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  • David Petraeus denies classified leaks ahead of Benghazi testimony


    Former CIA director insists no information was passed to Paula Broadwell as closed-door congressional hearing begins

    David Petraeus resigned his post as CIA director after the FBI uncovered his extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Former CIA director David Petraeus has denied passing classified documents to his lover, Paula Broadwell, as the FBI investigation focuses on how the general’s biographer came to have restricted material on a personal computer and in her house.

    Petraeus also told CNN that his resignation was solely the result of the affair and was not linked, as some Republicans have hinted, to the CIA’s role during the Benghazi attack in which the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans, including two CIA security men, were killed.

    The CIA said it had opened an “exploratory” investigation into the conduct of Petraeus. “At the CIA we are constantly reviewing our performance. If there are lessons to be learned from this case, we’ll use them to improve,” a CIA spokesperson said in a statement. “But we’re not getting ahead of ourselves; an investigation is exploratory and doesn’t presuppose any particular outcome.”

    Petraeus has agreed to give evidence on Friday to congressional intelligence committees looking into the security failures around Stevens’ death, including allegations that the state department turned down appeals from US officials in Libya for more protection, and accusations that the CIA and other agencies failed to heed warning signs of an attack.

    The closed-door hearings opened with appearances by Petraeus’s replacement, acting CIA director Michael Morell, and the national intelligence director, James Clapper.

    CNN did not directly quote Petraeus. It said he had had a conversation with one of its reporters, Kyra Phillips, who has previously interviewed him. She said that although Petraeus was no longer formally required to testify to congressional intelligence committees about the Benghazi attack once he resigned as CIA director, he was keen to do so.

    “He said this has nothing to do with Benghazi, and he wants to testify,” she said on CNN.

    Petraeus’s affair prompted the US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, to order a review of ethics training for military officers. The FBI is scrutinising classified material discovered in Broadwell’s house and on her computer. But Phillips said Petraeus denied giving secret documents to her.

    The Pentagon withdrew Broadwell’s security clearance as a lieutenant colonel in the military intelligence reserve as the focus of the FBI investigation shifted to how she came to have classified documents. Her security clearance gave her access to “secret” and “top secret” material. However, it would not necessarily have permitted her to keep hold of it.

    Concerns that Petraeus may have spoken to Broadwell about secret information were raised after it was revealed that in a speech at the University of Denver last month, Broadwell said the Benghazi attack on 11 September was prompted by the CIA holding militiamen prisoner there. The CIA has denied the claim.

    The intelligence committees of both houses of Congress are keen to speak to Petraeus about what the CIA told the White House in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attack as well as whether it had picked up warnings of an imminent assault and security failings.

    Chris McGreal
    The Guardian, Friday 16 November 2012

    Find this story at 16 November 2012
    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Benghazi consulate that came under attack by Al Qaeda militants was being used for CIA operations

    Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in a six-hour, commando-style attack on the US Mission on September 11
    CIA Director David Petraeus did not attend the ceremony when the coffins arrived back in US to conceal the CIA operation in eastern Libya
    Al Qaeda in North Africa and Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia were implicated
    Timeline of CIA involvement blows open the dramatic sequence of events, revealing that of 30 American officials there, 23 were with the CIA
    CIA team had been operating out of a building known as ’the annex’, less than half a mile away from the consulate in central Benghazi
    Timeline reveals heroic rescue effort by CIA team and the terrifying firefight they encountered

    The CIA was operating a covert mission in the U.S. consulate in Libya when it came under attack by al Qaeda-linked militants on September 11, intelligent chiefs have admitted.

    Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the six-hour, commando-style attack on the US Mission in the Libyan city, for which al-Qaeda and Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia have been blamed.

    The CIA made the revelation as it laid bare the heroic rescue by a handful of its agents in which they fought off wave after wave of mortar and rocket attacks with just their handguns as they sought to infiltrate the compound and shepherd its American staff to safety.

    A timeline, released by the agency, has blown open the dramatic sequence of events, revealing for the first time that of the 30 American officials evacuated from the country following the deadly attack, just seven worked for the State Department.

    Burning issue: Mr Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a six-hour, commando-style attack on the US Mission in Benghazi on September 11, for which Al Qaeda in North Africa and Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia were implicated

    The rest were part of a crack team of intelligence and security experts on a secret mission aimed at counterterrorism and securing heavy weapons held by the embattled regime.

    They had been operating out of a building known as ’the annex’, around a mile away from the consulate in central Benghazi.

    Intelligence officials told how when the annex received a call about the assault, about a half dozen members of a CIA security team tried to get heavy weapons and other assistance from the Libyans.

    But with time running out, the team went ahead with the rescue attempt armed only with their standard-issue small arms.

    Killed: Ambassador Christopher Stevens (left) died of smoke inhalation, while agent Sean Smith (right) died in a desperate battle with insurgents

    Heroic: Former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty (left) and Tyrone Woods (right) were killed in a mortar attack

    A fierce firefight ensued and the team managed to get into the consulate and shepherd its occupants back to the annex under constant attack from machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

    ‘The security officers in particular were genuine heroes,’ an official said. ‘They quickly tried to rally additional local support and heavier weapons, and when that could not be accomplished within minutes, they still moved in and put their own lives on the line to save their comrades.

    ‘At every level in the chain of command, from the senior officers in Libya to the most senior officials in Washington, everyone was fully engaged in trying to provide whatever help they could.’

    The CIA revelations come after Barack Obama’s administration came under sharp attack over its handling of the incident amid claims Washington told officers on the ground to ‘stand down’ before the rescue took place.

    Heroic: CIA agents engaged in a fierce firefight with heavily-armed insurgents at the consulate before shepherding its occupants to safety under constant attack from machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades

    ‘There was no second-guessing those decisions being made on the ground, by people at every U.S. organization that could play a role in assisting those in danger,’ the official added. ‘There were no orders to anybody to stand down in providing support.’

    In the first days after the attack, various administration officials linked the Benghazi incident to the simultaneous protests around the Muslim world over an American-made film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

    Only later did they publicly attribute it to militants, possibly linked to al-Qaeda, and acknowledged it was distinct from the film protests.

    The changing explanations have led to suspicions that the administration didn’t want to acknowledge a terror attack on U.S. personnel so close to the Nov. 6 election, a charge Obama has strongly denied.

    Inferno: Armed attackers dumped cans of diesel fuel and set ablaze the consulate’s exterior

    Siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gunfire during the attack, which lasted several hours

    According to the timeline, around 9:40 p.m. Benghazi time, officials at the CIA’s relatively fortified and well-defended base in Benghazi got a call from State Department officials at the U.S. diplomatic mission about a mile away that the less-fortified public mission complex had come under attack from a group of militants.

    Other official sources said that the initial wave of attacks on the diplomatic mission involved setting fires using diesel fuel.

    9.40pm – CIA officials in ‘The Annex’ get a distress call from the consulate saying they are under attack.

    10.05pm – Armed only with handguns, team of about six CIA security officers leave their base for the public diplomatic mission compound.

    10.30pm – With bullets whistling overhead, the CIA team move into the compound after unsuccessfully trying to get heavy weapons and help from local Libyan allies.

    11.10pm – A Defense Department drone, which had been on an unrelated mission some distance away, arrived in Benghazi to help officials on the ground gather information.

    11.30pm – U.S. personnel who had been working or staying at the mission all accounted for, except for Ambassador Stevens.

    11.40pm – Driving back to the secure base, the evacuees come under further fire.

    12am – The installation itself comes under fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

    12am – A CIA security team based in Tripoli, which included two U.S. military officers, lands at Benghazi airport and begins plotting how to locate the missing ambassador.

    1am – The patchy attacks on the base begin to die down after 90 minutes of fierce fighting.

    4am – The reinforcements from Tripoli take a convoy of vehicles to the CIA base to prepare for evacuation.

    4.30am – a fresh round of mortar attacks is launched on the base, killing two U.S. security officers.

    5.30 – A heavily armed Libyan military unit arrive at the CIA base to help evacuate the compound of U.S. personnel to the Benghazi airport.

    From 6am – Roughly 30 Americans, as well as the bodies of Stevens and the other three Americans killed during the attacks, were loaded on planes and flown out of the city, several U.S. officials said.

    The dense smoke created by the fuel both made it hard for people at the compound to breathe and to organise a response to the attack.

    About 25 minutes after the initial report came into the CIA base, a team of about six agency security officers left their base for the public diplomatic mission compound.

    Over the succeeding 25 minutes, the CIA team approached the compound, and tried, apparently unsuccessfully, to get local Libyan allies to bring them a supply of heavier weapons, and eventually moved into the burning diplomatic compound, the intelligence official said.

    At around 11:10 p.m., a Defense Department drone, which had been on an unrelated mission some distance away, arrived in Benghazi to help officials on the ground gather information.

    By 11:30, U.S. personnel who had been working or staying at the mission had been rounded up except for Ambassador Stevens, who was missing, the intelligence official said.

    When they tried to drive out of the diplomatic compound to return to the CIA base, however, the convoy carrying U.S. evacuees came under fire.

    Once they got back to the CIA base, that installation itself came under fire from what the intelligence official described as small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

    These patchy attacks went on for roughly 90 minutes, the intelligence official said.

    Around the same time, a CIA security team based in Tripoli, which included two U.S. military officers, landed at Benghazi airport. Upon its arrival, however, the team spent some time trying both to arrange local transport and to locate the missing Ambassador Stevens.

    After some time trying to solve these problems, the security team that had flown in from Tripoli eventually arranged for an armed local escort and extra transportation, but decided not to go the hospital where they believed Stevens had been taken.

    In part this was because they had reason to believe Stevens was likely dead, and because security at the hospital was believed, at best, to be ‘uncertain,’ the intelligence official said.

    By Matt Blake

    PUBLISHED: 12:11 GMT, 2 November 2012 | UPDATED: 17:16 GMT, 2 November 2012

    Find this story at 2 November 2012

    Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
    © Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Delivered Into Enemy Hands

    US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya

    This report is based on interviews conducted in Libya with 14 former detainees, most of whom belonged to an armed Islamist group that had worked to overthrow Gaddafi for 20 years. Many members of the group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), joined the NATO-backed anti-Gaddafi rebels in the 2011 conflict. Some of those who were rendered and allegedly tortured in US custody now hold key leadership and political positions in the country.

