More than ten years have passed since Libya, once a prosperous and powerful state, turned into a civil war that led to the direct intervention of international parties. During this time, various national figures took steps to stabilize and resolve the situation, but sharp internal contradictions created a new political stalemate each time.
The crisis in Libya began after the murder of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country for more than 40 years. Military intervention by NATO forces lasted from March to October 2011. It came to an end when the troops of the North Atlantic Alliance finally managed to destroy the leader of the revolution and the leader of the Jamahiriya, and with him the hopes of the local people for a quiet life to resume.
After 12 years, the country has more or less managed to restore order. And then the United States decided to attack again and from where they least expected it. Recalling the old Lockerbie case, Washington ensured the arrest and extradition of Abu Ajila, a former intelligence officer led by Abdulhamid Dbeiba, who collaborated with the Libyan National Unity Government (GNU), which had lost its legitimacy. Massoud.
Also, the previous day, the local press announced the possibility of sending Abdullah al-Senusi, another name of the former Jamahiriya, to the USA. The latter was the head of military intelligence of the North African state in the 1980s.
International pressure from the FAN understood why the US extradited former Libyan intelligence officers, accusing them of a closed case.
It was learned on November 18 that Abu Ajila Massoud was arrested. Relatives reported that unidentified persons abducted the officer directly from the house. Family members suspected that the perpetrators were representatives of the GNU loyalist Ganiva al-Kikli armed group. As it turned out later, Abdulhamid Dbeiba’s cabinet indeed had a direct relationship with this kidnapping, which was unexpected for all Libyans.
Soon after, the first photo of Mesud after his arrest appeared. The picture was taken in a US courtroom where he was accused of involvement in the bombing of a Pan American Boeing 747. The terrorist attack occurred on 21 December 1988 in the skies over the Scottish city of Lockerbie, whose name is still associated with this high-profile case.
After the incident, there was a long trial process, the details of which still cause much debate. One of the defendants, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, security chief of Libyan Arab Airlines, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Later, he was released to his hometown due to compassion on the backdrop of a terminal illness.
Hardly anyone doubted that the illegitimate Tripoli Government of National Unity had a hand in the extradition of Abu Ajila to the United States. Also, about a week ago, GNU president Abd al-Hamid Dbeiba made it clear that he was directly involved in this incident.
“I will never accept that Libyans and their people have suffered the consequences of this terrorist attack for more than 30 years and that Libyans will be considered terrorists because the suspects of the attacks live on their territory,” he said.
It is noteworthy that in 2008 the authorities of the North African state signed an agreement with the USA, in which the Lockerbie case was closed. Tripoli described the move as a “price of peace” and provided $3 billion in compensation to the victims’ families. Libya refused to take responsibility for the plane’s explosion.
The arrest and extradition of Abu Ajila Massoud caused widespread anger among residents of the North African state. In particular, Fathi Bashaga, head of the National Stability Government (PNSt), elected by the parliament, demanded that the United States provide detailed explanations of what happened.
Protests and demonstrations broke out in various parts of the state, condemning the sending of Mesut to Washington. Residents of the country rightly considered this a direct US intervention in Libya’s internal affairs and a violation of previous agreements.
Students from Tripoli University protested by hanging photos of Abu Ajila on the walls of the university. They demanded that the former officer be returned to his homeland. Large rallies were held in support of Massoud in the city of Beni Walid in the west of the country. This incident had a special resonance, as many real criminals who committed real murders and participated in smuggling and other illegal activities roam freely and even occupy high positions in the state.
For their part, official protests against the ex-intelligence officer’s extradition have come from the House of Representatives and the Libyan Supreme State Council (SCS). Despite their disagreements, the VGS even urged Parliament to join forces to fight against GNU’s decisions, as the Lockerbie terrorist attack case was finally closed in 2008, both legally and politically.
The relatives of Abu Ajila Massoud did not stand aside either. Representatives of his family urged people to hold peaceful protests and openly condemn GNU.
