Terrorism, Libya, Global/Middle East
LIFG & Global Terror – the Real Story - Middle East

LIFG & Global Terror – the Real Story

Posted by Aneela Shahzad on

 

The blasphemous film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ dubbed in the Arabic language was uploaded on YouTube in early September 2012. This film ignited massive protest against its blasphemous material throughout the Muslim world. This image shared in the Guardian shows the locations around the world where major protests were taking place.

 

At 10pm Sept. 11, US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens was brutally killed in a spontaneous attack by unidentified militiamen. The Obama administration blamed the blasphemous video as the reason for the attack. Receiving the coffins back from Libya Hilary Clinton addressed the American people saying:

‘We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with, it is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless and it is totally unacceptable…’ 

Because of this attempt of whitewashing the case Hilary Clinton has been facing endless inquiries for years that are still ongoing. Our question is – Why did Obama and Hillary Clinton lie to the American Public and why was the Embassy Attack Inquiry delayed – what was the truth they were hiding and their relation with the LIFG?

This story is about the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – a group that brought about the Arab Spring in Libya and in doing so the story will take us to the facts how it has played its part in making terrorism an inevitable global phenomenon.

Libya

The story starts from Libya, a country made mostly of empty desert, with most of its population concentrated in 4 major distant coastal cities Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi and Bayda. Features that make it both easy to control by a central power and just as easy for a foreign occupation force to invade. And the story begins with Gadhafi, who was bitterly despised by the US and its European Allies to the extent that Reagan called him ‘a Mad Dog’ in a televised address.

The reason for this despise was Gadhafi’s somewhat pro-Russian stance but more than that Gadhafi was a revolutionist, passionate for ideas like Pan-Africanism and Arab Unity, and he was an internationalist. Gadhafi’s passion for freedom from US hegemony on the political and economic affairs of not only Libya but of the Arabs and the Africans alike earned him many friends and foes. 


Gadhafi an Internationalist

Gadhafi ruled Libya for 4 decades starting from a coup against UN instated puppet King Idris al-Sanusi and ousting of British and US military installations from Libya. Thus from the beginning he was in rebellion against the US and the European allies whom he disliked for their neo-colonial attitude towards the African countries – and chose the Russian camp as opposed to the US camp in the Cold War days.

Though many of us hate Gadhafi, but it seems that we do so for his brute looks more than for his actions, or maybe just because the main stream media portrays him as such. Libya was a wealthy country under Gaddafi’s rule, some even thought it to be the Switzerland of Africa. In his time Libya had:

  1. An 80% Literacy Rate   
  2. & 72yrs Life Expectancy
  3. Subsidies over Essential Foods
  4. Free Public Health care
  5. And Free Education.

He was strong in his power and his people loved him, but at the same time he maintained strict control over the affairs of his people, which had been necessitated for his survival amidst bitter international forces that were bent to get rid of him. As an internationalist he was known for his tough talks, in his address to the UN Assembly in 2009 he bluntly stated:

‘We joined the United Nations because we thought we were equals, only to find that one country can object to all the decisions we make. Who gave the permanent members their status in the Security Council? Four of them granted this status to themselves.’

At another occasion on the Arab summit in Syria (2008) he openly warned his Arab friends saying: 'America hanged Saddam we might be next!’.

 

The Reagan Doctrine

US rivalry against Gadhafi became eminent in Reagan’s times. When Reagan became US president in 1981 the Cold War was at its bloom. The Heritage Foundation prepared what was called the Reagan Doctrine that aimed to ‘Rollback’ regimes that were pro-Russia.

 

Rollback meant the use and backing of rebels and insurgent groups in pro-Russian states that would topple the unwanted regimes from the inside. But Libya was a difficult case for Rollback, as Gadhafi’s strict security policies made it impossible for any non-state actor to find ground in Libya. So Reagan began a policy of advertising Qaddafi as the world's leading terrorist, accusing him for incidents such as the La Belle discotheque in Berlin, the Lockerbie bombing of the Pan Am flight 103 – without ever establishing any proofs. And this hostility went on all the way until 2004 when US decides to reestablish diplomacy with Libya. This was the time when Tony Blair made his infamous visit to Libya. 