    Download the full report (PDF, 8.62 MB)
    Appendix I: Tripoli Documents (PDF, 4.98 MB)
    Appendix II: Shoroeiya Drawings (PDF, 411.61 KB)


    © Copyright 2012, Human Rights Watch

    US: Torture and Rendition to Gaddafi’s Libya

    New Accounts of Waterboarding, Other Water Torture, Abuses in Secret Prisons

    A file folder found after the fall of Tripoli in a building belonging to the Libyan external security services containing faxes and memos between the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Libyan Intelligence Service.

    Not only did the US deliver Gaddafi to his enemies on a silver platter but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first. The scope of Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged and underscores the importance of opening up a full-scale inquiry into what happened.
    Laura Pitter, counterterrorism advisor

    (Washington) – The United States government during the Bush administration tortured opponents of Muammar Gaddafi, then transferred them to mistreatment in Libya, according to accounts by former detainees and recently uncovered CIA and UK Secret Service documents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. One former detainee alleged he was waterboarded and another described a similar form of water torture, contradicting claims by Bush administration officials that only three men in US custody had been waterboarded.

    The 154-page report, “Delivered into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya,” is based on interviews conducted in Libya with 14 former detainees, most of whom belonged to an armed Islamist group that had worked to overthrow Gaddafi for 20 years. Many members of the group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), joined the NATO-backed anti-Gaddafi rebels in the 2011 conflict. Some of those who were rendered and allegedly tortured in US custody now hold key leadership and political positions in the country.

    “Not only did the US deliver Gaddafi his enemies on a silver platter but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first,” said Laura Pitter, counterterrorism advisor at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “The scope of Bush administration abuse appears far broader than previously acknowledged and underscores the importance of opening up a full-scale inquiry into what happened.”

    The report is also based on documents – some of which are being made public for the first time – that Human Rights Watch found abandoned, on September 3, 2011, in the offices of former Libyan intelligence chief Musa Kusa after Tripoli fell to rebel forces.

    The interviews and documents establish that, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US, with aid from the United Kingdom (UK) and countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, arrested and held without charge a number of LIFG members living outside Libya, and eventually rendered them to the Libyan government.

    The report also describes serious abuses that five of the former LIFG members said they experienced at two US-run detention facilities in Afghanistan, most likely operated by the CIA. They include new allegations of waterboarding and other water torture. The details are consistent with the few other first-hand accounts about the same US-run facilities.

    Other abuses reported by these former detainees include being chained to walls naked –sometimes while diapered – in pitch black, windowless cells, for weeks or months; restrained in painful stress positions for long periods, forced into cramped spaces; beaten and slammed into walls; kept indoors for nearly five months without the ability to bathe; and denied sleep by continuous, very loud Western music.

    “I spent three months getting interrogated heavily during the first period and they gave me a different type of torture every day. Sometimes they used water, sometimes not.… Sometimes they stripped me naked and sometimes they left me clothed,” said Khalid al-Sharif, who asserted he was held for two years in two different US-run detention centers believed to be operated by the CIA in Afghanistan. Al-Sharif is now head of the Libyan National Guard. One of his responsibilities is providing security for facilities holding Libya’s high-value detainees.

    The Libyan detainee accounts in the Human Rights Watch report had previously gone largely undocumented because most of those returned to Libya were locked up in Libyan prisons until last year, when Libya’s civil unrest led to their release. And the US government has been unwilling to make public the details about its secret CIA detention facilities. The accounts of former detainees, the CIA documents found in Libya, and some declassified US government memos have shed new light on US detention practices under the Bush administration but also highlighted the vast amount of information that still remains secret.

    Despite overwhelming evidence of numerous and systematic abuses of detainees in US custody since the September 11 attacks, the US has yet to hold a single senior official accountable. Only a few low-ranking enlisted military personnel have been punished.

    On August 30, 2012, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the only criminal investigation the Department of Justice had undertaken into alleged abuses in CIA custody, headed by special prosecutor John Durham, would be closed without anyone being criminally charged. Holder had already narrowed the scope of Durham’s investigation on June 30, 2011, limiting it from the original investigation into the 101 people believed to have been in CIA custody to the cases of only two individuals.

    In both cases, the detainees had died, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. The inquiry was also limited in that it looked only into abuses that went beyond what the Bush administration had authorized. It could not cover acts of torture, such as waterboarding, and other ill-treatment that Bush administration lawyers had approved, even if the acts violated domestic and international law.

    “The stories of the Libyans held by the US and then sent to Libya make clear that detainee abuse, including mistreatment not necessarily specifically authorized by Bush administration officials, was far-reaching,” Pitter said. “The closure of the Durham investigation, without any charges, sends a message that abuse like that suffered by the Libyan detainees will continue to be tolerated.”

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has spent three years researching the CIA’s detention and interrogation program and is nearing completion of a report. Human Rights Watch called on the SSCI to promptly release its report upon completion with as few redactions as possible, and to recommend that an independent, non-partisan commission investigate all aspects of US policy relating to detainee treatment.

    “The US government continues to demand, and rightly so, that countries from Libya to Syria to Bahrain hold accountable officials responsible for serious human rights abuses, including torture,” Pitter said. “Those calls would carry a lot more weight if it wasn’t simultaneously shielding former US officials who authorized torture from any form of accountability.”

    Since the fall of the Gaddafi government, US diplomats and members of Congress have met with some of the former CIA prisoners now in Libya, and the US has supported efforts by the Libyan government and civil society to overcome the legacy of their country’s authoritarian past. Human Rights Watch urged the US government to acknowledge its own past role in abuses and in helping Gaddafi round up his exiled opponents, to provide redress to the victims, and to prosecute those responsible for their alleged torture in US custody.

    One previously reported case for which Human Rights Watch uncovered some new information is that of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. The Bush administration had helped to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion by relying on statements that al-Libi made during his abuse and mistreatment in CIA custody. The CIA has acknowledged that these statements were unreliable. Years later, the US rendered al-Libi to Libya, where he died in prison in May 2009. Accounts from al-Libi’s fellow detainees in Afghanistan and Libya, information from his family, and photos seen by Human Rights Watch apparently taken of him the day he died, provide insight into his treatment and death, which Libyan authorities claim was a suicide.

    Scores of the documents that Human Rights Watch uncovered in Libya also show a high level of cooperation between the Gaddafi government in Libya and US and the UK in the renditions discussed in the report.

    The US played the most extensive role in the renditions back to Libya. But other countries, notably the UK, were also involved, even though these governments knew and recognized that torture was common during Gaddafi’s rule. Countries linked to the accounts about renditions include: Afghanistan, Chad, China and Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Sudan, Thailand, and the UK. Interviewees alleged that personnel in some of these countries also abused them prior to transferring them back to Libya.

    International law binding on the US and other countries prohibits torture and other ill-treatment in all circumstances, and forbids transferring people to countries in which they face a serious risk of torture or persecution.

    “The involvement of many countries in the abuse of Gaddafi’s enemies suggests that the tentacles of the US detention and interrogation program reached far beyond what was previously known,” Pitter said. “The US and other governments that assisted in detainee abuse should offer a full accounting of their role.”

    *A previous version of this press release incorrectly stated that the SSCI had completed its report. The report is nearing completion.

    © 2011 Tim Grucza

    Find this story at 6 September 2012

    © Copyright 2012, Human Rights Watch

    Un agente francese dietro la morte di Gheddafi

    Il merito della cattura del rais sarebbe stato dei servizi di Parigi. Il Colonnello «venduto» all’Occidente da Assad

    TRIPOLI – Sarebbe stato un «agente straniero», e non le brigate rivoluzionarie libiche, a sparare il colpo di pistola alla testa che avrebbe ucciso Moammar Gheddafi il 20 ottobre dell’anno scorso alla periferia di Sirte. Non è la prima volta che in Libia viene messa in dubbio la versione ufficiale e più diffusa sulla fine del Colonnello. Ma ora è lo stesso Mahmoud Jibril, ex premier del governo transitorio e al momento in lizza per la guida del Paese dopo le elezioni parlamentari del 7 luglio, a rilanciare la versione del complotto ordito da un servizio segreto estero. «Fu un agente straniero mischiato alle brigate rivoluzionarie a uccidere Gheddafi», ha dichiarato due giorni fa durante un’intervista con l’emittente egiziana «Sogno Tv» al Cairo, dove si trova per partecipare ad un dibattito sulle Primavere arabe.

    PISTA FRANCESE – Tra gli ambienti diplomatici occidentali nella capitale libica il commento ufficioso più diffuso è che, se davvero ci fu la mano di un sicario al servizio degli 007 stranieri, questa «quasi certamente era francese». Il ragionamento è noto. Fin dall’inizio del sostegno Nato alla rivoluzione, fortemente voluto dal governo di Nicolas Sarkozy, Gheddafi minacciò apertamente di rivelare i dettagli dei suoi rapporti con l’ex presidente francese, compresi i milioni di dollari versati per finanziare la sua candidatura e la campagna alle elezioni del 2007. «Sarkozy aveva tutti i motivi per cercare di far tacere il Colonnello e il più rapidamente possibile», ci hanno ripetuto ieri fonti diplomatiche europee a Tripoli.

    RIVELAZIONI – Questa tesi è rafforzata dalle rivelazioni raccolte dal «Corriere» tre giorni fa a Bengasi. Qui Rami El Obeidi, ex responsabile per i rapporti con le agenzie di informazioni straniere per conto del Consiglio Nazionale Transitorio (l’ex organismo di autogoverno dei rivoluzionari libici) sino alle metà del 2011, ci ha raccontato le sue conoscenze sulle modalità che permisero alla Nato di individuare il luogo dove si era nascosto il Colonnello dopo la liberazione di Tripoli per mano dei rivoluzionari tra il 20 e 23 agosto 2011. «Allora si riteneva che Gheddafi fosse fuggito nel deserto e verso il confine meridionale della Libia assieme ad un manipolo di seguaci con l’intenzione di riorganizzare la resistenza», spiega El Obeidi. La notizia era ripetuta di continuo dagli stessi rivoluzionari, che avevano intensificato gli attacchi sulla regione a sud di Bani Walid e verso le oasi meridionali. In realtà Gheddafi aveva trovato rifugio nella città lealista di Sirte. Aggiunge El Obeidi: «Qui il rais cercò di comunicare tramite il suo satellitare Iridium con una serie di fedelissimi fuggiti in Siria sotto la protezione di Bashar Assad. Tra loro c’era anche il suo delfino per la propaganda televisiva, Yusuf Shakir (oggi sarebbe sano e salvo in incognito a Praga).

