This article first appeared in the September 11, 2015 edition of Executive Intelligence Review magazine.
by William F. Wertz, Jr.
More than six months ago, on Feb. 23, 2015, the “UN Security Council Panel of Experts on Libya” issued a detailed report on the chaos that has been spreading from that country since the 2011 overthrow and execution of Muammar Qaddafi. More and more of northern Africa and the eastern Mediterranean are being made into Twenty-First Century replicas of Dark Age hellholes. Refugees by the thousands are trying to flee to Europe. The world knows all this, but who is doing anything but ignoring it and the responsibility for these crimes against humanity?
Obama launched the war to overthrow Qaddafi in Libya, throwing his support to the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Weapons were provided to the LIFG by Obama through Qatar and the UAE. Once Qaddafi had been assassinated, this same al-Qaeda-affiliated LIFG network then ran weapons seized from Libyan stockpiles to al-Qaeda and ISIS terrorist organizations in Syria and throughout Africa. (See “Updated Fact Sheet: Obama’s Saudi Connection; the Obama—al-Qaeda Alliance” The UN Report findings are damning.)
Numbers indicate sections of the report on Libya by the UN Panel of Experts.
200. The Panel visited Chad, Egypt, Niger, Tunisia, and the Syrian Arab Republic, countries that have been affected by the proliferation of weapons since the beginning of the Libyan uprising.
201. Information gathered indicates that arms originating from Libya have significantly reinforced the military capacity of terrorist groups operating in different parts of the region, including in Algeria, Egypt, Mali, and Tunisia in particular.
202. The Tunisian authorities told the Panel that most military matériel used in terrorist activities came from Libya.
203. Egypt continues to be among the primary destinations for Libyan weapons. Transfers to Gaza through Egypt are also continuing. While the Syrian Arab Republic was a significant destination for Libyan arms during the first two years of the conflict, that trend appears to have faded in the past 12 to 24 months.
204. Several arms-trafficking networks have established themselves in the south of Libya since the revolution, continuing to draw on stockpiles diverted during and after the revolution. This guarantees sustained proliferation outside the country, particularly towards southern Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Sudan.
205. With the absence of State control over the south of Libya since the revolution, and the development of regional terrorist groups, concerns have been growing about the southern region becoming a strategic zone for terrorist groups in the Sahel, especially in terms of training, funding, rest and recuperation, recruitment and acquisition of military matériel. Matériel coming from Libya and destined for terrorist groups in Mali was seized or destroyed on several occasions in 2014 in Niger by the French-led Operation Barkhane.
The same UN Security Report also reports on the involvement of the terrorist groups in Libya in running the lucrative migrant business.
195. The Panel interviewed several professionals working on the issue of illegal migration to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. They stated that the transnational networks organizing the human trafficking had agents embedded within the Libyan armed groups controlling territory along the smuggling routes. The armed groups provide access and help secure those operations in exchange for a fee. Most of the illegal immigrants are picked up from unseaworthy vessels by the Italian navy and coast guard. The role of Libya in the illegal immigration is pivotal. Italian officials explained to the Panel that, of 167,184 immigrants rescued at sea in 2014, 141,484, or 85%, had left from the Libyan coast.
196. The human trafficking business generates considerable income. The migrants, mainly from West Africa and the Horn of Africa, have to pay traffickers for the stages of their voyage. Migrants debriefed in Italy explained that the prices for the last leg alone, the boat crossing, ranged between $800 and $2,000, depending on sea conditions, vessel type, port of departure, and travel class. This means that, for an average price of $1,200 per migrant, the last part of the smuggling chain generated a total turnover of almost $170 million in 2014. Most illegal migrants leave from the western coastline of Libya. The Panel has not been able to confirm the names of militias and militia leaders involved, but continues to investigate the matter.
197. Armed groups control several important border crossings and entry points, allowing them to take percentages on ongoing trade and smuggling operations, including of drugs, arms, commodities and fuel.
Recently, it has been revealed that Muammar Qaddafi’s third son, Saadi Qaddafi, who is held in Hadba prison, which is under the control of LIFG’s Khalid alSharif, has been subjected to torture. A video was released by Arabic Clear News which shows Saadi Qaddafi being whipped on the soles of his feet by three unidentified individuals. Qaddafi’s lawyer has called the treatment “an international crime, crime of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment.”
The same UN Security Council Report indicates that it is fully aware of such torture perpetrated by Khalid al-Sharif’s National Guard which runs the prison.
79. First, the Panel has received consistent reports of serious human rights abuses at Hadba prison in Tripoli. The prison is controlled by militiamen supervised by Khaled al-Sharif and are commonly referred to as the National Guard, which was the armed group commanded by al-Sharif during the revolution.
Some of the Key War Criminal Underlings
Although the UN report states that it has been unable to confirm the names of the militias and militia leaders involved, the same report does indeed identify the role of key leaders of the LIFG, who were backed by Obama to overthrow Qaddafi, and then used in the effort to overthrow President Assad of Syria.
One of the key persons identified in the report is Khalid al-Sharif. Khalid al-Sharif was appointed on Jan. 11, 2013, to be the deputy minister of defense of Libya. He was previously the deputy emir of the al-Qaeda-linked LIFG, and as such, he was the LIFG military commander.
