On Libya, Now They Tell Us


On Libya, Now They Tell Us

The U.S. capture of an alleged al-Qaeda terror leader in Libya underscores the failure of the major news media to give the public the full story during the military intervention that led to Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster and murder. Mainstream journalists behaved more like propagandists, as Robert Parry reported in 2011.

By Robert Parry (Published on Sept. 15, 2011)

During the six-month uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, major U.S. news outlets repeated again and again that the Libyan dictator was behind the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and they ignored warnings that militant Islamists were at the core of the anti-Gaddafi rebel army.

Indeed, for Americans to get alternative views on these points, they had to search out Web sites, like Consortiumnews.com, which had the audacity not to march in lockstep with the rest of the Western media. Only outside the mainstream press would you find significant questions asked about the certainty over Libya’s guilt in the Pan Am bombing and about the makeup of the rebels.

Libyan Ali al-Megrahi, whose conviction as the “Lockerbie bomber” remains a point of historical dispute.

Now, after the United States and its NATO allies have engineered the desired “regime change” in Libya – under the pretext of “protecting civilians” – those two points are coming more into focus. The New York Times and the Washington Post finally acknowledged that radical Islamists, including some with links to al-Qaeda, are consolidating their power inside the new regime in Tripoli.

And, the proverbial dog not barking – even as Libya’s secret intelligence files have been exposed to the eyes of Western journalists – is the absence of any incriminating evidence regarding Libya’s role in the Lockerbie case. Earlier interrogations of Libya’s ex-intelligence chief Moussa Koussa by Scottish authorities also apparently came up empty, as he was allowed to leave London for Qatar.

Since Gaddafi’s fall, news outlets also have reported that Libyan intelligence agent, Ali al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing by a Scottish court and was later released on humanitarian grounds because of terminal prostate cancer, is indeed gravely ill, bedridden and seemingly near death. [He died May 20, 2012.]

Megrahi’s trial in 2001 before a panel of Scottish judges was more a kangaroo court than any serious effort to determine guilt – even a Scottish appeals court expressed concern about a grave miscarriage of justice – but the Western press continues to describe Megrahi, without qualification, as the “Lockerbie bomber.”

It also was common in the West’s news media to smirk at the notion that Megrahi was truly suffering from advanced prostate cancer since he hadn’t died as quickly as some doctors thought he might. After Gaddafi’s regime fell, Megrahi’s family invited BBC and other news organizations to see Megrahi struggling to breathe in his sick bed.

His son, Khaled al-Megrahi, also continued to insist on his father’s innocence. “He believes and we know that everybody will see the truth,” the younger Megrahi told the BBC. “I know my father is innocent and one day his innocence will come out.”

Asked about the people who died in the bombing, the son said: “We feel sorry about all the people who died. We want to know who did this bad thing. We want to know the truth as well.”

Convicted or Railroaded?

As more information becomes available inside Libya, the facts may finally be clarified about whether Gaddafi’s government did or did not have a hand in the bombing over Lockerbie. However, so far, the indications are that Megrahi may well have been railroaded by the Scottish judges who found a second Libyan defendant innocent and were under political pressure to convict someone for the crime.

After Megrahi’s curious conviction, the West imposed harsh economic sanctions on Libya, agreeing to lift them only if Libya accepted “responsibility” for the bombing and paid restitution to the families of the 270 victims. To get rid of the punishing sanctions, Libya accepted the deal although its officials continued to insist that Libya had nothing to do with the Lockerbie bombing.

However, amid the 2011 propaganda campaign in support of the Libyan rebels, none of this uncertainty was mentioned in the New York Times, the Washington Post or other leading U.S. news outlets. Gaddafi’s guilt for Lockerbie was simply stated as flat fact, much as the same news organizations endorsed false claims about Iraq’s WMD in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of that Arab country.

Similarly, there was scant U.S. media attention given to evidence that eastern Libya, the heart of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion, was a hotbed for Islamic militancy with that region supplying the most per-capita militants fighting U.S. troops in Iraq, often under the banner of al-Qaeda.

Instead, Gaddafi’s claims that he was battling Islamic terrorists in the Benghazi region were widely mocked or ignored in the West. Even a report by analysts Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman for West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center got short-shrift.

In their report, “Al-Qaeda’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” Felter and Fishman analyzed al-Qaeda documents captured in 2007 showing personnel records of militants who flocked to Iraq for the war. The documents showed eastern Libya providing a surprising number of suicide bombers who traveled to Iraq to kill American troops.

Felter and Fishman wrote that these so-called Sinjar Records disclosed that while Saudis comprised the largest number of foreign fighters in Iraq, Libyans represented the largest per-capita contingent by far. Those Libyans came overwhelmingly from towns and cities in the east.

“The vast majority of Libyan fighters that included their hometown in the Sinjar Records resided in the country’s Northeast, particularly the coastal cities of Darnah 60.2% (53) and Benghazi 23.9% (21),” Felter and Fishman wrote.

The authors added that Abu Layth al‐Libi, Emir of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “reinforced Benghazi and Darnah’s importance to Libyan jihadis in his announcement that LIFG had joined al‐Qa’ida.”

Top Libyan Terrorists

Some important al-Qaeda leaders operating in Pakistan’s tribal regions also are believed to have come from Libya. For instance, “Atiyah,” who was guiding the anti-U.S. war strategy in Iraq, was identified as a Libyan named Atiyah Abd al-Rahman.

It was Atiyah who urged a strategy of creating a quagmire for U.S. forces in Iraq, buying time for al-Qaeda headquarters to rebuild its strength in Pakistan. “Prolonging the war [in Iraq] is in our interest,” Atiyah said in a letter that upbraided Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for his hasty and reckless actions in Iraq.

