Iranian Security Sources Finger Qaddafi for 1978 Killing of Shia Imam

[The fact that they would release this story now demonstrates a unity of purpose between NATO, Saudi Arabia and Iran.]

Report: Al-Sadr’s Body Thrown into Sea

by Naharnet Newsdesk


W460

The regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi killed Shiite cleric Moussa al-Sadr 33 years ago and threw his body into the sea, Iranian security sources said.

The sources, who had collaborated with the Shah’s regime, told an Iranian website that al-Sadr and his two companions Sheikh Mohammed Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine were killed upon their abduction by the Gadhafi regime and their bodies were thrown into the sea after being attached to cement blocks.

Former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat has reportedly confirmed that the Egyptian intelligence had information that Sadr was murdered.

Western sources also said the Gadhafi regime assassinated the group that killed the Imam and his companions by blowing up the helicopter that had thrown the bodies into the sea.

In 1978, al-Sadr and his companions flew to Tripoli for a week of talks with Libyan officials. They were never seen or heard from again. The day he was last seen, on Aug. 31, 1978, is still marked annually in Lebanon.

At the time, the Libyan regime insisted al-Sadr and his aides left on a flight to Rome at the end of their visit and suggested the imam fell victim to an inter-Shiite power struggle.

Mexico’s Calderon berates U.S. after casino attack

By Miguel Angel Gutierrez

Mexico’s Calderon berates U.S. after casino attack

MEXICO CITY | Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:04pm EDT

(Reuters) – President Felipe Calderon declared three days of mourning on Friday and demanded a crackdown on drugs in the United States after armed men torched a casino in northern Mexico, killing at least 52 people.

Under intense pressure as violence soars, Calderon said he would send more federal security forces to the city of Monterrey, where gunmen set fire to an upmarket casino on Thursday in one of the worst attacks of Mexico’s drugs war.

Lashing out at corrupt officials in Mexico and “insatiable” U.S. demand for drugs for fomenting the violence, Calderon urged Congress to stamp out drug consumption and stop illegal trafficking of weapons across the border into Mexico.

“We’re neighbors, we’re allies, we’re friends, but you are also responsible,” a somber and angry Calderon said to the United States in a speech after meeting his security advisers.

Pledging to step up the fight on organized crime, Calderon said Mexico was under attack from “true terrorists”, and told all Mexicans to come forward and denounce those responsible.

“They aren’t and cannot be the ones in charge of our streets, our cities and our future,” he said, shortly before departing to Monterrey to take stock of the situation.

President Barack Obama called the attack “barbaric” and said his government stood shoulder to shoulder with Mexico in the battle against the gangs.

“We share with Mexico responsibility for meeting this challenge and we are committed to continuing our unprecedented cooperation in confronting these criminal organizations,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

Washington provides money and resources to Mexico in the drugs war, but joint cooperation has been damaged by mistrust, a botched U.S. plan to track down weapons smugglers and the killing by suspected hitmen of a U.S. customs agent in Mexico this year.

Calderon first ordered a crackdown against the cartels when he took office in late 2006 and several senior traffickers have been arrested. However, turf wars between rival cartels have killed about 42,000 people, battering Mexico’s reputation.

The president insists his campaign has weakened the cartels but critics say it simply brought a surge in violence and has done little or nothing to slow the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs into the United States.

The carnage has hurt support for Calderon’s conservative National Action Party (PAN), which already faces an uphill battle to retain the presidency in elections next July.

BITTER BLOW

The casino attack is particularly bitter for Calderon because the victims were mainly well-to-do civilians with no link to the conflict, in an area that has traditionally been a electoral stronghold for the business-friendly PAN.

Monterrey, which lies about 230 km (140 miles) from the Texas border, is a relatively wealthy city of about 4 million people and is home to some of Mexico’s biggest companies. It was for many years seen as a model of economic development but it has been ravaged by the drugs war over the past two years.

The president was unrepentant on Friday and sought to pin blame for the violence on corrupt judges and politicians in “certain parts” of the country. It appeared to be an attack on the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controls the majority of Mexico’s states.

With a big lead in opinion polls, the PRI is on track to oust the PAN from power next year and analysts expect the ruling party to intensify efforts to discredit its bitter rival as the presidential vote nears.

