Bashagha’s Letter on Violations Committed by the Armed Groups in Zawiya was a PR Stunt – Al Marsad

Fathi Bashagha, Minister of the Interior of the Government of National Accord (GNA), issued on Sunday a statement expressing his rejection of the violations committed by armed groups in the city of Zawyia against the pilot of the Air Force of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Major General Amer Al-Ourfi, who fell in captivity after his Mig23 was shot down yesterday. Bashagha’s statement failed to mention that these groups report to his Ministry of Interior, or that their commanders have been accused of serious charges related to Libyan national security in spite of the controversy caused by the published photos of those involved that went viral over various social media platforms. This is reminiscent of the events that preceded the arrest of the wanted terrorist Emad al-Shagaabi last week, who was accused of similar charges against the militiamen who humiliated and mocked the LNA captive pilot.

[Libya, 8 December 2019] – In his letter to the Head of al-Zawiya Security Directorate, Brigadier Ali Al-Lafi, Fathi Bashagha expressed vague disavowal of the subordination of these militias to his Ministry, stating that they committed violations and utilized the emblem and the name of the Ministry of Interior. This indicates that they are not affiliated with the GNA Ministry of the Interior despite the promotion of Mohamed Bahroun from the rank of First Lieutenant in 2017 to that of Captain in 2019. It seems that the verb “utilized” in the above statement by Bashagha could have better been replaced by the verb “implicated” to serve the context of the statement more truthfully.

Fathi Bashaga’s letter to the Director of Zawiya Security

The Head of al-Zawiya Security Directorate is an Accomplice

The Head of al-Zawiya Security Directorate, Ali Al-Lafi, to whom the letter of the GNA Ministry of the Interior was addressed, is accused of being an accomplice to this notorious group. He previously helped Mohamed Bahroun not to turn himself in to the General Prosecution in 2018. Al-Lafi defended Bahroun in an official correspondence, of which Al Marsad obtained a copy, against accusations of entanglement with ISIS operatives. Therefore, it seems doubtful that the Head of the Security Directorate in the city of Al-Zawyia will implement the orders of the GNA Minister of Interior.

The Zawiyah Security Director, in a previous message to the Ministry of Interior, defends Bahroun and questions the legal actions against him.

Specifically, in March 2018, Al-Lafi wrote to the former Minister of the Interior, Abd al-Salam Ashour, informing him that the First Lieutenant, Mohamed Bahroun, is one of his affiliates and is charged with security duties, denying all the charges levelled by the General Prosecution against him, noting that Bahroun is one of the February 17 veteran revolutionaries. Al-Lafi affirmed that the charges against him in connection with ISIS by the Public Prosecution are circumstantial and lack irrefutable evidence.

A photo of Fathi Bashagha with the Director of Zawiya Security Ali Al-Lafi at a ceremony on 16 January 2019.

Despite this, Bashagha instructed today the Head of al-Zawiya Security Directorate to reconsider the formation and command scale of the militia of the First Security Division led by Bahroun and replace them with competent officers. This is because this group is also led by Firas al-Saluqi, nicknamed al-Wahshi, Hamdi Halila, and a number of other fuel smugglers, human traffickers, and organized crime ringleaders whose names are on the wanted list  in the police records and archives of the Public Prosecution in Tripoli.

On the left photo Firas al-Saluqi seen with Major General Al-Jaqam, and on the right with notorious human trafficker Abdul Rahman Al-Bedja.

A security insider source in Zawiya, who asked to remain anonymous, told Al Marsad: “The Security Directorate is the one that works for, and reports to, the commanders of these notorious militias, and not the other way around. It is just a beautiful facade for them. These people can exert their armed control over the entire Security Directorate within half an hour. All this makes Bashagha’s decision to replace them a mere ink on paper for international consumption only and will never be implemented in light of the security structure in the city, where the Security Directorate is already allied with the fuel smugglers and human traffickers’ militias who have been on the wanted list of Tripoli for almost eight years now.”

Hamdi Halila, one of the battalion leaders, is also close to Khaled al-Mishri, head of the Consultative Tripoli-based State Council.

In what seemed as a response and challenge to the decision of Bashaga, who demanded their dismissal from the leadership of the First Security Division (ISNAD), the Commander of ISNAD, Mohamed Bahroun, appeared this evening again, accompanied by Firas al-Saluqi, wearing police uniforms and demolishing what they called an Operation Dignity camp south of Zawiya. The GNA Minister of the Interior’s decision will also be challenged by the relationship of these figures with the Chairman of the advisory High Council of the State (HCS), Khaled Al-Mishri, who resides in, and is originally from, the western coastal city of al-Zawyia.

Earlier today, a senior official at the General Prosecutor’s Bureau confirmed to Al Marsad that the arrest warrant issued by the General Prosecutor’s Bureau in October 2017 against Mohamed Bahroun on charges of association with ISIS is still valid and in force.

© Al Marsad English (2019)

 

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