After U.S. Special Forces killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, in Pakistan, Atiyah became al-Qaeda’s second in command until he himself was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in August. [See Consortiumnews.com “Time Finally Ran Out for Atiyah.”] ***(Unfortunately Bin Laden had died of natural causes in 2002 or 2005 this has been proven, what they killed in May 1st 2011 is an unfortunate person who was not Bin Laden. Do a research and find out what happened to the CREW and SPECIAL FORCES who were involved in this escapade, If I am not mistaken they are all dead) 

However, to most Americans relying on the major U.S. news media, little of this was known, as the Washington Post itself acknowledged in an article on Sept. 12, 2011. In an article on the rise of Islamists inside the new power structure in Libya, the Post wrote:

“Although it went largely unnoticed during the uprising that toppled Gaddafi last month, Islamists were at the heart of the fight, many as rebel commanders. Now some are clashing with secularists within the rebels’ Transitional National Council, prompting worries among some liberals that the Islamists — who still command the bulk of fighters and weapons — could use their strength to assert an even more dominant role.”

On Sept. 15, 2011, the New York Times published a similar article, entitled “Islamists’ Growing Sway Raises Questions for Libya.” It began:

“In the emerging post-Qaddafi Libya, the most influential politician may well be Ali Sallabi, who has no formal title but commands broad respect as an Islamic scholar and populist orator who was instrumental in leading the mass uprising. The most powerful military leader is now Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the former leader of a hard-line group once believed to be aligned with Al Qaeda.”

Belhaj was previously the commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was associated with al-Qaeda in the past, maintained training bases in Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks, and was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

Though Belhaj and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group deny current allegiance to al-Qaeda, Belhaj was captured during George W. Bush’s post-9/11 “war on terror” and was harshly interrogated by the CIA at a “black site” prison in Thailand before being handed over to Gaddafi’s government which imprisoned and – Belhaj claims – tortured him. ****(he was not tortured stayed in prison only a year and then was on a house arrest) 

The Times reported that “Belhaj has become so much an insider lately that he is seeking to unseat Mahmoud Jibril, the American-trained economist who is the nominal prime minister of the interim government, after Mr. Jibril obliquely criticized the Islamists.”

The Times article by correspondents Rod Nordland and David D. Kirkpatrick also cited other recent developments of growing Islamist influence inside the Libyan rebel movement:

“Islamist militias in Libya receive weapons and financing directly from foreign benefactors like Qatar; a Muslim Brotherhood figure, Abel al-Rajazk Abu Hajar, leads the Tripoli Municipal Governing Council, where Islamists are reportedly in the majority; in eastern Libya, there has been no resolution of the assassination in July of the leader of the rebel military, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, suspected by some to be the work of Islamists.”

It may be commendable that the Post and Times finally gave serious attention to this unintended consequence of the NATO-backed “regime change” in Libya, but the fact that these premier American newspapers ignored the Islamist issue as well as doubts about Libya’s Lockerbie guilt – while the U.S. government was whipping up public support for another war in the Muslim world – raises questions about whether any lessons were learned from Iraq.

Do these prestige news outlets continue to see their role in such cases as simply getting the American people to line up behind the latest war against a Mideast “bad guy” – or will they ever take seriously their journalistic duty to arm the public with as much information as possible?

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Splitting Up Iraq: It’s All For Israel


Splitting Up Iraq: It’s All For Israel

By Mike Whitney

“It is no longer plausible to argue that ISIS was a result of unintentional screw ups by the US. It is a clear part of a US strategy to break up the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Now that strategy may prove to be a total failure and end up backfiring, but make no mistake, ISIS IS the strategy.” - Lysander, Comments line, Moon of Alabama

“US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the “cusp of a regional war.” – Bill Van AukenObama orders nearly 300 US troops to Iraq, World Socialist Web Site

Let cut to the chase: Barack Obama is blackmailing Nouri al-Maliki by withholding military support until the Iraqi Prime Minister agrees to step down. In other words, we are mid-stream in another regime change operation authored by Washington. What’s different about this operation, is the fact that Obama is using a small army of jihadi terrorists –who have swept to within 50 miles of Baghdad–to hold the gun to Mr. al Maliki’s head. Not surprisingly, al Maliki has refused to cooperate which means the increasingly-tense situation could explode into a civil war. Here’s the scoop from the Guardian in an article aptly titled “Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants”:

“A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.

Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes, but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki… to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency…

The White House has not called for Maliki to go but its spokesman Jay Carney said that whether Iraq was led by Maliki or a successor, “we will aggressively attempt to impress upon that leader the absolute necessity of rejecting sectarian governance”. (Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants, Guardian)

Obviously, the White House can’t tell al Maliki to leave point-blank or it would affect their credibility as proponents of democracy. But the fix is definitely in and the administration’s plan to oust al Maliki is well underway. Check out this clip from the Wall Street Journal:

“A growing number of U.S. lawmakers and Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are pressing the White House to pull its support for Mr. Maliki. Some of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in stabilizing Iraq, say U.S. and Arab diplomats.” (U.S. Signals Iraq’s Maliki Should Go, Wall Street Journal)

Pay special attention to the last sentence: “Some of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in stabilizing Iraq”. That sounds a lot like blackmail to me.

This is the crux of what is going on behind the scenes. Barack Obama and his lieutenants are twisting al Maliki ‘s arm to force him out of office. That’s what the Thursday press conference was all about. Obama identified the group called the Isis as terrorists, acknowledged that they posed a grave danger to the government, and then breezily opined that he would not lift a finger to help. Why? Why is Obama so eager to blow up suspected terrorists in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan and yet unwilling to do so in Iraq? Could it be that Obama is not really committed to fighting terrorists at all, that the terror-ruse is just a fig leaf for much grander plans, like global domination?

Of course, it is. In any event, it’s plain to see that Obama is not going to help al Maliki if it interferes with Washington’s broader strategic objectives. And, at present, those objectives are to get rid of al Maliki, who is “too tight” with Tehran, and who refused to sign Status Of Forces Agreement in 2011 which would have allowed the US to leave 30,000 troops in Iraq. The rejection of SOFA effectively sealed al Maliki’s fate and made him an enemy of the United States. It was only a matter of time before Washington took steps to remove him from office. Here’s a clip from Obama’s press conference on Thursday that illustrates how these things work:

Obama: “The key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens inside the country, working with moderate Syrian opposition, working with an Iraqi government that is inclusive, and us laying down a more effective counterterrorism platform that gets all the countries in the region pulling in the same direction. Rather than try to play whack-a-mole wherever these terrorist organizations may pop up, what we have to do is to be able to build effective partnerships.”

