Western-supported Libyan warlord guilty of war crimes, say investigators

Khalifa HaftarLibya’s most powerful warlord, who was an asset of the United States Central Intelligence Agency before entering the Libyan Civil War, ordered his troops to commit war crimes, according to two American legal experts. Libya has remained in a state of war since 2011, when a popular uprising backed by the West and its allies led to the demise of the country’s dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Currently the strongest faction in the ongoing Libyan Civil War is the eastern-based Tobruk-led Government, which is affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA). The commander of the LNA is Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, an old adversary of Colonel Gaddafi, who lived in the United States under Washington’s protection for several decades before returning to Libya in 2011 to launch his military campaign.

But Haftar’s reputation as a military commander is now being challenged by two leading American legal experts. They are Ryan Goodman, a professor and former special counsel to the general counsel of the United States Department of Defense, and Alex Whiting, a Harvard University law professor who served as an international criminal prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Together they have published a report on the Just Security blog, which is affiliated with several institutions, including the New York University School of Law. The two scholars argue that Haftar has publicly urged his troops to commit war crimes in several instances. Their report references a video that contains a brief given by Haftar in September 2015 to LNA commanders, in which he calls on them to take no prisoners. In a transcript of the LNA leader’s speech, he is reported to have told his audience: “Give no consideration to bringing prisoner[s] here. There is no prison here”. The two legal experts interpret Haftar’s statement as a clear case of “denial of quarter”, which they say is “a firmly settled part of the laws of war”. In another video, recorded in August 2016, Beleed al-Sheikhy, who is a spokesman for the LNA, is seen briefing LNA commanders about an upcoming battle in Ganfouda, a southern suburb of the port city of Benghazi. Al-Sheikhy says in the video that “anyone who is above 14 years of age will never get out [of Ganfouda] alive”. He tells the LNA troops that they should “consider this a confirmed notice”.

In June of this year, a report published by the United Nations suggested that the main reason for the LNA’s military prowess lies in the secret support it receives from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In August, a British-based newspaper claimed that Haftar has been holding secret meetings with Israeli officials since 2015, and that the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, has secretly provided the LNA with military aid, including night vision equipment and various sniper rifles.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 28 September 2017 | Permalink

Rwandan ex-spy chief freed after UK court refuses to extradite him to Spain

Karenzi KarakeA Rwandan former intelligence chief, whose legal team is led by the wife of British former Prime Minister Tony Blair, has been freed after a court in the United Kingdom refused to extradite him to Spain to face war crimes charges. General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, 54, was the most senior intelligence official in the administration of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. He rose to fame as a commander in the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an armed rebel group from Rwanda’s minority Tutsi tribe that fought to end the genocide inflicted upon the Tutsis by their rival Hutus. In 1994, following the death of nearly a million people, the RPF took power in Rwanda and ended the slaughter. That accomplishment caused a rapid upsurge in the popularity of Karake and other senior RPF leaders. Karake’s popularity remains strong among the Tutsis despite his dramatic falling-out with Kagame in 2010, which led to the general’s dismissal from the government.

Critics, including groups like Human Rights Watch, have accused the Kagame government of instigating mass reprisals after assuming power in Rwanda, including mass murders of Hutus and other tribal members. In 2008, the Spanish government issued an arrest warrant for Karake, accusing him of having participated in “crimes of terrorism” and “war crimes” directed against civilians. Of particular interest to the Spanish authorities was Karake’s alleged participation in the 1997 killing of three Spanish citizens, who were in Rwanda as part of an outreach effort by Spanish medical charity Médicos del Mundo. The former RPF intelligence chief is also accused of having authorized the killing of six more Spanish citizens in Rwanda in the mid-1990s.

Karake was arrested in late June at London’s Heathrow International Airport on a European Arrest Warrant stemming from the Spanish indictment. Shortly afterwards he was granted bail pending extradition proceedings. But the case was dismissed on Monday, following an early morning hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court in the British capital. According to the British Crown Prosecution Service, the Spanish extradition request was thrown out because the law did not permit UK authorities to hear offences committed abroad by non-British nationals. Karake was then able to leave the court, cheered by many of his supporters who were demonstrating outside.

It is worth pointing out that the Rwandan general was represented in Britain by an international law firm called Omnia Strategy, which was founded by Cherie Blair, wife of British former Prime Minister Tony Blair. It has been reported that Mrs Blair also led General Karake’s legal team in London.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 11 August 2015 | Permalink

News you may have missed #708

Bertil StrobergBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Swedish Cold War spy dies at 79. Bertil Stroberg, a former Swedish air force officer, who was convicted of spying for Poland during the Cold War, but always maintained his innocence, has died, following a yearlong battle against cancer. He was sentenced to six years in prison for spying in 1983, but released on parole after serving three years. The key evidence in his case was a letter the prosecution said he had written to the Polish embassy offering to sell military secrets. The letter was signed Sven-Roland Larsson and asked that money be sent in that name to the Central Post Office. Stroberg was arrested when he went to the post office to collect Larsson’s mail.
►►US keeping Britain in the dark on intel issues. American intelligence agencies are increasingly keeping their British counterparts in the dark on key information, for fear those secrets could end up on full display in UK courts. “The Americans have got nervous that we are going to start revealing some of the information and they have started cutting back, I’m sure, on what they disclose”, Ken Clarke, the United Kingdom’s justice secretary, said in a Wednesday interview with the BBC. The American intelligence community has become wary about sharing sensitive intelligence with the UK ever since a 2008 court case forced the British government to disclose specific details on terror detainee operations.
►►Bush official says CIA ‘committed war crimes’. Philip Zelikow, who was a top adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, warned the Bush administration that its use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime”. What is more, newly obtained documents reveal that State Department counselor Zelikow told the Bush team in 2006 that using the controversial interrogation techniques were “prohibited” under US law —“even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them”. Zelikow’s memo was an internal bureaucratic push against an attempt by the Justice Department to flout long-standing legal restrictions against torture.

