Wednesday 18 January 2023

CIA Director's Libya visit prompts speculation about Senussi handover

[What follows is excerpted from an article headlined CIA Director’s visit to Libya Not Just a Visit published yesterday on The Libya Update website:]

The visit of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency William J Burns to Libya was surrounded by a halo of mystery and a lack of details about its reasons, which opened the door to wide speculation, especially about its timing. The visit came weeks after the handover of Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud, suspected of making the bomb that destroyed a passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 that killed 190 Americans, amid rumors that more suspects will be extradited. (...)

The head of the Libyan government in Tripoli, Abd al-Hamid al-Dbeibeh, had received Burns, accompanied by the ChargĂ© d’Affairs of the US Embassy and his accompanying delegation, in the presence of Libya’s Foreign Minister Najla El Mangoush, and the head of the intelligence service, Hussein al-A’eb. This was amid remarkable secrecy on what was discussed or agreed upon during the visit.

According to the media office of the Libyan government, Burns stressed “the need to develop economic and security cooperation between the two countries.” (...)

Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the US Department of State said he cannot comment on the visit of US Intelligence Director William Burns to Libya. (...)

This American secrecy about the reasons for this visit increased the interest of observers in Libya, with anticipation of its results soon. This is especially regarding the extradition of more suspects in the “Lockerbie” case, such as Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Colonel Gaddafi. He was the second man in the Gaddafi regime, who is currently in a prison in the Libyan capital. (...)

The visit of an American official of this level to Libya for the first time since 2012, amid a complex situation in the country, and weeks after the controversial handover of Mas’ud to Washington, all of this makes the visit worth the attention that has been focused on it, according to the Libyan academic and analyst, Abdul Ghani Atia.

“This visit will completely shuffle the cards in the Libyan scene. On the one hand, it was no surprise that many talk that Abdullah Al-Senussi will be handed over to the US,” Atia believes.

“If Al-Senussi, who is accused of war crimes inside Libya and considered a controversial figure in the country, is extradited, this will represent a cave of treasures in the Lockerbie case. The man was Gaddafi’s right arm, and he is even more dangerous than Saif al-Islam, the son of Gaddafi himself.” Atia said.

[A further article about the implications of the visit can be found in US spy chief gives his support to Libya PM as part of a deal over Lockerbie? by Martin Jay on the Strategic Culture Foundation website.]

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