MI6 funds Al Qaeda assassination attempt and aborted coup in Libya

by David Shayler, former MI5

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THE MI6 FUNDING OF AL QAEDA was the reason that I resigned from MI5 in 1996. I had after all joined the services to stop terrorism, not become party to it. When I blew the whistle on this operation in July 1998, some years prior to 9/11, there were no dots to connect. I couldn’t quite figure out why MI6 had taken such an enormous risk with world stability by backing an Islamic terrorist coup against Gaddafi. I just put it down to small-mindedness and an obsession with power, which I had often seen displayed by the services behind closed doors.

True, Gaddafi had been a thorn in the side of Britain sponsoring the IRA. True, Gaddafi had got up the noses of the Zionists by backing Abu Nidal and other Palestinian resistance groups. True, Gaddafi had angered the financial establishment and Big Oil by nationalising the Libyan oil industry in the 1970s. But none of this explained why MI6 funded Gaddafi’s assassination after he had renounced his support for terrorist and violent resistance groups and shown little or no progress in creating his own WMDs. It didn’t explain why MI6 played fast and loose with British security by funding Islamic terrorists whose stated aims were to cause indiscriminate death and destruction in the West. Yes, that’s right: MI6 paid our acknowledged enemies taxpayers’ money to bump off an individual who no longer posed any kind of threat to British lives. And they knew all too well that Islamic terrorists were the new big threat as MI5 had in 1995 set up G9C, a section dedicated to thwarting Muslim terrorists across the world.

It was only when my attention was drawn to the evidence indicating that 9/11 was a false flag operation — in which elements of the US government not loyal to the constitution recruited Muslim patsies, created the circumstances in which the ‘hijackings’ could take place and then manipulated the evidence to implicate only Al Qaeda — that I noticed the similarities with the MI6-funded plot to stage a coup in Libya. I finally joined the dots in the only way they made any sense. MI6 wanted associates of Bin Laden in charge in Libya. They then had two options:

Either:

    1. allow their puppet rulers to remain in charge (at least while they did the bidding of MI6. If they did not comply, they could be removed as the Taliban were from Afghanistan);

Or:

    1. remove the new Al Qaeda regime in Libya by land invasion after pointing out to the world that ‘dangerous extremists’ posed a terrible threat to Western lives (as happened in Iraq).

Either way, the US/UK axis would have taken effective control of the substantial Libyan oil reserves and taken the opportunity to build military bases in Libya as they are doing now in Iraq.

In other words, this operation was one of a series of false flag attacks blamed on ‘Al Qaeda’ and used as a justification for US/UK imperialism at the expense of Arab regimes who have opposed the West. The difference in this case is that there is a witness whose evidence could be used for example in an enquiry or a war crimes hearing. Despite my frequent letters to Tony Blair, other ministers and MPs — and the abundance of evidence which corroborates my disclosures — no one in government or Parliament has actually heard my evidence, even though they are legally obliged to under the common law, the Human Rights Act and legislation which makes the PM responsible for ensuring that the intelligence services work within the law and in the interests of this country.

It should come as no surprise that the two witnesses to the discussion about publicly branding the plot ‘pure fantasy [with] no basis in fact’ — Robin Cook and former head of MI6, David Spedding — are both now dead. Spedding died after taking premature retirement, not long after the plot emerged. Cook died a couple of months after my partner Annie Machon — also a former MI5 officer — had buttonholed him at an election hustings last year and convinced him that MI6 at least had a case to answer. It was a couple of weeks after he had admitted in his Guardian newspaper column that the CIA at least worked closely with Islamic terrorists:

    “Al-Qaida, literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians”1.

The truth is Britain has never been a true democracy. But it is only now that the true extent of its support for terrorists and murderers is emerging. The better-informed are beginning to point out that the Emperor has no clothes. At the same time, the Cabinet ministers are either too scared or too corrupt to expose the terrorist murder of innocent civilians.

Briefing and execution

In summer 1995, I was head of MI5’s Libyan sub-section. One afternoon, David Watson2, codename: PT16/B, my counterpart in MI6, asked to meet to discuss an unusual case which he could not mention over the phone. At the subsequent meeting in MI5’s Thames House HQ, PT16/B told David that:

  • A senior member of the Libyan military intelligence service had walked into the British embassy in Tunis and asked to meet the resident MI6 officer.
  • The Libyan ‘walk-in’ had asked for funds to lead a group of Islamic extremists in an attempted coup, which would involve the assassination of Colonel Gaddafi, the head of the Libyan state.