Survivors from Thursday afternoon’s attack said armed men burst into the Casino Royale and threatened gamblers before dousing gasoline on the carpets and setting it on fire.

“My wife came here for a celebration,” a weeping man told Milenio TV. “She was having dinner with her friends.”

Media reports said the majority of the dead were women.

Security camera footage showed four vehicles pulling up outside the front of the casino and waiting while the assailants went into the gambling hall.

Within three minutes, black smoke was billowing from the front doors and people could be seen fleeing in panic.

(Additional reporting by Dave Graham, Victor Hugo Valdivia and Michael O’Boyle in Mexico andLaura MacInnis in the United States; Editing by Kieran Murray)

NATO destroys yet another country

Geopolitical notes from India
M D Nalapat
Some years ago, in the Indian site http://www.bharat-rakshak.com, this columnist had written of the NATO militaries as resembling an army of simians. Such a force – if let loose within a confined space – can create immense damage, but are unable to clean up the resultant mess. This is precisely what the world has witnessed in Iraq. Despite more than a decade of sanctions that directly resulted in nearly a million extra deaths during that period ( because of shortages created by the UN-approved measures), the regime of Saddam Hussein was able to provide food, energy and housing to the people of Iraq, whereas eight years after “liberation” by key NATO members, the country and its population are worse off than before the 2003 invasion that led to the execution of Saddam Hussein. As for Afghanistan, after a decade of the world’s most modern military force fighting against a ragtag band of insurgents, more than a third of the country is back in the hands of the Taliban, while a fifth of the rest is on the brink of a similar fate. As a consequence of its failure to subdue this force, NATO is desperately clutching at plans for engaging the “moderate Taliban”, an oxymoron if ever one was created.

Serbia has yet to recover from its brief burst of battle with NATO, and now Libya has joined the lengthening list of countries devastated by the attentions of NATO. Clearly, the top brass in a military alliance designed to do battle in Europe against the USSR were reluctant to close shop. They have therefore redesigned NATO as a military instrument with multiple uses, especially against “asymmetric threats”, a term which refers to countries that have ramshackle militaries. Both Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafy followed the dictates of the NATO powers in surrendering whatever WMD was in their possession, unlike Syria and North Korea, two countries that have been left undisturbed by NATO as a consequence. Clearly, military planners within the alliance are ready for action only against those rivals that have had their conventional capabilities degraded to the point at which they do not represent any significant risk against the alliance. Had George W Bush and Tony Blair truly believed their own rhetoric about Saddam Hussein having WMD, they would never have sent their armies into Iraq the way they did.

As mentioned in these columns, Gaddafy’s fate got sealed when he accepted the advice of his Europe-dazzled sons to disarm and place the survival of his regime in the hands of NATO. Since 2003, Muammar Gaddafy dismantled his WMD program, synchronised his intelligence services with that of NATO and generally accepted each of the prescriptions handed over to him. Had NATO been an alliance that respects reciprocity, all this ought to have made NATO turn as blind an eye to his battle with sections of the population as we have seen in the case of Bahrain, where the ruling family has been given a free hand to sort out the situation. Instead, the situation changed when Nicholas Sarkozy was informed by French banks that Colonel Gaddafy may withdraw the immense bank deposits of Libya from them to institutions in China, and when he learnt that several contracts that French enterprises were expecting to come to them would vanish because Gaddafy wanted to spend less on French military and other toys and more on social services. Libya had to be made an example of, lest other Arab governments think of shifting their money elsewhere than within the NATO bloc as a consequence of the loss of $1.3 trillion by the GCC and its people alone because of the financial fraud perpetrated in 2008 by banks and other financial entities headquartered within the NATO bloc.

These days, companies based within NATO are finding it difficult to retain the monopoly position they have enjoyed, sometimes for generations. In particular, Chinese companies are challenging them in numerous markets, as are companies based elsewhere in Asia, including within South Korea and India. As a consequence, they now rely on military force to retain their privileges. This has been illustrated with commendable transparency in the case of Iraq and Libya. In the latter case, even though the fumes of battle have not ceased (and are unlikely to), oil companies such as ENI and Total are hard at work figuring out the assets they can seize because of the local victories of the Sarkozy-appointed “National Transitional Council”. Interestingly, even though the NTC is a creation of Paris, the UN has accepted it as the legitimate government of [Libya]. Indeed,in the 21st century the UN seems to have regressed into the period between 1919 and 1939,when the League of Nations awarded “mandates” to dominant countries that permitted them to rule weaker ones. In the past decade, similar mandates have been proferred in the case of Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the case of Libya, President Sarkozy’s takeover of the Libyan state via the creation of the NTC has been similarly legitimized by the UN in an astonishing abdication of principle.