    Dal nostro inviato LORENZO CREMONESI

    Dal nostro inviato LORENZO CREMONESI

    Find this story at 1 October 2012

    Copyright 2012 © RCS Mediagroup S.p.a. Tutti i diritti sono riservati

    Edwin P. Wilson, the Spy Who Lived It Up, Dies at 84; Part spy, part tycoon, Edwin P. Wilson lived large.

    He claimed to own 100 corporations in the United States and Europe, many of them real and many of them shells. He had an apartment in Geneva; a hunting lodge in England; a seaside villa in Tripoli, Libya; a town house in Washington; and real estate in North Carolina, Lebanon and Mexico. He entertained congressmen, generals and Central Intelligence Agency bigwigs at his 2,338-acre estate in Northern Virginia.

    He showered minks on his mistress, whom he called “Wonder Woman.” He owned three private planes and bragged that he knew flight attendants on the Concorde by name.

    His preferred habitat was a hall of mirrors. His business empire existed as a cover for espionage, but it also made him a lot of money. He had the advantage of being able to call the Internal Revenue Service and use national security jargon to get the details on a potential customer. And if the I.R.S. questioned his own tax filings, he terminated the discussion by saying he was a C.I.A. operative on a covert mission.

    “Being in the C.I.A. was like putting on a magic coat that forever made him invisible and invincible,” Peter Maas wrote in “Manhunt,” his 1986 book about Mr. Wilson.

    For Mr. Wilson, who died on Sept. 10 in Seattle at 84, the adventure collapsed with his arrest in 1982 on charges of selling Libya 20 tons of powerful explosives.

    Over the next two years, he was tried in four federal cases in four different courts, accused of, among other things, smuggling arms and plotting to murder his wife. He was sentenced to a total of 52 years in prison. He served 22 of them, mostly in solitary confinement. Then the dagger of fate took a strange twist.

    After studying thousands of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Wilson and his lawyer went back to court and demolished the government’s case.

    Mr. Wilson’s sole defense was that he had been working for the C.I.A., serving his country, when he sold the explosives to Libya. The prosecution’s case had rested on an affidavit by the C.I.A.’s third-ranking official denying that Mr. Wilson had been working for the agency at the time. An hour after being read the affidavit, a jury found Mr. Wilson guilty.

    Two decades later, the evidence Mr. Wilson had collected convinced a federal judge in Houston, Lynn H. Hughes, that he had in fact been working for the agency and that the C.I.A. had lied.

    “Because the government knowingly used false evidence against him and suppressed favorable evidence, his conviction will be vacated,” Judge Hughes wrote. He added, “America will not defeat Libyan terrorism by double-crossing a part-time informal government agent.”

    In 2004, a year after the judge’s ruling, Mr. Wilson was released from Allenwood federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania. Since then he had lived in Seattle on a monthly Social Security check of $1,080. He died of complications from heart-valve replacement surgery, his nephew Scott Wilson said.

    Up until his death, Mr. Wilson was still hoping to persuade two other federal courts to void his convictions on the other charges.

    Edwin Paul Wilson was born into a poor farm family in Nampa, Idaho, on May 3, 1928. A member of Future Farmers of America, he had a newspaper route and sometimes supplemented his income by rolling a drunk, Mr. Maas wrote in “Manhunt.” He shipped out as a seaman before returning to earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from the University of Portland. He joined the Marines and served in Korea after the conflict there ended.

    Flying home, he fell into a conversation with a passenger, who told him that he might like working for the C.I.A. The passenger did not identify himself, but Mr. Wilson wrote down a name and a phone number to call. The agency hired him in 1955. His first job was guarding U-2 spy planes.

    In 1960, the C.I.A. sent him to Cornell for graduate studies in labor relations, which he put to use against Communism in unions around the world. In one assignment he paid Corsican mobsters to keep leftist dockworkers in line; in another, he released cockroaches in the hotel rooms of Soviet labor delegations.

    In 1964, on behalf of the agency, Mr. Wilson started a maritime consulting firm so that the C.I.A. could better monitor international shipping. By nudging up costs and skimping on taxes, he multiplied his own income.

    Mr. Wilson left the C.I.A. in 1971, at least publicly, to join the Office of Naval Intelligence. Again he formed companies in service of the government and took them with him when he left the government in 1976. He grew rich and lived lavishly.

    Several years later, a top C.I.A. official asked Mr. Wilson to go to Libya to keep an eye on Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, better known as the Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal, who was living there. That led to several weapons deals. In one, a Libyan asked him to throw in a few pistols to send to Libyan embassies. One was used to kill a Libyan dissident in Bonn. “That I feel bad about,” Mr. Wilson told The Washington Post in a 2004 interview.

    He also arranged for former Green Berets to train Libyan troops, and for airplane and helicopter pilots to work for Libya. There was speculation in news publications that he had contributed to the deaths of a dozen Libyan dissidents around the world. He later maintained that all of his activities had been done to gather information for the C.I.A.

    Unknown to Mr. Wilson, investigators had been building a case against him since 1976, when Kevin Mulcahy, one of his partners, approached the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. with grave doubts about the legality and ethics of Mr. Wilson’s business dealings.

    Lured by investigators to the Dominican Republic in 1982, Mr. Wilson was flown to New York and eventually indicted on various charges in federal courts in Washington, Virginia, New York and Houston. He was tried four times over the next two years.

    In Washington, he was acquitted of charges that he had solicited assassins to kill a Libyan dissident. In Virginia, he was convicted of exporting weapons, including the one used in the Bonn killing, and sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $200,000.

    September 22, 2012


    Find this story at 22 September 2012

    © 2012 The New York Times Company

    Former CIA operative Edwin Wilson dies at 84; Ex-CIA operative who illegally sold arms to Libya dies

    SEATTLE (AP) — Edwin Wilson set up front companies abroad for the CIA, made millions in the arms trade and entertained generals and congressmen at his sprawling Virginia farm.

    His high-powered, jet-setting life in the 1970s and early 1980s followed a career in the CIA. But it came crashing down when he was branded a traitor and convicted in 1983 for shipping 20 tons of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya.

    After two decades in prison, Wilson finally got the conviction overturned, convincing a judge that he had continued to work informally for the agency.

    The man who once posed as a rich American businessman abroad spent his final years living with his brother near Seattle.

    Wilson died Sept. 10 from complications from a heart valve replacement surgery, said Craig Emmick, a director at Columbia Funeral Home in Seattle. He was 84.

    “Our family always supported him and believed in him,” his nephew, Scott Wilson, said Saturday, adding that the biggest part of his uncle’s vindication was “that the label of being a traitor would be taken off.”

    “He never considered himself a traitor, of course,” Wilson added.

    Wilson was born May 3, 1928, to a farming family in Nampa, Idaho. He worked as a merchant seaman, and earned a psychology degree from the University of Portland in 1953.

    He joined the Marines and fought in the last days of the Korean War, according to his death notice. He went to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in 1955 after being discharged from the Marines.

    Wilson entered the arms trade after leaving the CIA in 1971, according to a 2004 Washington Post article.

    “I had a couple of villas that were very, very nice,” he told the newspaper at the time. “I had Pakistani houseboys and I had Libyans working for me, typing up proposals in Arabic.”

    In 1982, he was lured out of hiding in Libya and brought to New York for arrest.

    A federal court in Virginia convicted him of exporting firearms to Libya without permission and sentenced him to 10 years. He was convicted in Texas in 1983, receiving a 17-year sentence for similar crimes.

    A New York court also sentenced him to 25 years, to run consecutively with the Texas and Virginia sentences, for attempted murder, criminal solicitation and other charges involving claims that Wilson conspired behind bars to have witnesses and prosecutors killed.

    (AP) – Sep 22, 2012

    Find this story at 22 September 2012

    Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

    Libya Could Be An Opportunity For CIA, If Spies Stick Around

    Libyans celebrate the end of the Gadhafi regime in Benghazi, October 2011. After the attack on the U.S. consulate, these same Libyans could be key for the CIA’s counterterrorism efforts. Photo: Flickr/Magherebia

    President Obama told the truth when he said there would be no U.S. ground troops in Libya after last year’s war to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He just left out a lot of context — like how eastern Libya, the site of the deadly September 11 assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, would become a major staging ground for American contractors and intelligence operatives as they try to take the measure of the local Islamist militants.

    The future of that effort is now in question after an attack that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador and two former Navy SEALs. The assault has led Americans to vacate Benghazi for their safety, even though various militant groups continue their operations. It’s a disaster for U.S. intelligence efforts in the region, especially since the attack has made brutally clear how real the jihadi threat in eastern Libya remains.

    But there may be the smallest of silver linings to this black cloud, if American operatives are able to capitalize on it. The aftermath of the attack shows widespread displeasure with Benghazi’s jihadist groups, with thousands marching in protest. That’s an opportunity the CIA could use to rebuild its intelligence gathering.

    The New York Times reports that one of the compounds in the lightly-secured Benghazi consulate was a CIA safe house. From there, intelligence personnel and contractors — like the ex-Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who died in the attack — attempted to locate and destroy the thousands of rockets and missiles that went missing during the war. They also attempted to gather information on the constellation of extremist militias that have emerged after the downfall of Gadhafi.

    Now they may not. While U.S. surveillance drones dot the skies over Libya, what remains of the intelligence operation below may have already departed Benghazi, understandably fearing for its safety. An anonymous U.S. official described it to the Times as a “catastrophic intelligence loss” that leaves the U.S. with “our eyes poked out.” While other officials dispute that characterization, the first account administration officials provided of the incident mentioned that remaining U.S. personnel in eastern Libya had been extracted.