What does this mean in language that we can all understand?

It means that “you’re either on the team or you’re off the team”. If you are on the US team, then you will enjoy the benefits of “partnership” which means the US will help to defend you against the terrorist groups which they arm, fund and provide logistical support for. (through their Gulf State allies) If you are “off the team” –as Mr. al Maliki appears to be, then Washington will look the other way while the hordes of vicious miscreants tear the heads off your soldiers, burn your cities to the ground, and reduce your country to ungovernable anarchy. So, there’s a choice to be made. Either you can play along and follow orders and “nobody gets hurt, or go-it-alone and face the consequences.

Capisce? Obama is running a protection racket just like some two-bit Mafia shakedown-artist from the ‘hood. And I am not speaking metaphorically here. This is the way it really works. The president of the United States is threatening a democratically-elected leader, who–by the way–was hand-picked and rubber-stamped by the Bush administration–because he has not turned out to be sufficiently servile in kowtowing to their demands. So, now they’re going to replace him with another corrupt stooge like Chalabi. That’s right, the shifty Ahmed Chalabi has reemerged from his spiderhole and is making a bid to take al Maliki’s place. This is from the New York Times:

“Iraq officials said Thursday that political leaders had started intensive jockeying to replace Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and create a government that would span the country’s deepening sectarian and ethnic divisions, spurred by what they called encouraging meetings with American officials signaling support for a leadership change…

The names floated so far — Adel Abdul Mahdi, Ahmed Chalabi and Bayan Jaber — are from the Shiite blocs, which have the largest share of the total seats in the Parliament.” (With Nod From U.S., Iraqis Seek New Leader, New York Times)

Remember Chalabi? Neocon favorite, Chalabi. The guy who –as Business Insider notes “was a central figure in the U.S.’s decision to remove the Iraqi dictator over a decade ago” and “who helped get the Iraq Liberation Act passed through Congress in 1998, a law that made regime change in Baghdad an official U.S. policy.” “Chalabi claimed that Saddam was an imminent threat to the U.S., and was both holding and developing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, (which) became the view of the intelligence community and eventually the majority of the U.S. congress. In the first four years of the Bush administration, Chalabi’s INC recieved $39 million from the U.S. government.” (Business Insider)

You can’t make this stuff up.

So, good old Chalabi is on the short-list of candidates to take al Maliki’s place. Great. That just illustrates the level of thinking about these matters in the Obama White House. I don’t know how anyone can objectively follow these developments and not conclude that the neocons are calling the shots. Of course they’re calling the shots. Chalabi’s “their guy”. In fact, the goals the administration is pursuing, aren’t really even in US interests at all.

Bear with me for a minute: Let’s assume that we’re correct in our belief that the administration has set its sites on four main strategic objectives in Iraq:

1–Removing al Maliki
2–Gaining basing rights via a new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)
3–Rolling back Iran’s influence in the region
4–Partitioning the country

How does the US benefit from achieving these goals?

The US has plenty of military bases and installations spread around the Middle East. It gains nothing by having another in Iraq. The same goes for removing al Maliki. There’s no telling how that could turn out. Maybe good, maybe bad. It’s a roll of the dice. Could come up snake-eyes, who knows? But, one thing is certain; it will further erode confidence in the US as a serious supporter of democracy. No one is going to believe that fable anymore. (Al Maliki just won the recent election.)

As for “rolling back Iran’s influence in the region”: That doesn’t even make sense. It was the United States that removed the Sunni Baathists from power and deliberately replaced them with members from the Shia community. As we’ve shown in earlier articles, shifting power from Sunnis to Shia was a crucial part of the original occupation strategy, which was transparently loony from the get go. It was as if the British invaded the US and decided to replace career politicians and Washington bureaucrats with inexperienced service sector employees from the barrios of LA. Does that make sense? The results turned out to be a disaster, as anyone with half a brain could have predicted. Because the plan was idiotic. No empire has ever operated like that. Of course, there was going to be a tacit alliance between Baghdad and Tehran. The US strategy made that alliance inevitable! Iraq did not move in Iran’s direction. That’s baloney. Washington pushed Iraq into Iran’s arms. Everyone knows this.

So, now what? So now the Obama team wants a “do over”? Is that it?

There are no do overs in history. The sectarian war the US initiated and promoted with its blistering counterinsurgency strategy–which involved massive ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in Baghdad behind the phony “surge” BS– changed the complexion of the country for good. There’s no going back. What’s done is done. Baghdad is Shia and will remain Shia. And that means there’s going to be some connection with Tehran. So, if the Obama people intend to roll back Iran’s influence, then they probably have something else in mind. And they DO have something else in mind. They want to partition the country consistent with an Israeli plan that was concocted more than three decades ago. The plan was the brainstorm of Oded Yinon who saw Iraq as a serious threat to Israel’s hegemonic aspirations, so he cooked up a plan to remedy the problem. Here’s a blurb from Yinon’s primary work titled, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties”, which is the roadmap that will be used to divide Iraq:

“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.” (A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, Oded Yinon, monabaker.com)

Repeat: “Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon.”

This is the plan. The United States does not benefit from this plan. The United States does not benefit from a fragmented, Balkanized, broken Iraq. The oil giants are already extracting as much oil as they want. Iraqi oil is, once again, denominated in dollars not euros. Iraq poses no national security threat to the US. US war planners already got what they want. There’s no reason to go back and cause more trouble, to restart the war, to tear the country apart, and to split it into pieces. The only reason to dissolve Iraq, is Israel. Israel does not want a unified Iraq. Israel does not want an Iraq that can stand on its own two feet. Israel wants to make sure that Iraq never remerges as a regional power. And there’s only one way to achieve that goal, that is, to follow Yinon’s prescription of “breaking up Iraq …along ethnic/religious lines …so, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul.”

This is the blueprint the Obama administration is following. The US gains nothing from this plan. It’s all for Israel.

