By Solomon Hughes in Britain:
The MI6 ‘help-Gadaffi project’
Thursday 07 April 2011
As the British government crosses its fingers and hopes lobbing missiles and diplomatic initiatives around Libya will break up Muammar Gadaffi’s state machine, it is worth remembering how much effort it put into building it up in the first place.
The Libyan dictator’s “national security” and “intelligence information” systems got a very recent makeover from MI6 and a dodgy group of consultants.
This isn’t the first time an authoritarian ruler has turned from ally to enemy – Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega and even the Taliban all started on Western governments’ Christmas card lists and ended up on the “to-bomb” list.
But Gadaffi is a special case.
He has gone from worst enemy to best friend and back to worst enemy with dizzying speed.
It is the clearest illustration of the British government weighing “interests” about 100 times more heavily than “values.”
The help-Gadaffi project got extra speed by being semi-privatised.
The love-in under canvas in the desert was driven by BP‘s oily urges.
Business backing for Gadaffi then increased when the Libyans hired Anglo-US consultants from a company called the Monitor Group.
In 2006 Monitor, a “strategy consulting firm” which grew out of Harvard University, began working for Libya under the codename Project Armani, according to leaked invoices.
Monitor, which employed former MI6 agents, then worked on improving the national security and intelligence information systems run by Gadaffi’s son Mutassim.
It also discussed British educational visits by Mutassim with MI6, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office as part of his training in dealing with “dissent and extremism” – although the proposed visits did not take place.
Mutassim and his Libyan national security council are pillars of the Gadaffi regime.
Monitor Group has been criticised for its PR for the regime, which included paying “thinkers” like Anthony Giddens to meet Gadaffi and say nice things about him.
Monitor Group’s complete service also included helping Gadaffi’s other son Saif write his PhD thesis.
The same Monitor Group also offered to help the Libyans with their security structures.
Monitor employed former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove and MI6 agent-turned-BP-adviser Sir Mark Allen as advisers.
It is as if 007 and C retired and went to work for Goldfinger.
Information on Monitor Group comes from papers leaked to the national council of the Libyan opposition last year.
The documents include proposals “for developing the national security council” of Libya.
A November 2006 document suggests the council would be central to “boosting Libya’s security” by acting as a government co-ordinator in “intelligence information analysis and communication.”
The paper warns that “without co-ordination the country will be in real danger” but advises that a national security council which would be “developing an elite group” and serviced by a “national security organisation” is the solution.
Monitor Group also proposed a personal “draft national security syllabus” for Mutassim.
This included visits to the Cabinet Office, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Ministry of Defence.
The Foreign Office told me that these visits were mooted but didn’t happen.
The MoD also confirmed there had been discussions but no visits.
Other elements of Mutassim’s “curriculum” give a flavour of the national security organisation.
They include “principles and practices of intelligence,” including “tracking events, threats and interests,” “secret intelligence” and “developments in intelligence technology.”
They also include training in security, including “dissent and extremism,” “critical national infrastructure” and “law enforcement.”
The curriculum identifies the first of “today’s principal threats” as “terror.”
At the time Western governments were inviting a “reformed” Libya to join the war on terror.
Faced with a revolution in Libya, the Gadaffi family have returned to these themes, blaming the uprising on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates distributing drugs to the young.
In his 2006 letter to Mutassim, Monitor Group boss Jonathan Day says his security proposals could “work in parallel with the ideas of General Searby.”
Tony Blair appointed Searby as the “UK defence co-ordinator for Libya” in 2004 with a brief to “handle … anything to do with weapons sales or military and defence co-operation” between Britain and Libya.
Blair flew to Tripoli and said Searby’s appointment offered them “the chance of a new military relationship with the United Kingdom.”
The Monitor Group documents suggest that both it and the British government were happy to help develop Libya’s national security structures.
While Mutassim did not follow the entire Monitor curriculum, a cable from the US embassy in Tripoli published by WikiLeaks suggests that he did use Monitor’s programme.
The December 2007 cable says Mutassim’s new national security council was having “growing pains” but was following the Monitor Group plan, including launching a staff training academy to supply analysts.
The WikiLeaks cable underlines the policing and military role of Mutassim’s council, saying it draws staff from the external and internal “security organisations.”
The cable also shows how Monitor Group worked in parallel with the British government building Mutassim’s organisation.
The cable says: “We understand that the UK embassy in Tripoli has discussed possible training opportunities in the UK for national security council terrorism analysts.”
The cable also shows Mutassim was using the council to “expand his area of influence,” pleasing some Libyan leaders who thought he was more hardline than his brother Saif.
At the time of Monitor’s work, Mutassim was best known in the West for hiring performers like Beyonce and Mariah Carey for his parties.
Mutassim was well known as a playboy as well as a thug.
Another WikiLeaks cable shows that Mutassim also argued with his brother about who got the Coca-Cola bottling franchise in Libya in 2006 – an argument that was settled by Mutassim sending armed militia into the plant in scenes compared by the manager to the film The Godfather.
The Monitor-brokered friendship between Mutassim Gadaffi and the British government may pay off again as a Mutassim-led caretaker government is being touted as one solution to the current stalemate in Libya.
Monitor’s make-a-date-with-dictators skills might come in handy one more time.
Labour peer who was Blair’s Middle East envoy forced to quit Libya role: here.
Gadhafi paid millions to U.S. firms to polish his global image: here.
John Pilger, Truthout: “The Euro-American attack on Libya has nothing to do with protecting anyone; only the terminally naive believe such nonsense. It is the West’s response to popular uprisings in strategic, resource-rich regions of the world and the beginning of a war of attrition against the new imperial rival, China. President Barack Obama’s historical distinction is now guaranteed. He is America’s first black president to invade Africa. His assault on Libya is run by the US Africa Command, which was set up in 2007 to secure the continent’s lucrative natural resources from Africa’s impoverished people and the rapidly spreading commercial influence of China”: here.
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