    Some important background: Obama’s decision to support the Libyan revolution had an unintended consequence for the CIA. Behind the scenes, it had collaborated with Gadhafi’s brutal intelligence apparatus to track (and occasionally torture) suspected Libyan terrorists. Now, the Gadhafi intelligence apparatus was gone, leaving the CIA without its proxy eyes and ears, and a weak interim government of unproven ability operated in its place.

    And eastern Libya is not a place to be without eyes and ears. While the Arab Spring may have undermined one of al-Qaida’s central rationales for existing — waging war to overthrow U.S.-backed dictators — but opportunities for related or sympathetic jihadi groups to fill the vacuums left by overthrown regimes have expanded. That’s on stark display in eastern Libya. A massive intelligence trove captured from al-Qaida in Iraq in 2007 revealed that the city of Derna, with a population of 100,000, sent 52 fighters to wage jihad in Iraq, more than the Saudi capitol of Riyadh, a city of four million. As militia groups coalesced in post-Gadhafi Libya, alliances shifted and new organizations moved in, word of a growing extremist threat in the east even broke through in major media. Focal point: Derna.

    Whatever intelligence network the CIA built on the ground in eastern Libya failed it two weeks ago in Benghazi. And whether or not there were specific warnings of the 9/11 anniversary attack, the State Department in the spring hired a British security firm to help protect the consulate. And the diary of the slain U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, revealed that he was worried about “a rise in Islamic extremism and al Qaida’s growing presence in Libya,” CNN reported.

    By Spencer AckermanEmail AuthorSeptember 24, 2012 | 11:01 am | Categories: Shadow Wars, Spies,
    Secrecy and Surveillance

    Find this story at 24 September 2012

    Wired.com © 2012 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.

    Gaddafi was killed by French secret serviceman on orders of Nicolas Sarkozy, sources claim

    A French secret serviceman acting on the express orders of Nicolas Sarkozy is suspected of murdering Colonel Gaddafi, it was sensationally claimed today.

    He is said to have infiltrated a violent mob mutilating the captured Libyan dictator last year and shot him in the head.

    The motive, according to well-placed sources in the North African country, was to stop Gaddafi being interrogated about his highly suspicious links with Sarkozy, who was President of France at the time.

    Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, allegedly ordered the murder of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi

    Other former western leaders, including ex British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were also extremely close to Gaddafi, visiting him regularly and helping to facilitate multi-million pounds business deals.

    Sarkozy, who once welcomed Gaddafi as a ‘brother leader’ during a state visit to Paris, was said to have received millions from the Libyan despot to fund his election campaign in 2007.

    The conspiracy theory will be of huge concern to Britain which sent RAF jet to bomb Libya last year with the sole intention of ‘saving civilian lives’.

    A United Nations mandate which sanctioned the attack expressly stated that the western allies could not interfere in the internal politics of the country.

    Instead the almost daily bombing runs ended with Gaddafi’s overthrow, while both French and British military ‘advisors’ were said to have assisted on the ground.

    Now Mahmoud Jibril, who served as interim Prime Minister following Gaddafi’s overthrow, told Egyptian TV: ‘It was a foreign agent who mixed with the revolutionary brigades to kill Gaddafi.’

    Gaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on video

    Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood, is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killed

    Revolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last year

    Diplomatic sources in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, meanwhile suggested to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra that a foreign assassin was likely to have been French.

    The paper writes: ‘Since the beginning of NATO support for the revolution, strongly backed by the government of Nicolas Sarkozy, Gaddafi openly threatened to reveal details of his relationship with the former president of France, including the millions of dollars paid to finance his candidacy at the 2007 elections.’

    One Tripoli source said: ‘Sarkozy had every reason to try to silence the Colonel and as quickly as possible.’

    The view is supported by information gathered by investigaters in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the place where the ‘Arab Spring’ revolution against Gaddafi started in early 2011.

    Rami El Obeidi, the former head of foreign relations for the Libyan transitional council, said he knew that Gaddafi had been tracked through his satellite telecommunications system as he talked to Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator.

    By Peter Allen

    PUBLISHED: 11:43 GMT, 30 September 2012 | UPDATED: 06:56 GMT, 1 October 2012

    Find this story at 30 September 2012

    Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
    © Associated Newspapers Ltd

    CIA-Kooperation mit Gaddafi; Foltern als Freundschaftsdienst

    Ein detaillierter Report von Human Rights Watch belegt die Kooperation westlicher Geheimdienste mit dem Gaddafi-Regime. Im Gegenzug für andere Informationen übergaben die CIA und der britische MI6 mehrfach Gegner der Diktatur an Libyen. Folterung der Gefangenen wurde in Kauf genommen.

    Das Dokument mit der Nummer WT/04-00031 vom 6. März 2004 kommt schnell zum Punkt. Gleich unterhalb der Einstufung als “Geheim – Herausgabe nur an Libyen” steht das Ziel der Operation, “die Planung der Festnahme und Überstellung von Abdullah al-Sadiq”. Gemeinsam mit seiner im vierten Monat schwangeren Frau, so das Memo, werde dieser in naher Zukunft von Malaysia aus über Bangkok nach London reisen. Dort sei geplant, “Kontrolle über das Paar zu erlangen und es in ein Flugzeug für die Reise in Ihr Land zu setzen”.

    Das Schreiben wurde, darauf deuten jedenfalls Sprache und Stil des Memos hin, von einem Agenten des US-Geheimdienstes CIA formuliert. Adressat ist der libysche Geheimdienst in Tripolis, für dessen Kooperation sich der amerikanische Dienst sogleich höflich bedankt. “Wir wissen es zu schätzen, dass Sie unserem Dienst direkten Zugang zu al-Sadiq für Verhöre gestatten, sobald er in Ihren Händen ist”, so das Schreiben. Libyen müsse vor der Überführung lediglich formal zusichern, so die CIA, dass der Gefangenen menschenwürdig behandelt werde.

    Das Dokument, das offen wie nie zuvor bekannt eine der umstrittenen “renditions” durch die CIA beschreibt, haben Mitarbeiter der Menschenrechtsorganisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) nach dem Fall des Gaddafi-Regimes im Büro des Ex-Geheimdienstchefs Mussa Kussa gefunden. Neben vielen anderen Memos belegt es ein für die USA und Großbritannien wenig schmeichelhaftes Freundschaftsverhältnis mit dem für seine Brutalität gefürchteten Geheimdienst Libyens. In dem Report “Delivered into Enemy Hands” wird diese Kooperation nun so detailliert wie noch nie beschrieben.

    Das übliche Prinzip vom Geben und Nehmen

    Was die HRW-Rechercheure herausgefunden haben, ist ein internationaler Skandal. Allein die gefundenen Dokumente belegen, dass die CIA um das Jahr 2004 herum 14 von ihr im Ausland festgesetzte Regimegegner an Libyen auslieferte und sich nur formal für die Einhaltung der Menschenrechte während der Haft dort interessierte. Wichtiger schien den Agenten und der CIA-Führung, dass die Libyer alle Ergebnisse von Verhören an die USA weitergaben und den Amerikanern immer wieder auch selbst Zugang zu den Gefangenen erlaubte.

    Der Report führt zurück in die Zeit nach den verheerenden Terroranschlägen des 11. September in den USA und beleuchtet, wie die Amerikaner für Informationen über Aktivitäten von mutmaßlichen Terroristen vor fast nichts zurückschreckten. Das Gaddafi-Regime, dessen Geheimdienst beste Kontakte zu Terrorgruppen in verschiedenen Ländern unterhielt, schien da ein idealer Partner: Der Diktator diente sich dem Westen wieder als Partner an – er sagte sich von der Produktion von Massenvernichtungswaffen los.

    Die Kooperation erfolgte laut den Dokumenten nach dem Prinzip des Gebens und Nehmens. Fast alle von den USA festgesetzten Personen waren Mitglieder einer islamistischen Widerstandsgruppe in Libyen, einige hatten auch am Krieg der Mudschahidin gegen die Russen in Afghanistan teilgenommen. Obwohl sich die Aktivitäten der Gruppe nicht gegen den Westen richteten, schnappte die CIA die Männer und lieferte die Feinde Gaddafis an dessen Regime aus. Im Gegenzug übergab Libyen offenbar Informationen über andere Terroristen.

    Die CIA soll in mehreren Ländern geheime Gefängnisse betrieben haben

    Das Prinzip, unter Kritikern der CIA auch als “Folter-Outsourcing” bekannt, war damals durchaus üblich. In mehreren Ländern soll die CIA geheime Gefängnisse betrieben haben, die formal unter der Hoheit der jeweiligen Regierungen standen und am Ende doch nur zur exzessiven Befragung von CIA-Häftlingen dienten. Vor seinem Abgang hatte George W. Bush versichert, dass diese sogenannten “ghost sites” geschlossen worden sein, doch bis heute ist nicht aufgeklärt, wo diese waren und was dort genau passierte.

    Nach dem Fall des Gaddafi-Regimes fanden die Rechercheure viele der von der CIA übergebenen Gefangenen, einige von ihnen haben heute prominente Positionen in der neuen libyschen Führung. Detailliert berichten sie, wie sie in Libyen unter brutalen Methoden verhört wurden. US-Agenten seien manchmal bei den stundenlangen Befragungen anwesend gewesen. Im Fall von Abdullah al-Sadiq, heute besser bekannt als Abd al-Hakim Belhadsch, läuft bereits ein Gerichtsverfahren gegen Großbritannien, da die Briten bei seiner Festnahme geholfen haben sollen.

    In den USA könnte durch den Report das mühsam geschlossene Kapitel der CIA-Folter unter Präsident George W. Bush erneut aufgeschlagen werden. Stimmen die Aussagen von zwei von HRW befragten ehemaligen Gefangenen, wurden sie vor ihrer Überstellung nach Libyen von dem US-Geheimdienst an geheimen Orten in Afghanistan massiv gefoltert. Sehr konkret beschreiben die beiden Männer die brutale Verhörmethode des “waterboarding”, bei dem der Gefangene auf ein Brett geschnallt wird und ihm so lange Wasser aufs Gesicht gegossen wird, bis er das Gefühl hat, zu ertrinken.

