Western spies, security contractors, won Libyan war for rebels
August 23, 2011 4 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
As I write these lines, celebratory gunfire is being heard all across Tripoli and the rebel National Transitional Council is appointing civilians to replace the crumbling administration of longtime Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. But a handful of news outlets discreetly remind us that the rebels’ claim to victory rests on vital covert assistance provided by several Western intelligence services. British daily The Independent notes that the victorious rebels were assisted on all levels by “an army of [British] diplomats, spooks, military advisers and former members of the special forces”, all of whom allowed “London to influence events in Libya beyond the activities of warplanes and naval vessels”. Early indications of Britain’s substantial covert involvement in the Libyan civil war emerged in March, when a secret operation involving a team of 20 Special Air Service (SAS) personnel was disrupted by a group of Libyan rebels, who thought the foreigners were employed by the Libyan government. Eight captured SAS members were soon released by the red-faced rebels, but not before the botched operation had made headlines all over the world. That experience prompted British intelligence planners to rethink their methodology. Eventually, notes The Independent, the British government decided to prompt the rebel National Transitional Council to use British funds to hire teams of former special forces operatives working for private security firms. This, according to the paper, accounts for the “small groups of […] Caucasian males, many with British accents [and] equipped with sunglasses, 4×4 vehicles and locally acquired weaponry, who [were] seen regularly by reporters in the vanguard of the rebels’ haphazard journey […] towards Tripoli”. The Associated Press points out that many of these covert teams “from France, Britain and some East European states provided critical assistance” and advised the rebel leadership on how to successfully conduct their final assault against the Libyan capital. The news agency adds that the teams of European operatives included “logisticians, security advisers and forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as intelligence operatives”, many of whom were Americans. The latter operated “separately from the NATO command structure”, which was restricted by a United Nations mandate to protecting civilians. As for why these European countries and America went to all that trouble, The Independent simply notes that “the prize of being seen as a ‘friend’ in a stable, oil-rich Libya is considerable”.