MI6 set up fake mosque in Europe to attract Muslim extremists
April 24, 2012 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
British and Libyan intelligence collaborated during the reign of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, in setting up a radical mosque in a European city aimed at luring Muslim extremists. The revelation was made last weekend by British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph, which said it was in possession of documents describing the complex ruse. The paper said that the documents, which were authored by MI6, were discovered in the abandoned headquarters of the ESO, Libya’s External Security Organization, following the collapse of the Gaddafi regime. They allegedly describe a series of operations resulting from the close collaboration between the ESO and MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, which began in 2003. During that time, the two intelligence agencies re-established contact in the context of the diplomatic ‘thaw’ between London and Tripoli, which began with Libya’s decision to abandon its nuclear weapons program. With ESO’s assistance, MI6 recruited an agent who was “closely connected” to a senior al-Qaeda commander in Iraq. Codenamed JOSEPH, the agent was slowly groomed to infiltrate an al-Qaeda cell operating in a Western European city. The project’s ultimate goal was for JOSEPH to help establish a mosque aimed at luring Muslim extremists planning to launch terrorist attacks. The Telegraph states that the name of the city, which is in continental Europe, “cannot be named for security reasons”. In December 2003, JOSEPH was flown to the UK by MI6, along with a Libyan intelligence officer who had previously been stationed in London. The two men met with MI6 officers in a British hotel, where they discussed plans to set up the mosque. After taking some time to address JOSEPH’s strong reservations about his personal safety, MI6 officers met with him again in 2004 in “a city in the north of England”. The documents describe how the MI6 team instructed the double agent and a Libyan intelligence delegation to travel in separate taxis to another hotel in the same city, so as “to ensure they were not being watched”. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the entire operation was the decision by MI6 to keep this information secret from the intelligence agencies of the country where JOSEPH lived and where the fake mosque was to be set up —despite the fact that the host country is among Britain’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. The plan could have backfired had Muslim extremists used the mosque as an operational center from which to launch attacks against the host country, or any other target, says The Telegraph.