LIFG in the Making

This surprising shift in US and Britain policy towards Libya had some sinister under wraps. As the US foreign policy against non-submissive regimes evolved into nastier techniques with Bush and Clinton, organized covert operations had taken new formidable forms. The jihad in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia were supported by the US, Britain and other European Allies throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, as these were all meant to destroy pro-Russian regimes. The Allies allowed terrorist outfits like Al Qaeda to establish offices and recruitment centers in their states and these recruit centers attracted potential Jehadis of all nationalities, and Libya was no exception.

From 1994 on, several Libyan Jihadi from Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan returned to Britain, including LIFG spiritual leader Sami al-Saadi, Abu Laith al-Libi founder of LIFG, Abu Anas al-Libi who was indicted for the 1998 U.S. embassies bombings, Noman Benotman a former head of LIFG - all of them were granted political asylum in the UK. Britain allowed these Libyans to form a terrorist outfit LIFG on its soil, LIFG was formed for the one-point agenda of overthrowing Muammar Gadhafi.



From its very creation in 1995, LIFG started off with one of its many assassination attempts on Gadhafi’s life. Former British intelligence agent and whistleblower David Shayler revealed that Britain’s MI6 sponsored the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in its 1996 attempt to kill Gaddafi. Britain allowed LIFG to develop a base of logistical support and fundraising on its soil and MI6 financed $160,000 for this assassination attempt.

LIFG did not operate solely from London, interconnected through AlQaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, Libyan jihadist were spread in several African and European states forming a network of support and maneuverability. The fact that the Gadhafi administration had maintained a high level of security in the country was the major reason that it was not easy to implant the LIFG rebel force in the country.

As Gadhafi had faced several attempts on his life and his regime was under constant threat of a coup – he was more interested than anyone to have the terror outfits put behind bars. In 1998 Gadhafi called Interpol to issue an arrest warrant against Osama bin Laden, for his links to LIFG, whom he blamed for the killing of two German anti-terrorism agents in the Libyan city of Sirte in 1994.

After the 9/11 attacks Gadhafi cooperated with the Bush administration on their so-called War on Terror. Gadhafi sent Musa Kusa, head of Libyan Intelligence (alleged to be the man behind the Lockerbie Bombing), to London where Musa provided the MI6 and CIA with a list of LIFG operatives trained in Afghanistan and those living in the UK. Yet even to this Britain did not designated LIFG a terrorist organization nor laid a hand on any of those Kusa named. 

In 2005, London went another step to embolden the LIFG by forming its political and social networking wing by the name of National Conference for the Libyan Opposition, NCLO.

Deal in the Desert

In 2004, 3yrs after US invaded Afghanistan and 1yr after the invasion of Iraq, Britain suddenly decided to resume diplomatic ties with Libya. In 2004, British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits Libya making his famous ‘deal in the desert’ in which an oil deal was made for BP and it was announced that Britain and Libya will co-operate more closely in the fight against terrorism.

In March 2004, Tony Blair visited Tripoli, after meeting Gadhafi in his tent in the desert, Blair told the media that the Libyan leader recognized "a common cause, with us, in the fight against Al Qaeda extremism and terrorism, which threatens not just the Western world but the Arab world also". To the world Blair made it look like that Gaddafi was willing to give away his stockpile of WMDs and sign an oil deal with BP only for one man, Meghrahi. 

