By George Grant.
London 22 April:
Fresh allegations have emerged regarding the work of British intelligence with the Qaddafi regime, with both MI5 . . .[restrict]and MI6 involved.
The allegations come a week after Abdel Hakim Belhaj began legal proceedings against Jack Straw, claiming the former British foreign secretary personally authorised his extradition to Libya by the CIA in 2004.
Today, the UK newspaper the Mail on Sunday claimed to have seen secret documents revealing that MI5 operatives betrayed Libyan dissidents to Qaddafi agents in London and Manchester in 2006.
Meanwhile the Sunday Telegraph, another British paper, claimed that MI6 agents worked together with members of Qaddafi’s external intelligence service, the ESO, to set up a mosque in Western Europe in 2004 in order to lure in Al-Qaeda terrorists.
The British government has said it will “take seriously” the allegations, whilst Lord Carlisle QC, the former reviewer of UK anti-terror legislation, has called for an inquiry.
Both newspapers say the claims came from documents that became available in Libya after Qaddafi’s fall last year in a revolution which the UK backed militarily.
As with the Belhaj case, both of these alleged instances took place at a time when the UK was seeking to develop closer relations with Libya on international terrorism and over the decommissioning of its nuclear programme.
The allegations concerning MI5 are of particular legal concern because they suggest that MI5 “betrayed the confidentially that all refugees are promised when they apply for asylum”, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Experts in refugee law have claimed that the documents implicating MI5 suggest breaches of the Geneva Conventions, the Human Rights Act and criminal law, although nothing has yet been proven.
The documents allegedly reveal meetings between MI5 and their Libyan counterparts in both Tripoli and London, and “approaches” by Libyan agents to their targets in London and Manchester in August and October 2006.
MI5, it is claimed, wanted to turn the refugees into sources of their own, in the belief that the body to which they belonged – the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – was linked to Al-Qaeda and a threat to UK national security.
The Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, claims that cooperation betweein MI6 and the EOS extended to recruiting an agent to infiltrate an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell in the Western European city where they established the mosque, which the paper says it cannot name for security reasons.
The paper also claims that its operations with the EOS were kept secret from the authorities of the country in which they were taking place.
The double agent recruited by MI6 and the EOS allegedly had close relations with a senior Al-Qaeda commander in Iraq. The Sunday Telegraph claims that cooperation began in December 2003 when the agent, codenamed “Joseph” and a Libyan operative were flown to meetings at British hotels to discuss setting up a mosque to attract North African terror suspects.
As with the MI5 operation, MI6 were hoping to gain “information on terrorist planning”, and were using the opening-up of relations with the Qaddafi regime to that end.
David Davis, a senior British MP, described MI5’s alleged actions as “an appalling betrayal of Britain’s obligations and traditions” and added his voice to calls for an investigation.
However, a British security source speaking to the Mail on Sunday defended the actions of the UK’s intelligence services, arguing: “Many of the jihadist fighters picked up in Afghanistan after 2001 were Libyans. They posed a threat and had to be closely monitored”.