News and Views

September 1997

30 September 1997: Libyan opposition figures in Egypt said on Monday they were shocked and worried by a report that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had evidence that Egyptian agents had staged the 1993 abduction of a prominent Libyan dissident in Cairo. The Egyptian Interior Ministry said it had no comment on the story in the Washington Post on Sunday that a four-year CIA investigation had confirmed that Egyptian agents turned Mansour al-Kikhia over to Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's government which later executed him in Libya. "I was shocked. Of course I am worried about my safety. I need to hear the comments of Egyptian officials. We came here believing Egypt has a tradition of not handing over opponents,'' said Mohammed Faiz Jibril of the Libya National Salvation Front. "Four months ago I received a message through relatives from the Libyan government saying 'If we wanted you we could have asked for you'. They tried to imply that the Egyptian government is cooperating. They're trying to scare us. Their goal is to have no opposition here,'' he told Reuters.
30 September 1997: Fawzi al-Senoussi, the great-nephew of King Idris who was toppled in a bloodless military coup staged by Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and nationalist officers in 1969, said Egypt told Libyan opposition figures to close their offices and keep a low profile in return for protection after relations were resumed in 1989. "It is difficult to believe Egypt abducted him and took him to Libya. We have known that Libya took Mansour (al-Kikhia) ever since he disappeared from his hotel. Maybe one or two Egyptians, maybe a junior officer facilitated it,'' he said. "The timing of the CIA report is strange. Maybe it is part of an attack against Egypt. But it is worrisome. After he disappeared, an opposition figure who lives abroad refused to come to Cairo. He asked me if I could guarantee his safety, I told him I couldn't guarantee mine,'' said al-Senoussi. [Reuter]
30 September 1997: Liberian President Charles Taylor arrived in Libya for talks with Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Monday. JANA, received in Tunis, said Taylor was greeted by al-Qadhafi at his arrival in Tripoli on Sunday night at the same time as Niger's President Ibrahim Barre Mainassara left after a three-day visit that included talks with Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi. [Reuter]
29 September 1997: The Libyan Movement for Change and Reform "al-Harakah al-Libiyah lil-Taghyeer wal-Islah" denied in a press release that some Libyan [opposition] figures met with Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's envoys in some Arab capitals. Al-Hayat newspaper reported early this month that some prominant Libyan [opposition] figures met with al-Qadhafi's envoys in some Arab countries.
For the full text of the LMCR's press release, please click here
28 September 1997: Egypt has refused to return the passport of a missing Libyan dissident to his American family, a daughter said Sunday, in a case that has reportedly roiled U.S.-Egyptian relations. The statement by a daughter of Mansur al-Kikhia came a day after The Washington Post reported that the CIA has evidence that Egyptian agents abducted al-Kikhia and turned him over to the Libyan regime, which murdered him weeks later. Al-Kikhia, a former Libyan foreign minister who broke with the regime of Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi in 1980, was traveling on an Algerian passport when he disappeared from a Cairo hotel on 10 December, 1993. Libyan dissidents said soon after his disappearance that he was seen in Libya. The Post account said that he was slain in January 1994. His daughter, Maya, told The Associated Press on Sunday that her mother traveled to Cairo after Kikhia's disappearance, and found the passport among her husband's belongings at the hotel where he had stayed. But the document was taken "from my mother's hands by Mukhabarat (intelligence) officers at the hotel,'' Maya said. "They said they needed the passport in case he turned up again,'' she said in a telephone interview from Vienna. Later, the officers denied they had the passport, and "told us they didn't know what we were talking about,'' she said. Officials at Egypt's Interior Ministry, responsible for internal security, and the Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the case. Libya has denied any involvement. [AP] For more details [in Arabic] please click here
28 September 1997: The Washington Post reports Sunday that the CIA has developed convincing evidence that Egyptian agents staged the 1993 abduction in Cairo of a prominent Libyan dissident and U.S. resident, who was then turned over to Col. Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's government. After a four-year investigation, the CIA told the Clinton administration this summer that it had confirmed for the first time that the dissident Mansour al-Kikhia was taken to Libya and executed, the newspaper said. Al-Kikhia's wife is a U.S. citizen. The former Libyan diplomat, who had lived in the United States for 13 years, was four months away from receiving U.S. citizenship when he was kidnapped, the Post said. Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Al Gore, this month demanded privately that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak order an investigation into Egypt's role in al-Kikhia's abduction, according to the report. al-Kikhia, who defected to the United States in 1980, served as Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations before turning into a sharp critic of the Libyan regime. He disappeared from a Cairo hotel 10 December, 1993, while attending a meeting of an Arab human rights organization that he had helped to found. The Post said the U.S. investigation concluded that al-Kikhia was taken to Libya immediately and killed in early 1994. The newspaper quoted one source as saying that there were indications in the CIA report that al-Kikhia's body was buried in the Libyan desert. [Reuter]
25 September 1997: The Arab League said on Tuesday it would only implement a resolution calling for the easing of a Libyan air embargo with the permission of the U.N. Security Council. "As the embargo was imposed by the Security Council, Arab states will approach the Security Council with a unified stand for it (U.N.) to take measures to ease the embargo on Libya,'' The Arab League Secretary-General told Reuters. "This resolution does not represent a breach of international resolutions,'' he added. [Reuters]
25 September 1997: Libya called for an end to economic sanctions at a top-level gathering of international financial officials on Wednesday. "We call upon the world community to lift these unjust and unjustified sanctions imposed on Libya,'' Libyan Finance Minister Mohammed Bait Al-Mal said in a statement to the annual meeting of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund. The minister said that the sanctions violated IMF directives on the liberation of international payments and the provisions of the World Trade Organisation Agreement, which calls for free trade. [Reuter]
23 September 1997: Al-Hayat reports that Mansour al-Kikhia's wife, Baha' al-Emri left the United States yesterday heading for Libya amid reports that Libyan officials got new information concerning the disappearance of her husband. Mansour al-Kikhia [pictured] is a prominant opposition figure in exile. He was a member of the Libyan League for Human Rights and the Leader of the Libyan National Alliance, a group opposing Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's regime. He disappeared while attending a human rights conference in Cairo, Egypt on 10 December 1993. For more details [in Arabic - al-Hayat] please click here
23 September 1997: The Arab League on Sunday urged member states to defy sanctions imposed on Libya by the United Nations Security Council. In a statement issued after two days of talks in Cairo, Egypt, the foreign ministers of the 22-member league said Arab countries should permit flights in and out of Libya if they carry official Libyan delegations or sick people, pilgrims or workers. Arab states should also release Libyan capital frozen in their banks, the statement said. The league said it supported Libyan demands to be compensated for the effect of the sanctions. [AP]
23 September 1997: United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was both irritated and worried by the Arab League's call for an easing of a United Nations air embargo on Libya, officials said on Monday. They said Annan, speaking at a Sunday night dinner with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, expressed the fear that the Arab League's move could weaken the United Nations by encouraging others to defy the world body. [Reuter]
New Libyans' pages on the Net: Fathi al-Fadhli's Page and Taher Boujrida's Page

