fter 42 years of ruling Libya, Moammar Gadhafi had a lot of secrets. And now that his regime has been reduced to defending a small handful of cities from the rebel forces who have all but defeated him, many of those secrets are spilling out. Reporters, Libyan lawyers, human rights groups, and rebels are digging through piles of documents that Gadhafi's agents left behind in Tripoli. Here are four new revelations from Gadhafi's secret archives:
1. China wanted to sell Gadhafi weapons this summer
In late July, state-controled Chinese weapons manufacturers offered to sell the Gadhafi regime any weapons in their stockpile, in violation of the United Nations embargo, reports Canada's Globe and Mail. (China denies this allegation.) The official memo outlining the meeting, salvaged from the trash, doesn't say if the arms were ever delivered. Critics of NATO's intervention should take note, says Juan Cole at Informed Comment. "It isn't a question of interventionism. The question is whose intervention you support."
2. The CIA and Britain's MI6 had close ties to Gadhafi's spies
Documents from former intelligence chief Moussa Koussa's office reveal a surprisingly close relationship between Gadhafi's spy agency and its Western counterparts, especially the CIA and MI6. British and American agents played a pivotal role in getting Gadhafi to renounce his nuclear weapons program in 2003 and end Libya's diplomatic isolation, and the new documents show close intelligence-sharing in 2004-05, including a letter to "Dear Moussa" from CIA point man Steve Kappes, and gifts of oranges and dates. "Moussa Koussa was on a first-name basis with the CIA and MI6," said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, which compiled hundreds of the documents. "There are Christmas greetings in here."
3. The CIA allegedly turned a key Libyan dissident over to Gadhafi
The CIA turned over at least eight terrorism suspects to Libya, according to uncovered documents. Notably, the CIA — almost certainly with MI6 help — intercepted former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj en route to Britain from Malaysia, allegedly tortured him, then handed him over to Libya, where he was jailed and abused until his release last year. "In a curious twist of history," notes Jon Lee Anderson at The New Yorker, "Belhadj has emerged as a prominent leader of the anti-Gadhafi rebellion," and was just named military commander of Tripoli.
4. A Gadhafi sympathizer offered to poison rebel leaders
Hundreds of intelligence documents viewed by the Associated Press trace Gadhafi's slipping grasp on power. The documents reveal chaos in the ranks as Gadhafi soldiers trying to retake Misrata often ran out of ammunition before reaching the battlefield. A high-ranking Tripoli security official descended into alcohol-and-prostitute-fueled corruption. And a handwritten report from Benghazi contains an offer from a man who says he "infiltrated" the rebel council, and was willing to kill its members: "I can carry out any suicide operation I'm given to assassinate members of the council or poison their food and water." Nothing ever came of the offer.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- How my boyfriend and I learned to live on one income
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why the poor's investment of choice is so alarming
- Affirmative action is doomed. Here's what progressives should do about it.
- Why China's Communist Party is headed for collapse
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Obama's next steps on immigration
- How to make perfect fried rice in 6 easy steps
- What Pope John Paul II could have learned from Sinead O'Connor
Subscribe to the Week