While the collapse of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime has been warmly welcomed by the West it has unleashed some uncomfortable revelations about the level of MI5, MI6 and CIA cooperation with the unseated Tripoli regime. Potentially most damaging are allegations that the British and American intelligence agencies collaborated with Gaddafi officials to organise rendition to torture operations.
Evidence that British intelligence agencies mounted their own rendition operation in collaboration with Gaddafi‘s security services have emerged with the discovery, by Human Rights Watch staffers, of a cache of Libyan government papers in an abandoned office building in Tripoli, reported The Guardian, which noted that a “secret CIA document found among the haul shows that the British and Libyans worked together to arrange for a terrorism suspect (Abu Munthir) be removed from Hong Kong to Tripoli – along with his wife and children – despite the risk that they would be tortured. The wording of the document suggests the CIA was not involved in the planning of the rendition operation, but was eager to become engaged during its execution and offered financial support.” The Guardian said that other papers found in the building suggest MI6 enjoyed a “far closer working relationship with Gaddafi’s intelligence agencies” than has been publicly known, and was involved in a number of US-led operations that also resulted in Islamists being consigned to Gaddafi’s prisons. The documents date back to the period of rapprochement that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when Gaddafi was being persuaded to abandon his nuclear weapons programme.
On Sunday, Abdul Hakim Belhaj – now commander of the anti-Gaddafi militia in Tripoli – demanded an apology from London and Washington and said he was considering suing over his rendition to Tripoli and subsequent torture. The seriousness of the allegations of the UK colluding with Libyan torture has prompted Downing Street to reopen the Gibson inquiry, reported PoliticsHome.
- Secret CIA fax shames British security services. “The secret CIA fax is the first sign that the British went much further than being merely complicit, and were directly involved in rendition to a country where the victim could expect to be tortured,” adjudged The Guardian.
- (Cynical) politics as usual. “First we fete them, then we bomb them – but that’s politics,” insisted Boris Johnson at The Daily Telegraph. Johnson argued that British economic interest drove the efforts to court Gaddafi, who is “not alone in being cynically courted, fawned over and feted by the British establishment, and then ruthlessly vilified and attacked. Compare the fate of Gaddafi with that of, say, Sir Fred Goodwin — and all the other bankers and super-rich excrescences of the capitalist system.”
- No big surprise. “Surprise! CIA had ‘close ties’ to Libyan dictator,” was how Gawker greeted the news. “The best part of toppling a dictator, besides freedom, is getting to rifle through the papers of the intelligence bureaucracy. Who knows what you’ll find! Like, say, a big binder that says “C.I.A.” and two others that say “M.I.-6″!” “Surely it can’t surprise anyone at this point that the C.I.A. was working with Qadaffi,” said Gawker, which did express concern about the “extent” of cooperation with “Qadaffi’s goons.”
- Necessary and useful cooperation? Writing at FirstPost.co.uk, Crispin Blunt argued that the revelations are “not as scandalous” as they appear at first sight. “In one sense we are merely being treated to a routine anatomy lesson in intelligence work,” wrote Blunt, who noted that “when the intelligence body is cut open before us the gooey bits inside are not pleasant to behold. But it does not mean that we can do without them. They might be necessary and useful in preserving British lives and interests.” Blunt reminded that “intelligence work requires a broad mind and elastic morals.”
More on the Libyan uprising
- New Libya – worse than the old?
- West wading into Libya would be foolhardy
- New beginning for Arab Spring?
- Gaddafi regime on brink of collapse as rebels surge into Tripoli
- Fall of Gaddafi is great news for PM David Cameron
- France may be in contact with Gaddafi
- ICC issues arrest warrant for Gaddafi
- Gaddafi ordered Viagra to help troops commit mass rape
- Nato air strikes kill Libyan civilians