Scotland Yard Widens Inquiry Into 'MI6 Plot' to Kill Kadhafi
A Scotland Yard investigation into an alleged plot by MI6 to kill Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi has been broadened in a move which appears to discredit claims by Robin Cook, the foreign secretary, that the security service's involvement was "pure fantasy," the Observer has reported.
A year after the investigation began, detectives have been asked by the Crown Prosecution Service to gather corroborative evidence and extend their inquiries.
According to the Observer, if police establish that MI6 was behind a failed attempt on the Libyan leader, it would mean the service used a "license to kill" which it does not legally have and would be immensely embarrassing for the government and for Cook. The Scotland Yard investigation was prompted by David Shayler, the former MI5 officer, who claimed he was told by his former opposite numbers in MI6 of plans to attack Kadhafi's motorcade near the Libyan city of Sirte.
Prosecutors who have read a preliminary police report, submitted in February, have decided there is a prima facie case which merits further investigation. "We are pursuing the matter and it is not fantasy, but neither have we reached any conclusion," a police source was quoted as saying.
Two MI6 officers codenamed PT16 and PT16B, said by Shayler to have been involved in the plot, have been interviewed by detectives. Superintendent Lewis Benjamin, a former Special Branch officer, is leading the investigation under the supervision of David Veness, Scotland Yard's assistant commissioner in charge of specialist operations.
It is an offence in Britain to conspire to murder, even if the intended victim is abroad.
Several of Kadhafi's bodyguards and would-be assassins were killed in the armed assault on his entourage, according to Arabic newspapers. The Libyan leader, who travels in an armored vehicle, narrowly survived.
Shayler alleged that Britain had backed the assassination attempt and had paid about £100,000 to help buy vehicles and weapons, a suggestion which intelligence sources strongly denied. Shayler was arrested in Paris on August 1, 1998, hours after he divulged details of the alleged plot to The Sunday Times, said the report.
A French judge blocked an attempt to extradite him to Britain and he was released from jail after 18 weeks. He has since returned voluntarily and is awaiting trial on charges of breaching the Official Secrets Act. The charges relate to classified MI5 documents he is alleged to have taken.
Cook denied the claims of MI6 involvement. "I have pursued these allegations," Cook told Sir David Frost, the television interviewer, in 1998.
"I am absolutely satisfied that the previous foreign secretary [Sir Malcolm Rifkind] did not authorize any such assassination attempt. I'm perfectly satisfied that MI6 never put forward any such proposal." However, Cook did not deny in the interview that MI6 had knowledge of the conspiracy.
The Foreign Office said this weekend it had "nothing to add or subtract" concerning Cook's comments, added the Observer.
Doubt was cast on Cook's statements when a top-secret MI6 document, marked "UK Eyes Alpha,” was published on the Internet. The four-page document, entitled: "Libya: plans to overthrow Kadhafi in early 1996 are well advanced,” detailed contacts between MI6 and a group of Middle Eastern plotters.
It disclosed when and where the assassination attempt on Kadhafi was due and said that at least 250 British-made weapons had been distributed among the group.
The document, as retrieved from the Internet, said that five Libyan colonels were in charge of plans to overthrow Kadhafi, scheduled to coincide with the General Peoples Congress in February 1996.
The coup was to start with unrest in Tripoli, Misratah and
It said that coup plotters were not associated with Islamic fundamentalists, but rather with HMG, or Her Majesty's government – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)