Secret files: US officials aided Gaddafi – Features – Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera news producer Jamal Elshayyal recently gained access to the Tripoli headquarter of Libya’s intelligence agency. Among the documents scattered throughout the demolished building were secret files indicating that influential Americans advised Muammar Gaddafi since the beginning of the Libyan uprising. Here is his account of the discovery:
The destruction by NATO airstrikes of Libya’s intelligence headquarters at the heart of Tripoli has transformed the once-feared building into a symbol of how Gaddafi’s regime has been all but toppled.
Guarding the compound are dozens of armed rebel fighters, some of them told me their friends and families went missing as a direct result of “intelligence” gathered by those who worked in the building.
It’s fair to assume that among the rubble and ransacked offices, are some of the darkest, deepest secrets of Gaddafi’s regime. I’m looking for files entitled “Lockerbie” or “IRA”, but the place is a mess.
I’m taken to the office of Abdullah Alsinnousi, head of Libya’s intelligence service and one of the Gaddafi regime’s most notorious and feared strong men.
Scattered on his desk are dozens of documents branded “top secret”, but the rebels accompanying me aren’t keen on me taking anything away. I find a folder titled “Moussa Al Sadr”, who was the founder of the Amal movement, a Shia party in Lebanon, who went missing in Libya over 30 years ago. Within seconds, the folder is taken by my minder who said none of these documents can leave the compound.
In the room adjacent to Sinnousi’s office is a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom kitted with a plush jacuzzi, an indication of the lush lifestyle led by the heads of the former regime. Sprawled on the bed a rebel fighter was taking an afternoon nap. The scene is almost surreal. “Gosh, how times change,” I whispered.
Communication with US officials
I managed to smuggle away some documents, among them some that indicate the Gaddafi regime, despite its constant anti-American rhetoric – maintained direct communications with influential figures in the US.
I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.
|Papers and files were strewn about the offices of Libya’s intelligence agency [Evan Hill/Al Jazeera]
Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi’s officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.
During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi’s team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several “confidence-building measures”, according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.
Minutes of this meeting record his advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, with the potential assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel.
The documents read: “Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It’s better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries…”.
The papers also document Welch advising the Gaddafi’s regime to take advantage of the current unrest in Syria. The documents held this passage: “The importance of taking advantage of the Syrian situation particularly regarding the double-standard policy adopted by Washington… the Syrians were never your friends and you would loose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West.”
‘Encouragement to Gaddafi’
Despite this apparent encouragement to Gaddafi to pursue a propaganda campaign at the expense of Syria, the documents claim Welch attacked Qatar, describing Doha’s actions as “cynical” and an attempt to divert attention from the unrest in Bahrain.
The documents allege that Welch went on to propose the following solution to the crisis which he said many would support in the US administration: “[Gaddafi] should step aside” but “not necessarily relinquish all his powers”.
This advice is a clear contradiction of public demands from the White House that Gaddafi must be removed.
According to the document, as the meeting closed, Welch promised: “To convey everything to the American administration, the congress and other influential figures.”
|In one of the high-ranking officer’s offices, several old portraits of Gaddafi sat on the floor [Evan Hill/Al Jazeera]|
It appears Welch was not the only prominent American giving help to Gaddafi as NATO and the rebel army were locked in battle with his regime.
On the floor of the intelligence chief’s office lay an envelope addressed to Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam. Inside, I found what appears to be a summary of a conversation between US congressman Denis Kucinich, who publicly opposed US policy on Libya, and an intermediary for the Libyan leader’s son.
It details a request by the congressman for information he needed to lobby US lawmakers to suspend their support for the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and to put an end to NATO airstrikes.
According to the document, Kucinich wanted evidence of corruption within the NTC and, like Welch, any possible links within rebel ranks to al-Qaeda.
The document also lists specific information needed to defend Saif Al-Islam, who is currently on the International Criminal Court’s most-wanted list.
Scattered across the headquarters were smashed frames holding “the brother leader’s” pictures, powerful images which depict Gaddafi’s sudden fall from grace.
It took six months to topple Gaddafi’s regime, but the colonel did rule for over forty years. During his reign thousands of people went missing, planes were blown up, and billion-dollar deals were struck in the most dubious of circumstances.
Finding out the true story behind all this will take a long time, and even then there are some things that will never be known.
A spokesperson for the US state department said that David Welch is “a private citizen” who was on a “private trip” and that he did not carry “any messages from the US government”. Welch has not responded to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.
Dennis Kucinich issued a statement to the Atlantic Wire stating: “Al Jazeera found a document written by a Libyan bureaucrat to other Libyan bureaucrats. All it proves is that the Libyans were reading the Washington Post… I can’t help what the Libyans put in their files… Any implication I was doing anything other than trying to bring an end to an unauthorised war is fiction.”