However, just as in other locations, facts on the ground may not follow the script favoured by NATO. In the case of Libya, this columnist has warned for five months that the NATO intervention would only result in civil war and in the steady destruction of the infrastructure that made Libya one of the more prosperous countries in the region. All this is at risk today, as chaos descends in the form of armed gangs set loose by NATO across the country. Not that there is ever any chance of those responsible for such a catastrophe being held accountable by so-called “international” bodies, most of which are now firmly in the control of the NATO powers in a way that their own economies are not. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of civilian deaths have resulted from NATO operations, without even a mild protest from the International Court or the Human Rights Council. Such inaction is leading to the same loss of respect for the UN system as took place in the past with the League of Nations, which became seen as being controlled by a small group for their own purposes.

Whether it is Libya or any other country, each has the right to develop its societal dynamic in its own way. Unless a country poses a threat to others, the way Talban-controlled Afghanistan did, it is not legitimate target for international action. In the case of Libya, since 2003 Colonel Gaddafy disarmed his military of WMD and fully cooperated with the US-led War on Terror. His fate has become a lesson to others who may have been tempted to follow in his path of conciliation with NATO. Small wonder that the other regimes in the sights of NATO – Syria and Iran in particular – are in no hurry to follow the Libyan example. Rather than seek to finish off a leader who buried the hatchet publicly and fully the way Gaddafy did, NATO would have been better advised to show its magnanimity and its willingness to keep agreements in good faith. That would have acted as an incentive for Syria, Iran and even North Korea to follow suit, thereby making the globe a safer place. Today, all three states – understandably – have zero faith in the bona fides of the NATO powers, and as a consequence are each going their own way. Combine this with the economic desolation seen within NATO ( much of which has been caused by the huge spike in military spending caused by foreign adventures), and overall even the medium-term prognosis for NATO is dim, despite the smiles of congratulation at the advance of NATO proxies into Tripoli.

Unlike during the Vietnam war, when the Pentagon extensively sourced its procurement from Asia, the Bush-Cheney team sought to give US entities a monopoly over the supply of the items needed, even items as militarily inconsequential as toothpaste. The result of such an autarchic policy has been a big increase in spending, with the US alone spending more than a trillion dollars in its wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, we have seen this use of the state machinery to block competition across several sectors. The EU, for example, has banned Indian pharmaceuticals from its market, despite the low cost and high quality of medicines produced in India. Just now, the EU has banned Samsung hi-tech products. A time will come when Asia bans German cars and French defense equipment in retaliation for the frequent bans on Asian products on specious grounds. The US and the EU cannot protect their way out of economic trouble. They need to give their citizens access to the benefits of a global market, rather than break every canon that they have been preaching for decades. As for NATO, it will soon become clear that while it may be possible to defeat a ramshackle force with the massive use of airpower, that may not translate into monopoly privileges over Libyan oil reserves. Should China or India come up with better terms than Italian or French companies, the people of Libya will ensure that their government act in a way that protects their interests, rather than only those of NATO. The use of military power for commercial advantage ought to have vanished when the 19th century did. Its reappearance in Iraq and Libya is a worrisome sign that NATO has not learnt the lessons of history.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE EMPIRE–Disinfo Site Debkafile Pushes Meme of “Imperial Split”

The following report is likely to be true.  The disinfo element in it is the report’s contention that there is a separation developing between the Saudis and the US.  There is no distance between Saudi Imperial plans and US Imperial plans–THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE EMPIRE.  The seemingly independent Saudi policing actions on display in the Middle East are merely the next act in the ongoing psyop, or “soap opera,” which the CIA organizers are setting-up for our amusement.  The Saudis, just like the Pakistanis, or the Israelis, act when they are told or allowed to act.  That is the way Empire works, no one is allowed to pursue an independent path, unless the appearance of “independence” serves the Empire’s interests.  There is no move towards a Saudi Empire, but there is a move towards a Saudi-created Sunni superstate, largely reassuming the old Hashemite Kingdom, which the British Imperialists carved-up.  Such a Sunni superstate will serve CIA plans for the region, but it will also set-up another adversary to be eventually knocked-down in the span of the perpetual war.  