The Stingers of Benghazi


 

The Stingers of Benghazi

By Jim Geraghty

Stinger missile launcher

Earlier this week, Roger L. Simon of PJ Mediabroke a story with shocking revelations, contending that slain U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was in Benghazi on September 11 to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups that had been originally provided to them by the U.S. State Department.

Simon cited two former U.S. diplomats:

Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft.

Hillary Clinton still wanted to proceed because, in part, as one of the diplomats said, she wanted “to overthrow [Qaddafi] on the cheap.”

This left Stevens in the position of having to clean up the scandalous enterprise when it became clear that the “insurgents” actually were al-Qaeda — indeed, in the view of one of the diplomats, the same group that attacked the consulate and ended up killing Stevens.

A careful review of reports from Libya over the past few years corroborates some parts of that account, but contradicts others:

 Some Libyan rebel leaders, including at least one who had spent time in a training camp in Afghanistan and who was in that country in September 2001, specifically asked Western countries to send Stinger missiles.

 Qaddafi’s intelligence services believed that the rebels were having the missiles smuggled in over the country’s southern border — but they believed the French were supplying the missiles.

 There is no evidence that the U.S. supplied the weapons, but it appears they gave their blessing to a secret Qatari effort to ship arms across Libya’s southern border in violation of a United Nations arms embargo.

 Anti-Qaddafi forces also obtained a significant number of anti-aircraft missiles from the regime’s bunkers early in the conflict.

 Enough Stinger missiles disappeared from regime stockpiles during the civil war to become a high priority and serious worry for the administration.

(Note that in much of the coverage of Libya, “Stinger” has turned into a catch-all term for any shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft missile.)

To save Eric Holder and the Department of Justice the trouble of reading my e-mail or collecting my phone records, all of the information in this report is gathered from public and open sources, both in the U.S. and overseas, and none of it can be considered classified or sensitive.

Before the war, Qaddafi’s regime in Libya possessed more of these kinds of missiles than did any other country except where they’re produced. On April 7, 2011, General Carter Ham, then recently promoted to head of U.S. Africa Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “we do estimate that there were as many as 20,000 of these types of weapons in Libya before the conflict began.”

In March 2011, Ambassador Chris Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition. He first entered Benghazi on April 5, 2011, joined by a USAID team, while the war was still raging, to meet with rebel leaders.

On March 2, 2011, Mike Elkin of Wired reported as rebel forces cleaned out the Salmani weapons-maintenance depot in Benghazi, and mentioned “30-year-old rockets” and “anti-aircraft weapons.”

Ben Knight, a foreign correspondent with the Australian Broadcasting Company, said on a program a few days later (March 7, 2011) that the rebels had shown him Stinger missiles:

TONY EASTLEY: And I guess on top of that, Ben, the rebels really are not as well armed as the government forces?

BEN KNIGHT: Well, clearly not. . . . What they do have we saw some Stinger missiles today, which are missiles that are capable of locking onto a jet fighter and shooting it down. In fact, they are claiming to have shot down another jet fighter today as well as another helicopter. ****(the jet and helicopter were flown by the rebels which the rebels on the ground didn’t know and believed that they were from the Libyan Jamahirya army…so the shot them down. Of course the Western Media never mentioned it, as it would be bad publicity and showing how incompetent were the rebelrats…)

By July 2011, C. J. Chivers of the New York Times reported on more anti-aircraft missiles’ being removed from storage bunkers in Ga’a, Libya:

On a recent day, 43 emptied wooden crates — long, thin and painted in dark green — had been left behind on the sand inside the entrance. The boxes had not been there during a visit to the same spot a few days before, and the weapons were gone.

The stenciled markings showed each crate had contained a pair of lightweight missiles called SA-7s — early Soviet versions of the same class of weapon as the better known American-made Stingers, which were used by Afghan fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was not clear who had taken them. The rebel guards variously blamed Qaddafi forces and misinformed opposition fighters.

Interviews with anti-Qaddafi leaders at the time indicated that one of their top priorities was obtaining anti-aircraft missiles. In light of the PJ Media report’s claims, one of the most intriguing reports from this time period is a March 11, 2011, Canadian Globe and Mail article that interviewed insurgent leader Abdul Hakim Al-Hasadi:

“We need Stingers,” he said, referring to shoulder-mounted missiles. “We don’t need your stupid words.” . . . 

Abdul Hakim Al-Hasadi, 45, [was] recently appointed chief of security in the rebel-controlled town of Darnah. Al-Hasadi says he taught history and geography at a local high school until 1995, when he escaped Libya and spent a few years travelling. He finally settled in Afghanistan in 1999. He acknowledged that he lived in a camp and received training in guerrilla warfare, but would not say who controlled the facility.

The rebel commander said he witnessed the awe-inspiring power of U.S. air strikes when bombs hit Taliban and al-Qaeda positions in 2001. “We felt extreme rage,” he said. “They were killing women and children. It made us hate the United States.”

Hasadi was detained as a hostile combatant by U.S. forces in 2002, according to an interview he gave with an Italian newspaper: “I’ve never been in Guantanamo. I was captured in 2002 in Peshawar, Pakistan, while returning from Afghanistan where I fought against foreign invasion. I was handed over to the Americans, held a few months in Islamabad, delivered to Libya, and released in 2008.” ****(he was released after he signed that he would never go back to Al Qaeda or any other extremist organization this the media does not mention it either as it was Saif Qaddafi who released them)

Hasadi was not the only rebel leader imploring the West for Stinger missiles. A March 23, 2011, Reuters report quoted Fawzi Buktif, described as “an oil project engineer” then running “a training base outside Benghazi,” as saying, “We need Kalashnikovs, stingers, anti-tanks, all types of anti-tanks.”

