966063_INSIGHT - Libya - Info about Opposition Leadership - LY0700

Date 2011-09-14 20:34:01
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Source Code: LY700
PUBLICATION: No, for background only
ATTRIBUTION: STRATFOR Security source
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: US Govt security contractor on US Govt assignment in
Libya
SOURCE RELIABILITY: Still testing
ITEM CREDIBILITY: A
SPECIAL HANDLING: None
SOURCE HANDLER: Fred

Follow up from information earlier today --

Just to put a bow on this,

1. Abdel-Hakim Belhaj (45 yrs old and pictured in photo below talking on mobile), is the new head of the newly created Tripoli Military Council (new as of last week of August), with control of some 8,000 troops, the biggest fighting force in Libya.

2. Belhaj has the support of the leader of the rebels' National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil.

3. Belhaj is former leader of an Islamic militant group (1996 he was leader of the now-dissolved Libyan Islamic Fighting Group).

a. Some branches have had connections with al-Qaida in Sudan, Afghanistan or Pakistan. He says in 2004 he was picked up and tortured by the agency at a black site prison in Thailand.

4. Belhaj was sent to Libya's Abu Salim prison, where Gadhafi's regime held many political prisoners.

a. Libyan government freed Belhaj and 33 other members of the Islamic Fighting Group in March 2010. Belhaj agreed to renounce violence as part of an initiative by Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam, who at the time was considered a reformist voice.

IMPORTANT CONNECTION:

1. The man that I made a contact with (Mehdi al-Harati, commander of the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade) was appointed as the deputy commander of the Tripoli Military Council. He is a strong confederate of Belhaj and I've tried to get someone in the current administration to consider that he could be used to get close to / establish relationship with Belhaj and perhaps upwards thru to Abdul-Jalil (...keep your enemies closer). Hard to get folks to listen / think.

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