Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 3, 2011

CIA had close ties to Qaddafi

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 2:23 am

New York Times, September 2, 2011

Files Note Close C.I.A. Ties to Qaddafi Spy Unit


TRIPOLI, Libya — Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya’s former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.

Although it has been known that Western intelligence services began cooperating with Libya after it abandoned its program to build unconventional weapons in 2004, the files left behind as Tripoli fell to rebels show that the cooperation was much more extensive than generally known with both the C.I.A. and its British equivalent, MI-6.

Some documents indicate that the British agency was even willing to trace phone numbers for the Libyans, and another appears to be a proposed speech written by the Americans for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi about renouncing unconventional weapons.

The documents were discovered Friday by journalists and Human Rights Watch. There were at least three binders of English-language documents, one marked C.I.A. and the other two marked MI-6, among a larger stash of documents in Arabic.

It was impossible to verify their authenticity, and none of them were written on letterhead. But the binders included some documents that made specific reference to the C.I.A., and their details seem consistent with what is known about the transfer of terrorism suspects abroad for interrogation and with other agency practices.

And although the scope of prisoner transfers to Libya has not been made public, news media reports have sometimes mentioned it as one country that the United States used as part of its much criticized rendition program for terrorism suspects.

A C.I.A. spokeswoman, Jennifer Youngblood, declined to comment on Friday on the documents. But she added: “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.”

The British Foreign Office said, “It is the longstanding policy of the government not to comment on intelligence matters.”

While most of the renditions referred to in the documents appear to have been C.I.A. operations, at least one was claimed to have been carried out by MI-6.

“The rendition program was all about handing over these significant figures related to Al Qaeda so they could torture them and get the information they wanted,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, who studied the documents in the intelligence headquarters in downtown Tripoli.

The documents cover 2002 to 2007, with many of them concentrated in late 2003 and 2004, when Moussa Koussa was head of the External Security Organization. (Mr. Koussa was most recently Libya’s foreign minister.)

The speech that appears to have been drafted for Colonel Qaddafi was found in the C.I.A. folder and appears to have been sent just before Christmas in 2003. The one-page speech seems intended to depict the Libyan dictator in a positive light. It concluded, using the revolutionary name for the Libyan government: “At a time when the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus, and as a token of our contributions towards a world full of peace, security, stability and compassion, the Great Jamhariya presents its honest call for a W.M.D.-free zone in the Middle East,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

The flurry of communications about renditions are dated after Libya’s renouncement of its weapons program. In several of the cases, the documents explicitly talked about having a friendly country arrest a suspect, and then suggested aircraft would be sent to pick the suspect up and deliver him to the Libyans for questioning. One document included a list of 89 questions for the Libyans to ask a suspect.

While some of the documents warned Libyan authorities to respect such detainees’ human rights, the C.I.A. nonetheless turned them over for interrogation to a Libyan service with a well-known history of brutality.

One document in the C.I.A. binder said operatives were “in a position to deliver Shaykh Musa to your physical custody, similar to what we have done with other senior L.I.F.G. members in the recent past.” The reference was to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was dedicated to the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, and which American officials believed had ties to Al Qaeda.

When Libyans asked to be sent Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq, another member of the group, a case officer wrote back on March 4, 2004, that “we are committed to developing this relationship for the benefit of both our services,” and promised to do their best to locate him.

Two days later, an officer faxed the Libyans to say that Mr. Sadiq and his pregnant wife were planning to fly into Malaysia, and the authorities there agreed to put them on a British Airways flight to London that would stop in Bangkok. “We are planning to take control of the pair in Bangkok and place them on our aircraft for a flight to your country,” the case officer wrote.

Mr. Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch said he had learned from the documents that Sadiq was a nom de guerre for Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is now a military leader for the rebels.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Belhaj gave a detailed description of his incarceration that matched many of those in the documents. He also said that when he was held in Bangkok he was tortured by two people from the C.I.A.

On one occasion, the Libyans tried to send their own plane to extradite a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Abu Munthir, and his wife and children, who were being held in Hong Kong because of passport irregularities.

The Libyan aircraft, however, was turned back, apparently because Hong Kong authorities were reluctant to let Libyan planes land. In a document labeled “Secret/ U.S. Only/ Except Libya,” the Libyans were advised to charter an aircraft from a third country. “If payment of a charter aircraft is an issue, our service would be willing to assist financially,” the document said.

While questioning alleged terror group members who plainly had value to Western intelligence, the cooperation went beyond that. In one case, for example, the Libyans asked operatives to trace a phone number for them, and a document that was in the MI-6 binder replied that it belonged to the Arab News Network in London. It is unclear why the Libyans sought who the phone number belonged to.

The document also suggested signs of agency rivalries for the Libyans’ affections. In the MI-6 binder, a document boasted of having turned over someone named Abu Abd Alla to the Libyans. “This was the least we could do for you to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over recent years,” an unsigned fax in 2004 said. “Amusingly, we got a request from the Americans to channel requests for information from Abu Abd through the Americans. I have no intention of doing any such thing.”

Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.


  1. None of this is surprising as I’ve said before. Put yourself in Ghaddafi’s shoes after 911. After all the grief he got (rightly or wrongly) from the Lockerbie terror (hey, if some B movie schmuck actor incinerated my kids in the middle of the night I might just conspire to end the Pan Am Corporation myself) it stands to reason that some guy who came to power through something other than a Bolshevik revolution might just want to distance himself from the “axis of evil” in the days when congenital degenerate warmongers like Bush are looking to do some serious post-soviet expansion & new weapons testing for the predatory lobbyists serving the Pentagon’s contractors.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 3, 2011 @ 3:09 am

  2. This is pretty stupid charge. You as an zionist imposter should talk about Israel’s
    relations with CIa.

    Instead of this kind of garbage focus on Chomksy and CPD as US government front and
    your buddies Juan Cole as CIA agent idiot….

    Comment by Jasmin — September 3, 2011 @ 3:23 am

  3. Yo Jasmin. Stupid’s not the right term. Nobody but turds disputes Israel’s very existence thanks to the CIA & the Pentagon.

    Nobody disputes that Chomsky was for sanction’s against Iraq in 1992 and that more recently Juan Cole’s considered a CIA “asset” by CIA agents.

    The question is why don’t you imagine the possibilty that at least since 911 Ghadaffi’s been the same same sort of tool?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — September 3, 2011 @ 3:35 am

  4. Whatever Libya’s relations with Washington and the CIA were, that doesn’t give Washington and the CIA the right to overthrow the government of Libya. Driving Quaddafi out of Tripoli could not have been accomplished without those thousands of NATO bombing sorties and thousands of British special forces on the ground.

    Comment by Walter Lippmann — September 3, 2011 @ 3:44 am

  5. The Qaddafi regime relationship with the CIA started long before when he was recruited by Edwin Wilson in the 1970’s.Some say he was always a MI6 asset when he studied in England and certainly was anti-Soviet at the time.

    There is lots of info about Qaddafi The CIA and Nguyen Hang Bank laundring drug money, arms and such through Libya.

    Comment by Cort Greene — September 3, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  6. “Jasmin”, you must be slipping. You forgot to call me a zionist jew. I am not just a zionist. I am a zionist jew.

    Comment by louisproyect — September 3, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  7. Hmm Coort don’t you mean the Nugan Hand Bank rather than the Nguyen Hang Bank? Your dates on studying in England might be off a little later. Accuracy in details is important…

    Comment by KillBill — September 3, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  8. […] (SOURCE: New York Times, h/t Louis Proyect) […]

    Pingback by They Hate Us Because We’re Hypocritical Idiots | Thurman's Notebook — September 3, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  9. Thanks Killbill but sometimes my fingers move slower than my mind but the idea is their.

    As for these self defined anti-imperialists and “Leftists” like Walter where was their INDIGNATION when their good buddy Qaddafi was a friend to French,US, British and Italian imperialism, we heard not a word from them.

    Comment by Cort Greene — September 3, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

  10. This should be titled: “Pseudo: When Anti-imperialism Becomes Counterrevolution”

    Poor ol’ Walter: The comment above is a non-sequitor typifying the kind of brain disconnect that seems to pervade the pseudo “anti-imperialist” Left. Consequentially one must finally shout in upper-caps in a last desperate attempt to penetrate thick skulls. OF COURSE imperialism has no right to intervene anywhere, let alone intervene to knock over a government. THE POINT IS, however, do we recognize the right of the rebellion against Gadaffi to call on whomever for assistance? Even Richard Seymour implicitly recognizes this right; he called it “only natural”, correctly basing this on the general class character of the TNC, and for that matter, that of the Libyan rebellion in general. Despite Juan Cole’s exuberant propaganda, it is a bourgeois and petite-bourgeois democratic revolution: a GOOD thing in itself, btw, as it widens the potential field of action for the Arab Spring, and ultimately also for the working class and socialists in that region.

    Now here enters the non-sequitor of the pseudo anti-imperialists: IT DOES NOT FOLLOW that the recognition of that right translates into an endorsement of imperialist intervention. The Libyan rebellion called on outside intervention – not us socialist anti-imperialists! Such intervention is ALWAYS bad in itself, of course. However imperialism is not the only element in the mix; this negative element must be weighed in the balance against the positive effects of the elimination of the ferocious repression of the Gadaffi regime. The situation now is more favorable than it appeared to be at the beginning of the NATO intervention, which also coincided with the high tide of Gadaffi’s own counterrevolution; this two-pronged counterrevolution of Gadaffi/NATO from within and without – this requires dialectical and not non-sequitor type thinking – looked to totally crush the Arab Spring in Libya. Perspectives, as opposed to principles, are meant to change with circumstances. That is why they are called perspectives. Here is where my perspective differs from that of Seymour. But one should not bet the farm on mere perspective.

