Canadian intelligence suggests al-Qaida-backed militants in Libya want to
assassinate Col. Moammar Gadhafi, possibly shedding light on the dictator’s
sudden efforts to cozy up to the West.
Citing a Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, report, The
National Post reports the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, is waging
holy war against Gadhafi in an effort to establish an Islamic state in Libya.
“In order to achieve their goals, the LIFG has made numerous attempts to
kill Col. Gadhafi,” said the “Unclassified: For Official Use Only” report, dated
September 2002 and recently obtained by the Canadian daily.
“The group has clearly stated its view on the use of force, promoting the
ideology that Libyan people can only gain freedom by actively supporting the
mujahedeen in the war against Gadhafi’s regime,” the report continued.
The LIFG began trying to kill Gadhafi in 1995, according to the report. Its
last attempt was in August 1998 when the colonel’s motorcade was attacked.
According to CSIS, the LIFG operates from the mountains around
Benghazi and al-Akhdar on Libya’s northeast coast. It is funded by private
donations, Islamic aid agencies and criminal activity. It smuggles weapons into
Libya from neighboring North African countries.
Al-Qaida leader Anas Sebai heads the group, which includes about 2,500
“Libyan Afghans” who fought in the 1979-89 Soviet War in Afghanistan and
then returned home to ignite an Islamic rebellion.
The LIFG is backed by three other armed groups, the Islamic Movement of
Martyrs, Libyan Jihad Movement and Islamic Movement for Change.
“All Libyan Islamist terrorist groups, including the LIFG, are believed to
have links with neighboring Islamic extremist groups in Egypt and Algeria.
Furthermore … the LIFG has openly pledged to show support and loyalty to all
jihad groups everywhere. This has led the LIFG to be recognized as a key
component in the global network of militant Islamic groups,” the CSIS report
Analysts believe Gadhafi’s recent admission and offer to dismantle his
weapons of mass destruction as a gesture to obtain protection from the U.S.
and others in the international community who similarly consider Osama bin
Laden enemy No. 1.
Gadhafi’s entreaties began in February, when he called for a global
dismantling of weapons of mass destruction.
“I would like to get rid of mass-destruction weapons not only in Iraq but in
the whole region of the Middle East and then from the world all over,” Gadhafi
told reporters attending a summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa.
“We can solve problems peacefully,” he added.
The Libyan leader also offered at the time to mediate between President George W.
Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to avoid what he predicted would
be an “irrational war.”
“I wish I could have the opportunity to talk to these two persons, to address
them, President Bush and Saddam Hussein,” Gadhafi told reporters. “I would
like to save international peace.”
Gadhafi also worked behind the scenes to persuade Hussein to choose
exile over war. Agence France-Presse reported in January he met with Egypt’s
Hosni Mubarak in Tripoli to discuss the matter.
The mediation offer was dismissed as comical, coming from a major
sponsor of terror.
In January 2001, an international court found a Libyan intelligence officer
responsible for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie,
Scotland, which killed 270 people.
In March 1986, Abu Nidal terrorists, at the behest of Gadhafi, bombed a
discotheque in Berlin. The attack killed 27 people, including several American
servicemen. The United States responded with air strikes on Tripoli.
“The intelligence that [indicated] it was directed by Gadhafi and carried out
by Abu Nidal was irrefutable,” retired Marine Col. Oliver North told
WorldNetDaily. “And so [President Reagan] authorized a bombing attack on
the terrorist training facilities that Gadhafi had allowed to be built in his country
and was using to carry out attacks on his adversaries.”
North was the U.S. government’s counterterrorism coordinator at the time.
Abu Nidal was buried quietly in Baghdad in August 2002 after reportedly
dying of self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.
Gadhafi is also known for his long-standing support for Palestinian terrorism.
The dictator’s apparent change of heart has paid off. The United Nations lifted economic sanctions against Libya after Tripoli agreed to compensate the families of the Lockerbie victims. The U.S. may follow suit and remove Libya from the State Department list of terror-sponsoring nations.
“I don’t think the [U.S.] embargo will last any more than three months at most,” predicted Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, in the Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.
The London-based Arab daily also quoted Saif al-Islam as saying President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair plan to visit the African country early next year.
Washington and London hope to use the Libyan breakthrough to increase the pressure on other rogue states. For his part, Gadhafi appears willing to act as their poster-boy.
When asked by reporters yesterday if he had a message for other leaders, especially the heads of Syria, Iran and North Korea, he replied: “They should follow the steps of Libya, or take an example from Libya, so that they prevent any tragedy being inflicted upon their own peoples.”