Despite all the focus on anti-aircraft missiles, the Libyan Air Force ceased to be a significant factor in the war in March 2011. The United Kingdom’s Air Vice Marshal Greg Bagwell declared March 23 that the Libyan Air Force “no longer exists as a fighting force” and that NATO forces now flew over Libyan airspace “with impunity.” ***(yes with impunity the were bombing us 24/7 and Ban Walid with Sirte were bombed with depleted uranium in short the bombed Libya back to the stone age)

Despite Libya being awash in anti-aircraft missiles, not many were fired at NATO aircraft:

A senior U.S. military officer who follows Libya closely said it was puzzling that there had been so few documented instances in which Libyan loyalist troops launched shoulder-fired missiles at NATO aircraft. ****(that is not true the Libyan loyalist did shoot quite a few planes down but NATO and West Media  WILL never admit it. We have the videos to show them who ever is interested and I am sure the mothers of the decease will want to know)

“I’m not sure what that means,” the officer said. “Fewer systems than we thought? Systems are inoperable? Few in Libya know how to operate them?”

Throughout the war, Qaddafi’s regime believed some outside force was supplying the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons. On September 2, 2011, the Wall Street Journal’s Charles Levinson and Margaret Coker managed to obtain the regime’s intelligence files about the rebellion, recovered from the office of Libya’s spy chief and two other security agencies.

By April, the war was expanding and so was the sense of panic inside Tripoli. Mr. Senussi’s [the Libyan spy chief] office did get apparently credible information, but the news was ominous. The reports suggested that the rebels were exploiting the country’s porous southern borders to receive arms and aid.

One memo contained intercepted phone calls between military commanders in Chad who reported Qatari weapons convoys approaching Libya’s southern border with Sudan, apparently intended for anti-[Qaddafi] forces. Another intelligence memo, dated April 4, warned that French weapons, including Stinger antiaircraft missiles and Milan antitank rockets, were making their way to Libyan rebels via Sudan.

French officials declined to comment on the document’s claims. Qatari officials didn’t return email requests for comment.

These Qatari weapons convoys were, in fact approved by the Obama administration, according to the New York Times:

The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats. . . .

The United States, which had only small numbers of C.I.A. officers in Libya during the tumult of the rebellion, provided little oversight of the arms shipments. Within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there in spring 2011, the White House began receiving reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups. They were “more antidemocratic, more hard-line, closer to an extreme version of Islam” than the main rebel alliance in Libya, said a former Defense Department official. ****(sorry my friend all what you write above was  financed the plan of Qatar with all the blessings  of CIA, AIPAC AND THE ADMINISTRATION)

The Times article stated that “no evidence has emerged linking the weapons provided by the Qataris to the Benghazi attack,” although it’s not clear how anyone could determine that for certain without precise, accurate accounts of the Qatari weapons and the weapons used in the Benghazi attack. ****(because they were american weapons)

The Obama administration’s approval of these arms shipments almost certainly violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, adopted February 26, 2011, which required all member states to “prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of weapons to any party in Libya.  ****(who gives a shit about the UN? The United States doesn’t give a damn.)

Qaddafi’s forces sought to restock their supply of these missiles during the conflict. In mid July  2011, his regime met with Chinese officials, seeking to purchase $200 million worth of sophisticated weapons, including portable surface-to-air missiles.

Some number of the missiles, perhaps a significant portion, left the country. At least one foreign-intelligence source stated that branches of al-Qaeda were obtaining surface-to-air missiles in Libya. In April 2011, Reuters quoted an Algerian security official who claimed that al-Qaeda was smuggling missiles out of Libya:

The official said a convoy of eight Toyota pick-up trucks left eastern Libya, crossed into Chad and then Niger, and from there into northern Mali where in the past few days it delivered a cargo of weapons . . . al Qaeda’s north African wing, known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), had acquired from Libya Russian-made shoulder-fired Strela surface-to-air missiles known by the NATO designation SAM-7.

In October 2011, a Turkish journalist reported that Egyptian security forces had impeded an effort to smuggle Libyan SA-7 missiles through tunnels leading to the Gaza Strip, and expressed fears that the Kurdish separatist group was attempting to obtain them.

Shoulder-mounted missiles were also leaving Libya and ending up in the hands of Somali pirates, according to an April 2012 report:

“We found that Libyan weapons are being sold in what is the world’s biggest black market for illegal gun smugglers, and Somali pirates are among those buying from sellers in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries,” said Judith van der Merwe, of the Algiers-based African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism. ****(I am wondering if on the weapons it was engraved Libya Jamahirya? There is no other explanation by what the Turkish Journalist stated. Otherwise as far as I know this is not the case so my question is how did they know it was Libyan weapons? Did the Libyan weapons sung the Libyan anthem?)

“We believe our information is credible and know that some of the pirates have acquired ship mines, as well as Stinger and other shoulder-held missile launchers,” Van der Merwe told Reuters on the sidelines of an Indian Ocean naval conference. ****(Now Reuters never LIES. What they print or say it’s the TRUTH. Please forgive me but Reuters has done the bidding of the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND NATO’S so forgive me if I don’t believe a word they say.)

By early September 2011, experts on the ground were concluding that “hundreds, if not thousands of surface-to-air missiles were missing,” and Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch’s emergencies director, was telling foreign correspondents that “if these weapons fall into the wrong hands, all of North Africa will be a no-fly zone.”

By late September, the highest levels of the U.S. government began focusing on the disappearing missiles and the threat they presented. Brian Ross of ABC News:

The White House announced today it planned to expand a program to secure and destroy Libya’s huge stockpile of dangerous surface-to-air missiles, following an ABC News report that large numbers of them continue to be stolen from unguarded military warehouses.

Currently the U.S. State Department has one official on the ground in Libya, as well as five contractors who specialize in “explosive ordinance disposal”, all working with the rebel Transitional National Council to find the looted missiles, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters. ****(well they were not searching very hard, as Ambassador Stevens had already collected them and he was shipping them off to Syria THIS IS A WELL KNOWN FACT.)

On October 23, 2011, Con Coughlin of the Daily Telegraph reported that the Central Intelligence Agency was on the ground in Libya in the effort to recover the missiles: ****(Yes the CIA was on the ground and had recovered most of the missiles and were given to the Ambassador who in his bio is also an arms dealer. I apologize for talking ill of the dead but facts are facts.)