    Finally the logic of non-sequitor fails: the Libyan situation cannot be neatly folded into a series with Kosovo, Iraq or Afghanistan. That is because of the peculiar circumstance of the imperialist intervention: it was preceded by a revolutionary uprising!!! That uprising was the direct, and inevitable, extension of the Arab Spring into Libya, as I ranted endlessly at that time. I also stated at that time that Libya was the “weak link”, due to its differing class character, a view vindicated by the fact that imperialism saw it the same way, using Libya as a point of overt intervention against the Arab Spring. Now some would like to make the simple minded equation that calling on bad NATO == bad Libyan rebellion. We are thus called upon to hate the Libyan rebellion, and to further despise it because it could not succeed without outside help (we shall put aside the silly assertion of “thousands of British Special Forces”, just why have not these blue-eyed Lawrence of Arabias shown up on video? MSM conspiracy I bet. ). We are even further called upon to “correctly” transmit that hatred to, for pertinent example, the Egyptian working class. Anti-imperialist socialists are required to explain to an Egyptian worker why they must hate their Libyan sister and brother.

    Do you finally see how out of their effing minds the brilliant genius creators of this “thinking” are?

    Or alternatively, there is the slightly more nuanced Eli Stephens interpretation: We are not condemning the Libyan rebellion per se, but doing our proper anti-imperialist duty by opposing the intervention of our own imperialists, rather than indulge in arm-chair commentaries on the internal affairs of other countries, from afar. The hypocrisy of this stance, and hence the prepending of the appellation “pesudo” to this sort of anti-imperialism, should be apparent in the Libyan case: Silence spelling rather, Death to the Libyan Arab Spring; Victory to the Gadaffi Counterrevolution!

    Comment by Matt — September 3, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  11. Wouldn’t the CIA’s handing over of these suspects to Libya knowing they would be tortured be considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions?

    I wonder how the United Nations will handle this information?

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 3, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

  12. The ties are nowhere near as close as with the lot now in charge.

    Comment by Steve — September 4, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  13. off-topic: RIP Ronnie Fernandez

    Comment by jp — September 4, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  14. It amazes me how America’s leaders speak of the importance of human rights and criticize other nations who have a poor record, and yet we hear of the CIA trading prisoners to known torturers or doing the torturing themselves.

    Some have argued (usually on the far right) that this is necessary or they make excuses for it (the use of waterboarding as an example).

    There is never an excuse for torture.

    This is a violation of international law under the Geneva Conventions.

    I wonder if the United Nations will give credence to this information, or just pass over it since America is its home base?

    My guess is the latter as this whole system of international law is full of corruption!

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 4, 2011 @ 3:11 pm

  15. Off – topic

    I had a dream last night that I was like Norma Rae holding up a card in a factory with the word UNION on it screaming at the workers to wake up!

    Ha even in my dreams I’m a radical.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 4, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  16. Clarifications of Gilbert Achcar :


    Comment by erol — September 4, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

  17. It didn’t really require captured documents to expose this fact.
    Gaddafi has been both a target of Western Intelligence Services, as well as their ally.
    He obviously made major policy changes to achieve the latter position.

    See my post @ 25
    March 2nd 2011

    But if we’re talking about being two-faced;
    The covereage now being given to Belhadj by the BBC is tending to obscure a few rather pertinent issues.
    Belhadj’s claim that he only ever wanted to overthrow the Libyan government is being reported.
    But not the other allegations against him, such as his past associations with Bin Laden, the links between LFIG and AQIM and whether he was given training by US or French Special Forces to lead the assault on Tripoli.

    Comment by prianikoff — September 5, 2011 @ 8:43 am

  18. Deborah Jeffries said: ”It amazes me how America’s leaders speak of the importance of human rights and criticize other nations who have a poor record, and yet we hear of the CIA trading prisoners to known torturers or doing the torturing themselves.”

    Why does hypocrisy emanating from the leadership of an imperialist power amaze you? Is this not a sure sign that you’re slipping?

    Comment by Luis Cayetano — September 8, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  19. No Luiz, I was being sarcastic and I never slip comrade.

    It’s all part of our bourgeois government’s plan for world domination and class oppression.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 8, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

  20. Slipping is for the weak.

    I’m far from being weak and am a woman with a clear radical and visionary agenda like my Bolshevik predecessors.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 9, 2011 @ 4:21 am

  21. I’m far from being weak and am a woman with a clear radical and visionary agenda like my Bolshevik predecessors.

    I’m glad to hear it, comrade. I didn’t pick up on your sarcasm earlier, hence my misunderstanding.

    Comment by Luis Cayetano — September 9, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  22. It’s all good my comrade Luis.

    The more the Feds make fools of themselves, the better we look.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 9, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

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