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‘Russia’s Wagner tried to bring Gaddafi’s son to power’

Article by US-based media company Bloomberg asserts relationship between Gaddafi's son Saif Al-Islam and Russia

Enes Canli   | 22.03.2020
‘Russia’s Wagner tried to bring Gaddafi’s son to power’

ANKARA

The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary company, met Libya's deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi's son to bring him into power, the U.S.-based media company Bloomberg claimed in an article on Saturday.

The article penned by Samer Al-Atrush asserted a relationship between Gaddafi's son Saif Al-Islam and Russia.

According to the article, two Russian agents working for the Wagner were caught last year by Libya's UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the capital Tripoli.

The documents stored in the hard disks of the captured Russian agents revealed that the agents met three times with Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, who was wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In one of the meetings, Saif Al-Islam used numerous documents about his father’s financial aid for election campaigns in some Western countries as a trump card, the article asserted.

A Russian election campaign advisor also joined one of the meetings, the article said, and Russia offered to portray Gaddafi's son as a rising actor in the country in a possible election.

In the meetings, Saif Al-Islam claimed that 80% of the fighters loyal to the renegade General Khalifa Haftar are his supporters and if Haftar captured the capital, those fighters would support Saif Al-Islam, according to the notes of Russian agents.

In one of the meetings, Saif Al-Islam and Russian agents discussed training of social media experts to create a group of specialists who will share messages over social media.

Russian agents noted down that Saif Al-Islam was very interested in counter-propaganda.

According to the notes of the last meeting reached by Bloomberg, Saif Al-Islam would give to Russians the list of commanders loyal to him in the next meeting.

Additionally, it was claimed that one of the advisors of Saif Al-Islam admitted the meetings.

According to the article, the advisor said that although Saif Al-Islam and his supporters wanted to develop good relations with the Western countries, the Russians were the first to help them.

Wagner Group

Russia’s Wagner Group is one of the most controversial groups among the mercenaries. It is owned by to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to Bloomberg, it was reported that the Wagner Group, where over 1000 militias came to Libya, brought Russian pilots who carried out training activities for the Haftar troops, and Russian Sukhoi-22 type war planes are seen in Libyan skies.

Mercenaries who previously had field experience in Ukraine, are fighting on the front-line in Libya, according to Euronews.

Haftar's militia unit 'Libyan National Army'

Haftar calls the group he leads as the "Libyan National Army" and wants to be treated like an official army. In fact, Haftar's armed force works like a "dealership" and tries to gather militias under one roof.

A large number of militias from Libyan tribes in the east and west have joined the ranks. Others who have joined the putschist commander include members from the public committees established by former ruler Gaddafi, the extremist Madkhali Salafists, Janjaweed militias of Sudan -- who have a very controversial history in Sudan -- the rebels in Chad, Russian mercenaries, and military officers from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France.

It is claimed that the force comprises 25,000-30,000 militias, including trained military personnel of 7,000. The Brigade 106, the largest and best armed among them, is commanded by Saddam Haftar, his son.

The rallying cry for the brigade is Khamis, the name of one of the son's of Gaddafi.

Since the ouster of late ruler Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya, supported mainly by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, and the GNA in Tripoli, which enjoys UN and international recognition.

The GNA has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, with more than 1,000 people killed in the violence.

*Writing by Fahri Aksut

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