Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (ابن الشیخ اللبّی) was a Libyan paramilitary trainer for Al-Qaeda. After being captured and interrogated by American and Egyptian forces, the information he gave under torture [cite book| last=Schecter| first=Cliff| title=The Real McCain| publisher=PoliPointPress| date=2008| pages=124| isbn=978-0-9794822-9-8] was cited by the Bush Administration in the months preceding the 2003 invasion of Iraq as evidence of a connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. That information was frequently repeated by members of the Bush Administration even though then-classified reports from both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency strongly questioned its credibility, suggesting that al-Libi was "intentionally misleading" interrogators. fact|date=August 2008

Al-Libi led the Al Khaldan training camp in Afghanistan, the facility where Zacarias Moussaoui and Ahmed Ressam trained. An associate of Abu Zubaydah, al-Libi was on the September 26, 2002 list of terrorists released by the U.S. government following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. The list detailed individuals and organizations whose assets were to be immediately frozen. He was captured by Pakistani officials at the end of 2001 or beginning of 2002 as he attempted to flee Afghanistan following the collapse of the Taliban ensuing the 2001 U.S. Attack on Afghanistan.

He was then turned over to U.S. officials and held at a detention center at the Kandahar airport. In the second week of January 2002, he was flown to the USS "Bataan" in the northern Arabian Sea, the ship which is being used to hold eight other important prisoners, including John Walker Lindh. His capture was first reported by NBC News in the evening of January 4, 2002.

According to the Washington Post, "Under questioning, al-Libi provided the CIA with intelligence about an alleged plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Yemen with a truck bomb and pointed officials in the direction of Abu Zubaydah, a top al Qaeda leader known to have been involved in the Sept. 11 plot."cite news | url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30909-2004Jul31.html | title=Al Qaeda-Iraq Link Recanted | publisher=Washington Post | author=Dana Priest |date=August 1, 2004]

On September 15, 2002, Time published an article that detailed the CIA interrogations of Omar al-Faruq. In the article it states "On Sept. 9, according to a secret CIA summary of the interview, al-Faruq confessed that he was, in fact, al-Qaeda's senior representative in Southeast Asia. Then came an even more shocking confession: according to the CIA document, al-Faruq said two senior al-Qaeda officials, Abu Zubaydah and Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, had ordered him to 'plan large-scale attacks against U.S. interests in Indonesia, Malaysia, (the) Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and Cambodia.'" [cite news | url=http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,351169,00.html | title=Confessions of an al-Qaeda Terrorist | publisher=Time |date=September 15, 2002]

Al-Libi has been identified as the primary source of faulty prewar intelligence regarding chemical weapons training between Iraq and al Qaeda that was used by the Bush Administration to justify the invasion of Iraq. Specifically, he told interrogators that Iraq provided training to al-Qaeda in the area of weapons of mass destruction. In Cincinnati in October 2002, Bush informed the public: :"Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases."

This claim was repeated several times in the run-up to the war, including in Colin Powell's speech to the U.N Security Council on 5 February 2003, which concluded with a long recitation of the information provided by al-Libi. Powell's speech came less than a month after a then-classified CIA report concluding that the information provided by al-Libi was unreliable and about a year after a Defense Intelligence Agency report concluded the same thing.

Al-Libi recanted these claims in January 2004 after U.S. interrogators presented to him "new evidence from other detainees that cast doubt on his claims", according to Newsweek. [http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5305085/site/newsweek Iraq and Al Qaeda: Forget the 'Poisons and Deadly Gases'] , "Newsweek", July 5 2005] The DIA concluded in February 2002 that Libi deliberately misled interrogators. Some speculate that his reason for giving disinformation was in order to draw the U.S. into an attack on Iraq, which al Qaeda believes will lead to a global jihad. Others suggest that al-Libi gave false information because of the use of excessively harsh interrogation methods. Al-Libi is believed to have been one of the high value detainees who prompted the Bush administration to initiate interrogation methods of questionable morality and legality. These critics suggest it wasn't hard for al-Libi to figure out what his interrogators were sure he knew, and that they wouldn't stop, until he told them what they wanted to hear.

An article published in the November 5, 2005 New York Times quoted two paragraphs of a Defense Intelligence Agency report declassified upon request by Senator Carl Levin, that expressed doubts about the results of al-Libi's interrogation in February 2002. The declassified paragraphs are:

:"This is the first report from Ibn al-Shaykh in which he claims Iraq assisted al-Qaida's CBRN efforts. However, he lacks specific details on the Iraqi's [sic] involved, the CBRN materials associated with the assistance, and the location where training occurred. It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may describing [sic] scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.

:"Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control."

