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Jenkins writes: "The claim was that MI6 rolled the pitch for Tony Blair's bizarre 2004 hug-in with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi by apparently arranging for the CIA to kidnap Gaddafi's opponent in exile, Abdel Hakim Belhaj."

Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2007. (photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2007. (photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The War on Terror Is Corrupting All It Touches

By Simon Jenkins, Guardian UK

15 April 12


Every student agitator is a terrorist, every internet hacker, cafeteria dissident, freedom fighter and insurgent leader.

n Monday the Modern Spies programme substantiated an extraordinary allegation that suggested how far the war on terror has descended into legal abyss. The claim was that MI6 rolled the pitch for Tony Blair's bizarre 2004 hug-in with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi by apparently arranging for the CIA to kidnap Gaddafi's opponent in exile, Abdel Hakim Belhaj. He was seized in Bangkok, where he and his wife were en route to Britain. It's been suggested they were "rendered" via the British colony of Diego Garcia to Tajoura jail in Tripoli. Belhaj spent six years, and his wife four and a half months, at the tender mercies of Gaddafi's security boss, Moussa Koussa. Belhaj's pregnant wife was taped like a mummy on a stretcher, and he was systematically tortured. Koussa himself denies any involvement in torture.

With this gift came a covering letter from MI6's Mark Allen, offering Koussa congratulations on the "safe arrival" of the "air cargo [Belhaj]. This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over the years." Within two weeks Gaddafi was welcoming a fawning Blair in his famous desert tent, and announcing that he would abjure terrorism and set aside his "planned" weapons of mass destruction. The plans were spurious, but the deal allowed Blair to walk tall in Washington at a time when the Iraq invasion was turning sour.

Less spurious were other elements in the strange relationship. It was claimed Britain would not just deliver Belhaj but lift sanctions. Gaddafi would greet BP's Lord Browne, accompanied by Allen, who switched with full ministerial approval from being an MI6 officer to a £200,000 special adviser to BP. When, three years later, the £15bn deal with BP seemed to falter, it's claimed Allen pressed his old boss, Jack Straw, to release Libya's Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Allen was a senior adviser to Monitor consultancy, which helped boost Gaddafi's world image, and assisted the London School of Economics, on whose advisory board Allen sat and where Gaddafi's son Saif was receiving a much-heralded PhD. The new chairman of BP was none other than Sir Peter Sutherland, also chairman of the LSE.

When, in 2011, Gaddafi's regime was visibly tottering, Britain coolly deserted him. Sanctions were reimposed, but no one thought to tell Nato special forces, present at the fall of Tripoli, to find and secure the building in which the incriminating documents lay. Presumably to the horror of MI6, Human Rights Watch got there first and found Allen's letter, which was handed to journalists. To make things worse, Belhaj was now out of jail and head of Tripoli's military council. Worse still, his old nemesis, Koussa, had shrewdly defected as Gaddafi crumbled and was able to confirm Belhaj's suspicions of British complicity in his fate.

Belhaj is not a man to hide a grievance and is now suing Allen and the British government for "complicity in torture" and "misfeasance in public office". He has reportedly been offered and refused £1m from the British government to shut up. As a tale of panic and cock-up it beats Smiley's People.

MI6 puts out the usual line that it only follows "ministerially authorised government policy". The relevant ministers at the time were Straw and Blair, who should have been fully briefed in 2004 on Gaddafi's apparent U-turn and the reasons behind it. Both men have denied knowledge of Belhaj's rendition and torture, or the suggestion that it and Megrahi's release were a quid pro quo for oil. Both have plaintively remarked that ministers may be responsible yet cannot know everything.

In Allen's defence, it can be said that he was doing exactly what his masters so badly wanted. Blair in 2004 was craven to Washington, desperate to win a spur in George Bush's crusade against militant Islamism. At the time, CIA rendition flights were criss-crossing the world with Muslims bolted to the floor. A couple more as a gift to a kindly dictator seemed small beer. As for whether Allen mentioned it to Straw, known to be supporting his bid to head MI6, neither he nor Straw is telling.

On Monday the foreign secretary, William Hague, grasped at the straw of Belhaj's law suit in declining to comment. He said, with a broad smile, that the whole matter was "sub judice". The implication, that his remarks might prejudice a trial, was that this would be held in public. But these are precisely the cases that the cabinet now wants to ensure are conducted in secret.

The morass now thickens. On 22 February, the court of appeal in London showed itself equally mesmerised by the "war on terror". It upheld the conviction of a London university student, Mohammed Gul, for disseminating "terrorism" over the internet. Not content with imprisoning the pathetic and repentant Gul for five years, their lordships felt an urge to political theory.

They declared that the war on terror embraced not just Gul but "acts by insurgents against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which sought to influence a government and were made for political purposes". Under legislation, terrorism included not just acts of violence but any threat made for "the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause". These threats might include nothing more than a "serious risk to public health and safety" or "seriously to disrupt an electronic system".

From this catch-all lexicography, dissidents and insurgents under any regime were not excluded. Their lordships noted that it seemed there was nothing that would exempt those engaged in attacks on the military during the course of insurgency from the definition of terrorism. It was hard luck all Kurds, Kosovans, Benghazians, Tibetans and Iranian exiles – and today's Syrian rebels. They are all terrorists.

