As Muammar Gaddafi’s rotting, bullet-riddled corpse is buried in a secret location in the Libyan desert, conveniently preventing an independent autopsy and investigation into his murder, disturbing revelations have come to light concerning Britain’s role in the torture of the Colonel’s former enemies.
MI6 stands accused of complicity in the rendering of Libyan rebels, who in 2003 were plotting to depose Gaddafi – the term “rendering” of course being twisted newspeak for the Western intelligence services’ policy of abducting, imprisoning, and torturing suspected Islamic extremists. As reported in The Guardian, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, one-time leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and current military rebel commander in Tripoli, was handed over to Gaddafi in 2004 following a tip-off from MI6:
“MI6 informed the CIA of his whereabouts after his associates told British diplomats in Malaysia he wanted to claim asylum in Britain. He was allowed to board a flight to London, then abducted when his aircraft landed at Bangkok. Belhaj claims he was suspended from a ceiling and tortured at Bangkok airport before spending six years in solitary confinement at Tripoli's notorious Abu Selim jail.”
Relations between Gaddafi and the West had improved significantly after Libya’s agreement to halt its nuclear weapons program in 2003, an agreement which was shortly followed by Tony Blair’s infamous oil deal in the desert. Britain designated Belhaj’s rebel LIFG a terrorist organisation in 2003, further helping the Colonel by rounding up his opponents and obligingly delivering them to Tripoli, to suffer the very human rights abuses recently cited as justification for Gaddafi’s removal. As well as being tortured and held for years in solitary confinement, Belhaj alleges that his pregnant wife was beaten by agents of the Libyan regime.
Belhaj’s anti-Gaddafi rebel associate Sami al-Saadi was also rendered and tortured with the apparent complicity of MI6. After living in exile in China and being led by MI5 to believe they had approved his moving to London, in March 2003 Saadi and his family travelled to Hong Kong. There they expected to be interviewed by British diplomats - instead, they were forced onto an Egyptian airliner and rendered to a prison in Tripoli. The Guardian details the abuses alleged by Saadi’s family, which included his wife Karima and their four young children aged between six and 12. Saadi’s wife and children were held for over two months, where they were interrogated in the knowledge that their father was being tortured nearby. Khadija, now 19, says:
"The British government speak of human rights and justice – why were they involved with Gaddafi?" she asked. "The British knew too well that we would be mistreated and could be killed. The people who put us through this should be held accountable. I want an apology: they stole my childhood."
Tony Blair had landed in Libya for his first meeting with Gaddafi two days before the Saadi family’s MI6-instigated abduction. Both Belhaj and Saadi have launched legal action against the British government and intelligence services. 30 such cases alleging complicity in rendition and torture have been launched against Britain, legal action which justice secretary Kenneth Clarke is trying to suppress by introducing legislation that will establish secret court hearings when the UK's intelligence agencies are sued.
In a further twist, it is alleged that the rendering of Belhaj, Saadi, and other anti-Gaddafi rebel leaders actually strengthened Al Qaeda, and aided groups attacking British forces in Iraq. British intelligence believe that by rendering and removing moderate elements of the rebel leadership, rank and file members were pushed into supporting broader and significantly more extreme anti-Western goals than those held by the LIFG. MI5 documents suggest that following the abduction and imprisonment of their leaders, the group adopted a much more radical position:
"The extremists are now in the ascendancy," the paper said, and they were "pushing the group towards a more pan-Islamic agenda inspired by AQ [al-Qaida]".
Their "broadened" goals, it continued, were now also the destabilisation of Arab governments that were not following sharia law and the liberation of Muslim territories occupied by the west.
In summary: due to their increasingly close relationship with Gaddafi in pursuit of lucrative Libyan oil contracts, the West aided in the rendition and torture of his enemies. Several years later however, when the West wanted to remove Gaddafi from power, the very men who had been rendered by MI6 as suspected Islamic extremists were instead courted as allies, and armed and supported. Gaddafi’s suppression of a rebel uprising in Benghazi, of which Britain several years ago would presumably have approved, instead became the excuse for NATO’s intervasion which has caused widespread death, destruction and instability in Libya.
Considering the West’s concern for human rights abuses (the reason given for military action in Libya), one wonders how NATO will be dealing with the newly empowered rebels, in light of allegations of atrocious war crimes having been committed. The corpses of 53 Gaddafi loyalists have just been discovered in a formerly rebel-held hotel in Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte - some injured and others with their hands tied behind their backs - prisoners of war seemingly executed by the supposed good guys, the victorious rebels.