Friday, October 21, 2011

Dead men tell no tales: The Gaddafy mysteries

Our ever-reliable mainstream journalists assure us that Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafy (that's the spelling I favor today) was killed in a crossfire. Unfortunately for the official story, videos have been released which show that Gaddafy was captured alive, albeit gravely wounded. (Also see here.)

Voices in the crowd chanted "Leave him; we need him alive! Stop!" Nevertheless, he was shot in the legs, then in the head. (The version told here is not credible, in my opinion, although it does attempt to reconcile the video evidence with the original "crossfire" story.)

The obvious interpretation of these events is that the rebels gave the Libyan dictator the Mussolini treatment. A more suspicious mind might suggest that the rebel forces were given orders to make sure that Gaddafy couldn't talk.

Update: This latest account makes clear that Gaddafy was indeed alive and that his captors intended to take him into custody. An unknown assailant shot him with 9mm rounds into the stomach and head. Obviously, this was a deliberate execution. Back to our story...

If he had talked, what might he have talked about?

Well, there's the material referenced in this earlier Cannonfire post. Our news media seems to have forgotten all about that strange incident in the early '80s, when our Green Berets were caught "accidentally" training Gaddafy's troops. That was one hell of an accident, when you consider the fact that the Reagan administration and the news media then portrayed Gaddafy as one of the world's most dangerous demons.

But Gaddafy might have blabbed about a lot more than Reagan-era mysteries. Recent revelations have established ongoing ties between Gaddafy and the CIA...
The CIA worked closely with Moammar Gadhafi's intelligence services in the rendition of terror suspects to Libya for interrogation, according to documents seen Saturday by the Associated Press, co-operation that could spark tensions between Washington and Libya's new rulers.

The Central Intelligence Agency was among a number of foreign intelligence services that worked with Libya's agencies, according to documents found at a Libyan security agency building in Tripoli.
From the BBC:
The papers suggest the CIA abducted several suspected militants from 2002 to 2004 and handed them to Tripoli.

The UK's MI6 also apparently gave the Gaddafi regime details of dissidents.
The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Tripoli says the documents illuminate a short period when the Libyan intelligence agency was a trusted and valued ally of both MI6 and the CIA, with the tone of exchanges between agents breezy and bordering on the chummy.
Here's where it gets really interesting.

One of the "rendition" victims was Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a.k.a. Abdullah al-Sadiq, who led the anti-Gaddafy rebellion. Even though America now counts him as an ally, and even though he now gets lots of good press, Belhaj was viewed in a very different light just a few short years ago. He stood accused of being a jihadist close to Osama Bin Laden. (There was no love lost between Moammar and Osama.)

It is said that, back in 2004, Belhaj was scooped up in Thailand, where the CIA tortured him. Then he was sent to Tripoli, where Gaddafy subjected him to years of further abuse.

Oddly, Belhaj has said that he bears the Americans no grudge for the rendition, even though his torment was severe. Obviously, he and the Americans have cut some sort of deal.

However, he is thinking of suing the British, because suing Her Majesty's government is easier than suing the CIA. It is said that, during Belhaj's time in a Tripoli prison, a British officer interrogated him.

I've yet to see a clear explanation as to why Belhaj was let out of that prison. The haziness is suspicious.

Belhaj has a very interesting history. He was part of the Islamist campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan -- a campaign in which, you may recall, a fellow named Bin Laden also played a commanding role. Belhaj admits knowing Bin Laden in the 1980s.

Belhaj now insists that he was never aligned with Bin Laden ideologically. Nevertheless, when that British interrogator visited Belhaj in prison, the topic apparently was the location of Osama Bin Laden.

This section from Belhaj's Wikipedia profile is pretty startling:
Belhadj and other leaders of the LIFG [the anti-Gaddafy Libyan fighting force] fled to Afghanistan, and joined the Taliban. In 2002, after the September 11 attacks and Gaddafi's reconciliation with the west, an arrest warrant was issued for Belhadj by the Libyan authorities. In it, it was alleged by Gaddafi government that Belhadj had developed "close relationships" with al-Qaeda leaders, and specifically Taliban chief Mullah Omar. Based in Jalalabad, he is alleged to have run and financed training camps for Arab mujahideen fighters. After the United States entered Afghanistan under the command of the United Nations to confront the Taliban, the remaining members of the LIFG left the country, and roamed Europe and South East Asia.
Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar -- whom I usually find trustworthy -- reports that Belhaj was an al-Qaeda military leader. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri announced some time ago that LIFG had joined forces with al-Qaeda.

So where does this leave us? Here are two possibilities:

1. Belhaj's ties to al-Qaeda were concocted by Gaddafy to goad the Americans into helping him get rid of an internal enemy. We should take Belhaj at his word when he says that he has no links to the Bin Laden terror network.

Well...maybe. But if this is true, how do we explain Zawahiri's statement?

2. Belhaj really was, as reported, close to Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Escobar is right when he says that Belhaj was an al-Qaeda jihadi. Belhaj knew a lot more about Bin Laden than he now lets on.

But if all of that is the case, then we can only conclude that the CIA's relationship with al-Qaeda has always been much, much stranger than most Americans would allow themselves to contemplate.

In that light, it's worth noting that the LIFG fighters got out of Afghanistan rather easily when U.S. forces showed up. The documentary 9/11: Press For Truth offered credible evidence that the U.S. actually flew al-Qaeda forces out of Afghanistan. The film is viewable here -- for free, and legally.

Much of the Belhaj story really doesn't sit well with me. We have been given two completely different resumes for the man who could be Libya's next leader.

When Belhaj's men made sure that Gaddafy couldn't stand trial, were they acting under the CIA's orders? I suspect so -- although, obviously, I can't prove it.

Incidentally: When things started to unravel for Gaddafy earlier this year, the Libyan strongman blamed Osama Bin Laden -- and acid-laced Nescafe. Previously, I was not aware that acid-laced Nescafe was part of Osama's M.O.

One final thing: Don't expect Gaddafy's death to bring down gas prices. The oil price hikes of recent years have not been a supply issue; blame commodity speculation.
Friends tell me that the CFTC is just about to announce its new rules regarding who qualifies as a hedger for commodity futures trading. Gensler found some way of getting a deal. Some friends have argued that the new rules are designed to block oil speculation ahead of a new wave of monetary easing. It can be pretty embarassing for the authorities when their attempts at minimizing economic distress are so obviously used to generate private profits for speculators. However other friends have suggested that the deal maybe a stitch up. It would cost GS a lot of money if its hedging exemption was recinded or reduced in size.

Personally, I would argue that if we dont have global economic collapse, oil prices will continue to rise, with or without speculation. But Im a peak oil believer. I could easily be wrong. I think the speculation only matters in the short term. If its speculation pushing up oil prices then its a bubble and the bubble will eventually collapse. Doesnt mean it doesnt have costs but it does at least give you a criteria for guaging whether you are right. For what little its worth.

A quick comment on the Wikipedia article on Belhaj:

"After the United States entered Afghanistan under the command of the United Nations to confront the Taliban (...)" (emphasis added)

So when the fuck was that, then? The US invasion of Afghanistan wasn't authorised, or even approved, by the UN, let alone commanded by the UN - any more than the Soviet invasion was!
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