Soon after World war I the Europeans (Britrish, French, Italians) with help from their advanced technology snuffed out the Muslim Ottoman empire’s rule from the Muslim-Arab countries. They installed puppett regimes with figurehead Muslim rulers in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab peninsula. The puppets served their colonist masters well. The colonists dictated policies to these Muslim countries, stationed their troops there and made the namesake Muslim rulers subservient to them. Their loot continued. Then in 1950s a series of nationalist revolutions occured in these Muslim countries. The Bath party’s Muslim leaders overthrew the kings in Iraq and Syria. Col Jamal Nasser and other military officers overthrew King Fouad in Egypt. Col Qaddafi overthrew King Idris in Libya.
These nationalist Muslim leaders were steeped in the love of their country and wanted to bring power and the country’s wealth back in the hands of their people. They were young and idealistic and full of patriotic ferver. They literally threw out the western colonizers and thumbed their collective noses at the mighty colonial powers. Muslims all over the world were overjoyed that finally Muslim-Arabs were incharge of their own lands. The discovery of oil in the region became a boon to some of the new nationalist rulers and they set about implementing a new order. To develop their countries they hired western companies for their technology but gave employment to a large number of people from the third world, many of them Muslims.
That was a relief and an opportunity for the poor Muslims of third world countries like Egypt, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Philipines and the stateless Palestinians. They flocked to these Muslim-Arab lands of opportunity. In these lands they were in the midst of a Islamic society everywhere. They felt comfortable and adjusted to living in the Arab lands under the reassuring sway of Islamic culture. It lasted for about half a century.
Then as the 21st century dawned the western powers started planning to recapture power in their former Arab -Muslim colonies and get a hold on their vast oil wealth. They played strange games, sowed seeds of hatred and put the Muslim countries at eachothers’ throats. Thus Muslim Iraq and Iran were made to fight a very damaging 8 year war in which about a million Muslims were killed and much losses to the infrastructure and economy of these countries took place.
Then came the western invasion of Iraq on a totally false and builtup allegation and the ruse that they wanted to bring democracy to Iraq. Half a million or more Iraqis were killed, many at the hands of Al Qaeda that mindlessly bombed the Muslim citizens themselves. At the end, the oil rich country of Iraq came under the sway of the western colonists who maintain a weak fig-leaf Iraqi government that claimes to be democratically elected.
The next shoe dropped in Libya where the colonists similarly instigated a disenfranchised tribal minority population to rebel against the erratic 40 year old regime of Col Qaddafi. The western colonists bombed the smithrens out of Libya and strangled the country from all sides in the support of the ragtag rebels. So now oil rich Libya is again under the control of the western colonists.
The next scenario is being played out in Syria. Syria has no oil but it is a very strategic country with very rich Arab and Muslim heritage and history. It is a thorn in the paw of the Israeli Zionists. It remains to be seen how this game of democracy and human rights plays out in Syria.
The question arises why the Arab-Muslim nationalist renaissance that lasted fifty long years, and that was endowed with huge oil wealth did not help these countries to build durable, modern, democratic, industrially advanced nations? Nations that could sustain themselves on their own. Why did they suffer such bitter divisions, tribal rivalries, religion based (Shia-Sunni) internecine feudal conflicts and so much violent fighting? Why did the rulers not give opportunities to all and remove complaints of discrimination? Why did the rulers become so brutal against those whom they considered their rivals? Why did the rulers impose one-family dynastic rule without letting other people rotate in top leadership positions of power and let democracy flourish?
As far as can be surmised the nationalist young leaders of 1950s and their successors who had thrown away wetern colonizers, squandered away a great opportunity to build their Muslim nations as among the most egalitarian nations on earth. The western colonizers were laying traps for them all along and they did not take actions to undo those traps. Instead of distributing power among their people they concentrated power in their own hands and tried to perpetate their and their family’s rule. When the western colonizers were sowing seeds of discord among their people the rulers took no countermeasures.
Now that in the name of democracy the western colonists have forced themselves on their former colonies in Arab middleeast, one wonders how long this western colonial rule will last in Arab-Muslim lands. What is the worth of the so called Arab Spring when Arab lands are again about to become colonies, albeit under the facade of democracy, and not be the masters of their own destiny. Is the Arab-Spring being exploited by the colonizers? Perhaps a long time will pass until another set of messiahs have the requisite ability, courage and foresight. Meanwhile the lands of the Muslims continue to remain under the sway of others, the ordinary Arab-Muslims remain disenfranchised and the Muslim ummah laments the loss of five decades of opportunity to make the Muslim commonwealth first among equals among the comity of nations.