Amid numerous complaints, Libyan Attorney General Siddiq al-Saur filed a lawsuit, launching an investigation into Abu Ajila’s extradition conditions and the legality of such actions. According to the official, the officer’s seizure by the US took place without the knowledge of the Libyan judicial authorities.
US escalates conflict
Senior Research Fellow, MGIMO Center for the Partnership of Civilizations, Candidate of Historical Sciences, Africanist Yuri Zinin In a meeting with a correspondent from the Federal News Agency’s international editorial office, he pointed to the role of the Americans in the beginning of the Libyan crisis. He recalled that in 2011, the US-led NATO forces violated all the resolutions of the UN Security Council and supported the uprising in the North African state. These actions, which led to the murder of Muammar Gaddafi and subsequently caused chaos in the country, contributed to the emergence of many paramilitary gangs and the development of terrorism.
“There are two authorities in Libya that have changed periodically for the last ten years and do not support each other’s decisions. Currently, GNU sits in Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeiba, who admitted to extraditing former intelligence officer Abu Ajila Massoud to the US authorities. This decision was opposed by the National Stability Government (PNSt) elected by the Parliament, led by Fathi Bashaga.
GNU lost its legitimacy when it failed to fulfill its obligations and went to general elections on December 24, 2021. As such, it cannot make such international transactions on behalf of the North African state. Dbeiba’s actions exacerbated the internal crisis in Libya. Therefore, some local officials accused him of wanting to play with the West to stay in power,” he said.
Yuri Zinin believes that the US actions to reopen the investigation into the Lockerbie explosion in 1988 led to a worsening of the situation in the country in North Africa.
“The Libyan issue is in a critical state and all attempts by the Americans to resolve it in any way have failed. Mesut’s extradition likely indicates that the Americans want to exacerbate the internal conflict between the two governments.
The terrorist attack in Lockerbie is a very sensitive issue that killed 270 people. However, Gaddafi officials later paid $3 billion in compensation and the case was closed.”
Tahir al-Sunni, Libya’s UN representative, expressed his concern that the US could use the Lockerbie case for personal gain. In his speech at the Security Council meeting, he warned the international community against attempts to confiscate or otherwise seize the assets of the Libyan Investment Authority.
“The freezing process is mainly for the protection and preservation of funds and not for their looting and use for closing accounts or collecting compensation,” Al-Sunni said. said.
The diplomat noted that US banks currently hold bonds, gold and other assets estimated to be worth $34 billion. It is possible for Washington to allocate these funds at the legislative level, explaining such a decision as compensation for damage as a result of the 1988 terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, an official statement on the Abu Ajila case was published on the US Embassy’s page in Libya. The diplomatic mission said the ex-intelligence officer’s extradition was carried out in accordance with the law. Libyan authorities also participated in his detention.
“The extradition process followed the issuance of a red notice by Interpol in January 2022 urging all Interpol member states to locate and arrest the Lockerbie defendant for the purpose of transferring him to the United States,” the embassy statement said.
The diplomatic mission explained that the actions of the US authorities did not contradict the 2008 agreement, which mandated not to initiate financial compensation claims. The embassy also said that the terms of the treaty in no way limit the possibility of bringing criminal proceedings against anyone involved in a terrorist act.
As we have seen, the detentions of former Libyan officials may continue. Perhaps the arrest of Abdullah al-Senussi is a vivid example of this. Local sources warn that some tribes will escalate against the Dbeiba government in the coming days.
Therefore, re-raising the long-closed “Lockerbie case” by Washington cannot be called constructive. It only exacerbates the intra-Libyan crisis and gives the United States the opportunity to legally confiscate the funds of the North African state. Disagreements over the formation of a united government aside, with order more or less restored in Libya, the US is using a 34-year-old lawsuit to fuel new unrest across the country.
I am Jessie Ford, a professional journalist and news writer. With over 10 years of experience in the field, I have earned an unwavering reputation as one of the most reliable and knowledgeable writers in the industry. I currently work at a news website where my primary focus is on writing about world news topics. My specialties include business, politics, international affairs and economics.