Was French mercenary a ‘spy for Gaddafi’?

Pierre Marziali

Pierre Marziali

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Back in May of 2011, The New York Times reported that the co-founder of one of France’s largest private security firms had been shot dead in rebel-held Benghazi. His name was Pierre Marziali, a former paratrooper, who in 2003 co-founded Secopex, described as France’s leading private security company. At first, the rebels blamed his death on “gangs that the old regime used”. But a few days later, a press release by the rebel National Transitional Council alleged that the dead Frenchman had been shot because he was among several French “spies hired by the Gaddafi regime”. The story gets murkier when one considers that, according to the Times, Marziali had gone to Libya “on a mission which, I believe, had been ordered by France”. This should not surprise anyone. As intelNews reported on August 23, Western governments have instructed Libya’s rebel authority to use Western-supplied funds to hire Western-based mercenary companies; this ensures plausible deniability on the part of the rebels’ Western allies, while allowing them to engage with boots on the ground outside the NATO command structure. But why would members of a private security firm based in France —a country that supports the Libyan opposition— be spying for Muammar al-Gaddafi? The case of Marziali’s death shows that not everything is what it seems in Libya. Nobody seems to have information about Secopex’s precise operational mission in the North African nation. But, according to Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, it appears that the Libyan rebels tried to apprehend Marziali and four other Frenchmen employees of Secopex, after noticing that their passports had Libyan entry stamps from Tripoli —an indication that they had entered the country with the blessings of the Gaddafi regime. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #576 (Libya edition)

Libya

Libya

►►Rebels seize Libyan intelligence service HQ. Rebel forces of the National Transitional Council have occupied the Tripoli headquarters of Libya’s intelligence service. Al Jazeera, which was given access to the building by the rebels, says that it is “full of confidential documents that could provide a valuable insight into what was one of the world’s most secretive regimes. But”, adds the report, “it will take weeks to sift through”.
►►Gadhafi’s loose weapons could number a ‘thousand times’ Saddam’s. This is the alarming assessment of Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who spent time on the ground in Libya during the uprising. He told Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog that “weapon proliferation out of Libya is potentially one of the largest we have ever documented —2003 Iraq pales in comparison— and so the risks are equally much more significant”.
►►The bewildering dance between Gaddafi and MI6. A well-researched article in The Independent newspaper, written by one of Britain’s most esteemed diplomatic correspondents, Gordon Corera. He argues that Britain and the Gaddafi regime “were not always the enemies they are now”.

Why Are Armed Groups Storming Foreign Embassies in Tripoli?

The new Libyan flag

New Libyan flag

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
It is perhaps understandable that fighters of the National Transitional Council, Libya’s rebel umbrella group, have stormed locations in Tripoli that are associated with the regime of deposed Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. Strategic sites such as  Bab al-Aziziya, Gaddafi’s compound, government ministries, or even houses belonging to Gaddafi’s large and powerful family, may be deemed legitimate targets. But why are the rebels also selectively attacking foreign embassies in the Libyan capital? According to Yonhap, South Korea’s state-run news agency, the South Korean embassy in Tripoli was “attacked […] by an armed gang” of about 30 people late on Tuesday. The report, which could not be immediately confirmed by the Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, cited anonymous sources, who said that embassy staff were “threatened at gunpoint”. At roughly the same period, another group of “armed persons” stormed the building of the Bulgarian embassy, according to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said that it had yet to clarify “the circumstances around the incident”. On Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that armed groups had “assaulted and totally looted” the Venezuelan embassy. A few hours later, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Libya, Afif Tajeldine, clarified that the attack took place at his official residence, which is located about 9 miles from the Venezuelan embassy. He told El Universal that armed groups broke into the ambassadorial residence and “searched the house asking for me”. They then “ransacked the house completely” and “left nothing in the house”. Read more of this post

Western spies, security contractors, won Libyan war for rebels

Libya

Libya

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”. Read more of this post