After the takeover of Tripoli, he worked with the Tripoli Military Council headed by Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who is the emir of the LIFG. Khalid al-Sharif then went on to form the National Guard, which works directly with the Border Guard and the Judicial Police in supervising many prisons. Although Khalid al-Sharif has since been sacked as the deputy minister of defense, he continues to run the National Guard, which has over 10,000 fighters at its disposal.
In sections 134, 135, and 143 of their Report, the Panel of Experts states that in his position as deputy minister of defense of Libya, Khalid al-Sharif bypassed the official Military Procurement Department of the Libyan Defense Ministry to sign authorizations for and to distribute weapons to terrorist groups.
142. In November 2014, the Panel inspected the cargo of the vessel Nour M, seized in Greece in November 2013, and including 55 containers and more than 32 million rounds of ammunition (1,103 tons) for assault rifles and machine guns, on their way to Tripoli. The Greek authorities provided the Committee and the Panel with full information and documentation. The latter indicated that the shipper was Ukrinmash, a Ukrainian State company, the consignee was the Ministry of Defence of Libya, and that the deal was brokered by TSS Silah Ve Savunma Sanayi Dis Ticaret Limited Sirkett, a Turkish company. The vessel belonged to TSS Group Tutun Sigara Sanayi Ve, another Turkish company. To date, Greece has not commenced any prosecution relating to this case of violation.
143. The note from the Libyan authorities confirming to the Ukrainian authorities that the Libyan authorities were ready to accept the cargo was signed by Khaled al-Sharif.
Wissam bin Hamid
On the night of Sept. 11, 2012, Wissam bin Hamid was the go-to man for Obama when the U.S. mission and CIA annex came under attack. Wissam bin Hamid is head of Libya Shield I. It was he who met the U.S. soldiers at the Benghazi Airport that fateful night. First he delayed the U.S. relief forces for approximately three hours from departing the airport to go to the CIA annex. Then his forces accompanied the U.S. forces to the CIA annex, which shortly thereafter came under mortar attack. After the attack, he helped to escort the bodies of the four Americans killed that night in Benghazi to the airport.
When the FBI finally went to Benghazi to investigate the attacks, it was Wissam bin Hamid who was relied upon to escort them and provide them with protection.
In August 2012, just before the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack, the U.S. Library of Congress issued a report entitled Al-Qaeda in Libya: A Profile. In that report it was stated that Wissam bin Hamid was the head of al-Qaeda in Libya. The report also reported that Mokhtar bel Mokhtar, the head of al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, had been his special invited guest at a demonstration in March 2012 in the city of Sirte.
When Wissam bin Hamid met with a U.S. advance team in Benghazi days before the arrival of Ambassador Chris Stevens, he reported to a U.S. official that if his favored Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Libya Prime Minister did not win an upcoming election, the Libya Shield would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi.
Where is Wissam bin Hamid today? According to the Panel’s report, Wissam bin Hamid is working with Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi on behalf of the Islamic State.
44. Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council figureheads Mohammed al-Zahawi (Ansar al-Sharia), Wissam bin Hamid (Libya Shield I), and Jalal Makhzoum (Rafallah al-Sahati brigade) have been featured together in several pictures and videos that were made during or after military operations, showing that the alliance also exists at an operational level. Their recorded speeches and written statements confirm that the coalition has little interest in the stabilization of the Libyan state. The Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council has made repeated statements rejecting Libyan democracy and stressing the need to install the rule of God. As such, and this is confirmed by their actions, these groups appear more interested in establishing strict sharia rule than in politics in Tripoli.
Ansar al-Sharia leader Mohammed al-Zahawi was reported to have announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate on Radio Tawahid (Islamic Unification).
48. The commander of the eastern Libya Shield brigade, Wissam bin Hamid, had previously been accused by Coptic Christians of running a detention facility where they underwent torture. Sources, including a victim, confirmed to the Panel that bin Hamid was frequently involved in arbitrary arrests, sometimes to obtain ransoms and benefit financially.
49. Furthermore, the Panel has seen several pictures on social media, allegedly showing the Islamic Youth Shura Council organizing rallies in support of Islamic State.
The UN report merely confirms that Wissam bin Hamid today is precisely what the U.S. Library of Congress report said he was prior to Benghazi. And this is the man Obama relied upon to provide security for our forces in Benghazi! It is hardly credible that the U.S. Library of Congress would have better intelligence than the intelligence available to the President. One can only come to the conclusion, reached by Gen. Michael Flynn, that the policy pursued by Obama was a “willful decision.”
Abdul Hakim Belhadj
Belhadj was the emir of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group before, with Obama’s support, he became the head of the Tripoli Military Council after Qaddafi was forced to flee the city. Approximately one week after being named commander of the Tripoli Military Council, in August 2011, Belhadj travelled to Qatar where he met with NATO officials. Did the NATO officials not know that Belhadj was al-Qaeda?
Where is Belhadj today? According to Global Research, “Belhadj has now firmly ensconced himself as the organizational commander of the ISIS presence inside Libya. The information comes from an unnamed U.S. intelligence official who has confirmed that Belhadj is supporting and coordinating the efforts of the ISIS training centers in eastern Libya around the city of Derna, an area long known as a hotbed of jihadi militancy.”