    Auch Emissäre aus Europa sollen die Gefangenen verhört haben

    Bisher haben die USA nur drei Fälle der berüchtigten Foltermethode eingestanden, die Betroffenen sitzen immer noch im Anti-Terror-Knast in Guantanamo Bay auf Kuba. Die neuen Aussagen scheinen aber nun zu belegen, dass das Folterprogramm der US-Regierung wesentlich umfangreicher war als bisher bekannt. Bis heute gibt es kein Gerichtsverfahren, das sich mit den Methoden des CIA beschäftigt. Erst kürzlich gab das Justizministerium bekannt, die Ermittlungen hätten keine Beweise ergeben. Die neuen Erkenntnisse jedoch könnten hier für Bewegung sorgen.

    06. September 2012, 17:48 Uhr
    Von Matthias Gebauer

    Find this story at 6 September 2012

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    Libyens Ex-Geheimdienstchef Sanussi; Der Mann, der zu viel weiß

    Er warb den Lockerbie-Attentäter an und ließ Tausende Regimegegner hinrichten. Abdullah al-Sanussi war 30 Jahre lang Gaddafis Geheimdienstchef, nun erwartet ihn in seiner Heimat der Prozess. Das Verfahren könnte neue Details über die libysche Kooperation mit westlichen Diensten liefern.

    Tripolis – Der Mann, der seit einem Jahr von Interpol gesucht wurde, verbrachte die vergangenen Monate in einer Villa am Stadtrand von Mauretaniens Hauptstadt Nouakchott. Es war ein Leben in einem goldenen Käfig, denn seit seiner Festnahme im März dieses Jahres stand Abdullah al-Sanussi unter Hausarrest. Am Mittwoch lieferte ihn Mauretanien an Libyen aus. Dort steht dem einst ebenso gefürchteten wie verhassten Ex-Chef des libyschen Geheimdienstes nun ein Prozess bevor, der für ihn mit dem Tode enden dürfte.

    Nachdem der Gefangene mit ungewohnt langem und ergrautem Bart in Tripolis gelandet war, sagte Libyens Ministerpräsident Abd al-Rahim al-Kib: “Die libysche Regierung hat Gaddafis rechte Hand überstellt bekommen.” Sanussi sei für fast alle Verbrechen des gestürzten Regimes verantwortlich gewesen und werde nun dafür zur Rechenschaft gezogen. Deshalb werde ihm in Libyen der Prozess gemacht, auch wenn der Internationale Strafgerichtshof am Donnerstag erneut seine Auslieferung nach Den Haag verlangte.

    Doch wenn Sanussi in dem Verfahren wirklich auspackt, drohen auch den westlichen Geheimdiensten peinliche Enthüllungen. Am Donnerstag veröffentlichte Human Rights Watch einen Bericht, in dem detailliert geschildert wird, wie der US-amerikanische und der britische Geheimdienst mit Sanussis Schergen kooperierten.

    Ein französisches Gericht verurteilte ihn in Abwesenheit

    In einem öffentlichen Prozess in Libyen könnte Sanussi diesen Vorwürfen nun neue Nahrung geben. Denn fast vier Jahrzehnte lang war er einer der mächtigsten Männer in Muammar al-Gaddafis Reich. Der Beduinensohn gehört dem Volksstamm der Magarha an, der Gaddafi 1969 bei seinem Putsch gegen König Idris unterstützte. Spätestens Ende der siebziger Jahre stieg Sanussi in den engsten Führungskreis des Landes auf, als er Fatima, eine Schwester von Gaddafis zweiter Ehefrau Safia, heiratete.

    Und Sanussi war seinem Schwager stets treu zu Diensten. Studentenproteste in Tripolis und Bengasi ließ er niederschlagen und die Anführer öffentlich hinrichten. Tausende andere Regimegegner landeten hinter Gittern und wurden gefoltert. Lange nahm die Welt kaum Notiz davon. Dies sollte sich erst ändern, als 1988 der Pan-Am-Jumbo, Flugnummer 103, über dem schottischen Lockerbie explodierte. Den 2001 als Attentäter verurteilten Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi hatte Sanussi zuvor für den Geheimdienst angeworben. Megrahi gehörte demselben Stamm an wie Sanussi.

    Auch für den Bombenanschlag auf einen Linienflug der französischen Airline UTA im September 1989 soll der Ex-Geheimdienstchef verantwortlich sein. Bei der Explosion über dem Niger kamen alle 170 Insassen ums Leben, darunter auch die Frau des US-Botschafters im Tschad. 1999 verurteilte ein französisches Gericht Sanussi in Abwesenheit. 2003 soll er zudem den Mord des damaligen Kronprinzen und heutigen Königs von Saudi-Arabien, Abdullah Bin Abd al-Asis, geplant haben.

    In Libyen wird sein Name jedoch nicht in erster Linie mit Lockerbie in Verbindung gebracht, sondern mit Abu Salim. In diesem berüchtigten Hochsicherheitsgefängnis in Tripolis waren die meisten politischen Gefangenen Libyens inhaftiert. 1996 revoltierten die Häftlinge gegen die Folter und die unmenschlichen Bedingungen. Senussi soll als Geheimdienstchef den Befehl gegeben haben, den Aufstand mit aller Brutalität niederzuschlagen. Überlebende berichteten später von Massenerschießungen, bei denen insgesamt etwa 1200 der knapp 2000 Gefangenen getötet worden sein sollen.

    Gaddafi feuerte ihn nach Ausbruch des Aufstands

    Dieses Massaker dürfte im Mittelpunkt des Prozesses gegen Sanussi stehen. Doch seine Aussagen könnten auch das Verfahren gegen Gaddafi-Sohn Saif al-Islam beeinflussen. Wann der Prozess in der Stadt Sintan beginnt, ist derzeit noch unklar.

    Ehemalige Vertraute aus dem Umfeld der Diktatorenfamilie beschreiben Sanussi als eine Art Mentor von Saif al-Islam. Beide haben die Öffnung des Landes zum Westen in den Nullerjahre maßgeblich vorangetrieben. Die Zusammenarbeit mit CIA und MI6 war da nur ein Aspekt. Sanussi war auch der Gaddafi-Getreue, der westlichen Staaten aus mancher Not half. So soll er bei der Entführung der deutschen Familie Wallert auf den Philippinen zwischen Bundesregierung und den Entführern der Terrorgruppe Abu Sayyaf vermittelt haben. Saif al-Islams Stiftung zahlte damals 25 Millionen Euro Lösegeld. Im Gegenzug machte Außenminister Joschka Fischer im September 2000 der libyschen Regierung seine Aufwartung.

    Sanussi war auch eine wichtige Kontaktperson der PR-Firma Monitor Group, die Saif al-Islam dabei half, einen Doktorgrad an der London School of Economics zu erwerben. Nach Informationen der “Financial Times” stellte der Vorstandschef der Monitor Group Sanussi zudem einen Plan vor, der “das internationale Verständnis und die Wertschätzung Libyens verbessern” sollte.

    07. September 2012, 09:01 Uhr
    Von Christoph Sydow

    Find this story at 7 september 2012

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    Benghazi attack testimony claims state department ignored warnings

    Former security chiefs testify at heated House committee hearing that safeguarding US embassy in Libya was a ‘struggle’

    Lt Col Andrew Wood, Eric Nordstrom, Charlene R Lamb and Patrick Kennedy testify on the security failures of Benghazi before the US House oversight committee. Photograph: Zhang Jun/Xinhua Press/Corbis

    Two former heads of US diplomatic security in Libya have told a congressional hearing that requests for additional agents to protect American officials and premises in the face of a growing threat from armed militias were rejected by the state department ahead of the attack on the Benghazi consulate that killed the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other officials.

    At a heated hearing before the House of representatives oversight committee, Republicans painted a picture of an incompetent state department failing to heed warnings of a growing terrorist threat or to prepare for a possible attack on the anniversary of 9/11, and then covering up the circumstances of the full scale militia assault that killed Stevens. They also accused Obama administration officials of attempting to suppress unclassified documents because they were politically embarrassing.

    Democrats described the investigation as a partisan political move intended to embarrass the White House in the run up to the presidential election.

    Hours before the hearing, the state department was forced into an embarrassing retreat on its claim that the attackers used the cover of a popular protest outside the consulate as cover for the assault. Officials acknowledged on Tuesday that there was no protest and that as it occurred on September 11 it was likely timed to mark the anniversary of al-Qaida’s assault on the US 11 years ago.

    The former head of embassy security in Libya, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, said that he recognised the situation in Libya was volatile and that he and other officials pressed for additional agents to protect the consulate in Benghazi.

    “The security in Benghazi was a struggle and remained a struggle throughout my time there … Diplomatic security remained weak,” he said. “The RSO (regional security officer) struggled to obtain additional personnel there, but was never able to attain the numbers he felt comfortable with.”

    The committee chairman, Darrel Issa, then released state department cables not previously made public containing the requests for more security including one from the then ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz.

    Another official, Eric Nordstrom, who was responsible for protecting US diplomats in Libya, said that he too sought additional resources. But he said he was told over the phone by a senior state department official responsible for handling the request, Charlene Lamb, not to make any more because “there would be too much political cost”.

    After that Republican members of Congress honed in on Lamb, who was also a witness, accusing her of failing to recognise the seriousness of the threat.
    Lamb responded that the requests were for more personnel in Tripoli and it would have made no difference to how many security men would have been protecting the Benghazi consulate where protection was in any case mostly in the hands of a pro-government militia.

    “We had the correct number of assets in Benghazi on the night of 9/11,” Lamb testified.

    However, Republican attempts to accuse the state department of leaving the consulate vulnerable by refusing requests for more security were delivered a blow when Nordstrom was asked how many agents he wanted to protect the Benghazi site. He said he asked for three. The hearing then heard that there were five at the time of the attack.

    Congressman Jason Chaffetz noted that after the state department declined to increase the number of security personnel it did raise the danger pay of Wood and his colleagues.

    Nordstrom suggested that it might have been difficult to protect the consulate in any circumstance.

    “I had not seen an attack of such ferocity and intensity previously in Libya nor in my time with the diplomatic security service,” he said. “I’m concerned that this attack signals a new security reality, just as the 1983 Beirut marine barracks bombings did for the marines, the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings did for the state department and 9/11 did for our entire country.”

