New report sheds light on Russian private military group’s operations in Libya

Khalifa HaftarA new documentary aired on Tuesday by the BBC offers new evidence of extensive involvement in Libya by the Wagner Group, a secretive security firm believed to operate on behalf of Russian military intelligence. After first appearing in Ukraine in 2014, the company has been seen to operate around the world as a private paramilitary entity. Its mission is allegedly to afford the Kremlin “plausible deniability” capabilities for operations in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe. As intelNews has explained before, there is evidence that the Kremlin provides payments to Wagner. But concrete information about the secretive firm is hard to come by, and the Russian government strongly denies having links to it.

Now, however, a new television documentary produced by the BBC claims to have uncovered reliable evidence of extensive involvement by Wagner in the Libyan conflict —as well as links between Wagner and the Russian military. Wagner personnel first appeared in Libya in April of 2020, when they were seen operating in support of the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army, commanded by Field marshal Khalifa Haftar. In the spring of 2020, as the conflict was winding down, Wagner group forces retreated from areas south of the city of Tripoli, which were eventually occupied by Haftar’s rival, the Government of National Accord.

The documentary, co-produced by BBC News Russian and BBC News Arabic, is titled “Haftar’s Russian Mercenaries: Inside the Wagner Group”. It is based on the discovery of a Samsung Galaxy tablet, which was left behind in the Tripoli area by a retreating Wagner fighter. According to the BBC the information recovered from the tablet provides “unprecedented insight” into Wagner’s operations in Libya. It includes maps of the terrain in the Russian language, as well as a list of codenames used by Wagner personnel during their operations in the North African country.

Another series of documents recovered from the tablet list weapons used by the group during its operations in Libya. Acceding to the information released online by the BBC, the weapons lists include state-of-the-art radar and other military equipment, which experts claim are “only be available from the Russian military”. The documentary also lays out allegations of war crimes conducted by Wagner personnel in Libya, which include mining and even booby-trapping civilian areas.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 11 August 2021 | Permalink

News you may have missed #660

Margaret ThatcherBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Taiwan President accused of spying on political opponents. Taiwan’s opposition challenger for the presidency, Tsai Ing-wen, has accused intelligence services under the control of incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou of tracking her campaign events for political advantage. The allegations – unproven and denied by Ma – conjure up memories of Taiwan’s one-party past when Ma’s party, the Nationalists, used their total control of the state apparatus to persecute opponents.
►►Analysis: Has Israeli-Australian spy relationship been restored? Intelligence sharing between Israel and Australia was halted this time last year, when a Mossad hit squad with forged Australian passports assassinated senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in in Dubai. But Australian newspaper The Age reports that “the flow of top secret intelligence between the two countries has now been restored”, in a move apparently initiated by the Australian side.
►►Thatcher threatened to ban BBC program on MI5 and MI6. The Conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher threatened to “veto” a BBC investigative program about British intelligence services MI5 and MI6, because it would reveal details about how they operated and question their public accountability. In a letter marked “top secret and personal”, cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong, recommended that Margaret Thatcher consider invoking the rarely used power, saying that “the government has the power to ban any program”. Thatcher wrote on the note: “I would be prepared to use the veto”.

Uproar as UK government classifies details of weapon expert’s death

Dr. David Kelly

Dr. David Kelly

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Public speculation over the alleged suicide of UK biological weapons expert Dr. David Kelly is bound to increase, after a senior state official secretly ordered that details of his death be kept secret for 70 years. Dr. Kelly, a British Ministry of Defense scientist, who had been employed by the United Nations as a weapons inspector, caused a major stir by becoming one of the sources of a 2003 BBC report disputing the British government’s claim that Iraq could deploy chemical or biological weapons at 45 minutes’ notice. He was later called to appear before a Parliamentary committee investigating the government’s claims about Iraq’s purported ‘weapons of mass destruction’. But on July 18, 2003, four days after appearing before the committee, Dr. Kelly’s was found dead at a wooded area near his home. Read more of this post

BBC releases archival documents on KGB spy Guy Burgess

Guy Burgess

Guy Burgess

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The BBC’s archive unit has released 24 previously unpublished documents on Guy Burgess, a British-born KGB double spy who defected to Moscow during the early stages of the Cold War. Prior to joining the British Foreign Office, Burgess worked for the BBC as a producer of its Week in Westminster radio program, which covered British Parliamentary activity. The archival documents, some of which date back to 1936, shed light on his activities while at the BBC. They include a reference letter addressed to the BBC from Burgess’ academic mentor, renowned Cambridge University historian Sir George Trevelyan. In the letter, Professor Trevelyan describes Burgess as “a first rate man” and notes that “[h]e has passed through the communist measles that so many of our clever young men go through and is well out of it”. Read more of this post

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