Believe it or not, but the extremist Wahhabi kingdom is acting as the voice of Imperial moderation on our behalf,  in other words, they are playing the role of “good cop” to Iran’s “bad cop” image.  They are making moves on behalf of Empire which the US could never make on its own.  The plan is to eventually create an international Sunni “caliphate,” to cover all areas within the zone of US interests, from Africa to Asia.  Just as the Empire helped to create its former “enemies” in the past (Soviet Union, Nazi Germany), it has been constructing this “Islamist” bogeyman, using the Saudis, the Turks, and the Egyptians (Muslim Brotherhood and Fetullah Gulen), to set-up the new Caliphate, in order to scare the little American children, motivating their parents into taking-up arms in defense of Empire.

Until we are able to demonstrate conclusively to our fellow countrymen the monstrous plan that our government has been slowly unfolding, the Evil Empire will continue to swallow-up nations.  Until we show the people that the American military and the troops that we love to “support” have been tasked with reshaping the world in the American image, the psyops and the soap operas will continue. 

We like to blame our government for all the evil that it does, never bothering to admit or realize that all that evil is done in our names and WITH OUR PERMISSION.  Deny them the power to commit such evil.

chamberlinpeter@hotmail.com]

US, Saudi Arabia Smuggle Satellite Phones to Syrian Rebels

This is the first time the Obama administration has stepped in with direct assistance for the Syrian opposition in its drive to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad.
DEBKAfile

Iranian intelligence experts in Damascus have been disrupting the Syrian opposition movement’s telephone and Internet links with the outside world and among fellow-protesters in the country. To bridge the communications gap, the US and Saudi Arabia have in the last two weeks smuggled thousands of satellite phones into Syria and put them in the hands of opposition leaders, debkafile reports.

The new phones will also overcome the latest Syrian steps, also on the advice of their Iranian advisers, to slow down the speed of the Internet to impede the transmission of images – most of all live video – of brutal attacks by Syrian security and military forces on protesters.

US and Saudi intelligence services are picking up the tab for the satellite phones and have given the providers a free hand to place no limits on their use.

This is the first time the Obama administration has stepped in with direct assistance for the Syrian opposition in its drive to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad – in way, moreover, that challenges Iran’s contribution to the regime’s survival.

Monday, July 25, Washington also ramped up its criticism of the Assad regime: “The behavior of security forces, including such other barbaric shootings, wide scale arrests of young men and boys, brutal torture and other abuses of basic human rights, is reprehensible,” said a State Department spokesman.

The Saudis have gone still further: On July 19, a new television station “Shabab Syria” (Syrian Youth), financed by Riyadh, went on the air and began broadcasting anti-Assad opposition’s messages to all parts of the country.

In a statement to Iranian news media, the Syrian ambassador to Tehran Hamed Hassan denied that Saudi Arabia was supplying the Syrian opposition with arms. He insisted that relations between the two countries were good, but then added: “Certain people and groups in Saudi Arabia are providing the Syrian opposition financial and media assistance, or issuing fatwas which fan the flames of sedition in the country.”

Saudi Arabia Forging a New Sunni State?

[Excellent analysis of Saudi power play in Middle East.]

Saudi Arabia Forging a New Sunni State?

The kingdom may be aiding Syrian protesters in an effort to break up their nation and create a Sunni state.

Is Saudi Arabia conniving with the United States to unseat the Assad regime in Syria? The possible smuggling of satellite phones into the country suggests so but the kingdom’s ultimate aim may not necessarily align with American policy in the region—the creation of a new Sunni state between Syria and Iraq.  [ed.–SEE:  US, Saudi Arabia Smuggle Satellite Phones to Syrian Rebels]

Iranian intelligence experts in Damascus attempted to disrupt the Syrian opposition’s telephone and Internet connections in recent weeks, making it all the more difficult for news of the uprising to reach the outside world. To help the rebels, Saudi Arabia and the United States reportedly smuggled thousands of satellite phones into Syria. Other than that, there’s little the Americans can do short of military intervention. President Bashar al-Assad may have lost the “legitimacy to lead” but he doesn’t need Washington for anything, rendering sanctions virtually useless.