21 September 1997: Britain has given up hope of bringing to trial two Libyans suspected of the bombing of a United States airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988, British government sources said on Saturday. A senior British government source said there was no prospect of the two Libyans being brought to trial. "We have to be realistic. It was so long ago. The time has come to move on,'' a senior British government source told the Times newspaper in a report also echoed by BBC Radio. [Reuter]
21 September 1997: The British government on Saturday insisted it had not given up hope of bringing to trial two Libyans suspected of the bombing of a U.S. airliner over Lockerbie in 1988, in which 270 people died. "Lockerbie is an issue of the highest importance to the British government. We are determined to secure justice for the victims of this monstrous crime,'' a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said. [Reuter]
21 September 1997: The American Hughes Space and Communications International, Inc., and Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company of United Arab Emirates [which partially owned by the Libyan General Post & Telecommunications Company] signed a contract on 11 September for a satellite-based regional mobile phone system. This will be the largest satellite communications project in the region, with an estimated total cost of $1 billion and a coverage area encompassing nearly 1.8 billion people in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe including Turkey, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. [Space Today]
20 September 1997: France Press news agency reports that United States authorities have rejected visas for three Libyans in the United Nations Libyan delegation.
20 September 1997: A Libyan national is facing deportation from the United States by 27 September. The Washington Post reports that Taher Omran who has been trying to obtain legal residence through his wife, a U.S. citizen, has to leave the U.S. according to a new immigration law. Mr. Omran came to the U.S. as a student from Libya in 1980 and stayed after his visa expired. He applied unsuccessfully for political asylum, and his attempts to get a green card since his marriage were unsuccessful. "We have tried and tried to comply with the law, and there is nothing more we can do," said Omran's wife, Fatimah Steffanof, who has two children and is pregnant with a third. "If he has to leave now, he will take away all our financial and emotional support."
18 September 1997: A United States congressman has visited Libya, possibly in violation of U.S. law, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said on Wednesday. Earl Hilliard, an Alabama Democrat, went to Libya in late August without seeking formal State Department clearance in advance, he said. [Reuter]
17 September 1997: Nine Saharan countries were meeting in the Libyan city of Benghazi to discuss regional economic integration, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Tuesday. Ministers from Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia were discussing practical ways to establish closer ties [Reuter]
16 September 1997: Sixty six years ago today [16 September 1931] the Italians hanged the Libyan fighter [Mojahid] Omar Al-Mokhtar. Omar al-Mokhtar is considered the great symbol for the Libyan resistance (Jihad) against the Italian occupation. In 1922 he reorganized the Mojahideen and re-ignited the resistance against Italy after World War I when the Italians thought that they succeeded in silencing the Libyan resistance. Omar Al-Mokhtar, was ill couple of times and many of his comrades asked him to retire and leave the country, he was 80 years old. But he refused and kept fighting and he deserved a name given to him as "The Lion of the Desert." On 16 September, 1931 the Italians hanged Omar Al-Mokhtar in the city of Solouq and they forced the Libyans to watch their hero been hanged. No consideration to Omar Al-Mokhtar's old age, no consideration to international law and no consideration to world war treaties. For more details, please click here and here
14 September 1997: A close aide to Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has died in a road accident, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported on Sunday. JANA said that former foreign minister Ibrahim al-Beshari [pictured] was killed in a "sad accident'' on Saturday morning. It did not say where or how the road accident occured. It said a ceremony in memory of al-Beshari was held at Tripoli's International Airport on Saturday evening. Al-Beshari, 55, is a close aide to al-Qadhafi since 1969 when the Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi seized power. [Reuter]
13 September 1997: Seventy five years ago today [13 September 1922,] the highest recorded shade temperature , 58 C ( 136 F ), was recoded at al-Aziziyah, Libya.
12 September 1997: A former United States government informant pleaded guilty on Thursday to perjury, admitting he made up a story that a government drug agent allowed a bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Scotland in 1988. Lester Coleman, 54, of Pensacola, Fla., pleaded guilty to five counts of perjury and faces up to five years in prison and a $1.25 million fine. Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, killing 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. Two Libyans have been indicted for the bombing, but Libya has refused to surrender them for trial. [Reuter]
11 September 1997: Arab sources told al-Hayat newspaper that some Libyan [opposition] figures met with some Libyan government officials abroad.
For more details [in Arabic - al-Hayat] please click here
10 September 1997: In an attempt to further promote ties between Libya and Egypt, the joint Libyan-Egyptian economic committee will hold a meeting by October, the Egyptian Gazette said today. The committee is expected to discuss the implementation of recommendations taken previously by the Higher Commission headed by Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and President Husni Mubark. [Arabic News]
6 September 1997: The two Libyan suspects in the bombing of an American airliner over Lockerbie [pictured] could stand trial in Scotland if it becomes independent, a state-controlled Libyan newspaper said on Friday. "Once Scotland gets its independence .... this will create a situation allowing the two Libyan suspects to stand voluntarily for trial before a Scottish independent judiciary,'' al-Jamahiriya newspaper said. [Reuter]