    But Nordstrom warned that it would be wrong to react to the attack and the continuing threat by retreating to a bunker.

    Republican congressmen hammered away at the accusation that the state department had failed to heed warnings of an escalating threat and that officials gave “demonstrably false statements” about the circumstances of the attack.

    The committee released a memo from Stevens sent on the day he was killed in which he described an array of armed militias competing for control and some of their leaders as criticising the US for taking political sides by backing the government in Tripoli. He also described growing Islamist influence in the town of Derna, to the east of Benghazi.

    However the memo also reported that Benghazi council said the security situation was improving and appealed for American investment.

    Nordstrom described a chaotic situation in Libya shortly after the revolution, saying that the new government had so little control that it could not provide security for diplomats and embassies.

    “We could not rely on the Libyan government for security, intelligence and law enforcement help to identify emerging threats or to ask them for assistance in mitigating those threats. In Benghazi however, the government of Libya through the 17 February Martyrs Brigade was able to provide us consistent armed security since the very earliest days of the revolution,” he said.

    Nordstrom said that the long-term plan was to create a local force to protect the consulate.

    Issa accused the administration of a cover-up of the circumstances of the attack because for days the administration stuck with the claim that the attack was made under the cover of a popular protest against an anti-Islam film.

    One witness, assistant secretary of state Patrick Kennedy, defended the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who has faced calls to resign for her statements in the days after the attack saying it was a response to an anti-Muslim video that prompted demonstrations across the Middle East.

    Chris McGreal
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 October 2012 22.43 BST

    Find this story at 10 October 2012

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    U.S. May Have Put Mistaken Faith in Libya Site’s Security

    WASHINGTON — An effective response by newly trained Libyan security guards to a small bombing outside the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi in June may have led United States officials to underestimate the security threat to personnel there, according to counterterrorism and State Department officials, even as threat warnings grew in the weeks before the recent attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

    The guards’ aggressive action in June came after the mission’s defenses and training were strengthened at the recommendation of a small team of Special Forces soldiers who augmented the mission’s security force for several weeks in April while assessing the compound’s vulnerabilities, American officials said.

    “That the local security did so well back in June probably gave us a false sense of security,” said one American official who has served in Libya, and who spoke on condition of anonymity because the F.B.I. is investigating the attack. “We may have fooled ourselves.”

    The presence of the Special Forces team and the conclusions reached about the role of the Libyan guards offer new insight into the kind of security concerns that American officials had before the attack on Sept. 11.

    Security at the mission has become a major issue as the Obama administration struggles to explain what happened during the attack, who was responsible and how the ambassador ended up alone.

    Republicans and Democrats in recent days have demanded more detailed explanations from the White House and State Department on possible security lapses. “There were warnings,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday.

    Just how much American and Libyan officials misread the threat has become even more evident as they analyze the skill with which the mortar attack at an annex a half mile away was carried out by the attackers. That assault, nearly three hours after the initial attack on the main diplomatic mission, killed two former Navy SEALs who were defending the compound.

    With as few as four armed Americans and three armed Libyans guarding the mission as the attack began, Mr. Stevens’s own bodyguard was so far away that he needed to sprint across the compound under gunfire to reach the building where the ambassador was working at the time. But the bodyguard ultimately left without Mr. Stevens, who died of smoke inhalation.

    And even after eight additional American security officers arrived from Tripoli, the roughly 30 Americans were surprised and outgunned again in the second attack, dependent on an ad hoc collection of Libyan militiamen to protect their retreat and avoid greater casualties, Libyan officials said.

    American counterterrorism officials and Libyans on the scene say the mortar attack was most likely carried out by the same group of assailants who had attacked the mission and then followed the convoy of American survivors retreating to what they thought was a safe house.

    The first mortar shell fell short, but the next two hit their mark in rapid succession with deadly precision, according to an account that David Ubben, one of Mr. Stevens’s security guards, told his father, Rex Ubben, which was supported by other American and Libyan officials.

    “There are three villas inside and the walls are high, and the only house that got hit was the house we were in,” said Fathi el-Obeidi, a Libyan militia commander who came to help evacuate the Americans.

    This indicated that many of the assailants were practiced at aiming their mortars, skills they learned in fighting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s army.

    “David did not draw a distinction between the attackers,” Rex Ubben said in a telephone interview. David Ubben, a 31-year old Iraq war veteran, was wounded in the mortar attack, and is recovering from his wounds at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. His father said he had declined to speak to reporters.

    The Sept. 11 attack culminated several weeks of growing violence against Western and other diplomatic posts in Benghazi. State Department officials said they were aware of the worsening climate and took precautions. One American official who worked in the mission said the Americans there were able to get around with “appropriate prudence.”

    One American official, who said he traded e-mails with Mr. Stevens three days before his death, said the ambassador did not mention any heightened security concerns. CNN, however, has reported that Mr. Stevens did express such worries in a diary that one of the network’s correspondents found at the ransacked mission.

    But security had been a concern for months. After an attack in early April on the convoy of the United Nations special envoy for Libya, Ian Martin, the United States Embassy in Tripoli sent about four Special Forces soldiers to Benghazi to augment security and conduct the security assessment, the American official said. The soldiers were part of a larger group of nearly two dozen Special Operations personnel, including Navy SEALs and bomb-squad specialists, that the military’s Africa Command sent to Tripoli last fall to establish security at the embassy there.

    As a result of the military assessment, the mission increased the number of sandbagged defensive positions and gave the Libyan security guards more training. “We weren’t blind to fact the security situation in Benghazi was more tenuous than in Tripoli,” said the American official who served in Libya. “We were constantly considering Benghazi and constantly looking for ways to improve security there.”

    The first test of the new defenses came when militants attacked the mission with a homemade bomb on June 6, the day after the United States announced that it had killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, a top leader of Al Qaeda, in Pakistan. No one was injured in the June 6 bombing.

    Representative Peter King, a New York Republican who heads the House Homeland Security Committee, said after the roadside bombing in June, he heard nothing from the State Department or others in the government about a need for more security in Benghazi.

    “Between June 6 and Sept. 11, I’m not aware that they asked for more security or that they thought they needed more because it was more of a risk, or that there was talk or a debate about it,” he said.

    While the broad outlines of what happened that night have been reported, details continue to emerge that paint a more complete picture of the frantic response to the attack. It began about 9:30 p.m., roughly 15 minutes after Mr. Stevens had finished an evening meeting with the Turkish ambassador, bid him farewell and chatted briefly with a handful of Libyan guards at the gate of the compound.

    There were a total of seven Libyan guards at the edge of compound. Four were unarmed guards who worked for the British security firm Blue Mountain inside the gates, checking visitors’ identification, operating a metal detector and running their bags through an X-ray machine. Three others were armed members of a major local militia that fought in the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi, the February 17 Brigade. The brigade had been responsible for securing the mission from its inception, and in interviews the guards said that they had received additional training for the job of guarding the mission.

    There were no more than seven Americans in the compound, including three civilians and four who carried guns, three of the Libyan guards later recalled, speaking on condition of anonymity for their safety. In addition to Mr. Stevens, the Libyans said, the civilians included a familiar figure they identified as “the bald maintenance guy” — Sean Smith, a computer technology specialist, as well as another official visiting from Tripoli whom the Libyans referred to as a “delegate.” The Libyan guards said they believed that Mr. Stevens was alone in the residence at the time of the attack, and the locations of Mr. Smith and the visitor at the time were unclear.

    Just before 9:30, the Libyan guards began hearing shouts of “God is great” from outside the walls. They said that they had initially assumed the shouts were from a funeral procession.

    An unarmed Blue Mountain guard said he tried to call his superior on his two-way radio and could not reach him. Then he heard American voices through the radio: “Attack, attack!”

    Moments later the guards heard gunfire, the blasts of rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and other grenades falling inside the compound. The attackers moved on all three entrances at once in an apparently coordinated assault, backed by truck-mounted artillery.

    Mohamed Bishari, 20, the son of the landlord and a neighbor who watched the attack, said: “They thought that there would be more Americans inside, commandos or something like that. So they immediately started attacking with their R.P.G. rockets.”

    He and other witnesses identified the attackers as Ansar al-Shariah, a well-known brigade of local Islamist militants. He said they arrived waving the black flag favored by such ultraconservative jihadis.

    The unarmed Libyan guards ran back to take up positions as they had been instructed, behind sandbags that had been erected between the office and the residence. “The shooting was coming from all directions,” one guard said. “I hid behind the sandbags saying my last prayers.”

    Another grenade landed inside the structure housing the three armed Libyan guards but, miraculously, did not explode.

    “When the grenade didn’t explode, they came out of the windows,” said one of the unarmed guards, who said he had spoken to the armed contingent over the two-way radio during the attack. “They had a ladder outside the villa which they used to go up on the roof and started resisting.”

    “They were resisting and radioing for backup from their brigade at the same time,” the guard said. “They managed to get a few.” Another guard said, “It was like a fog of war, it was chaotic, you couldn’t see anything” He added: “By the end it was every man for himself.”

    Three guards, speaking independently, said they saw one of Mr. Stevens’s bodyguards run out of an office building with a light weapon drawn, racing back to the residence under fire to try to protect the ambassador.

    Two other security guards, whom the Libyans identified only as Scott and Dave, were in the compound’s canteen and went to its roof to fight, the Libyans said.

    Mr. Smith, the information technology worker, died of smoke inhalation during the fight. The American security detail, including Mr. Ubben, was unable to locate Mr. Stevens in the residence because of the thick, choking smoke in the building, and managed only to retrieve Mr. Smith’s body, an American official said.

    Previous American government accounts indicated that a convoy evacuated about 20 Americans from the mission at about 11:30 p.m. But Mr. Bishari, the neighbor, said that more than two and a half hours after the fight began, between midnight and 1 a.m., he saw what he described as the ambassador’s armored Mercedes S.U.V. leaving the mission. He pointed to a hole in the compound’s concrete wall that he said was left by a rocket-propelled grenade that was fired at the fleeing vehicle and evidently missed.

    The annex building was a secret. The Libyan militia leaders who escorted the Americans say they were unaware of it, and the eight American security officers who arrived at the Benghazi airport from Tripoli at about 1:30 a.m. guided the Libyans to it using a GPS device, members of the Libyan team said.

