RFI Radio Highlights Belhaj’s Role in Transporting Mercenaries to Libya – Al Marsad

The Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, Peter Stano, said that the European Union (EU) reiterated its categorical rejection of the presence of any mercenaries in Libya. 

(Libya, 5 January 2021) – In his statement on Monday, Peter Stano said the EU was ready to contribute fully to push towards a political solution in Libya.

In a related context, RFI French radio revealed that Abdelhakim Belhaj, who is the Chairman of Al-Watan Party and leader of the designated terrorist group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), in involved in mediating with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the transfer of Syrian mercenaries to Libya via the former’s Libyan Wings Airlines. It said Ankara continues the collaboration with LIFG Belhaj to provoke chaos in Libya, preparing for further occupation by Turkey.

The radio referred to Libyan Wings Airlines being involved in dozens of flights that have transported thousands of Syrian mercenaries and jihadists to and from Libya.

The Libyan Wings Airline Company, however, denies having any ties with Abdelhakim Belhaj.

Accusations against Belhaj’s collaboration with Turkish intelligence in the transfer of Syrian mercenaries to Libya have been levelled against him since 2019 and there is currently an arrest warrant for him, along with Ibrahim al-Jadhran, by Libya’s Attorney General on the counts of being  involved in attacks, crimes and leading armed groups in Libya, including attacks on oil terminals, Timnahint air base in southern Libya and other crimes in south of the country.

Belhaj is believed to be working closely with Mahdi Al-Harati, the Irish-Libyan former mayor of Tripoli who had close ties with the Syrian factions since his involvement in shipping arms to Syrian militias in 2011. Harathi had formed a militia in Syrian called Liwa al-Umma. According to Dr Jibril Elabidi, Mahdi al-Harati “oversaw the training of Erdogan’s mercenaries and their transfer to Libya. His familiarity with the Syrian fighters, stemming from his fighting experience alongside them and overseeing their training, allowed him to play a central role in their recruitment.”

Belhaj’s Syrian connection, dating back to 2011, was also explained by Christopher Phillips:

“Libya had already become a source of Syrian rebel arms and finance. As early as November 2011, Syrian rebels were reportedly negotiating with the new post-Gaddafi government in Tripoli about providing weapons. After a leading Libyan rebel, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, travelled to Turkey, the Libyan government made a $100m donation to the Syrian rebels. A regular supply of weapons was sent from Libya to Syria’s rebels via Turkey. Also, Qatar was inspired in Syria by its apparent success in backing rebels against Gaddafi. It is an interesting question as to whether Doha would have been so enthusiastic were it not for events in Libya.”

Abdelhakim Belhaj was a former fighter in Afghanistan against the Soviets and later the leader of the terrorist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was allied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. With Qatari help he became head of Tripoli Military Council after the 2011 revolution. In June 2017, Belhaj was included on a list of suspected terrorists linked to Qatar issued by Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and subsequently also by the House of Representatives, Libya’s parliament in Tobruk.

He has since branched out into business, allegedly with Qatari help, and still holds ambitious of leading the country. Belhaj is accused of being involved with Tunisia’s terrorist Ansar al-Sharia organisation, an accusation he denies.

Belhaj is currently based in Turkey, where he has close contact with the Erdogan regime and Islamists from Libya, the Hamas, and Syrian and other countries.

© AlMarsad English (2021)