SPECIAL REPORT: An Alleged Terrorist with a Special Passport Courtesy of GNA’s Foreign Ministry – Al Marsad

In the wake of the arrest warrant issued by the Minister of the Interior of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha, against Emad Faraj Mansour al-Shagaabi for extremely serious charges filed against him, al-Shagaabi in retaliation posted a threatening video on Facebook addressed to Fathi Bashagha accusing him of embezzlement and corruption. It has been revealed that the GNA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued al-Shagaabi a Special Passport, and the scandal implicates the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Investment Authority, particularly via the figure of the Islamist Mustapha al-Manea as Al Marsad’s Special Report explains.

[Lbya, 27 November 2019] – Al-Shagaabi claimed that he has documents proving that his opponent, Fathi Bashagha, has squandered 1.2 billion Euros that were allocated by the Government of National Accord (GNA) for the war effort on the frontlines.

Arrest warrant issued by Fathi Bashaga on 24 November for Al-Shagaabi

The video posted by al-Shagaabi on Facebook caused huge attention in social media because of his violent reaction, threatened to expose everything. Al-Shagaabi also exposed the Muslim Brotherhood network, which he said was complicit with ISIS and terrorists, including the Sallabi family. Al-Shagaabi, however, confirmed in his video that he is currently defending Tripoli against the attack by Haftar, as he put it.

A Terrorist with a Special Passport

The biggest surprise revealed in the video was that the terrorist Emad al-Shagaabi had fled Benghazi and settled in Tripoli since 2014 following the victory of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Operation Dignity forces over the terrorist organizations and network in Benghazi. Al-Shagaabi is accused to have coordinated between ISIS and Al-Qaeda according to the official charges filed by the GNA Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bashagha, and went on to obtain a special passport from the GNA Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOAIC).

His name in the passport is Emad Faraj Mansour Ali without the surname name of al-Shagaabi. According to his special passport, his profession cited as Consultant at the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA). The travel document was issued on the 6 November, just 19 days before his arrest warrant was issued against him by Bashagha. The question that arises here is what is the relationship between a person who claims to be acting as the General Coordinator of the Intervention Force and Security Resolution (IFSR) of the GNA Ministry of Interior, with a sovereign economic institution such as the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA)?

Who Granted Him the Special Passport?

The special passport is considered as a government service passport that entitles its bearer to a number of diplomatic privileges including visa-free entry to several countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and most African and Asian countries. That such a passport was issue at all to a wanted person like al-Shagaabi is a serious issue.

The Corruption Black Box Facebook page stated that the Justice and Construction Party and Muslim Brotherhood member and Legal Adviser to the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), Mustapha al-Manea, who also fled Benghazi, is responsible for issuing this special passport as a member of the Board of Directors of the Libyan Investment Authority. Mustafa al-Manea, is not only a member of the Board of Trustees of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), but also one of the leading members of an influential cadre of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood who have been accused of controlling the bank and infiltrating its strategic and highly sensitive dossiers for years. He was appointed at the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) after working, according to sources inside the sovereign fund establishment, at the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) as an assistant to its Governor, Siddik al-Kabir, in one of the CBL departments. Al-Manea attended official meetings with Siddik al-Kabir, and was delegated by him for missions abroad.

Mustafa El Mana with Siddik al-Kabir, Mustafa Sanallah and Fathi Agoub, among others, at the Central Bank of Libya

Mustapha al-Manea’s brother, Ali al-Manea, is the Chairman of the so-called the Benghazi Displaced Families’ Association, which is close to the presidency of the consultative High Council of State (HCS), Dar al-Iftaa, and  some members of the Presidential Council in Tripoli, such as the Acting Minister of Education, Mohamed Ammari Zayed, and others. This raises many question of the role played by Mustapha al-Manea in facilitating the issuance of the special passport to al-Shagaabi.

Al Marsad Contacts GNA’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Al Marsad contacted an official at the GNA Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOAIC) in Tripoli who works in the Protocol Department, specifically at the Diplomatic and special Passports Section—the department responsible for preparing special passports and presenting it to the MOAIC Minister for issuance. The official told Al Marsad the following:

MOAIC official: This passport is authentic and valid. Counterfeiting it is difficult. This edition of the special passports was made in Austria at the request of the Libyan Interim Government (LIG) of Abdullah al-Thinni. We became responsible for issuing them after signing the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and assuming authority. We have been issuing this edition of passports for some time. However, we issue this type of passports based on what we receive from the public authorities who ask for such type of passports for their employees after the approval of the MOAIC Minister. His Excellency the Minister is currently on a mission outside Libya, and we will contact him later to discuss the matter.

Al Marsad: Have you received any relevant correspondence from the Minister of Interior regarding a wanted terrorist, al-Shagaabi, who obtained a special passport just days before the arrest warrant was issued against him?

MOAIC official: We have not yet received any memo of an issued arrest warrant from the Minister of the Interior, in connection with this person, or a request to revoke his special passport before the issuance of the arrest warrant. It is assumed that the Ministry of the Interior has investigated this person through its security apparatuses, and we are surprised they have not communicated with us first. We do not know if they have already communicated with the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) regarding the arrest of one of its employees. It is really complicated.

On the other hand, the Corruption Black Box Facebook page indicated that Mustafa Al-Manea acted in his capacity as a member of the board of trustees of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) in which he was appointed during the imprisonment period of its Chairman Ali Mahmoud who had been incarcerated for 74 days on corruption charges and was later released.

Mustafa al-Manea with Muslim Brotherhood leaders: Ali al-Sallabi, Osama al-Sallabi, Salman Awdah, and Mahdi Kashbour.

Meanwhile, Al Marsad reviewed Law No. (2) of 2001 on the organisation of political and consular work, and its executive regulation which was amended by the 2011 Constitutional Declaration.

In articles 24 and 25, the law stipulated the eligibility of granting special passports to specific categories such as chancellors to the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and mayors of municipalities. However, there is no provision for the right to issue special passports to consultants working at the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA).

Articles 24 and 25 on regulations concerning political and consular work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Fayez al-Sarraj, in his disputed capacity as  Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) issued a resolution on 23 February 2019 appointing Mustapha al-Manea as member of the board of the LIA Board of Trustees. His name came in the resolution as Mustapha Mohammed Ali without the family name, al-Manea. The concealment of a surname is a practice usually resorted to by officials in Libya when there is a hidden purpose or interest in concealing the identity of the person. Sources said at the time that Siddik al-Kabir is the one who pushed Fayez al-Sarraj to take this decision.

Supporters of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council Defend Al-Shagaabi

Supporters of the so-called Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council defended al-Shagaabi, on their Facebook pages, against the charges of terrorism. arguing that they were politically-inspired fabrications. They criticized the arrest warrant issued by Bashagha against him and they they published a photo of al-Shagaabi fighting against the Islamic State in Sirte as an alleged indication of the false accusations against him.

All these developments come days after the return of Fathi Bashagha from the United States. On 25 November, in a videotape, the GNA Interior Minister stressed the need to end the control of armed militias over state institutions, and criticized some officials who were complicit with militia leaders and other criminal elements.

Few hours after Bashagha made his latest statements, the US State Department announced that senior US officials had met on 24 November with the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, to discuss steps to achieve a suspension of hostilities and a political resolution to the Libyan conflict. However, the US officials stressed on the need for concrete efforts to address the militias and extremist elements, and the distribution of resources for the benefit of all Libyans.

Given the current context and the latest stress on eliminating militia control it seems that both the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) and the Libyan Investment Authorities (LIA) and those who exert control over the livelihood of the Libyan people should have cause for concern.

© Al Marsad English (2019)