In exchange for MI6’s support, the Libyan — later codenamed Tunworth by MI6 — offered to hand over the two Lockerbie suspects after the coup. Getting them to the UK for trial had at the time been one of MI6’s objectives for about three years but there is no guarantee that the coup plotters could have done this.

In December 1995, James Worthing3, R/ME/C at MI6, circulated CX95/ 534524 report to Whitehall and other addressees, warning of a potential coup in Libya, confirming that the MI6 agent was involved in, rather than simply reporting on the plot:

    “In late November 1995 [Tunworth’s identity removed]5 described plans, in which he was involved, to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi. []”:

    “The coup is scheduled to start at around the time of the next General People’s Congress on February 14, 1996. Coup will start with unrest in Tripoli, Misratah and Benghazi.” []

    “Plotters would have cars similar to those in Gaddafi’s security entourage with fake security number plates. They would infiltrate themselves into the entourage in order to kill or arrest Gaddafi

    “One group of military personnel were being trained in the desert area near Kufra for the role of attacking Gaddafi and his entourage. The aim was to attack Gaddafi after the GPC [General People’s Congress], but before he had returned to Sirte. One officer and 20 men were being trained for this attack.”6

Around the same time, Christmas 1995, Watson told me that he had met Tunworth, in Geneva and paid him $40,000. Jackie Barker, an MI5 transcriber on secondment to the Libyan sub-section, confided to me that Watson had told her the same information. Watson then met Tunworth on two further occasions early in 1996 in Geneva mentioning to me that he had paid ’similar sums’ to Tunworth on each occasion. Although PT16/B never specifically mentioned it, it was tacitly understood that Watson was working with the approval of his direct line manager, PT16, Richard Bartlett.

At some point — I can’t be sure when exactly — Watson mentioned that the submission7 was going to go “all the way to the top”. In about January 1996, Watson told me that the submission had been successful, indicating that the Foreign Secretary himself had signed the document permitting the operation.8 But I knew we only had Watson’s word for this. Despite my efforts with MI5 management, no one there had the courage to ask ministers whether MI6 had in fact been given legal immunity for these crimes abroad. After I blew the whistle the Foreign Secretary of the day, Malcom Rifkind, denied giving permission for the operation.

Around February/March 1996, at least two intelligence reports quoting independent sources — the Egyptian and Moroccan intelligence services — confirmed that an attack had been made on Colonel Gaddafi in Sirte, Libya. Two of the reports indicated that the attackers had tried to assassinate Gaddafi when he was part of a motorcade but had failed as they had targeted the wrong car. As a result of the explosion and the ensuing chaos in which shots were fired, civilians and security police were maimed and killed.

At a meeting shortly after, Watson ventured to me in a note of triumph that Tunworth had been responsible for the attack. “Yes that was our man. We did it” was how he put it. He regarded it, curiously, as a triumph even though the objective of the operation — the assassination of Colonel Gaddafi had not been met — and there had been civilian casualties

Getting the story out

On 31 July 1998, I met journalists from two different British newspapers to brief them on the story with a view to publication as long as they submitted it to the authorities for clearance9. Ministers ruthlessly censored the story and sent an urgent extradition request to the authorities. The next day, I was arrested and held under draconian secrecy legislation by the French authorities. The Brits had told them that I was selling secrets to the enemy rather than writing newspaper articles and lobbying ministers to hear my evidence.

A week later, the New York Times, which was beyond the jurisdiction of the British authorities, reported that the British media had been banned from reporting the plot.

    “Did the British government try to assassinate Col Mummar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, in February 1996 by planting a bomb under his motorcade? And did the plan go awry because agents from MI6, the foreign intelligence service, put the bomb under the wrong car, killing several Libyan bystanders?” it asked. []

    “A sweeping injunction has barred newspapers and television news programmes from publishing the embarrassing allegations about the inner workings of Britain’s security services.”10

The paper added that the government had told the press it could report the allegations as long as it did not mention details, like the payment to Islamic extremists of around £100,000.