Protests erupted in Syria in March after the “Arab spring” deposed veteran dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. In Bahrain, Shī’ah Muslims also took to the streets to pressure their largely Sunni government into enacting reforms but Saudi troops quelled the uprising before it could pose a serious threat to the small Arab Gulf state’s monarchy.

The oil kingdom is now rooting for the protesters in Syria, or at least some of them. Besides supposedly supplying the anti-government forces with satellite phones in conjunctions with the Americans, Saudi Arabia privately and clandestinely poured money and arms into the country in the hopes of stiffening the resistance and buying the loyalty of desert tribes.

The ultimate aim could be the erection of a new state encompassing not only the Euphrates’ river valley in Syria roughly corresponding with the southeastern Deir ez-Zor Governorate but Iraq’s central Al Anbar province as well. Both are overwhelmingly Sunni and home to more than a couple of million people. Such a country would put a natural geostrategic ally of Saudi Arabia’s in the heart of the Arab world—a “forward operating base” for Riyadh from where to watch Syria, Turkey and Iraq, three Middle Eastern states that are increasingly assertive, and from where to counter Iranian influence.

Riyadh blamed Tehran for stirring the uprising in Bahrain even if there was little evidence of Iranian involvement. The accusation and Saudi led military action nevertheless demonstrated just how worried the Saudis were about Iran extending its influence in the region.

They have ample reason to be concerned. The Saudi backed government in Lebanon was undermined by Iranian ally Hezbollah earlier this year while two of the kingdom’s allies in containing the Islamic Republic, Egypt and Iraq, have been rocked by internal unrest. With Iraq now a democracy—ruled by a Shiite prime minister—and Hosni Mubarak out of office and facing trial, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the only two powers still standing in the Middle East.

A political disintegration of Iraq and Syria, prompted by the creation of another Saudi client state, would weaken both a friend of Iran’s and one of its traditional foes. The United States, after spending considerable blood and treasure stabilizing Iraq, might rather not see its experiment in multiethnic Arab democracy fall apart. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Syria after Assad moreover. But the development could bolster the club of pro-Western regimes in the region.

Neighboring Jordan conveniently joined the Gulf Cooperation Council two months ago which formally sanctioned March’s intervention in Bahrain. Whether Morocco also joins the organization or not, it is a moderate Islamist bulwark against Iranian encroachment in West Asia, providing Saudi foreign policy with extra legitimacy and sometimes an alternative to dollar diplomacy. Whatever the emirates contribute in funding, the Saudis are obviously in the lead. And they’re disappointed about their American ally’s reluctance to support them.

The Saudis didn’t particularly care for President Barack Obama’s championing of human rights and reform in the face of the Arab spring and blamed him for forcing Mubarak out of power.

From Washington’s perspective, the alliance with the Wahhabi kingdom is one of convenience. It regards its religious intolerance and backwardness as an embarrassment even if the two countries share interests in the region. Both want to keep the oil flowing, the Gulf free of Iranian influence and neither wants the ayatollahs to go nuclear and embolden their terrorist proxies in the Levant. The clear strategic rationale of the relationship tends to be overshadowed by moral objections on America’s part however. Saudi nation building abroad is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the State Department therefore.

Actually, sponsoring the foundation of a brand new republic (presumably) in the Middle East wouldn’t be such a stretch for the United States ideologically. It’s not as though today’s national boundaries in the Middle East necessarily reflect cultural and religious divides—let alone encompass specific peoples or nations. Rather, a Sunni polity separate of multicultural Syria and Shī’ah majority Iraq conforms much better to notions of sovereignty and self determination than the status quo.

It’s not often that American interests and ideology coincide in the Middle East. The risks of too overtly endorsing the Saudi effort—if it is a serious effort to begin with—are clear. America could be perceived as once again meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states. Success, on the other hand, could leave Iraq, then virtually a Shiite homeland, much stabler and Saudi Arabia, a pivotal Western ally, in an enhanced position to balance against Iranian intrigue. Now Washington has only to recognize the opportunity.