In the January 2003 CIA paper, "Iraqi Support for Terrorism", it states that al-Libi told a foreign intelligence service that "Iraq-acting on the request of al-Qa'ida militant Abu Abdullah, who was Muhammad Atif's emissary-agreed to provide unspecified chemical or biological weapons training for two al-Qa'ida associates beginning in December 2000. The two individuals departed for Iraq but did not return, so al-Libi was not in a position to know if any training had taken place." The September 2002 version of "Iraqi Support for Terrorism" stated that al-Libi said Iraq had "provided" chemical and biological weapons training for two al-Qaeda associates in 2000, but also stated that al-Libi "did not know the results of the training."

The 2006 Senate Report on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq stated that "Although DIA coordinated on CIA's "Iraqi Support for Terrorism" paper, DIA analysis preceding that assessment was more skeptical of the al-Libi reporting." In July 2002, DIA assessed "It is plausible al-Qa'ida attempted to obtain CB assistance from Iraq and Ibn al-Shaykh is sufficiently senior to have access to such sensitive information. However, Ibn al-Shaykh's information lacks details concerning the individual Iraqis involved, the specific CB materials associated with the assistance and the location where the alleged training occurred. The information is also second hand, and not derived from Ibn al-Shaykh's personal experience." [ [http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf Senate Committee on Intelligence Report into Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How they Compare with Prewar Assessments (page 75)] ]

The Senate report also states "According to al-Libi, after his decision to fabricate information for debriefers, he 'lied about being a member of al-Qa'ida. Although he considered himself close to, but not a member of, al-Qa'ida, he knew enough about the senior members, organization and operations to claim to be a member.'" [http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf page 80]

enate Reports on Pre-war Intelligence on Iraq

On September 8, 2006, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released "Phase II" of its report on prewar intelligence on Iraq. Conclusion 3 of the report states the following:

:Postwar findings support the DIA February 2002 assessment that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was likely intentionally misleading his debriefers when he said that Iraq provided two al-Qa'ida associates with chemical and biological weapons (CBW) training in 2000...Postwar findings do not support the CIA's assessment that his reporting was credible...No postwar information has been found that indicates CBW training occurred and the detainee who provided the key prewar reporting about this training recanted his claims after the war...CIA's January 2003 version of Iraqi Support for Terrorism described al-Libi's reporting for CBW training "credible", but noted that the individuals who traveled to Iraq for CBW training had not returned, so al-Libi was not in position to know if the training had taken place...In January 2004, al-Libi recanted his allegations about CBW training and many of his other claims about Iraq's links to al Qa'ida. He told debriefers that, to the best of his knowledge, al-Qa'ida never sent any individuals into Iraq for any kind of support in chemical or biological weapons. Al-libi told debriefers that he fabricated information while in U.S. custody to receive better treatment and in response to threats of being transferred to a foreign intelligence service which he believed would torture him...He said that later, while he was being debriefed by a (REDACTED) foreign intelligence service, he fabricated more information in response to physical abuse and threats of torture. The foreign government service denies using any pressure during al-Libi's interrogation. In February 2004, the CIA reissued the debriefing reports from al-Libi to note that he had recanted information. A CIA officer explained that while CIA believes al-Libi fabricated information, the CIA cannot determine whether, or what portions of, the original statements or the later recants are true of false. [ [http://intelligence.senate.gov/phaseiiaccuracy.pdf Senate Committee on Intelligence Report into Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How they Compare with Prewar Assessments (page 106-108)] ]

On June 11 2008 "Newsweek" published an account of material from a "A previously undisclosed CIA report written in the summer of 2002".cite news
title=Spies, Lies and the White House
author=Michael Isikoff, Mark Hosenball
date=June 11 2008
quote=But two months before Bush's dramatic assertion, the CIA had raised serious doubts about whether al-Libi might be inventing some of what he was telling his interrogators, according to a 171-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on pre-war intelligence released last week. "Questions persist about [al-Libi's] forthrightness and truthfulness," the CIA wrote in the still-classified Aug. 7, 2002, report, which was circulated throughout the U.S. intelligence community. "In some instances, however, he seems to have fabricated information."
[http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newsweek.com%2Fid%2F141009%2Foutput%2Fprint&date=2008-06-13 mirror] ] The article reported that on August 7 2002 CIA analysts had drafted a high-level report that expressed serious doubts about the information flowing from al-Libi's interrogation.The information that al-Libi acknowledged being a member al-Qaeda' executive committee was not supported by information from other sources.

