MI6 Verses Gaddafi
By From Our man in Whitehall Mideast News l October 1998
Feb 22, 2011 - 1:11:51 PM
The Libyan leader Colonel Muammaer Gaddafi is not a man who would normally generate much sympathy world wide, or even in many Arab countries. Reports about him has moved from the trying to link him with acts of international terrorism in the early days, to more light hearted news, like his female bodyguards - one of them Aiysha, died in June trying to save his life during an assassination attempt. The dangle their guns from their shoulders Gucci style, and colonel insist on them wearing nail varnish, lipstick and perfume and styling their hair in order to spare them the loss of femininity suffered by their European sisters when they share a man's work.
Colonel Gaddafi became a western media icon, as reporters were interested in his style of dress and his megalomaniac ideas - like his green book which he once claimed that it was behind Greens electoral success in Germany in the late 1980's, or his anthology of short stories about an astronaut who saves mankind from himself.
But last month Colonel Gaddafi began to generate sympathy world wide, even more sympathy than that attributed to BBC 1986 dispatch from the Libyan capital following the American air raids that killed one of Gaddafi children and injured many civilians. It later transpired that President Ronald Regean at the time had picked the wrong man, as the people behind the Berlin bar bombing - to which the air raids was a response- were the Syrians not Gaddafi. But this time the story is different. Here was a permanent member of the security council, who's conservative institutions - including the media, has always arrogantly thought of them selves to be cut above the rest of the world, who always criticised the gun-hoe crazy Americans, and laughed at the CIA failed attempts on the lives of foreign leaders; and above all claiming that the 007s on her majesty's service never kill people. Last month, a revelation by David Shayler a renegade MI5 - the British intelligence- claimed that MI6 ( the sister branch responsible of foreign operation and counter espionage), made it public that his former ' firm' has plotted to kill the Libyan leader.
The accusation by David Shayler, the former MI5 agent, was given to Mark Urban, the former defence editor of the Independent and a veteran BBC reporter.
The British government went to court and got an order blocking the publication of the story, already published by the New York Times. For a week, British media was reporting the arguments and the denial, without being able to report the charges themselves as made by Mr Shayler, who was arrested in France on a British request.
The details given in the BBC interview give plausibility that Either the plot was sanctioned on a high level, or, worse still, the MI6 were acting out of control.
Colonel Gaddafi, rightly or wrongly has been picked on as the bogeyman.
In the 1970 he armed and financed the IRA, then it was the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher in Sat James's square during a noisy demonstration by Libyan opposition in 1984. Ms Fletcher was killed by bullets fired from the Libyan Embassy - known as a people's bureau - which turned into a siege that lasted about a week. In the late 1970's students were encouraged by Gaddafi himself to occupy embassies and kick out professional diplomats. Communication became difficult, and some times impossible with the so called people's bureaus.
Egyptian veteran satirist Mahmoud Saddani summarised the portrait Gaddafi drew for himself gave himself: '' While Iraqis would totally deny an assassination while the smoking gun is still in their hands, Gaddafi would claim responsibility for the death of an American leader who was run over by a bus.''
when, in 1989, Colonel Gaddafi restrained the infamous Palestinian terror master Abu Nidhal and disarmed his followers leading to Abu Nidhal departure to Syria, the Libyans failed to take an advantage by informing the world media. then came the blowing up of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. Gaddafi's refusal to allow the two suspects to be tried in Scotland, lead to a UN imposing sanctions on his nation.
In short the Libyan leaders excelled in generating enemies in all corners of the globe.
In January 1990 I was invited by the Libyan to meet the Colonel following my report, in the Independent in 1989, of an attempt on his life. A sword waving Islamist attacked the colonel, during a visit by Syrian President Hafez Assad - he too is loathed by the Islamists -, but the attacker was hot dead by Gaddafi's female bodyguards.
When I finally was invited to the Colonel's luxurious tent - after three days wait- I found a number of foreign, mainly women and all left wing, journalists from the third world and southern Europe. I asked him what were the obstacles in the way of restoring relations with Britain? `` To hell with Britain,'' came his sharp reply, `` I don't give a damn about Britain and I don't care if relations were never restored until the end of the world.''
I wondered why did they invite me?
Could it be that between issuing the invitation and the interview, the Libyans had discovered some British backing to Islamic fundamentalists - a charge made by several African and Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
In his revelation during the BBC interview, Mr Shayler gave details of an attempt on Gaddafi in early March 1996. Colonel Gadaffi was travelling in a motorcade of Mercedes limousines and an ambulance was cruising along an avenue lined with bystanders in Sirte, a city east of Tripoli.
