October 25, 2011
British intelligence believes the capture and rendition of two top Libyan rebel commanders, carried out with the involvement of MI6, strengthened al-Qaida and helped groups attacking British forces in Iraq, secret documents reveal.
The papers, discovered in the British ambassador’s abandoned residence in Tripoli, raise new and damaging questions over Britain’s role in the seizure and torture of key opponents of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Britain is already facing legal actions over its involvement in the plot to seize Abdul Hakim Belhaj, leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) who is now the military commander in Tripoli, and his deputy, Sami al-Saadi. Both men say they were tortured and jailed after being handed over to Gaddafi.
The documents reveal that British intelligence believe the pair’s rendition boosted al-Qaida by removing more moderate elements from the insurgency’s leadership. This allowed extremists to push “a relatively close-knit group” focused on overthrowing Gaddafi into joining the pan-Islamist terror network.