The regime of Moammar Gaddafi had close links with spy agencies in the United States and Great Britain, according to thousands of documents found in the office of the former Libyan leader’s principal intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa.
The papers were discovered by members of Human Rights Watch (HRW), a London-based activist group.
According to the papers, during the height of the west’s ‘war on terror’ against Islamic militants, both the CIA of the US and MI6 of Britain worked hand in hand with their Libyan counterparts to thwart Muslim extremists.
The BBC reported that between 2002 and 2004, the CIA captured several militants and handed them over to Gaddafi security officials in Tripoli. Similarly, MI6 provided Gaddafi’s people with information on militants and dissidents.
BBC indicated however that the contents of the papers have not been independently verified.
HRW said that the discovery proves that the CIA condones the use of torture on prisoners and was complicit in the abuse perpetrated by Gaddafi’s security forces.
It wasn't just abducting suspected Islamic militants and handing them over to the Libyan intelligence, Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of HRW, told BBC.
The CIA also sent the questions they wanted Libyan intelligence to ask and, from the files, it's very clear they were present in some of the interrogations themselves.”
For example, according to HRW, American intelligence officials abducted a man named Abdullah al-Sadiq in Southeast Asia and flew him to Libya in 2004. Al-Sadiq (also known as Abdel Hakim Belhaj) was involved in an Islamist plot to overthrow Gaddafi in the early 2000s.
Al-Sadiq is now a key member of the Libyan rebel movement.
In response to the HRW’s accusations, a spokesperson for the CIA told BBC: It can't come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.
Britain’s intelligence agencies were also keen on having a good relationship with Gaddafi, helping him write a speech in 2004, around the same time former Prime Minister Tony Blair held his much talked about meeting with Gaddafi in a Bedouin tent.
Indeed, after 9-11, both Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush were interested in gaining Gaddafi as an ally against Islamic fundamentalism.
However, British Foreign Secretary William Hague downplayed down the revelations.
He told Sky News that the papers relate to a period under the previous government so I have no knowledge of those, of what was happening behind the scenes at that time.
Ironically, the man whose office was raided by HRW activists, Koussa, defected to the Britain during the early stages of the anti-Gaddafi revolt in Libya.
He remains a shadowy figure that the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) will neither trust nor accept. Human rights advocates claim Koussa is himself guilty of committing many atrocities and have asked UK authorities to arrest him.