Nick Ottens is an historian from the Netherlands who researched Muslim revivalist movements and terrorism in nineteenth century Arabia, British India and the Sudan for his Master’s thesis. He also studied the history of transatlantic relations and is currently a contributing analyst with Wikistrat. Nick blogs about politics and economics at Free Market Fundamentalist.

A guerrilla war in the making?

 A guerrilla war in the making?

PV Vivekanand
Muammar Qadhafi and his inner circle have mysteriously disappeared from their stronghold, Tripoli. Thousands of soldiers and mercenary forces that Qadhafi was supposed to have mobilised to defend his capital have melted away overnight. And no seems to know what happened to Qadhafi’s weapons of mass destruction, mainly a large stockpile of chemical weapons, raw nuclear materials and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that can threaten aircraft, US intelligence officials say.

The problem is that no one knows where they — or at least part of them — are stored.

Western officials are also worried that militant groups like Al Qaeda could lay their hands on part of the arsenal. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that it is possible that someone in the regime who might have access to mustard gas and might try to use them for whatever reason.

Libya joined the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2004, but, according to US sources, the country’s plans to end production of chemical weapons and destroy those already in its possession were stalled because of disputes between Libya and the US over funding and logistics.

The best bet is that Qadhafi had anticipated that the rebels would be able to get into Tripoli and pose a serious challenge that would eventually find them in control of the capital, given the committed support that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and others were (and are) giving them. So he had prepared an alternative: Moving somewhere from where he could launch a guerrilla war against the regime that replaces him and take revenge on those who helped the rebels topple him.

That could also explain why Qadhafi explained through media that he controls that he had staged a “tactical” withdrawal from his Bab Aziziya compound and his war against his foes would continue.

Qadhafi and his people are believed to have used tunnels under the six-square kilometre Bab Al Azizia compound to get out of Tripoli.

Regional observers believe that Qadhafi and his forces could regroup in Sebha in southern Libya where he enjoys the support of the local tribes. Sebha was where he was building nuclear facilities that he agreed in 2003 to dismantle under an agreement with the US. He also built underground military facilities and bunkers there to make Sebha an ideal place for shelter when the need arose.

Today, Sebha could be turned into a place from where he could launch a guerrilla war to keep Libya unstable for a long time.

Some reports indicate that thousands of fighters from his own Qaddafa tribe and other tribes loyal to Qadhafi have been moving to Sebha in recent weeks. Notwithstanding the freeze of Libyan funds and assets outside the country, Qadhafi should have enough resources to sustain a guerrilla war and pay his sleeping agents in Europe and elsewhere to Nato countries and allies to punish them for having supported the rebels.

For all we know, Qadhafi could have moved himself to Sebha (or any other place) days or weeks earlier. He was not seen in Tripoli since and his audio rhetoric came through telephone calls, some of them caught in bad connections, indicating that they could have been long-distance communications. Qadhafi’s last public appearance was on June 12 with the visiting president of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan N. Ilyumzhinov.

If he had been planning a guerrilla war, then Qadhafi would most definitely would have equipped himself well.

It is very alarming that despite the close surveillance and intelligence gathering that the US and Nato allies maintained on Libya using satellite, drones and other aircraft, they have not been able to locate the poison gas and rockets or intercept their transfer to wherever Qadhafi chose to move them.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has said that the US was taking steps to prevent the weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Two teams of US weapon experts are reportedly working to secure the sites of weapons of mass destruction in rebel-held areas.

Qadhafi located his chemical weapons facility in Rabta, south of Tripoli, where he is believed to have produced some 10 tonnes of various chemical agents which can inflict grave damage. Libya was also believed to have Scud-B missiles and mass quantities of conventional weapons.

Against that backdrop, it is frightening to even to imagine how these could come in handy for Qadhafi in a guerrilla war if he has made sure he could have them when and where he wants them, particularly if he decides to make a last-ditch stand. He could even slip in a tonne or two of mustard gas to Al Qaeda and other extremist groups with no end-use conditions attached except that it should not be used against him and his loyalists.

If that is indeed the case, then the fall of Tripoli and Qadhafi’s disappearance are definitely not the last we have heard of the Libyan conflict.

Viktor Bout Statements to U.S. Agents Coerced, Judge Rules

Bloomberg

(Updates with prosecutors’ statement in fifth paragraph.)

Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) — Viktor Bout, a Russian accused of conspiring to sell weapons to a Colombian terrorist group, won a bid to bar from his trial statements he made after U.S. authorities threatened to abandon him in a Thai prison.

U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin in Manhattan today granted Bout’s request to exclude his comments to Drug Enforcement Administration agents after his arrest in Bangkok, saying the agents ignored Bout’s request for more time to decide whether to talk. Bout, 44, said he was told that if he didn’t speak immediately, he’d be left in a Thai jail to face “heat, hunger, disease and rape,” Scheindlin wrote in her ruling.

“When coupled with the agents’ deceptive suggestion that if Bout ‘cooperated’ he could come back to the United States with them (rather than be ‘abandoned’ in a Thai jail), I find that this credible threat of violence also materially induced Bout to make statements,” Scheindlin said.

Albert Dayan, one of Bout’s attorneys, didn’t immediately return a telephone message left at his office seeking comment on the decision.

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s opinion and plan to request that it be reconsidered,” Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, said in a statement.

Rocket Launchers

Bout was arrested on March 6, 2008, in a sting operation. The government said undercover agents told Bout they wanted to buy weapons for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, including surface-to-air missiles, armor-piercing rocket launchers and machine guns. His trial is set for Oct. 11.

Scheindlin, who this month denied a second request by Bout to have the charges dismissed, said in today’s ruling that his “dramatic arrest,” during which he was handcuffed and walked in front of reporters and photographers, along with denial of his requests for an attorney and contact with his embassy, led him to make involuntary statements.

According to Bout’s version of events, he was taken into custody by 15 to 20 officers at the Sofitel Hotel in Bangkok, and then strip-searched as police looked for evidence in his hotel room, Scheindlin wrote in today’s order. He was then transferred to police headquarters, where he was confronted with 40 to 50 members of the media who took pictures of him, Scheindlin said.

Thai Police Official

A Thai police official then told Bout that U.S. agents wanted to speak with him, and Bout responded that he didn’t want to talk to them, saying that he wanted to meet with an attorney and see a representative of the Russian embassy, requests that were denied, Scheindlin said.

About an hour after his arrest, Bout was placed in a room with six or seven U.S. agents and was advised of his rights, which he said he understood, Scheindlin said. During a 20-minute interview that followed, Bout told the agents several times that he was “not in a very good state of mind” and needed more time before he could speak with them, the judge said.

Bout was handcuffed throughout the interview and repeatedly asked the agents if he could speak with them the next day, Scheindlin said.

Two of the agents said during a May court hearing that they weren’t aware that Bout had asked for an attorney or a representative of the Russian embassy, the judge said. One of the agents, Robert Zachariasiewicz, denied telling Bout that he wouldn’t be able to survive in a Thai jail or that he would be subject to “heat, hunger, disease and rape,” Scheindlin said.

Waive Extradition

Zachariasiewicz admitted that he told Bout that the conditions in a Thai jail may not be “pleasant,” and that he told him he was facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the charges, the judge said. Zachariasiewicz also denied that any of the agents asked Bout to waive extradition and said that Thai authorities made it clear he wasn’t coming with them, Scheindlin wrote.

The agents acknowledged that Bout told them he wasn’t in a good frame of mind and needed more time before he could speak with them, and also that Bout asked for them to come back the next day, Scheindlin said.

“Both agents testified that they told Bout that it was unlikely that the Thai police would permit them to speak with him tomorrow,” the judge said. “I find that the agents’ representation on this point was false and find that it is likely they knew that they would have been permitted to see Bout the next day if they had made that request of the Thai police.”

The agents also weren’t credible when they denied insinuating that Bout might return to the U.S. with them if he cooperated and waived extradition and denied telling Bout that he would face “disease, hunger, heat and rape” in Thai jails, the judge said.

‘Credit Them Fully’

“To the extent that the statements in Bout’s affidavit are uncontradicted I obviously credit them fully,” Scheindlin wrote. “To the extent the statements are contradicted they would ordinarily be entitled to less weight than sworn testimony. However, based on Bout’s uncontradicted description of the events surrounding the arrest, I find his version of the interview more credible than the version advanced by the agents.”

The case is U.S. v. Bout, 08-cr-0365, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

–Editor: Fred Strasser, Mary Romano