It is difficult to have sympathy for the Libyan tyrant, but Moamar
Gadhafi keeps trying to buy friends and influence.
Col. Gadhafi's long history as a terrorist sponsor is firmly established. He ordered the bombing of the Berlin club La Disco in 1986 that led to the deaths of two American servicemen. On Dec. 21, 1988, Col Gadhafi's intelligence service carried out the sabotage of an American airliner with the resulting deaths of 270 persons. A year later, the Libyans destroyed the French UTA Flight 772, killing another 170 persons. United Nations Resolutions 731 and 748 require the Libyans to present two of its operatives for trial either in the United States or in the United Kingdom. Rather than comply, and risk the revelation that Col. Gadhafi ordered the Libyans to place the bomb on Pan American Flight 103, the Libyans have engaged in a frantic and expensive disinformation campaign.
Libyan lobbying has taken place in Washington and former Reps. David Bowen and John Murphy, as one example, were fined by Treasury for illegal lobbying on behalf of Tripoli. Several other Americans are now reportedly under criminal investigation for their involvement with the Libyan lobbying effort. But it is in England that the Libyan propaganda campaign has been most widespread and where the U.S. government has failed to respond, despite the circulation of fabricated documents and falsified testimony.
Last month, the Daily Record in Scotland alleged that a secret U.S. intelligence document revealed the Iranian hand behind Pan Am 103. The document in question was a low level Air Force intelligence field report of easily dismissed rumors regarding an Iranian cleric and the infamous Abu Nidal. It had been released to a law firm representing the insurance underwriters for Pan Am, who were successfully sued by the families of the Pan Am victims. Where did the Daily Record get this information? From Allan Francovich, an expatriate American living in London. Mr. Francovich also produced a propaganda film, exonerating the Libyans for the terrorist bombing. His principal source: Lester Coleman, a fugitive from U.S. justice, indicted for perjury and the person responsible for duping Time Magazine in its infamous cover story on the Pan Am disaster. Mr. Coleman, along with the well-known con artists Juval Aviv and Oswald Le Winter, is the company Col. Gadhafi keeps.
Mr. Francovich reportedly received more than $1 million from Hemar Enterprises Inc., a shell company set up in the Caribbean and funded out of Cairo by LAFICO, an arm of the Libyan government. Along with Tiny Rowland (formerly a joint business venture with the Libyans), and Mr. Rowland's niece, Silvia Le Clezio, Mr. Francovich has been active in the Libyan propaganda campaign. Mr. Frankcovich (sic), moreover, has a long history of association with disinformation efforts funded by the KGB, including a documentary made with CIA defector Philip Agee.
Some of the material finding its selective way into the British press also derives from the Libyan defense attorney Ibrahim Leguel, a former intelligence collaborator, now doing overtime work for Col. Gadhafi. Mr. Leguel was the source of an alleged prosecution document (fabricated) throwing doubt over the veracity of a key Maltese witness. The London Daily Telegraph, which hyped the fabricated document as well as a later alleged confession by a Palestinian terrorist released from a German prison, has been a favorite outlet for Libyan propaganda. "Leaked" documents, derived from the Libyan defense attorneys, are common fare for the Telegraph. A credulous British press and a few gullible, if not venal, British journalists, have ensured that these fabrications receive wide dissemination in the United Kingdom.
The Egyptians are also carrying water for Col. Gadhafi. The Egyptian ambassador in Washington has endorsed the Libyan proposal to have the two Libyan indictees tried at the International Court at the Hague (which would have no legal validity). The presence of more than a million Egyptian workers in Libya, and their important remittances back to Egypt, may explain Egyptian eagerness to mediate. But it doesn't justify suspected collaboration with the Libyan abduction of former Libyan Foreign Minister Mansur Kikhya, from Cairo last year. Mr. Kikhya may have been executed by the Libyans.
While Col. Gadhafi's efforts to escape the consequences of his terrorist actions are not surprising, the Clinton administration's ineffectual response is. The recent Executive Order freezing financial accounts of several terrorist organizations may prove useful to law enforcement in the future, but its value now is primarily symbolic. The administration is doing little to counter Libyan propaganda and to strengthen the weak U.N. sanctions against Col. Gadhafi. The current sanctions do not include a ban on the purchases of Libyan oil. Given Libya's parlous economy, and its utter dependence on oil sales, this is the only meaningful sanction that has a chance of forcing Col. Gadhafi's compliance with the U.N. resolutions.
The Times identifies the author, Cannistraro, only as "a former chief of counterintelligence for the Central Intelligence Agency."
Reading between the lines, what Cannistraro is telling us is that British newspaper readers have been allowed to hear the Libyan side of the story with respect to the accusations of their responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, whereas American newspaper readers have not, and that the American-style censorship of the story is to be preferred. Notice that he addresses none of the facts of the case, arguing strictly ad hominem.
And we thought America had more press freedom because we don't have an "official secrets" law like the British do and we have our precious First Amendment to protect us. Where did we go wrong?
p.s. The Allan Francovich referred to in the article has since suffered a mysterious death.
David Martin, August 28, 1998
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