Thursday, 26 April 2012

Libya: UK Foreign Office under pressure

Of some importance for the future is whether Abdel Hakim Belhadj will use the legal confrontation with the British as a political tool to discredit the UK's military intervention in Libya in support of the revolution. A strong performance by the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood in the forthcoming election could give Belhadj a ready-made base which, albeit made up of purported heroism in the war against Qadhafi and of a suffering patriot at the hands of the British crusaders aligned with the Qadhafi regime, would stand him in good stead to bid for a leading role in a country in turmoil.

Belhadj has, in the interim, also initiated proceedings against the senior MI6 officer, Sir Mark Allen, who had close ties to the former Libyan spy chief and erstwhile foreign minister Musa Kusa. The threat of legal claims against Jack Straw has been public knowledge for some time although he has firmly denied any role in acquiescing in torture. The Foreign Office might find that that there could be a long legal argument over many of the grievances listed by Belhadj.

Given the shadow of Belhadj's alleged involvement with al-Qa'ida, which he has not denied, there would inevitably be a great deal at stake in information coming from Belhadj for the secret services, and he is likely to have been treated as a security VIP. Such considerations would not necessarily prevail with respect to the US.

Meanwhile, there have also been fresh allegations in the past week about the scale and nature of the collusion between the British security service and the Qadhafi regime. The Mail on Sunday claims that MI5 betrayed London-based dissidents to Libyan spies who were allegedly even housed in British safe houses having been whisked through airport immigration with the assistance of British security personnel. The Sunday Telegraph then claimed that MI6 and Libyan agents has established a radical mosque in an undisclosed Western European city in order to lure al-Qa'ida terrorists. Both newspapers have said that the claims come from documents which were discovered in Tripoli after the war and are assumed to have come from the treasure-trove of incriminating evidence left behind in Musa Kusa's office.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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