News you may have missed #694

Hakan FidanBy IAN ALLEN| intelNews.org |
►►India’s spy satellite to be launched in April. The Radar Imaging Satellite, or RISAT-1, is a wholly Indian-built spy-surveillance satellite that can see through clouds and fog and has very high-resolution imaging. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that RISAT-1 is slated for launch in April. The satellite would be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry, and the high-resolution pictures and microwave imaging “could also be used for defense purposes”.
►►GCHQ staff could risk prosecution for war crimes. British law firm Leigh Day & Co. and the legal action charity Reprieve are launching the action against Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague, accusing him of passing on intelligence to assist US covert drone attacks in Pakistan. Human rights lawyers have said that civilian staff at GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency, could also be at risk of being prosecuted for war crimes.
►►Turf war between Turkey’s top spy and police commander? A news report appeared yesterday, which claimed that there was a rift between Turkish intelligence agency MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan and National Police Chief Mehmet Kılıçlar, over intelligence sharing in the fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But the two agencies issued a rare joint statement calling media reports “unsubstantiated”.

US admits African war crimes suspect Charles Taylor was CIA agent

Charles TaylorBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |

Editor’s note: Since publishing this story, The Boston Globe issued a correction, which includes the following: “This story drew unsupported conclusions and significantly overstepped available evidence when it described former Liberian President Charles Taylor as having worked with US spy agencies as a “sought-after source’’ […]. The Globe had no adequate basis for asserting otherwise and the story should not have run in this form”.

Ever since his 2006 arrest for war crimes, Liberia’s former President, Charles Taylor, has consistently claimed that he was an agent of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Now declassified US government documents have officially confirmed that Taylor was indeed an agent of the CIA and the US Defense Intelligence Agency for several decades. The 63-year-old, who ruled his West African homeland from 1997 to 2003, is currently being tried at the United Nations Court in The Hague on multiple counts of civilian murders, rapes, and deploying underage soldiers during a brutal civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Rumors that Taylor was being protected by Washington started surfacing in 2003, after he left Liberia and was given protection in US-allied Nigeria, despite his indictment by the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone. In July 2009, intelNews reported Taylor’s claim that his 1985 “escape” from the Plymouth County maximum security Correctional Facility in Massachusetts, which allowed him to return to Liberia and take over the country through a military coup, took place with US government assistance. His persistent claims led The Boston Globe newspaper to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which has resulted in the declassification of nearly 50 separate documents covering “several decades” of Taylor’s work for the CIA and the DIA. The documents confirm that both agencies employed Taylor as an agent beginning in the early 1980s, long before he became Liberia’s ruler. But the FOIA release does not contain details of Taylor’s work for US intelligence, in an alleged effort to “protect intelligence sources and methods” and so as not to “harm national security”, according to The Boston Globe. Read more of this post

Even more underreported WikiLeaks revelations

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
It appears increasingly likely that Sweden will extradite Julian Assange to the United States, where the WikiLeaks founder will face espionage charges. But the WikiLeaks revelations keep coming, although not all of them receive the worldwide media attention that they deserve. Take for instance the disclosure that at least three senior Australian Labour Party (ALP) politicians have operated as “protected sources” (diplomatic parlance for secret informants), providing regular updates on internal ALP politics to US embassy operatives in Canberra. According to internal US diplomatic cables released on Thursday, ALP politicians Bob McMullan, Michael Danby and Mark Arbib, who currently serves as the Australian federal government’s Minister for Sport, regularly held secret meetings with US embassy officials after 2004.  All three deny accusations that they acted as spies for the US. Another underreported WikiLeaks revelation concerns a 2008 proposal by the Saudi government to create an US- and NATO-backed Arab military force to invade Lebanon, seeking to obliterate Shiite paramilitary group Hezbollah, which controls large sections of the country. Read more of this post

US silent about CIA asset’s cover-up of Afghan massacre

During the US invasion of Afghanistan, local warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum was among the CIA’s most valuable assets. With the close cooperation of CIA agents and members of the US Special Forces, General Dostum and his army supported countless American operations in northern Afghanistan. In the process, Dostum and his men participated in a considerable number of documented war crimes. In one of those instances around 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war were locked in large metal containers and allowed to suffocate to death, or were massacred by bullets fired into the containers by Dostum’s troops. Their remains were buried in large mass graves in a desert north of Mazar-e-Sharif. Recently, large bulldozers and backhoes were used to exhume the remains of the murdered men and move them to an unknown location. Local authorities say this was the job of General Dostum, who has become alarmed by the impending change of guard in Washington. Read more of this post