The Libyan Relief Fund

2 September 1997: Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi has warned the Libyan people that Western countries might invade Libya because of its sun, sand, seashore, dates, watermelons...and camel milk. "The Western countries might invade you one day because of your sun,'' he said in a speech on Monday night. [Reuters]
1 September 1997: Libya celebrated on Monday the 28th anniversary of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi's seizure of power with an airforce display in the skies over Tripoli. State-run television showed fighters, helicopters and other military aircraft flying over the capital city. "This force is to face anyone who dares attack (installations in) this country,'' the television said. Al-Qadhafi was expected to address the nation later in the day. Tripoli-based diplomats said it was the first show of its kind in Tripoli since 1992. [Reuter]
1 September 1997: Libya's official news agency JANA accused Britain of "involvement and participation ... in the murder of Princess Diana Spencer.'' "This frightening accident happened because Princess Diana had a relationship with an Arab,'' JANA said, referring to Princess Diana's friend Dod al-Fayed. [AP]
1 September 1997: Tha National Front for the Salvation of Libya said in a press release in the 28th anniversary of "1st of September 1969" that Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi violently overthrew the Libyan government and replaced it with a dictatorship in which Libyans have no rights. For a full text of the NFSL press release [in Arabic] please click here
1 September 1997: Col Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi said most of the world would eventually break sanctions imposed on Libya since 1992. "All members of the non-aligned movement, the Organisation of African Unity, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Arab League, have said they would reconsider their stand if the United States and Britain do not accept a compromise,'' al-Qadhafi said. "The U.S. and Britain will be alone at the end. The breaking of these sanctions will happen,'' he said in a nearly four-hour talk broadcast live by state television from Friday to Saturday. [Reuter]
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