But it seems that the real deal was much more than just Meghrahi, behind doors Blair promised Gaddafi to capture and hand over all LIFG members from UK and other states and deliver them to him, to declare LIFG a terrorist organization and stop funding and harboring them in Britain’s soil. In fact when Qaddafi surrendered his weapons of mass destruction, ‘Britain, France and US began selling him billions of dollars’ worth of arms. Oddly, at the same time, anti-Qaddafi rebels were tapping the black market for high-tech weaponry such as rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns’ – thus it was ensured that Libya’s stockpiles were swarming with small-arms that are perfectly suited for insurgencies.                                                           

Britain officially designated the LIFG a terrorist organization in October 2005 and signed a deal with the Gaddafi regime to deport the men to Libya. Some of these men were:






















Diplomacy for Release of Prisoners

There are different speculation as to what Tony Blair’s 2004 ‘Deal in the Desert’ with Gadhafi really was; some say that Blair wanted an oil deal for BP and in return accepted the humiliating demand of the release of Megrahi, the alleged Lockerbie Bomber – another theory is that Blair and the US wanted an end of hostilities and to bring Gadhafi in their camp they offered him MI6 and CIA partnership to make extraordinary renditions of LIFG terrorist to Libya. The Libyan side was offered several attraction for their cooperation, not just the return of Megrahi; economic sanctions were to be lifted, oil exploration and extraction deals were made and Libya would also be allowed to buy weapons in exchange of handing over Libya’s stock pile of WMD’s.

After the deal, with several acts of renditions, LIFG members were one by one returned to Gadhafi. Now that most of LIFG members were back in Libya in the notorious Abu Salem Jail, it seems that a lot of pressure was put on Gadhafi’s regime for reconciliation with LIFG political prisoners on humanitarian grounds – and in the face of Gadhafi’s deterrence a soft space was sought in his son Saif al Islam, who was maneuvered into having dialogue with key LIFG members, with Qatar based Libyan Islamist Ali al Sallabi as mediator. It seems that the economic deals initiated by Britain were bound with the prisoner-release on humanitarian grounds and as a step to show Libya’s denouncing of terror. And in spite of Gadhafi’s very skeptical approach towards the West’s schemes against him, Saif was allowed to be lenient with proven enemies of Gadhafi’s regime.

After intensive talks, Saif ul Islam in March 2010, announced the phased release of LIFG members including its leaders Hakim BelHajd, Sami Khalifa and Khaled al-Sharif, as part of the ‘reconciliation and dialogue process’ and with an understanding that LIFG will refute the ideology and methods of al-Qaeda.

In April 2008, Al Jazeera reported that Libya released at least over 90 members, a further 200 prisoners were released in March 2010. In March 2010, due to the intervention of Tony Blair, Saif Qaddafi (Muammar’s son) announced the release of Belhadj and other members of the LIFG and Muslim Brotherhood from Abu Selim as part of a reconciliation of the Qaddafi government with the LIFG and the Muslim Brotherhood. The mediator in this effort, which began in 2005, was the Libyan, Muslim Brotherhood-linked, Qatari-based cleric Ali al-Sallabi -- Qumu began training jihadists in Derna in April 2011 and Sallabi became his conduit of weapons and funds.

Perhaps this prisoner’s release was the single most deadly mistake on part of the Gadhafi regime that became the reason for its annihilation.

Arab Spring in Libya

The LIFG did not waste any time in reorganizing into a revolutionary force, on April 2, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that former GTMO detainee bin Qumu is training rebel fighters under the command of al al-Hasadi’s militia in Derna. The Qatar based Ali al Sallabi was to become a conduit for CIA-sponsored weapon supply to the Libyan rebels, technical support came from the US Congress’ financed ‘National Endowment for Democracy’, the UN adopted resolution after resolution supporting the revolution and allowing the world community to intervene militarily in Libya.

 

In the 1st week of Feb. 2011 the NCLO called for a Libyan ‘Day of Rage’ from London.  On the 15th, relatives of LIFG prisoners allegedly killed in the 1996 prison riots were protesting in Benghazi, one of the relatives Fathi Terbil, was arrested – this was trigger point of the Libyan Arab Spring.

Protests quickly spread in other cities, US launched its Operation Odyssey Dawn on the 19th of March and on the 22cdth NATO took over with the start of a bombing spree across the cities of Libya – Britain was the first to recognize the rebel government. In June, a French army spokesman admitted that ‘France had armed the rebels’. On April 13, 2011, Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem acknowledged Qatar's supplying arms to Libyan rebels.             

