Declassified documents reveal US-Libyan spy war in Malta
September 15, 2011 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A batch of declassified CIA reports from the late 1980s point to the Mediterranean island-nation of Malta as a major battlefield between American and Libyan intelligence operatives. According to the reports, which date from between 1988 and 1991, Malta served as a “primary launching point” for Libyan intelligence and paramilitary units on their way to Germany, Britain, and other countries in Western Europe. Most of the reports, which number over 250 pages in total, contain intelligence from a CIA informant named Abdul Majid Giaka. Referred to as “P/1” in the CIA documents, Giaka was a Libyan employee of Libyan Arab Airlines stationed in Malta. In 1988, however, he walked in the American embassy in the Maltese capital Valetta, and offered to work as an agent-in-place for the CIA. In exchange for his services, he requested regular financial compensation, as well as a promise of eventual relocation to the United States for him and his Maltese wife. Eventually, the intelligence collected by Giaka formed a major component of the prosecution’s case in the Lockerbie bombing court hearings. Giaka’s testimony directly led to the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, who was released from a British prison in August of 2009 on compassionate grounds and is now in Tripoli. The declassified documents show that, in return for Giaka’s services, the CIA arranged a fake surgery for him in 1989, in order to help him secure an exemption from serving in the Libyan armed forces. The CIA’s initial assessment of Giaka was that he was dependable “intelligent, serious and fairly well composed”. Later, however, Giaka’s CIA handlers began questioning his commitment after he started appearing with new information only when in need of money. One CIA report from 1989 commented that Giaka’s “procrastination beyond reasonable limits is testing patience”. CIA reports from the same year indicate a marked increase in the number of Libyan intelligence personnel on the island, something which led the Agency to decide to exfiltrate Giaka and his wife, after determining that their lives might be in serious danger. An article about the declassified documents in The Times of Malta includes an interview with Lockerbie campaigner Robert Forrester, who is among numerous relatives of victims of the bombing who believe that al-Megrahi was wrongly convicted. He claims that Giaka fed the CIA lies about al-Megrahi in order to make himself seem valuable in the eyes of his American handlers. “It really does look like [the CIA] swallowed it all, hook, line and sinker, until it finally dawned on them that he was worthless”, he tells The Times.