This is ridiculous. Gul's Bin Laden fantasies were not remotely in the same boat as Belhaj's opposition to Gaddafi. Yet both were seized as terrorists and imprisoned by agents of British government. They are joined in judicial calumny with millions round the world who are struggling against dictatorial regimes and willing harm to their "armed forces". Every student agitator is a terrorist, every internet hacker, cafeteria dissident, freedom fighter and insurgent leader. The war on terror is corrupting all it touches, while parliament meekly passes each twist of the ratchet of repression. your social media marketing partner


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+11 # wolf8888 2012-04-15 09:26
Its a revolting world, Britain sent Prince Andrew to Lybia, with the blueprint to circumvent Scottlands encarceration of the Lockaby Bomber, so British (BP) Petroleum could get their hands on the Lybian oil. When it comes to oil, nobody has any concience. Long live the QUEEN?
+16 # Montague 2012-04-15 10:12
Thanks to RSN for running this as I wasn't sure if this disgraceful tale had reached the USA. Blair is scum, one of the most morally-bereft and self-serving leaders the UK ever had, and he's made millions of $ since leaving office. Now they want to label any retaliation, even verbal, against imperialism as 'terrorism' and to try the cases in secret. We're ALL the terrorists now!
+10 # John Locke 2012-04-15 11:45
WHY WAS GADDAFI killed? So he would not testify against the US!

Lets talk about Libya

1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free
for all its citizens.

2. There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given
to all its citizens at 0% interest by law.

3. Home considered a human right in Libya – Gaddafi vowed that his parents
would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home. Gaddafi’s father died while he, his wife and his mother were still living in a tent.

4. All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 Dinar (US$50,000 ) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start the family.

5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25%
of Libyans were literate. Today the figure is 83%.

6. Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick- start their farms– all for free.

7. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya,
the government funds them to go abroad for it – not only free but they get US
$2, 300/mth accommodation and car allowance.

More Below
+8 # John Locke 2012-04-15 11:46
8. In Libyan, if a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidized 50% of the price.

9. The price of petrol in Libya is $0. 14 per liter.

10. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amount to $150 billion – now
frozen globally.

11. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.

12. A portion of Libyan oil sale is, credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.

13. A mother who gave birth to a child receive US $5,000

14. 40 loaves of bread in Libya costs $ 0.15

15. 25% of Libyans have a university degree

16. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert

Gaddafi was killed for democracy,where politicians play dirty game giving people illusion of freedom.

Gaddafi was killed for making alliance with many African nations, giving the US fear...

Gaddafi was killed as he ruled well but oppressed some class of people in Libya...
+12 # John Locke 2012-04-15 11:48
The US WAr on Terror, just like our war on drugs, and on poverty always increases the evil we allegedly seek to rectify...ever wonder why? Perhaps these alleged wars were mwant to do just that!
+7 # Capn Canard 2012-04-15 12:38
John Locke, perhaps this is inherent to many cultures/civil societies. A capitalist economy seems to adore scarcity rather than abundance, as it has a logic to seek to maintain "wealth" as a sort of aberration of what is valued wherein wealth is something that must be rare to be valued. My own personal fantasy is that wealth will make a shift in value to the qualitative rather than the sad and pathetic "value" that is quantitative.
+3 # John Locke 2012-04-15 20:38
Capn: I ask these people of wealth "How Much is enough... and can you take it with you?" I don't know how to take it with me, so my solution is to try and make a difference while i AM HERE!
+7 # bluepilgrim 2012-04-15 13:33
There is no war on terror and never was. There is a propagandist phrase, like the master race, family values, war on drugs, ignorance is strength, nothing up my sleeve, new and improved, hope and change, Arbeit Macht Frei, better dead than red, god and country, and hundreds of others.

It is not phrases which corrupt anything, but these are to occupy and trap the mind, and distract people from the evil undertakings of the greedy the fascists, gangsters and imperialists from the reality.

By saying that the phrase, war on terror, corrupts anything is to miss the point and the underlying cognitive and psychological manipulation, and the hiding of the underlying lies and intentions the phrases conceal.

These are toxins to the society, the public mind, and the individual psyche and cognition.

There are some other phrase which can carry truth, however, such as 'people know the prices of everything and value of nothing', which points to the fallacy that the abstraction of money is real, tangible wealth instead of a deceptive mechanism, in these times, to transfer actual wealth to the rich from everyone else by locking the society into the rules created by the oligarchy.

Words can be good servants or powerful masters. Watch what you say, and more importantly, watch what you hear. "The map is not the territory" __ Korzibsky, (general semantics).
+6 # RMDC 2012-04-15 15:56
It hardly needs to be said, the US is the biggest terrorist nation on earth. The UK follows right behind. If anyone is serious about fighting terrorism, then they must fight the US. When we have a regime change in Washington, the world can begin to heal.

The US/UK/French war against Libya was a horrible crime. Obama and his cronies will rot in hell for that murder of a nation. Bush/Cheney could not have done any worse.

When the British courts or any courts start prosecuting US and UK government officials for terrorism, then I'll believe they understand the concept and care about justice. As long as they indict, prosecute, and imprison the innocent, they are part of the terrorist network.
0 # Activista 2012-04-16 22:44
The US/UK/French war against Libya was a horrible crime. Obama and his cronies are now "liberating" Syria with arms looted in Libya and support of Libyan "rebels".
Search: Qatar builds up anti-Syria Wahhabi army. Abdel Hakim Belhaj is appointed for the anti-Syria mission in Turkey - the same guy is now with Hillary "friend of Syria"?

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