Since [Qaddafi]’s regime fell in late August teams of CIA officers, supported by other intelligence services such as Britain’s MI6, have been scouring Libya in search of the missing missiles. Their main target is the thousands of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles [Qaddafi] bought from Moscow during the past decade which, were they to fall into the wrong hands, would pose a massive security risk. ****(What the agencies mean wrong hands: are the loyalists to Qaddafi they were worried that if the loyalist got them they would be back with no mercy for the CIA/MOSSAD/MI6 AGENTS and of course for the betrayers of Libya. They didn’t care for the rest because their mission was to arm AL QAEDA, SHARAIA, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD & LIFG without supplying them with new ones and they had trained them on this kind of arms. Please do not be fooled by the agencies) 

We now know that a significant portion of the U.S. presence in Benghazi was CIA employees. Reuters quoted unidentified government officials who said the annex’s mission was “collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles.” ****(that is also not true, there were over 35 CIA employees who used the annex’s mission as a prison for interrogation and we all know their kind of interrogation.)

In February 2012, Andrew Shapiro, then assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, declared in a speech that the U.S. and the new Libyan government had recovered and secured “approximately 5,000” anti-aircraft missiles. In May 2012, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius detailed the claims of two former CIA counterterrorism officers that about 800 of the missiles were in Niger, which borders Libya to the southwest, in the hands of an African jihadist group called Boko Haram that’s based in Nigeria. ****(Surely you don’t believe that Boko Haram bought anything? it was handed to him by the agencies for convert fighting and to cause more problems to Nigeria)

There is significant reason to believe that both Stevens and the CIA personnel in Benghazi were focused on recovering the missiles in the days leading up to his death on September 11. ****(no he was not recovering but shipping them off to Syria together with Libyan Mercenaries. Actually he had a meeting prior to his death with the Turkish Ambassador for the last details of the shipment)

After the Benghazi attack, there were public reports of Libyan arms, including these types of anti-aircraft missiles, being smuggled to the Syrian resistance fighting Bashar Assad’s regime.

On September 14, 2012, three days after Stevens was killed, Sheera Frenkel, a correspondent for the Times of London, reported from Antakya, Turkey:

A Libyan ship carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria since the uprising began has docked in Turkey and most of its cargo is making its way to rebels on the front lines, The Times has learnt.

Among more than 400 tonnes of cargo the vessel was carrying were SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), which Syrian sources said could be a game-changer for the rebels.

Frenkel’s report identified the ship’s captain as “Omar Mousaeeb, a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organisation called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support, which is supporting the Syrian uprising.” This was not the first attempt to ship arms from Libya to the Syrian rebels, apparently:

In late April, Lebanese authorities seized a large consignment of Libyan weapons, including RPGs and heavy ammunition, from a ship intercepted in the Mediterranean. The ship was attempting to reach the Lebanese port city of Tripoli, a largely Sunni city seen as supportive of the Syrian rebellion against President Assad.

In October 17, 2012, about one month after the ship docked in Turkey, Reuters reported, “Amateur footage of rebels using shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles have emerged in recent days.” About a week later, Russia’s top military officer, accused the United States of providing American-made Stinger missiles to the Syrian rebels, a charge the Pentagon and State Department denied.

The American government may not have directed the smuggling of weapons from Libya to Syria through Turkey — but there is evidence to suggest they were aware of it. In June 2012, the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt reported that the CIA had personnel in Syria monitoring, and perhaps assisting, the Syrian rebels’ efforts to obtain weapons in Turkey: ****(are you kidding me? they were not aware? really they planned it and Stevens obeyed orders)

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. ****(please Al Qaeda is hand in hand with the U.S.A.)

A March 2013 follow-up report by Schmitt and C. J. Chivers detailed the CIA’s assistance to Arab governments’ efforts to help Syria’s rebels: “The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year.” The vast majority of the cargo flights of arms and equipment went through Esenboga Airport near Ankara, Turkey.

Was Chris Stevens’s “mission in Benghazi” to buy back weapons? Stevens’s planned agenda for his scheduled five-day stay in Benghazi, according to GQincluded plans to “rechristen the U.S.-managed compound ‘an American Space,’ offering local Libyans English lessons and Internet access and show films and stock a library.”*****(It was not a five-day stay and what GQ is saying is absolute BS)

But his final act as ambassador, on the early evening of September 11, 2012, was a meeting with Ali Sait Akin, the Turkish consul general in Benghazi.

For what it’s worth, the Turkish diplomat denies that he discussed arms transfers with Stevens. He told syndicated columnist Diana West that they didn’t talk about “weaponry from the [Qaddafi] stockpiles and where they might be going; the Libyan flagged vessel al-Entisaar which was received in the port of Iskenderun on September 6, 2012; the conflict in Syria and how the opposition to President Assad could be supported by the US and Turkey.” ****(What did you expect him to say?)

During former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Rand Paul asked her if the U.S. was involved in any way in the transfer of weapons from Libya to Turkey.

“To Turkey? . . . Nobody’s ever raised that with me,” Clinton responded. When Paul asked whether the annex, the installation to which Americans fled on the night of the Benghazi attack, was involved, she said, “Senator, you’ll have to direct that question to the agency that ran the annex. I do not know.” *****(yes we all believe Hillary I doubt in he adult life if she ever said the truth so why start now?)

Since last autumn, Syria’s rebels have grown bolder in their use of anti-aircraft weapons in that country’s civil war. In late March, Syrian rebels claimed they shot down an Iranian plane landing at Damascus airport that was suspected of carrying weapons and ammunition for the Syrian government. In late April, Russia’s Interfax news agency claimed that two rockets were fired at a Russian charter plane as it flew over Syria. The plane flew from the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to Kazan in Tartarstan, Russia, with 200 passengers on board. On May 8, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the rebels had shot down a fighter jet.

These published reports indicate a sequence of events less incendiary than the one described by Simon’s sources, but still troubling:

During the Libyan civil war, the United States government at least tacitly supported the Qatari effort to arm the rebels, in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. The Obama administration later learned that the weapons were going to Islamists, and acknowledged that the postwar situation of unguarded stockpiles presented an enormous security threat to the region. The CIA was the centerpiece of an effort to recover these weapons, and that was indeed a major component of what the agency was doing in Benghazi in September 2012, in part using the State Department’s facilities. During this time, a large number of weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, were leaving Libya and arriving in Turkey en route to Syrian rebels — and the CIA had personnel in both countries assigned to monitor and assist the arms shipments.

