By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 26 August 2017:
Expressing satisfaction at the arrest of Fahmi Salim Musa Ben Khalifa on changes of fuel and other smuggling, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) has called for more fuel smugglers to be caught.
“The smuggling of subsidised hydrocarbons is a major economic crime against the Libyan people,” it said. “It has a significant impact on the country’s stability and the security of the Libyan people, and is a drain on the country’s resources”.
Khalifa was arrested by Zuwaran security officials and handed over to Rada, the special deterrence force in Tripoli, two days ago for safe keeping, ostensibly on the grounds that keeping him in Zuwara might be politically difficult.
An announcement by Rada yesterday that it had arrested him, however, has caused some ill-feeling in Zuwara. It has put out a statement that it, not Rada, took him into custody.
The move is nonetheless seen as a major blow to Libya’s vast smuggling and trafficking networks. Khalifa is alleged to be one of the biggest smugglers of fuel in the country as well as being involved in the trafficking of migrants from Libya to Europe. He is currently being described as the “king of smugglers” in Libya although this may be something of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, the NOC has called him “an important link in the chain of those criminals”.
Previously viewed as one of Libya’s top smuggling centres, Zuwara has been moving to clean up its act. It has already clamped down on human trafficking although one of its continuing problems is that bodies of migrants who drowned as a result of accidents further east along the coast are swept towards it by the currents. It is Zuwara that has to deal with them.
Calling for more arrests, the NOC notes that it has been leading a campaign against the smugglers, with its own committee gathering intelligence on smuggling activities throughout the country. Names of inividuals involved, of tankers are their locations, it notes, are being forwarded to the attorney general as well as to UNSMIL officials.