Files show Western spy agencies' ties to Kadhafi
Files unearthed from Moamer Kadhafi's intelligence archives and seen by AFP on Saturday appear to document deep cooperation between the CIA, MI6 and the former Libyan regime, including the shipping of terror suspects for regime interrogation.
The cache of documents, originally obtained by Human Rights Watch from a Libyan security archive, includes blunt details about the secret 2004 seizure from Malaysia of an Islamic militant, who by twist of fate now heads commands the revolutionary forces in Tripoli.
The letters include an apparent CIA memo informing the Libyan authorities about the journey of "Abdullah al-Sadiq" and his pregnant wife from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, where the US would "take control" of the pair and hand them over to the regime.
Sadiq -- named as a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group -- is said to be the nom de guerre of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, who now leads the militia of Libya's new rulers in the capital Tripoli.
In another letter a senior member of Britain's intelligence agency congratulates Libya's spymaster on the arrival of Sadiq.
The chatty and friendly letter, written to Kadhafi's right-hand man Mussa Kussa, says the delivery of Sadiq "is the least we can do for you."
Other letters to Kussa headed "Greetings from MI6" (Britain's foreign intelligence service) and shows a personal Christmas greeting signed by a senior British spy with the epithet "Your friend".
Kussa was Kadhafi's foreign minister until he flew to Britain in March and defected, but despite being accused of rights violations was allowed to fly to Qatar the following month.
"It is one thing to have an intelligence relationship with another country, it is another to wish them a happy Christmas," said HRW's Peter Bouckaert.
"It really comes to a head when one of the persons you sent to Libya to be tortured becomes the head of the Tripoli military council," said Bouckaert. "It is lucky for the United States he is a forgiving man."
The documents also show how the Central Intelligence Agency, under the administration of then president George W. Bush, brought other terror suspects to Libya and suggested questions that Libyan interrogators should ask them.
According to The New York Times, US intelligence services sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that countrys reputation for torture.
Secret CIA rendition flights transported dozens of terror suspects around the world following the 9/11 attacks, often for interrogation in third countries.
The cache further shows that it was the office of former British prime minister Tony Blair that requested that a 2004 meeting with Kadhafi in Tripoli should take place in a Bedouin tent.
There was no immediate reaction from British or US authorities to the report.
An unnamed US official quoted by the Wall Street Journal noted that, at the time, Libya was breaking diplomatic ice with the West.
"Let's keep in mind the context here: By 2004, the US had successfully convinced the Libyan government to renounce its nuclear-weapons program and to help stop terrorists who were actively targeting Americans in the US and abroad," said the official.
The cache is also shows that a statement given by Kadhafi announcing his regime was giving up weapons of mass destruction in a bid to shed its pariah status was put together with the help of British officials.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague refused to be drawn Saturday on the reported files detailing the closeness of ties between London and Tripoli, insisting they related to the previous government.
"What we're focused on is getting the necessary help to Libya, more recognition for the National Transitional Council, getting the assets unfrozen so we avert any humanitarian problems in Libya," he told Britain's Sky News from a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Sopot, Poland.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP: "It is the long-standing policy of the government not to comment on intelligence matters." In Washington, the State Department similarly declined to comment.
© 2011 AFP