In his February 2012 speech discussing the effort to recover the anti-aircraft missiles in Libya, Assistant Secretary Shapiro made an unnerving concession: “How many are still missing? The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will.”

That frank answer probably applies to the weapons flowing into Syria, too.

Three al-Jazeera journalists could be jailed for up to 15 years


Three al-Jazeera journalists could be jailed for up to 15 years

by 

Al-Jazeera journalists on trial

Journalists Peter Greste (left) and Mohamed Baher stand in the defendants’ cage during their trial for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and doctoring footage. ***(serves them right) Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

****Editors note of LASPM: I am so happy that someone in this Universe took action and Jail these arrogant Al-Jazzera journalists. All journalists who work in this rag tag of newspaper have BLOOD IN THEIR HANDS and for all the money of the world I would not work for them. They are the ones who caused the chaos in Libya and when they finished with us they run off to Syria, Egypt and now to Ukraine. So if one country has the balls to jail them I am for it a 100%. Way to Go Egypt.

Prosecutors sought the highest possible jail terms for three al-Jazeera English journalists on trial in Egypt, after accusing them, in their closing statements on Thursday, of making “a devilish pact” with the ousted Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed now face prison sentences worth 15, seven and 15 years, after being held since December on charges of smearing Egypt’s reputation, aiding the Brotherhood, and doctoring footage.

In the trial’s 11th session, the prosecution finally closed its case, claiming that the three journalists had collected material from the Muslim Brotherhood and edited it to imply that Egypt was engaged in a civil war. ****(doesn’t that remind you of Libya the so-called demonstration in Benghazi and that the Jamahirya government was killing innocent people? Which now Jalil the 1st betrayer came out on national t.v Arabia saying that all was a BIG LIE! Which channel was first in Feb 2011 in Benghazi? yes you guessed it Al Jazeera, copying old videos from other countries with trouble and saying it was Benghazi, while the Youtube in Libya was SHUTDOWN FOR OVER FIVE YEARS. Also al Ciajeera built-in DOHA Qatar the GREEN SQUARE manipulating the Libyan nation that they had lost to the REBELS AND NATO. They came out later and admitted it. They had the audacity to say that the Jamhirya army was rapping Libyan women when it was the Qatari army and Journalist who did the rapes. So I am not surprised if they (Al Ciajeera)doctored any footage in Egypt.)The lead prosecutor, Mohamed Barakat, said al-Jazeera’s reports on sexual assaults and street protests were among those aimed at smearing Egypt’s reputation in the outside world.

“Freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to lie and spread false information,” said Barakat.

The prosecution did not specify which raw footage or news packages had been doctored. In previous sessions, its evidence has included footage of horses taken from Sky News Arabia, a BBC documentary about Somalia and a press conference from Kenya. It also included dozens of raw videos of al-Jazeera interviews with figures from all sides of Egypt’s spectrum – including the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that led Egypt until last July, but which has since been banned.

Al-Jazeera and, particularly, its Arabic wing is hated by pro-government Egyptians *****(not only the Egyptians, The Libyans have kicked their butt out of Tripoli, Syria the same, Palestine) for its perceived bias in favour of the Brotherhood and for giving a voice to its supporters.  ****(giving support to criminals is not right)

But in his defence on Thursday, Fahmy’s lawyer, Khaled Abou Bakr, stressed that it was a reporter’s job to interview activists of all political stripes – and to prosecute them for doing so was essentially to place journalism itself on trial.

“This is not a trial of these defendants alone – this is a trial of all journalists,” said Abou Bakr. ****(sorry Mr. Bakr, but this is not Journalism and the journalists that you defend are scums…. because of them or their colleagues real reporters in Libya were killed by NATO BOMBING or by the rebel scums for talking the TRUTH!) 

“If you go and film someone saying: ‘Down with the president,’ that doesn’t mean that you agree with it.” ***(true! but its how you portray it, and if you only ask the MB and not the rest of the Egyptians well my friend you are being bias)

Shouting from the defendants’ cage during a recess, Fahmy himself said that his trial was an affront to any journalist working in Egypt. “If we’re in jail because we called [Egypt's 2013 regime change] a coup, why aren’t CNN and the BBC in the cage?” he said. “Why isn’t every journalist in the cage?”  ****(several reasons to why CNN AND BBC and every prestitute media journalists are not in jail yet but very soon it will be also their turn. For the time being you are the first caught red-handed.)

In a detailed defence, Abou Bakr said the prosecution’s case was severely flawed because its key witnesses had admitted in court that they were not qualified to judge whether the journalists had endangered Egypt – contradicting the central claims of the written testimonies they had supplied in the run-up to the trial.

Abou Bakr also highlighted a string of procedural flaws in the prosecution’s case, ranging from the failure to allow defence lawyers access to all the prosecution’s evidence; an inability to pinpoint any specific video that proved the accusations; and the uncertainty about which of the defendants’ equipment belonged to whom.

Following a brief speech by Greste and Mohamed’s lawyer, Yusri Sayed Sami, who repeated many of Abou Bakr’s points, the trial was adjourned until 16 June – when the lawyers of several students indicted alongside the three journalists will be allowed to make their defence.

This raises the prospect of a verdict by the end of June, which was welcomed by Greste’s younger brother, Mike, who has flown from Greste’s home in Australia to attend the trial. “With any luck we’re on the home straight, and with two more sessions we could be finished,” said the younger Greste at the end of Thursday’s proceedings. “But it’s the judge that needs to be convinced of their innocence.”

A fourth al-Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, has been under arrest without charge in a separate case since August. To raise awareness for his case, Elshamy has been on hunger strike for more than 130 days. As punishment, he was recently moved to solitary confinement.

He and his three colleagues are among 16 journalists jailed in Egypt, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

*****(This article was written from the Guardian, but I have to say something about the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists were were you when NATO BOMBED THE Libyan TV STATION WITH Journalists in it who were killed on the spot, where were they when NATO & USA forced Most Satellites to close down the Libyan Jamahiryia broadcast? so that we could not have a voice and say the truth? Only Syria stood by our side and gave us one of their channels.

