09:49 GMT +326 March 2019
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    Abdel Hakim Belhaj

    'Sorry' Isn't the Hardest Word for May!

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    Jon Gaunt

    I don’t agree with torture under any circumstances but please could someone explain why my Government has made a grovelling apology to Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar and given them half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money for what happened to them in Libya under Gadaffi!

    Let's be clear, the UK did not torture this man; the UK did not punch this woman in the stomach when she was pregnant and the UK did not use rendition to transport them from Thailand to Libya.

    READ MORE: Libyan Dissident Belhaj 'Gratified' by Rare Apology From UK – Lawyer

    What the British did, under a Labour government headed by Tony Blair with Jack Straw as Foreign Secretary, was to authorise MI6 to tip off Gadaffi's secret service to the whereabouts of Abdel in 2004 which led to his arrest and rendition.

    So, Attorney General, Jeremy Wright is correct to say we were complicit in their rendition. But where Wright is wrong is to say the UK Government is "complicit in their alleged mistreatment by Gaddafi's forces.

    So, before we start the historical revisionism and putting on the collective horse hair shirt let's remember the context of their detention.

    This happened almost directly after 9/11 in 2001 when over 3 thousand innocent people were slaughtered by Islamist fanatics in New York.

    The West, myself included, thought we were under attack from these Islamists and that is the context under which both the Patriot Act and the use of rendition was used. That is also of course why Guantanamo was developed.

    It is easy for armchair liberals and historical revisionists to look back on these events and just criticise the reaction as inhumane and undemocratic and even unlawful but we were facing an enemy that was clearly not playing by any rules we recognised. Yes, mistakes were made and continue to be made and it is becoming clear we that did not have an "ethical" foreign policy at all but I restate, the West was under attack.

    Remember also that Abdel Hakim Belhaj was member of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an anti-Gaddafi guerrilla group who were linked to al-Qaeda and they have been regarded as a Terrorist group by the UK Government since 2005.

    So, it's the usual cliché, one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter, but one thing you can state is that Abdel had a chequered past to say the least.

    READ MORE: 'No Questions Asked': UK Authorities Sent Libyan Exiles to Topple Gaddafi

    He was detained for six years by Gaddafi and he says he was tortured repeatedly. He also claims that CIA operatives were present at some of these events and that British secret services also visited him on two occasions.

    His wife was released after four months and she also alleges brutality including a fear of losing her baby when she was punched and kicked in the stomach. The wife and the son, who is now 13, were at the Commons yesterday to hear the grovelling apology by Wright on behalf of Theresa May who has written and expressed her regret: "the United Kingdom government's actions contributed to your detention, rendition, and suffering."  

    The whole Libyan affair is a stain on British history and of course Abdel's capture came just two weeks before Blairs famous, or was it infamous, meeting with Gaddafi in his tent in the desert. It does, with hindsight, look like Abdel was a token to Gaddafi to persuade him to give up his weapons of mass destruction programme which of course he did after the meeting with Blair.

    Subsequently in 2011, David Cameron and Sarkozy of France decided to attack Libya, a strategy that was subsequently attacked by the foreign affairs committee in 2016, who accused David Cameron of "lacking a coherent strategy for the air campaign".

    It said the intervention had not been "informed by accurate intelligence", and that it led to the rise of so-called Islamic State in North Africa. The committee went on to say, "The regime change initiated by Cameron left Libya in a worse state than it was under Gaddafi's regime". Of course, this has also led directly to the mass migration on a biblical scale of people and the immigrant crisis the whole of Europe has, and is still, suffering.

    Obama went further calling the intervention, "a shitshow!"

    In short it was a bloody mess and to be frank it is a wound that is still bleeding.

    It is also clear we never had an ethical foreign policy, nor will we ever have one. So can we please stop the hypocritical criticism we display to other countries when they are under attack and decide on drastic measures to protect their citizens?

    Wars are never pretty, wars aren't nice and sometimes extraordinary events require extraordinary measures and I am afraid that is the hard-unpalatable truth.

    Abdel says he didn't want compo. So, we should have obliged him and not given his wife £500 grand and potentially open the floodgates to loads more people complaining that we are responsible for all the world's ills.

    READ MORE: Political Interference? UK Challenged Over Role in Libyan Rendition Prosecution

    One thing that certainly ties Blair, Jack Straw and David Cameron together is the fact that all three have not felt the need to personally apologise or accept responsibility for their mistakes. If anyone should be paying compo put to this man it is these three hypocritical Muppets.

    Let's also be straight, although the apology was given there is also a clear understanding that the £500K was a full and final settlement and that no side had admitted culpability?!

    In essence this settlement was to protect Jack Straw and MI6 from further questioning or legal action.

    This wasn't really about making amends to anyone, let alone the Libyan people, this was the political establishment elite protecting themselves once again and using our money to do it.

    In brutal terms this is another Establishment cover up.

    No surprise there then!

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    torture, Libyan civil war, 2011 Libya military intervention, CIA, MI6, al-Qaeda, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Muammar Gaddafi, United Kingdom, Libya
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