While the West may have led the narrative which portrayed Muammar Gaddafi as the greatest villain of all time, new evidence showing the co-operation between the UK and Muammar Gaddafi has surfaced. It shows the top secret collaboration between British intelligence and Libyan intelligence.
The previously concealed information has come to light in a UK high court case over rendition. It clearly illustrates the extent of co-operation between MI6, Britain’s intelligence and Muammar Gaddafi. The former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was also involved in some personal negotiations with Libya. The Libyan files reveal that in 2004, the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, flew to Tripoli to discuss the issue of conducting a joint campaign against exiled Libyan jihadists who were viewed as “heretics” by the government of Gaddafi.
It is an issue of how Libya sought assistance in dealing with them, much to the satisfaction of MI6. Of the papers which have been recently found in Tripoli, there is one which is labeled “top secret” – it suggests for the first time that Gaddafi wrote to Blair in 2003 listing five conditions he was to make so that Libya would abandon its nuclear weapons program. That it was top secret is undoubted.
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group had seemed to cause headaches for Gaddafi and his intelligence team. The documents show the clandestine collaboration that was made up between the UK intelligence services and Gaddafi’s regime in organizing the kidnapping of members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and their forcible return to the regime’s jails in Tripoli. Libya was very keen to get rid of the LIFG by any means necessary.
In a letter that Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, wrote to the MI6 counter-terrorism chief, Mark Allen, in October 2003, the former asked Allen to “confirm from your side that you are going to commit to these demands and actually execute them”. The elaborate nature of these demands still remains engulfed in obscurity. What is certain is that the collaboration was strong.
Gaddafi’s intelligence agreed with Dearlove and Allen that they share information on “dangerous elements” in a meeting that was held in the following November. It was becoming clear a working relationship had been established. Three weeks later the LIFG leader, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, and his pregnant wife were detained in Bangkok and “rendered” to Tripoli. Documents discovered during the Libyan revolution show that Allen claimed credit for the intelligence that allowed the couple to be located. Belhaj was held in one of Gaddafi’s prisons for six years and says he was repeatedly tortured.
An MI6 officer flew to Libya to enquire about how Belhaj was “co-operating” and also the MI6 had many questions they wanted to ask Belhaj. A second LIFG leader, Sami al-Saadi, who was also kidnapped and “rendered” to Tripoli later that month, along with his wife and four children, aged six to 12. Government lawyers have not disputed the authenticity of the documents despite having been served them several weeks ago.
Saadi settled his claim with the British government after receiving £2.2m in an out-of-court settlement. Belhaj and his wife are now suing Allen, MI6 and Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time. A full trial is likely to be delayed.
Belhaj’s lawyer, Cori Crider from the legal charity Reprieve, said: “Our new evidence raises questions about how much No 10 knew of the plan to kidnap my clients. Did Gaddafi ask Blair to help him target dissidents? Why did No 10 send an emissary to meet Libyan spies just weeks before the abduction? What really happened at Dearlove’s set-piece presentation to Gaddafi? Come trial, Teflon Tony, Jack Straw, and others at the heart of government may find themselves in a pretty sticky spot.”
Image credits: The Guardian