Two days after the publication of The New York Times article, the BBC was permitted to broadcast more details of the conspiracy based on an interview with me recorded in December 1997 and an investigation carried out by Mark Urban, the BBC’s respected defence correspondent. It added the following detail:

  • the Islamic group involved was the Militant (or Fighting) Islamic Group, led by Abdullah Al-Sadiq;
  • Libya had publicly accused Britain of giving refuge to the leader of the Militant Islamic Group. The British authorities had no idea whether Al Sadiq was in the UK;
  • Two well-placed sources had confirmed that the Secretary of State running the department at the time gave no authorisation for the attack;
  • MI6 was operating completely outside democratic control.

It was now clear that intelligence operatives working in secret were deciding British foreign policy, not the democratic government, which even under Britain’s rather imperfect system is still notionally accountable to Parliament and the people.

On 9 August 1998, a week after my arrest, the Mail on Sunday newspaper added still further confirmation of the plot and the payments. It reported:

    “David Shayler’s revelations that MI6 tried to blow up Colonel Gaddafi were given strong credence by US intelligence sources yesterday. They insisted that, despite claims to the contrary, the British secret service was financing the group behind the attempt on the Libyan leader’s life. [According to the US] the British service [MI6] turned to the Fighting Islamic Group [FIG] and its leader, Abu Abdullah Sadiq, who was living in London.”

Another source in Washington told the paper that MI6 had provided ‘various kinds of support’ to FIG, including financial help. The Sunday Times also confirmed that those involved in the attack were Islamic terrorists.

The denial and the proof

Despite independent corroboration from newspaper and television investigations, on the same day the articles appeared, Robin Cook, then Foreign Secretary, claimed: “The tale about the MI6 plot to assassinate Gaddafi is pure fantasy. [] It is pure fantasy. [..] I am clear these allegations have no basis in fact” without bothering to hold an enquiry. When approached by Mark Urban of the BBC, Cook simply refused to hear the evidence offered. As this was an allegation of murder and terrorist funding, Cook should have discharged his legal duty and immediately referred the matter to the police to investigate.

In November 1998, Libyan TV broadcast footage of the assassination attempt. It showed Gaddafi leaning out of his open-topped car to greet the crowds. As he mingled with the crowd, an object was seen to fly through the air. As Gaddafi looked down on it, he was suddenly being surrounded by bodyguards, who hustled him away. Libyan TV named the assailant as Abdullah Radwan, a partner of Abu Abdullah Sadiq, the leader of the Islamic Fighting Group. According to the report:

  • Abdullah Radwan succeeded in reaching the front ranks and threw a grenade when Gaddafi got out of the car.
  • Britain had made payments to the Islamic Fighting Group;
  • Separate payments had been made;
  • They totalled $40-41,000.

Enquiries with Swallow Tail, a former intelligence officer who cannot be named for fear of reprisals11, have confirmed that ?????????????12 was the agent Tunworth. Despite the abundant evidence then in the public domain, British ministers refused to hear my evidence.

AND THAT would have been that, if it hadn’t been for the public-spirited former intelligence officer who obtained the CX document issued by MI6 (see above), and put it on the Internet in February 2000 on www.geocities.com/byanymeansnecessary_200013 (see copy and transcript of CX report).

When interviewed about the document, the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook refused to confirm that it was genuine, presumably because it refuted his claims, which had caused many to believe that I had simply made the whole thing up.

The MI6 report clearly demonstrated that an MI6 agent among the coup plotters was meeting his MI6 handler to discuss the assassination of Col Gaddafi ‘in which he was involved’14:

    “The coup plotters would launch a direct attack on Gaddafi and would either arrest him or kill him.”15

    “The military officer said that the plotters would have cars similar to those in Gaddafi’s security entourage with fake security number plates. They would infiltrate themselves into the entourage in order to kill or arrest Gaddafi.”16

If this report had been a record of a meeting between a Libyan terrorist and an IRA member planning to assassinate Tony Blair, which had fallen into MI5 or police hands, it would have been accepted in a court of law as clear evidence of a conspiracy between the two to cause terrorism.

As a CX report going out to ministers, the report could not detail the illegal payments. It did though confirm that the coup plotters

  • were looking for support from the British state:
  • had contacts with Islamic extremists, described as ‘Libyan students’ and ‘Libyan veterans who served in Afghanistan’.

The report also made it absolutely clear that the following officials had received the report:

  • The Permanent Under Secretary’s Department, advisers to the Foreign Secretary;
  • GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA;
  • MI5;
  • the Ministry of Defence; and
  • MI6 stations in Tunis, Cairo and Washington

They would therefore have had copies on file. Why didn’t any of them — not one single member of five departments of state — bother to draw the Foreign Secretary’s attention to information which refuted his ‘pure fantasy [with] no basis in fact’ jibe? This document after all did provide a basis in fact for my disclosure that MI6 had conspired with Islamic terrorists.

