Libya Recollections: Gaddafi's Amnesty for Muslim Brotherhood Leaders

Libya Recollections: Gaddafi's Amnesty for Muslim Brotherhood Leaders

Sunday, 18 February, 2018 - 13:00
Libya's ex-leader Moammar al-Gaddafi. (Reuters)
Cairo – Abdul Sattar Hatita
For a long time, it was believed that former guards in Libya’s former rule under Colonel Moammar al-Gaddafi were only men who had feared any changes in Libyan politics, both internally and externally. But as it turns out, this was not the case entirely.

In the second episode of an investigation series, Asharq Al-Awsat sheds light on how the door has been opened for Libyan dissidents to return from abroad, and details the amnesty covering Muslim Brotherhood members and leaders.

One of the closest associates of Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, said the operation for amnesty was initiated by foreign intelligence agent Abuzed Dorda in 2004 when he was Libya's representative at the United Nations.

This information was also reaffirmed by the former head of the Gaddafi Foundation, Saleh Abdulsalam, tribal leaders and security leaders, who referred to earlier attempts, both to pardon opponents and to bring back Libyan mujahideen from Afghanistan.

Saif al-Islam’s own friend was involved in bringing back Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leaders from Afghanistan and away from the Taliban government.

The details of this process date back to 2001.

Saif al-Islam’s friend, who was in the negotiating delegation, revealed that Tripoli under Gaddafi tried to conclude an unfinished deal with Mullah Omar, the late Afghanistan-based Taliban spiritual leader.

LIFG’s Abdelhakim Belhaj, Sami al-Saadi and Khalid al-Sharif will return in exchange for promises of Libya's recognition of the Taliban, investment in its government, and ensuring good treatment for returning Libyan leaders handed over to Tripoli. The US war on Afghanistan that year thwarted the deal.

Afghanistan was plagued by several wars, most prominent is the Soviet Union invasion in 1979. Thousands of fighters from the Arab region came to expel the Russians from Afghanistan.

But after the Russian troops left in 1989, most Arab countries feared the return of these combatants, because they had become extreme and more capable of fighting. Among them was the LIFG.

LIFG leaders, namely Belhaj, would later will be known for preparing to oppose the Gaddafi regime.

"We went to Kandahar to meet with Mullah Omar," Saif al-Islam’s close associate said.

“First we were received by Taliban foreign minister Mulla Wakil Ahmed Mutwakil... Then we met with Mullah Omar. We asked him to hand over LIGF leaders and members to us, in return for Libya weighing up recognizing the Taliban regime and assisting it in infrastructure projects, including the construction of a road between Jalalabad and Kabul,” he added, speaking under the condition of anonymity.

“It was a strange encounter,” he described the negotiations with Mullah Omar.

"When Mullah sat on the floor of the high terrace, he did not talk much.”

According to Saif al-Islam’s close friend, “it was agreed at the conclusion of these negotiations that committees will be formed.”

It was the Libyan state in general that started this initiative, he added.

“I was involved in negotiations through the institution headed by Saif al-Islam,” the associate confessed.

"We were supposed to go back to Afghanistan to complete the talks, but the September 11 attacks in the United States and the subsequent developments hindered the process,” he added.

However, Saif al-Islam's friend admitted to visiting Afghanistan two weeks after the outbreak of the war and began overseeing relief convoys sent by the Gaddafi Foundation to Kandahar, Jalalabad and Kabul to help Afghans.

Western intelligence agencies have been hunting down Arab Afghan leaders and sending those arrested to investigation and detention centers, including the famous Guantánamo Bay prison.

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