Where were you when al Ciajeera built the Green square of Tripoli in Doha Qatar to manipulate the International community and the Libyans is that real JOURNALISM? Why didn’t you protect us then? WELL DONE EGYPT next should be REUTERS, BBC, CNN, FOX, FRANCE 24, SKY NEWS ARABIC AND AL ARABYA.)

 

 

Power struggle blights Libya’s chaotic main airport


Power struggle blights Libya’s chaotic main airport

By Ulf Laessing

TRIPOLI, April 29 (Reuters) – With a bomb on the runway, pets boarding planes and passengers jetting off without visas, Tripoli International Airport typifies the chaos that has gripped Libya since the 2011 ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.

Western powers and Libya’s neighbours worry the capital city’s airport could be a gateway for illegal immigrants, including militant Islamists, from Africa and conflict zones such as Syria.

Morocco has just introduced visa requirements for Libyans after one group of travellers arrived on forged Libyan passports, and some European and Arab airlines have stopped flying to Tripoli for security reasons.

The European Union is training officials and helping upgrade facilities at the ageing airport, a former British military base from World War Two, but a few new luggage scanners won’t address the underlying security problem – a government that is struggling to impose its authority on a country awash with arms and militias.

Like much of the North African country, the area surrounding the airport is controlled by one of the dozens of brigades of rebels that helped overthrow Gaddafi and have refused to give up their arms.

Political analyst Salah Elbakhoush said the airport was in the middle of a power struggle, with other armed groups, residents and civil aviation staff challenging the control of the militia from Zintan in western Libya.

“People are fed up with them,” he said. “The situation west of Tripoli (near the terminal) … is very dangerous. The government is too weak to do anything.”

Nightly shootouts have become more frequent in the area, making the airport road one of the most dangerous places in the capital, where security has deteriorated in recent months.

Whoever controls the airport, located about 30 kilometres (18 miles) outside Tripoli, gets access to business at the terminal, which is a main cargo and smuggling hub.

Diplomats say the struggle between militias explains a bomb explosion on the main runway in March. An unknown group has claimed responsibility for the attack on social media, though the government has not said who was behind it.

“The device was planted at 05.30 a.m. when there was no traffic, to avoid any casualties but to probably show the Zintanis are unable to provide security,” said a Western diplomat.

POOR EQUIPMENT

The interim government is trying hard to boost airport security, but its nascent security forces are still in training, and the loyalty of some is questionable.

Security staff include former police officers from the Gaddafi era along with newcomers from civil war militias integrated by the government to get them off the streets.

They wear official uniforms but in practice sometimes report to their militia commanders, tribes or families. “You cannot walk into the airport perimeter, plant a bomb on the runway and fire it from outside by remote control without some people looking the other way for some time,” said another diplomat.

Experts say the airport has nevertheless come a long way since the immediate aftermath of the NATO-backed uprising in 2011, when anyone could walk into supposedly controlled areas.

The EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) and foreign airlines are focusing on small steps to improve security such as more efficient passport controls and better organisation of the terminal.

The airport has introduced security zones requiring passes to regulate access to the most sensitive areas near the gates, said its security chief Taha Mahmoudi.

“We have made a lot of progress in the 18 months,” he said, though limited space at the small terminal handling both international and domestic flights remained a challenge.

Imposing order is no easy matter. Those coming to greet friends and relatives often walk past officers into restricted areas such as baggage reclaim or even up to passport control on the first floor.

Passport officers, some dressed in uniforms for different services, others in civilian clothes, have computers at their booths but rarely use them because most never had proper training, security experts say.

EUBAM trainer Andrew Lyttle said officers were still good at spotting forged Libyan passports or Egyptian workers arriving on fake Libyans visas, their main areas of concern.

“They even once caught me because my papers were not in order,” said Lyttle, who trains airport officers on the job.

Officials also hope a new electronic passport being rolled out will end a thriving illicit trade in Libyan travel documents. The current passports are handwritten and easy to forge.

FLIGHTS HALTED

Still, Western diplomats and security experts have no illusions about the challenges, describing airport security as a “nightmare” or “disaster”.

“The Libyans basically don’t know who is entering or leaving their country,” said one Western diplomat.

Even if luggage or passport checks were enforced, the equipment is not up to the task.

“The present scanners have no explosive detection systems,” said Jean Assice, a French civil aviation engineer whose firm represents nine European and American security equipment manufacturers active in Libya.

“The luggage surveillance is out of date, the video surveillance system is out of date,” Assice said. “Ninety percent of the cargo is not controlled.”

Germany’s Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have halted flights, handing over lucrative business - a return flight costs up to $1,000 thanks to a risk premium from Tripoli to, say, London or Frankfurt – to more intrepid carriers such as Turkish Airlines, which has increased flights.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad stopped flying in November, saying “the existing situation at Tripoli airport does not provide the level of assurance we require to ensure safe operation of our flights”.

Officials see it as a success that British Airways and Alitalia decided to resume flights after weeks of interruption following the runway bomb.

Authorities have promised more dog patrols at the perimeter to better protect the runway, while the European airlines already get a little more space for their own staff to conduct extra luggage checks.

The European carriers arrive in the early afternoon, a time when a maximum number of airport staff are on duty and the city is often quiet – shootings tend to happen after sunset.

There are also more Libyan officials visible at the check-in counters to verify travel documents after European governments complained people had been allowed to board illegally without visas, while others had brought banned pets.  ****(its funny what Reuters say’s pets have a difficulty in passing through the International Airport of Tripoli, for a pet owner its a nightmare when he/she has to take their pet to travel abroad and the same thing happens on return. As for the diplomats the have a tendency in exaggerating the facts. All this its done so that NATO can bomb Libya again and this time to bomb it to the ground with its remaining population.)  

“We have been focusing on the weak points,” said airport security chief Mahmoudi. “The airport is old, space is limited. We’re trying to make the most of what we have.” (Editing by Patrick Markey and Will Waterman)

source: reuters.com