Two and a half years after the original disclosure, I was finally given permission by the authorities to give evidence to the police17. In February 2001, SO1 sent a report to the Crown Prosecution Service. Prosecution sources said the authorities had decided there was a prima facie case, meriting further investigation18. In all, the enquiries took nine months. In November 2001, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the MI6/Al Qaeda conspiracy was not ‘pure fantasy’ as ‘the police enquiry [had] been extremely thorough, examining all relevant material.”19.

This confirmed that there was ‘a basis in fact’ for my disclosures. If it had been ‘pure fantasy’, there would have been no relevant material to examine. At the same time, neither the police nor the CPS sought to arrest me or bring charges for perjury or wasting police time, indicating that detailed sworn statement was honest, reliable and true.

Shortly before I was tried in October 2002, Guillaume Dasquié, journalist and publisher of Intelligence On-line, and Jean-Charles Brisard, an adviser to French President Jacques Chirac who worked for the French intelligence services, published a book called Forbidden Truth. The book identified the Islamic Fighting group as the Libyan al-Qaeda cell responsible for the attempt on Gaddafi’s life. Dasquie told the Asia Times: “Bin Laden wanted to settle in Libya in the early 1990s but was hindered by the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Enraged by Libya’s refusal, bin Laden organised attacks inside Libya, including assassination attempts against Gaddafi.”20.

The book adds that the Islamic Fighting Group also included Anas al-Liby, a leading Al Qaeda member who is wanted for his involvement in the African embassy bombings and remains on the US government’s most wanted list with a reward of $25 million for his capture.

Al-Liby was with Osama bin Laden in Sudan before the Al Qaeda leader returned to Afghanistan in 1996. Despite suspicions that he was a high-level Al Qaeda operative, Al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad. The raid discovered a 180-page Al Qaeda ‘manual for jihad’ containing instructions for terrorist attacks. It is of course possible that part of the money given to Tunworth ended up with Al Liby to fund Al Qaeda activity in the UK.

Issues raised

Nearly all experts who work in counter-terrorism — as opposed to people on the “outside” — believe that assassinations, particularly in the case of heads of state only serve to destabilise a region. This was a view held by the US National Security Council until George W Bush became president. Although certain Third World leaders do not share our standards of democracy, they do provide a certain amount of stability to their country and region. Remove such a leader from power by assassination and you will only create a vacuum, which will lead to unrest and violence as factions compete for power, as we have seen in Iraq. The UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee did indeed warn that this would happen prior to the invasion in March 2003.

In addition, MI6 had given its blessing to Tunworth an individual who was leading a group of Islamic terrorists loyal to Osama Bin Laden. If Radwan, the individual the Libyans caught in the act, had succeeded in assassinating Colonel Gaddafi, his associates could have further destabilised a region already subject to violence from Islamic fundamentalists. In short, the West might have lost control of its puppets, creating the first state in the world to fall to the rule of Al Qaeda.

In control of Libya or a region and possibly the whole of North Africa, Al Qaeda would have had:

  • Ready access to Libyan funds, running into £billions.
  • Control of the Libyan oil industry, destabilising world oil prices.
  • A greater ability to launch many more attacks like September 11th, killing and maiming thousands of UK and US citizens.
  • A greatly increased capacity to attack the state of Israel.
  • The means to destabilise world security on an enormous scale.

If MI6 won’t allow Britain’s elected representatives in Parliament to access its documents about the conspiracy then perhaps they could try using the US Freedom of Information Act to obtain final confirmation of MI6 funding Tunworth, the IFG and Al Qaeda. But how embarrassing would that be? Admitting that Parliament could only get at the truth about MI6’s crimes against humanity by accessing US records is a place where our MPs like Ann Taylor, the current chair of the Prime Minister’s Intelligence and Security Committee, are too scared to go.

Activists could though write to her at the Houses of Parliament (or to Tony Blair in Downing Street) to insist that my evidence is heard even at this late stage.