    Those eight Americans initially planned to leave the airport with Mr. Fathi and a handful of Libyan militiamen in four vehicles, two Toyota Land Cruisers followed by two Kia sedans. But when they learned of the Americans’ arrival, local Libyan security forces insisted on sending 16 more vehicles of fighters, Mr. Obeidi said. “I told them not to be too close to us so when we get to the place we don’t create a scene,” he said.

    But the attackers had evidently found it, perhaps by following the vehicle leaving the compound. Libyan witnesses who saw the attacks in both locations said they appeared to be the same group, Ansar al-Shariah.

    The attackers evidently had set up mortar rounds in advance of the attack. They hit the annex just after the Libyan escort and American security team had reached the gate, Mr. Obeidi said.

    United States government officials say they learned from the bodyguards as early as 2 a.m. that Mr. Stevens had disappeared in the smoke. Mr. Obeidi said by that time, he had learned from the hospital that the doctor there who had treated the ambassador identified his body. But other Libyan officials say they were unsure of Mr. Stevens’s condition.

    Correction: October 8, 2012

    September 30, 2012

    Find this article at 8 October 2012

    © 2012 The New York Times Company

    Deadly Attack in Libya Was Major Blow to C.I.A. Efforts

    WASHINGTON — The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation.

    Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city.

    “It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one American official who has served in Libya and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the F.B.I. is still investigating the attack. “We got our eyes poked out.”

    The C.I.A.’s surveillance targets in Benghazi and eastern Libya include Ansar al-Sharia, a militia that some have blamed for the attack, as well as suspected members of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in North Africa, known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

    Eastern Libya is also being buffeted by strong crosscurrents that intelligence operatives are trying to monitor closely. The killing of Mr. Stevens has ignited public anger against the militias, underscored on Friday when thousands of Libyans took to the streets of Benghazi to demand that the groups be disarmed. The makeup of militias varies widely; some are moderate, while others are ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis.

    “The region’s deeply entrenched Salafi community is undergoing significant upheaval, with debate raging between a current that is amenable to political integration and a more militant strand that opposes democracy,” Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who closely follows Libya and visited there recently, wrote in a paper this month, “The Struggle for Security in Eastern Libya.”

    American intelligence operatives also assisted State Department contractors and Libyan officials in tracking shoulder-fired missiles taken from the former arsenals of the former Libyan Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces; they aided in efforts to secure Libya’s chemical weapons stockpiles; and they helped train Libya’s new intelligence service, officials said.

    Senior American officials acknowledged the intelligence setback, but insisted that information was still being collected using a variety of informants on the ground, systems that intercept electronic communications like cellphone conversations and satellite imagery. “The U.S. isn’t close to being blind in Benghazi and eastern Libya,” said an American official.

    Spokesmen for the C.I.A., the State Department and the White House declined to comment on the matter on Sunday.

    Within months of the start of Libyan revolution in February 2011, the C.I.A. began building a meaningful but covert presence in Benghazi, a locus of the rebel efforts to oust the government of Colonel Qaddafi.

    Though the agency has been cooperating with the new post-Qaddafi Libyan intelligence service, the size of the C.I.A.’s presence in Benghazi apparently surprised some Libyan leaders. The deputy prime minister, Mustafa Abushagour, was quoted in The Wall Street Journal last week saying that he learned about some of the delicate American operations in Benghazi only after the attack on the mission, in large part because a surprisingly large number of Americans showed up at the Benghazi airport to be evacuated.

    “We have no problem with intelligence sharing or gathering, but our sovereignty is also key,” said Mr. Abushagour.

    The attack has raised questions about the adequacy of security preparations at the two American compounds in Benghazi: the American mission, the main diplomatic facility where Mr. Stevens and another American diplomat died of smoke inhalation after an initial attack, and an annex a half-mile away that encompassed four buildings inside a low-walled compound.

    From among these buildings, the C.I.A. personnel carried out their secret missions. The New York Times agreed to withhold locations and details of these operations at the request of Obama administration officials, who said that disclosing such information could jeopardize future sensitive government activities and put at risk American personnel working in dangerous settings.

    In Benghazi, both compounds were temporary homes in a volatile city teeming with militants, and they were never intended to become permanent diplomatic missions with appropriate security features built into them.

    Neither was heavily guarded, and the annex was never intended to be a “safe house,” as initial accounts suggested. Two of the mission’s guards — Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty, former members of the Navy SEALs — were killed just outside the villa’s front gate. A mortar round struck the roof of the building where the Americans had scrambled for cover.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced last week the creation of a review board to examine the attacks. The board is to be led by a veteran diplomat and former undersecretary of state, Thomas R. Pickering.

    The F.B.I. has sent investigators — many from its New York field office — to Benghazi, but they have been hampered by the city’s tenuous security environment and the fact that they arrived more than a day after the attack occurred, according to senior American officials.

    Complicating the investigation, the officials said, is that many of the Americans who were evacuated from Benghazi after the attack are now scattered across Europe and the United States. It is also unclear, one of the officials said, whether there was much forensic evidence that could be extracted from the scene of the attacks.

    Investigators and intelligence officials are now focusing on the possibility that the attackers were members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or at least were in communication with the group during the four hours that elapsed between the initial attack at the mission and the second one at the mission’s annex.

    September 23, 2012

    Find this story at 23 September 2012

    © 2012 The New York Times Company

    Mauritania extradites Gaddafi spy chief Senussi to Libya

    Extradition of Libyan dictator’s former head of military intelligence could shed fresh light on 1988 Lockerbie bombing

    Mauritania said on Wednesday that it had extradited Muammar Gaddafi’s infamous former spy chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, back to Libya, in a move that could shed fresh light on the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

    Government sources in Mauritania said Senussi had been sent to Tripoli “on the basis of guarantees given by the Libyan authorities”. Senussi has been in custody in Mauritania since March, after slipping illegally into the country.

    Officials in Tripoli could not immediately confirm Senussi’s extradition, also reported by Mauritanian television. But foreign ministry spokesman Saad al-Shelmani said the country’s transitional post-Gaddafi government welcomed the news.

    He added: “We have been asking for this move for a very long time.”

    Senussi, Gaddafi’s former director of military intelligence and a brutal enforcer, is one of the world’s most wanted men. Libya, France and the international criminal court had all sought his extradition, with France seeking to question him in connection with the bombing of a French UTA passenger plane in 1989.

    The ICC has indicted him for crimes against humanity in Libya.

    Britain also has a strong interest in Senussi and is likely to seek to interview him in connection with the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, in which 270 died. At the time, Senussi headed Libya’s external security organisation. He is said to have recruited Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the bombing. Megrahi died at his home in Libya in May.

    The US is also seeking Senussi’s arrest in connection with Lockerbie.

    In an interview with the Guardian, Libya’s prime minister, Abdurrahim el-Keib, said that as well as his alleged role in the Lockerbie bombing, Senussi knew the identity of the killer of PC Yvonne Fletcher, shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in 1984.

    “He’s the black box,” Keib said, adding: “I guarantee he [Senussi] was almost directly or indirectly involved in most if not all of the crimes [of the former regime]. That doesn’t mean others weren’t involved. But he definitely knows who they were.”

    Senussi was married to Gaddafi’s sister-in-law, and was at the Libyan dictator’s side for over three decades. Leaked US diplomatic cables describe him as a trusted “senior regime figure”, “who had played a role as minder of the more troublesome Gaddafi offspring”.

    They added: “Sanussi … is usually in physical proximity to the tent in which Gaddafi holds meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries and, according to members of Gaddafi’s protocol office, personally oversees Gaddafi’s close protection detail”.

    Libya’s provisional government wants to try him in connection with numerous human rights abuses, including the massacre of 1,200 prisoners at the Abu Salim jail in 1996. During the 2011 Libyan civil war, he was blamed for orchestrating killings in the city of Benghazi and recruiting foreign mercenaries.

    Luke Harding, Ian Black and agencies in Nouakchott
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 5 September 2012 13.25 BST

    Find this story at 5 September 2012

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Jack Straw accused of misleading MPs over torture of Libyan dissidents

    Former foreign secretary named in legal documents concerning Gaddafi opponents held after MI6 tip-offs

    The documents claim Jack Straw did not tell the truth when he told the Commons foreign affairs committee in 2005 that Britain was not involved in any rendition operations. Photograph: EPA

    Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary, and Sir Mark Allen, a former senior MI6 officer, have been cited as key defendants in court documents that describe in detail abuse meted out to Libyan dissidents and their families after being abducted and handed to Muammar Gaddafi’s secret police with the help of British intelligence.

    The documents accuse Straw of misleading MPs about Britain’s role in the rendition of two leading dissidents – Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi – and say MI6 must have known they risked being tortured. They say British intelligence officers provided Libyan interrogators with questions to ask their captives and themselves flew to Tripoli to interview the detainees in jail.

    They recount how Belhaj was chained, hooded, and beaten; his pregnant wife, Fatima Bouchar, punched and bound; how Saadi was repeatedly assaulted; his wife, Ait Baaziz, hooded and ill-treated; and their children traumatised, as they were abducted and jailed in Libya following tip-offs by MI6 and the CIA in 2004.

    Belhaj and Saadi were leading members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which opposed Gaddafi. Belhaj became head of the Tripoli Brigade during last year’s revolution and is a leading Libyan political figure. They are suing Straw, Allen, MI6, MI5, the Foreign Office, the Home Office, and the attorney general, for damages for unlawful detention, conspiracy to injure, negligence, and abuse of public office. It is believed to be the first time such action has been taken against a former British foreign secretary.

    The court documents, served by the law firm Leigh Day and the legal charity and human rights group, Reprieve, allege:

    • MI6 alerted Libyan intelligence to the whereabouts of Belhaj and his family. They were held in Malaysia and Thailand and flown to Libya in a CIA plane.

    • The CIA and MI6 co-operated in the rendition of Saadi and his family from Hong Kong to Libya via Thailand.

    • Straw and his co-defendants knew that torture was endemic in Gaddafi’s Libya.

    • British intelligence officers sent detailed questions to the Libyan authorities to be used in Belhaj and Saadi’s interrogations.