The world saw on their TV screen a bunch of freedom fighters valorously taking city after city from the tyrant Gaddafi. How could these several hundred or a few thousand semi-trained fighters take over Libya from Gaddafi? Or did they need to fight at all, when the NATO forces were bombing and destroying Gaddafi strongholds one after the other by indiscriminate fire power – asking the rebels to enter and capture a city or town when the job had been done.

The question is whether the US and its allies accomplish the Libya mission for the rebels or did the rebels accomplish this mission for the Allies?

Hilary Clinton over-joyed on Qaddafi kill viciously said on TV: We came, we saw, he died.

 

From Libya to Syria – with Love

In the 1990s, hundreds of Libyans jihadis from Afghanistan had also returned to Libya. Many were jailed by Qadhafi, some got Islamists cover in Benghazi and Derna. From 1993 to 1995, LIFG organized from outside the country to send some of these fighters to Algeria to support GIA, a terror outfit working against the Algerian regime. In 1994, Several LIFG members flee from Libya to Sudan, where Osama bin Laden had received them.

Gadhafi was not blind of their presence and activities. In March 1996, several hundred prisoners including LIFG members reportedly escaped from Kuwaifiya prison near Benghazi and fled to the outskirts of Derna. Gadhafi used helicopter gunships in Benghazi, cut telephone, electricity, and water supplies to Derna and infamously claimed that the militants ‘deserve to die without trial, like dogs’.

It’s interesting that Britain designated the LIFG as a terrorist organization in October 2005 and in November 2007, LIFG formally merged with al-Qaeda. In the same year Libyan foreign fighters started appearing in the Iraqi front under the ISI banner.

 An analysis of the 2007 Sinjar Records by the CTC (Combating Terrorism Center at West Point) revealed that a great percentage of foreign fighters joining ISI in Iraq were Libyans, coming via Egypt, Turkey and Syria. All these recruits had links with LIFG.

It seem that right under Qaddafi’s nose LIFG members that were being released in a phased program were organizing underground jihadist activities opposite to the spirit of the ‘reconciliation and dialogue process’ initiated under US and UK pressure.

It is definite that the US and especially Britain were well aware that apart of other fronts, LIFG had been working for ISI in Iraq, which in turn was affiliated to Al Qaeda, since 2004. And they schemed to replant LIFG in Libya in a way that befooled the time-hardened Gaddafi. And eventually under the screen of a Libyan Spring, they deliberately handed over the whole of Libya to a terrorist organization.

Gadhafi was killed in October 2011. After occupying Libya several competing rebel factions took control of major cities and large swaths of adjacent areas – so-called tyranny was replaced with unending chaos.

Though the LIFG was officially defunct after Gaddafi, and its officials merged into the governing National Transitional Council. But its leader Abdelhakim Belhadj still remained to be a global figure. In November 2011, Belhadj was found meeting with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey – he was there to offer weapons, money and fighters. Later he would go on to head the ISIS Libya cell in Derna.


Back to Benghazi Attack Mystery – 9/ 11 2012

Perhaps Belhadj was a conduit for the movement of terror and so was Christopher Stevens whose last meeting on Sept. 11 was with a Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, "to negotiate a weapons transfer in an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists".

 


Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that the CIA was leading a "concerted effort to try to track down and find and recover ... MANPADS [man-portable air defense systems]" looted from the stockpiles of toppled Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi”. What she did not tell the congress was that these same weapons were systematically being delivered to ISIS rebels in Syria.

On Sept. 6, just five days before Ambassador Christopher Stevens’s assassination, 400 tonne Libyan vessel Al Entisar, loaded with SA-7s, docked the Turkish port of Iskenderun - 35 miles from the Syrian border. And this is only one shipment that got recorded.

Perhaps this was the reason why Hilary had to constantly cover the Benghazi episode – because an independent inquiry would soon lead the American people to the truth of the sinister US/UK alliance against Libya and Syria and more so to the truth of the Arab Spring.

Perhaps the mystery of Hillary - had not been her recklessness in duty or dishonesty with the American people - rather she had been most honest and dutiful to the US Administration and suffered bitter critique for the defense of its foreign policy.