5C2C IDP225 O24276 GG9613 NG0044 04122114 1CA952 91.13

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BRITISH AUTHORITIES INFORMED:

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TUNIS

WASHINGTON

CX 95/53452(R/ME/C) OF 04 DECEMBER 1995 (GTN[———] EXT [——-])

/REPORT

PAGE TWO UK S E C R E T/DELICATE SOURCE/UK EYES ALPHA

REPORT NO: 95/53452 (R/ME/C)

TITLE: LIBYA: PLANS TO OVERTHROW QADAHFI IN EARLY 1996 ARE

WELL ADVANCED

SOURCE: A NEW SOURCE WITH DIRECT ACCESS WHOSE RELIABILITY

HAS NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED

SUMMARY

5 Libyan colonels in charge of plans to overthrow QADAHFI,

scheduled to coincide with the next General Peoples Congress in

February. Coup will start with unrest in Tripoli, Misratah and

Benghazi. Coup plotters are not associated with Islamic fundamentalists.

MUSA QADHAR AL-DAM murdered by coup plotters in June. Attempt to

assassinate QADAHFI in August thwarted by security police.

DETAIL

1. In late November 1995 [Removed to protect TUNWORTH’s identity]

described plans, in which he was involved, to overthrow Colonel

QADAHFI. He said that 5 colonels from various parts of the armed

forces were in charge of the coup plot. these included [blank——

—————————--blank] The latter was most likely to

take overall control.

2. The coup was scheduled to start at around the time of the next

General Peoples Congress on 14 February 1996. It would begin with

attacks on a number of military and security installations including

the military installation at TARHUNA. There would also be

orchestrated civil unrest in Benghazi, Misratah and Tripoli. The

coup plotters would launch a direct attack on QADAHFI and would

/either

PAGE THREE UK S E C R E T/DELICATE SOURCE/UK EYES ALPHA

95/53452

either arrest him or kill him.

3. The coup plotters had 1275 active sympathisers in the

following areas: TRIPOLI 240 persons; BENGHAZI 135; TOBRUK 114;

MISRATAH 148; SIRTE 40; AL-ZAMIYA 180; AL ZUMARAH 300; AL KHUMS 28;

GHADAMIS 50. Their occupations ranged from students, military

personnel and teachers throgh to businessmen, doctors, police

officers and civil servants. The plotters were divided into 5

groups, each with 5 officers in charge. Messages to members of each

group were passed via schools and Mosques. The start of the coup

would be signalled through coded messages on television and radio.

The coup plotters had sympathisers working in the press, radio and

television.

4. The military officer said that the plotters would have cars

similar to those in QADAHFI’s security entourage with fake security

number plates. They would infiltrate themselves into the entourage

in order to kill or arrest QADAHFI.

5. One group of military personnel were currently being trained

in the desert area near KUFRA for ther role of attacking QADAHFI and

his entourage. The aim was to attack QADAHFI after the GPC, but

before he had returned to SIRTE. One officer and 20 men were being

trained especially for this attack.

6. The coup plotters were not associated with the Islamic

fundamentalists who were fermenting unrest in Benghazi. However,

they had had some limited contact with the fundamentalists, whom the

military officer described as a mix of Libya veterans who served in

Afghanistan and Libyan students. The coup plotters also had limited

contact with the Algerian and Tunisian governments, but the latter

did not know of their plans.

/7.

PAGE FOUR UK S E C R E T/DELICATE SOURCE/UK EYES ALPHA

95/53452

7. The coup plotters were responsible for the death of [blank,–

Names removed to protect security—————–-blank] was about

to take up the position as head of Military Intelligence when he was

forced off the Tripoli-Sirte road and was killed. The 2 coup

plotters involved escaped unhurt. In August 1995, 3 army captains

who were part of the coup plot attempted to kill Colonel QADAHFI.

However, security police caught them waiting at the roadside on the

Tripoli-Sirte road awaiting QADAHFI’s entourage. Both men escaped to

TUNISIA.

8. The plotters had already distributed 250 Webley pistols and

500 heavy machine guns amongst the groups.

SOURCE COMMENT

A. The coup plotters expected to establish control of Libya by

the end of March 1996. They would form an interim government before

discussions with tribal leaders. The group would want rapproachment

with the West. They hoped to divide the country into smaller areas,

each with a governor and a democratically elected parliament. There

would be a federal system of national government.

B. The officer was disclosing this information in the hope that

if the coup was successful, the new government could enlist HMG

support. Other plotters were aware of the officer’s contact with

HMG, but did not entirely approve of it.

GRS C0616

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