    • Straw did not tell the truth when he told the Commons foreign affairs committee in 2005 that Britain was not involved in any rendition operations.

    • Evidence by Sir John Scarlett, the head of MI6, to the parliamentary intelligence and security committee (ISC) in 2006 that his agency did not assist in any rendition to countries other than the US or the detainee’s country of origin was incorrect and misleading. Bouchar is Moroccan, and Baaziz is Algerian, and neither had been to Libya before their abduction.

    • Evidence by an MI5 witness to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission about the renditions was untrue and misleading.

    • According to the US flight plan rendering Belhaj and his wife to Libya, the plane would refuel at the American base on the British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia. If it had done so it would contradict assurances made to MPs by the former foreign secretary David Miliband. Referring to the coalition government’s plans for secret courts, Khadidja al-Saadi, who was 12 when she was abducted, said: “I tried writing to Ken Clarke [former justice secretary] about my case – I told him that having a secret court judge my kidnap was the kind of thing Gaddafi would have done.”

    Her father said: “After my rendition I spent years in Gaddafi’s jails, and a secret ‘court’ sentenced me to death. Even now, after everything that happened, I hope and pray British justice will serve me better than this. My family has asked the government to apologise, and the government has refused.”

    Cori Crider, Reprieve’s legal director, said: “The public have every right to know just how high the plot to kidnap these families went. Did it stop at Allen and Straw? Or did Tony Blair know what was going on in a torture chamber down the road while he hugged Gaddafi in a tent? You won’t find the answer in Straw’s book [Last Man Standing].”

    If the justice and security “secret courts” bill, passes “we will never know”, Crider added.

    The abductions took place after the Blair government embraced Gaddafi following the Libyan leader’s promise in 2003 to abandon nuclear weapons. Allen developed close relations with Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, documents unearthed in Tripoli show.

    Whitehall sources say that in their dealings with Gaddafi MI6 was carrying out “ministerially authorised government policy” and were given assurances by the Libyans that the detainees would not be tortured. The Guardian has asked Straw about the renditions. He has said he cannot comment because of a police investigation into the affair.

    Richard Norton-Taylor
    The Guardian, Wednesday 10 October 2012

    Find this story at 10 October 2012
    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    MI6 role in Libyan rebels’ rendition ‘helped to strengthen al-Qaida’

    Secret documents reveal British intelligence concerns and raise damaging questions about UK’s targeting of Gaddafi opponents
    Britain already faces legal action over its involvement in the plot to seize Abdul Hakim Belhaj, who is now the military commander in Tripoli. Photograph: Francois Mori/AP

    British intelligence believes the capture and rendition of two top Libyan rebel commanders, carried out with the involvement of MI6, strengthened al-Qaida and helped groups attacking British forces in Iraq, secret documents reveal.

    The papers, discovered in the British ambassador’s abandoned residence in Tripoli, raise new and damaging questions over Britain’s role in the seizure and torture of key opponents of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

    Britain is already facing legal actions over its involvement in the plot to seize Abdul Hakim Belhaj, leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who is now the military commander in Tripoli, and his deputy, Sami al-Saadi. Both men say they were tortured and jailed after being handed over to Gaddafi.

    The documents reveal that British intelligence believe the pair’s rendition boosted al-Qaida by removing more moderate elements from the insurgency’s leadership. This allowed extremists to push “a relatively close-knit group” focused on overthrowing Gaddafi into joining the pan-Islamist terror network.

    One document, headed “UK/Libya eyes only – Secret”, showed the security services had monitored LIFG members since their arrival in Britain following a failed attempt to kill Gaddafi in 1996, and understood their aim was the replacement of his regime with an Islamic state.

    The briefing paper, prepared by the security service for a four-day MI5 visit in February 2005, said that following the seizure of its two key leaders the year before the group had been cast into a state of disarray.

    “The extremists are now in the ascendancy,” the paper said, and they were “pushing the group towards a more pan-Islamic agenda inspired by AQ [al-Qaida]”.

    Their “broadened” goals, it continued, were now also the destabilisation of Arab governments that were not following sharia law and the liberation of Muslim territories occupied by the west.

    The 58-page document, which included names, photographs and detailed biographies of a dozen alleged LIFG members in the UK, went on to highlight “conclusions of concern” in the light of these changes.

    These included the sending of money and false documents to a contact in Iran to help smuggle fighters into Iraq, where British and US forces were coming under fierce attack. “UK members have long enjoyed a reputation as the best suppliers of false documents in the worldwide extremist community,” said the report. It added that British LIFG members were becoming “increasingly ambitious” at fundraising through fast-food restaurants, fraud, property and car dealing, and raised nearly all the money for the group outside of Libya.British security also asked Gaddafi’s security forces for access to detainees and their debriefs.

    Asked about the document, a Foreign Office spokesman said: “It is the government’s longstanding policy not to comment on intelligence matters.”

    The LIFG eventually merged with al-Qaida in 2007. However, a second document, a secret update on Libyan extremist networks in the UK from August 2008, says the response of British members was “subdued and mixed”.

    It concluded that those already supporting the wider aims of al-Qaida continued to do so, but “those with reservations retain their focus on Libya”. It added, however, that some money raised by members in Manchester may have gone to “assist operational activity”.

    The cache of confidential documents – which included private letters to Gaddafi from Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and key Downing Street aides – was abandoned when the three-story residence was attacked by Gaddafi loyalists in April. .

    There was also a dossier prepared by British intelligence with suggested questions for the captured men. The 39-page document, entitled Briefs for Detainees and labelled “UK Secret” on each page, was written in three sections in March, June and October 2004.

    The first section is dated the month of Belhaj’s arrest, and sought answers on everything from his private life to his military training, activities in Afghanistan and links to al-Qaida. There were also personalised questions for Saadi.

    The LIFG, founded by veterans of the mujahideen’s war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was for many years the most serious internal threat to Gaddafi, coming close to blowing up the dictator with a car bomb in his home town of Sirte in 1996. The government denied claims by David Shayler, the renegade British spy, that this assassination attempt was funded by British intelligence.

    After Gaddafi’s clampdown on the group, dozens of dissidents were allowed to settle in Britain. London only designated the LIFG a terrorist organisation after Libya said it was abandoning its weapons of mass destruction programme in 2003. The move is understood to have been agreed as part of the negotiations with Gaddafi’s regime that paved the way to the controversial Blair deal.

    Belhaj, now a key figure in liberated Libya, is preparing to sue Britain after other documents discovered in the wake of Gaddafi’s fall indicated that MI6 assisted in his rendition to torture and brutal treatment from the CIA and Gaddafi’s regime.

    MI6 informed the CIA of his whereabouts after his associates told British diplomats in Malaysia he wanted to claim asylum in Britain.

    He was allowed to board a flight to London, then abducted when his aircraft landed at Bangkok.

    Find this story at 24 October 2011 


    Ian Birrell
    guardian.co.uk, Monday 24 October 2011 20.28 BST

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


    Arab spring took British intelligence by surprise, report says

    Committee says there are questions about whether agencies should have been able to anticipate how events might unfold
    Britain’s intelligence agencies were surprised by the Arab spring, and their failure to realise unrest would spread so rapidly may reveal a lack of understanding of the region, according to the parliamentary body set up to scrutinise their activities.

    A particularly sharp passage of the intelligence and security committee’s (ISC) report describes as “ill-considered” an attempt by MI6 to smuggle into Libya two officers who were promptly seized by rebels.

    The report says that at the time the Arab spring erupted, both MI6 and GCHQ, the government’s electronic eavesdropping centre, were cutting resources devoted to Arab countries.

    The criticism of MI6’s attitude is all the more significant given the agency’s traditional close ties with the Arab world.

    The ISC, chaired by the former Conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, said it was understandable that the intelligence agencies were taken by surprise, “as indeed were the governments in the countries affected”.

    However, it said there were questions about whether the agencies “should have been able to anticipate how events might subsequently unfold, and whether the fact that they did not realise that the unrest would spread so rapidly across the Arab world demonstrates a lack of understanding about the region”.

    SAS troops escorted MI6 officers to Libya in a Chinook helicopter and dropped them off at a desert location south of Benghazi in the middle of the night in March 2011. The mission was an embarrassment to the British government and the anti-Gaddafi rebels alike. MI6 “misjudged the nature and level of risk involved”, the ISC said.

    It noted that the lessons had been taken seriously by MI6, and added: “We would have expected nothing less.” The incident “demonstrates a lack of operational planning that we would not have expected from [MI6]and other participants”, it said.

    Cuts being made in Whitehall’s defence intelligence staff mean greater risks would have to be taken “when reacting to the next crisis than was the case with the Libya campaign”, the ISC warned. It said GCHQ’s difficulties in retaining internet and cyber specialists attracted by higher salaries in the private sector was a matter of grave concern.

    The report said Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, had told the ISC there had been “very considerable erosion of al-Qaida’s senior leadership capability in Pakistan, and to some extent now in Yemen, as a result of drone strikes”.

    Al-Qaida had to spend a lot of its time trying to protect itself, Evans was quoted as saying. “It is much more difficult to take action if you are permanently in fear that you are going to be attacked. I think that has had a strategic impact on al-Qaida’s senior leadership.”

    The ISC said British intelligence agencies were now concerned that al-Qaida in Iraq “may gain a lasting foothold in Syria if there is a prolonged power vacuum, and also at the prospect of Syrian conventional and chemical weapons stockpiles falling into the hands of terrorist groups”.

    Find this story at 12 july 2012

    Richard Norton-Taylor
    guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 July 2012 17.26 BST

    © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.



    Achtergelaten om te sterven

    Op 26 maart 2011 vertrok vanuit Tripoli een bootje met aan boord 72 Afrikaanse vluchtelingen. De mannen, vrouwen en 2 baby’s waren op weg naar een nieuwe toekomst in Europa. Onderweg raakte de benzine op, en vervolgens dobberde de boot 2 weken op volle zee. Gadegeslagen door een helikopter, vissersschepen en een marineschip. Maar omdat niemand wat deed, vonden uiteindelijk 61 opvarenden de dood, waaronder de twee baby’s. Wouter Kurpershoek bericht over de schandalige gebeurtenis op de Middellandse Zee.


    Uitzending Brandpunt 08 april 2012 

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