaders of the LIFG - once on close personal terms with al Qaeda's leaders - formally ended the group's nearly two decades of armed struggle against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya. It issued a 417-page religious document, "Corrective Studies," repudiating al Qaeda's ideology.

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