The Libyan government was worried from the very beginning about the role Islamist groups played in the uprising.[EPA] Muammar Gaddafi, desperate to turn the West against the rebels leading a civil war against his government, frequently tried to portray the opposition as a collection of radical Islamists. One of his earliest speeches, in February 2011, warned that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was trying to establish "an Islamic emirate" in Libya. The recordings obtained by Al Jazeera reveal that these warnings weren't merely a propaganda stunt; top Libyan officials were concerned, from the earliest days of the uprising, about the perceived role played by Islamists. One of Gaddafi's closest aides, Tayeb El Safi, spoke with an informant in eastern Libya on February 15, and the man warned him about "Islamists with beards leading the protests."