Wednesday, 7 November 2007

US reportedly hands over to Libya "terrorist trainer"

US reportedly hands over to Libya "terrorist trainer"

777 words
4 May 2006
06:16 PM

BBC Monitoring Middle East

Text of report by Camille al-Tawil published by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat website on 3 May

Informed Western sources have disclosed that the US handed over to Libya last month one of the most prominent "Libyan Afghans" whose "confessions" he had reportedly made during his detention helped "entangle" the Americans in the Iraq war. He told them former President Saddam Husayn's regime was training Al-Qa'idah organization to use poison. The Americans reiterated this claim publicly when they justified their invasion of Baghdad in 2003, but which later proved to be baseless.

These sources, which made it a condition to remain unanimous, said Ibn-al-Shaykh al-Libi, the official in charge of the Khaldin camp in Afghanistan and who has been detained since the end of 2001, was handed over to the Libyan authorities during the past few weeks. He is from the Ajdabiya area (in eastern Libya) and his real name is Abd-al-Hamid al-Fakhiri. The sources refused to give any further details.

It is no secret that there is close intelligence-security cooperation between the US and Libya even though Colonel Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's regime remains on the list of terror-sponsoring countries according to the annual report issued last week by the US State Department. Henry Crumpton, coordinator of antiterrorism at the State Department, said in an interview with Al-Hayat last week that "Libya cooperated with the US fully in the field of intelligence and practical effect on the terrorist enemy". But Crumpton, the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official, did not go into details about this cooperation.

It is claimed that Tripoli received from the US authorities during the past two years a number of leaders of the Islamic Fighting Group, at the top of them its amir [commander] Abdallah al-Sadiq and its shari'ah official Abu-al-Mundhir al-Sa'idi, in a measure that apparently included a Libyan commitment - specifically from the security organ - not to torture or abuse those sent back. The Libyans do not appear to have violated this commitment so far.

Ibn-al-Shaykh is one of the prominent "Libyan Afghans". He joined the "Khaldin" camp (in Khost near the Afghan-Pakistani border) at the end of the 1980s and rose in the ranks until he became in charge of the camp. The Americans believed at first that he was an Al-Qa'idah organization member but it was discovered that this was not true. He did not belong to Al-Qa'idah or any other Libyan organization but continued to operate independently and opened the Khaldin doors to anyone "who wants to train for jihad", according to sources close to the "Arab Afghans". It is, therefore, noted that the majority of those who trained in Khaldin - the camp that was first opened in the 1980s by late Shaykh Abdallah Azzam - did not belong to a specific "jihad" organization but came to Afghanistan to receive military training. This, however, did not prevent various jihad groups, among them Al-Qa'idah, from sending their elements to train in Khaldin. This was probably the reason why the Americans thought at first that the Libyan belonged to Usamah Bin-Ladin's organization.

The Taleban Movement tried during its rule of Afghanistan (between 1996 and 2001 to restrict the freedom of Ibn-al-Shaykh in Khaldin by placing all the "Arab Afghans" training camps under its direct control. But then Al-Libi refused to come under the Taleban cloak and continued to work independently until the US strike on Afghanistan in 2001.

It is believed that he was arrested after the downfall of the Taleban government in November 2001 and handed over to the Americans. US reports said later that he was moved to an Arab country, where he told investigators that President Saddam Husayn's regime was cooperating with Al-Qa'idah and training its elements on the use of weapons of mass destruction. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated these claims when he spoke before the Security Council at the beginning of 2003 about Saddam's relationship with Al-Qa'idah. But the Americans admitted later on that the source of this information retracted it.

On the other hand, the legal Human Rights Watch said yesterday that prominent Libyan opponent Fathi al-Jahmi is facing the possibility of a death sentence for offending the Libyan leadership and talking to a "foreign official" believed to be an American diplomat. Al-Jahmi has been in detention for more than two years.

Source: Al-Hayat website, London, in Arabic 3 May 06

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