The head of the military Council of Tripoli Abdelhakim Belhaj began proceedings against the British government for its involvement in his rendition to Libya. Belhaj claims that the MI6 and the CIA were involved in torturing him and schemed with Qaddafi’s regime to send him to Libya to spend 7 years in the Abu Salim prison.
Belhaj, the emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was tracked by the CIA after a tip-off from the MI6. He was arrested in Kuala Lumpur international airport, then transferred to Bangkok, where he was placed under the custody of the CIA in a secret prison in the airport. Following his rendition to Libya, he spent 7 years in jail. He was then released in 2010 under the de-radicalisation program.
Belhaj was an early player to bear arms against the Qaddafi regime during the 2011 revolution. He founded the Tripoli Brigade and was training in the western mountains, near the Tunisian border. The brigade started training in April 2011 with almost no resources. Belhaj was able to acquire resources from important international partners. In August 2011, the Tripoli brigade entered Tripoli from the southern highway.
On September 5th, 2011, Belhaj demanded an apology from the governments of the UK and the United States, after documents were found in the Libyan Central Intelligence headquarters revealing that the two countries were involved in the plan to catch, torture and extradite him to Qaddafi’s authorities with his wife. Yet, he was considering that those documents will not have negative impacts on the two countries’ friendly relations with Libya.
Abdulhakim Belhaj is now one of the most important figures in Tripoli. However, Libya’s new Prime Minister, Abdurrahim El Keib recently appointed Osama Al Juwali to the Ministry of Defense. Al Juwali is the head of the military council of Zintan, one of the most important brigades who played a significant role in the liberation of the western part of Libya and the fall of Tripoli. The Zintan Brigades have been asked several times to leave Tripoli now that Qaddafi’s regime fell, however Zintanis are still controlling different parts of Tripoli, including the international airport, and are not planning on leaving anytime soon.
After being hunted down by the CIA and MI6, now Belhaj is on of the most important people in Libya. However, old enemies and new alliances may not be in his favor in the future.