World

Libyan records reveal Gadhafi-CIA ties

The CIA worked closely with Moammar Gadhafi's intelligence services in the rendition of terror suspects to Libya for interrogation, according to documents seen Saturday by the Associated Press, co-operation that could spark tensions between Washington and Libya's new rulers.
Documents have emerged that show U.S. intelligence officials worked closely with agents of Libya's deposed ruler Moammar Gadhafi, right, in rendition of terror suspects to Libya for interrogation. (Jim Young/Reuters)

The CIA worked closely with Moammar Gadhafi's intelligence services in the rendition of terror suspects to Libya for interrogation, according to documents seen Saturday by the Associated Press, co-operation that could spark tensions between Washington and Libya's new rulers.

The Central Intelligence Agency was among a number of foreign intelligence services that worked with Libya's agencies, according to documents found at a Libyan security agency building in Tripoli.

Reports of such co-operation have surfaced before, but the documents provide new details on the ties between Western countries and Gadhafi's regime. Many of those same countries backed the NATO attacks that helped Libya's rebels force Gadhafi from power.

One notable case is that of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, commander of the anti-Gadhafi rebel force that now controls Tripoli. Belhaj is the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a now-dissolved militant group with links to al-Qaeda. Belhaj says he was tortured by CIA agents at a secret prison, then returned to Libya.

Two documents from March 2004 appear to be American correspondence to Libyan officials to arrange Belhaj's rendition.

Referring to him by his nom de guerre, Abdullah al-Sadiq, the documents say he will be flown from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Libya and asks for Libyan government agents to accompany him.

It also requests American "access to al-Sadiq for debriefing purposes once he is in your custody."

"Please be advised that we must be assured that al-Sadiq will be treated humanely and that his human rights will be respected," the document says.

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, which found the documents, called the ties between Washington and Gadhafi's regime "a very dark chapter in American intelligence history, and it remains a stain on the record of the American intelligence services that they co-operated with these very abusive intelligence services."

In Washington, CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood declined to comment Saturday on any specific allegation related to the documents.

"It can't come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats," Youngblood said. "That is exactly what we are expected to do."