Book: Inside the Jihad

In November 2006, a Moroccan using the pseudonym Omar Nasiri, having infiltrated al-Qaeda in the 1990s, authored the book, . In the book, Nasiri claims that al-Libi deliberately planted information to encourage the U.S. to invade Iraq. In an interview with BBC2's Newsnight, Nasiri said Libi "needed the conflict in Iraq because months before I heard him telling us when a question was asked in the mosque after the prayer in the evening, where is the best country to fight the jihad?" Libi said Iraq was chosen because it was the "weakest" Muslim country, according to Nasiri. Nasiri suggested to Newsnight that al-Libi wanted to overthrow Saddam and use Iraq as a jihadist base. In the book, Nasiri describes al-Libi as one of the leaders at the Afghan camp, and characterizes him as "brilliant in every way." Nasiri explains that learning how to withstand interrogations and supply false information once captured was a key part of the training in the camps. Nasiri claims that al-Libi "knew what his interrogators wanted, and he was happy to give it to them. He wanted to see Saddam toppled even more than the Americans did." [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1950056,00.html Al-Qaida 'planted information to encourage US invasion'] , "The Guardian", November 17, 2006] [cite news | url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/16/AR2006111601737_pf.html | title=Spying on the Terrorists | author=Peter L. Bergen | publisher=Washington Post |date=November 17, 2006]

Book: At the Center of the Storm

In April 2007 former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet released his memoir titled "". With regard to al-Libi, Tenet writes the following::"We believed that al-Libi was withholding critical threat information at the time, so we transferred him to a third country for further debriefing. Allegations were made that we did so knowing that he would be tortured, but this is false. The country in question understood and agreed that they would hold al-Libi for a limited period. In the course of questioning while he was in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, al-Libi made initial references to possible al-Qa'ida training in Iraq. He offered up information that a militant known as Abu Abdullah had told him that at least three times between 1997 and 2000, the now-deceased al-Qa'ida leader Mohammad Atef had sent Abu Abdullah to Iraq to seek training in poisons and mustard gas. Another senior al-Qa'ida detainee told us that Mohammad Atef was interested in expanding al-Qa-ida's ties to Iraq, which, in our eyes, added credibility to the reporting. Then, shortly after the Iraq war got under way, al-Libi recanted his story. Now, suddenly, he was saying that there was no such cooperative training. Inside the CIA, there was sharp division on his recantation. It led us to recall his reporting, and here is where the mystery begins. Al-Libi's story will no doubt be that he decided to fabricate in order to get better treatment and avoid harsh punishment. He clearly lied. We just don't know when. Did he lie when he first said that al-Qa'ida members received training in Iraq or did he lie when he said they did not? In my mind, either case might still be true. Perhaps, early on, he was under pressure, assumed his interrogators already knew the story, and sang away. After time passed and it became clear that he would not be harmed, he might have changed his story to cloud the minds of his captors. Al-Qa'ida operatives are trained to do just that. A recantation would restore his stature as someone who had successfully counfounded the enemy. The fact is, we don't know which story is true, and since we don't know, we can assume nothing." [cite news | title=At the Center of the Storm: My years at the CIA | publisher=HarperCollins | author=George Tenet | page=353-354]

Current whereabouts

In Fall 2006, the Bush Administration announced that it was "transferring high-value Al Qaeda detainees from CIA secret prisons so they could be put on trial by military commissions." But the Administration was "conspicuously silent" about al-Libi; Michael Isikoff writes:

:Despite the fact he was once touted as a top White House target, Libi was not on the list—and no further allusion to him has been made by any administration official. But Noman Benotman, a former Afghan jihad fighter who knew Libi and who is now a London-based Libyan political opposition leader, told NEWSWEEK that during a recent trip to Tripoli, he met with a senior Libyan government official who confirmed to him that Libi had been quietly returned to Libya and is now in prison there. Benotman said that he was told by the senior Libyan government official—whom he declined to publicly identify—that Al Libi is extremely ill, suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes. “He is there in jail and very sick,” Benotman told NEWSWEEK. He also said that the senior official told him that the Libyan government has agreed not to publicly confirm anything about Libi—out of deference to the Bush administration. “If the Libyans will confirm it, it will embarrass the Americans because he is linked to the Iraq issue,” Benotman said. [Michael Isikoff, " [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18924256/site/newsweek/page/0/ The Missing Terrorist] ," "Newsweek" (29 May 2007).]


External links and references

* [http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/06/international/asia/06DETA.html U.S. Captures a Top Trainer for Al Qaeda] , The "New York Times", January 5, 2002
* [http://light.afgha.com/article.php?sid=11198 Al Qaeda Trainer in U.S. Hands] , reprinted from "Washington Post", January 5, 2002
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30909-2004Jul31.html Al Qaeda-Iraq Link Recanted: Captured Libyan Reverses Previous Statement to CIA, Officials Say] , "Washington Post", August 1, 2004
* [http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/supporting/2005/DIAletter.102605.pdf Letter from DIA declassifying two paragraphs of DITSUM # 044-02] , October 26, 2005
* [http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001434737 Smoking Gun on Manipulation of Iraq Intelligence? 'NY Times' Cites New Document Today] , "Editor and Publisher", November 5, 2005
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/politics/06intel.html Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Suspicions] , "New York Times", November 5, 2005
* [http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9991919/site/newsweek/ Al-Libi's Tall Tales] , "Newsweek", 10 November 2005.
* Kurt Nimmo. [http://kurtnimmo.com/?p=168 CIA Patsy Spins Fairy Tale Plot to Assassinate Bush] , "Another Day in the Empire", December 23, 2005.

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