After repeated assassination attempts, his paranoia and unpredictability had made him one of the most difficult targets in the world. He travelled only in a convoy, periodically ordering it to stop to allow him to change transport. A trick invented by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq as early as 1970 when he was still Mr Deputy.
Abd al-Muhaymen, a Libyan fundamentalist who had trained and fought in Afghanistan, thus having access to CIA and British intelligence who organised the Afghan Mujahedine operations at the time, was in charge of assassinating Gaddafi.
Mr Shayler said Abd al-Muhaymen was to detonate a bomb under Gaddafi's car, but the bomb went off under the wrong car killing his body guards and civilian bystanders.
The account differs from that of a Libyan dissident group who sent a fax to the Saudi owned Al-Hyat news paper in London claiming that the attack was carried out with Kalshinkovs and rocket grenades (on the wrong car). - The Libyan dissents re in the habit of exaggerating.
However, the timing and location are much the same and no reports of a similar incident in the area at the time have leaked out of Libya.
Abd elMuhaymen belongs the Islamic Fighting Group (IFG). Several had escaped just months before when the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli was stormed by Islamic militants.
The IFG presented the most serious challenge Gadaffi had faced since he took power in 1969.
And in 1989, Colonel Gaddafi described them as `` a plague, cancer and Aids,'' that threaten society.
Shayler, who was on the Libya desk of MI5, said he was
shocked to be told by his MI6 opposite number about the
British role in the plot.
The British government has denied Shayler's story, as have retired security officials. What is the truth?
Why would it want to kill Gadaffi now?
British interests in north Africa would be served by having Gadaffi out of the way, not least as a solution to the ''Lockerbie'' problem. Lifting the sanctions would permit British and American companies to drill for oil in Libya, but Gadaffi is in the way.
Analysts say there may well have been sufficient reason to want to overthrow Gaddafi during his first years in power. He seized control of Libya from its pro-British royal family at the head of a clique of junior officers in 1969 and quickly became contender for Arab leadership when Colonel Nasser of Egypt died in 1970. The seizure of British assets and the rising value of Libyan oil made him all the more of a bogeyman. By Mid 1970's Colonel Gaddafi deluded himself into playing the role of the late populist Egyptian leader colonel Nasser to lead the Arab world. He even suggested obstructing the Royal Yacht Britannia while the queen was aboard it in the Mediterranean to ''teach British imperialism a good lesson,'' but he was prevented by the late President Anwar Sadat.
Anthony Divall, a veteran former MI6 officer, told the Observer he was indirectly involved in one of the first attempts to assassinate Gadaffi in 1971.
Mr Divall, who now lives in Hamburg, had been a full-time MI6 employee from 1946 to 1955 and was then employed by the MI6 on freelance basis but with a permanent handler until he retired in 1987.
The operation to assassinate Gadaffi was code-named ``The Hilton Assignment'' and was put together with money from the former Libyan royal family. He funded a freelance operation headed by a former Czech secret serviceman, George Strakaty, who wanted him to legitimise an arms shipment.
Mr Divall said the MI6 bosses were likely to be `` well aware'' the operation, claimed by Mr Shayler, from the beginning, as indeed was the CIA. Divall was asked to provide paperwork, organise the logistics and move an arms cache that consisted of rifles, machine-guns, pistols, Semtex explosives and detonators for '' the Hilton assignment''.
The designated goal was to free prisoners in a notorious jail in Libya and then arm them for a subsequent coup. Mr Divall said he had no idea that this was the nature of the exercise. All he was doing was helping an old friend.
However, he said he had doubts that the operation would ever succeed given the background of those involved which he called `` arms dealers and crooks''.
``Hilton'' was eventually blown and the motor vessel which was going to be used to transport the arms was impounded in Dubrovnik. ``I believe that both the British and Americans had decided they couldn't let this thing go ahead and preferred to keep Gadaffi where he was,'' said Divall.
He is willing to believe now that Shayler's claims are ''plausible'', but no more.
The Parliamentarian Intelligence and Security Select Committee has recommended a number of changes in the wake of the affair. It wants both MI5 and MI6 to improve internal procedures to stop agents going public.
Ironically, the current guidelines and controls put on MI6 operations, were put in 1950's when a British funded plot by the Islamic fundamentalists against Colonel Nasser turned into a fiasco. Who said that history doesn't repeat itself?
Source: Ocnus.net 2011