Obviously the State Dept has learned nothing from #Benghazi. Enabling #Jihad in the name of activism

May 20, 2013
Israel Matzav: Kerry poses for photo-op with father of Mavi Marmara terrorist

Why the apology?

March 26, 2013

Ottomans and Zionists explains why Israel apologized to Turkey.

Because it is – in my view – Turkey that changed its mind on reconciling, I focused on the Turkish side of things in the FA piece, so I thought I’d now write a little bit about the Israeli side. From Israel’s perspective, making up with Turkey has made sense for awhile now, and the reasons to do so only grew stronger with each passing day. First, there is the regional dynamic in the Middle East, which is hardly trending in Israel’s favor post-Arab Spring. While I do not think that Israel has anything to fear from new governments in the region, the upheaval has opened up power vacuums in the Sinai and Syria that allow hostile non-state actors to operate with impunity. Add to this the existing threats from Hamas and Hizballah and the distinct possibility that the Jordanian government falls, and Israel desperately needs any friend who will have her. Making up with Turkey means that at least Israel is not entirely alone in the region, and being able to coordinate with Turkey and with Jordan (so long as King Abdullah remains in power) will be extremely helpful in containing the spillover threat from Syria. While I highlighted the urgency for Turkey in my FA piece, Israel’s biggest concern with regard to the Syrian civil war has always been the transfer of chemical weapons to hostile non-state actors, and now that the chatter around chemical weapons has increased, apologizing to Turkey took on an urgency for Jerusalem that was absent before.

Second, Turkey has successfully blocked Israel from NATO military activities and summits, and the ability to get back in the game has always been important to the Israeli government. While the Noble Dina naval exercises with Greece and the U.S. that Israel began doing in 2011 are nice, they are a poor substitute for Israel being able to use the vast Turkish airspace for aerial training or being able to participate in NATO military exercises. Israel has attempted to ramp up its military relations with Greece and Cyprus in response to the freeze in relations with Turkey but this has always been a suboptimal solution, and Israel has felt this acutely as the government has become increasingly preoccupied with possible threats from Iran. Furthermore, Israel’s defense industry has had billions of dollars in contracts with Turkey suspended by Ankara, and being able to resume sales to Turkey should provide a nice jolt to the Israeli economy.

Nobody should expect Israel and Turkey to go back to where they once were. Turkey does not feel as alone in the region as it once did, there is still a benefit from having cool relations with Israel, and too much has taken place between the two, from Davos to the Mavi Marmara to the “Zionism is equal to fascism” kerfuffle of a month ago. It is unfortunately not surprising to already see Erdoğan backing away from his commitment to normalize relations, although it will happen sooner rather than later since this is only Erdoğan playing politics in response to some hardline domestic criticism over the deal with Israel. Exchanging ambassadors and resuming limited military and intelligence cooperation does not negate the fact that bashing Israel will remain a potent element in Erdoğan’s box of tricks, and I expect to see issues big and small arise between the two countries, particularly as things remain static on the Israeli-Palestinian front and settlement building in the West Bank continues. Nevertheless, this restoring of formal ties is good for both sides, and I hope that both countries can get over their past issues and begin work on developing a healthier relationship.

Caroline Glick disagrees

Given the situation, the main questions that arise from Israel’s apology to Turkey are as follows: Is it truly a declaration with little intrinsic meaning, as Peres intimated? Should it simply be viewed as a means of overcoming a technical block to renewing Israel’s strategic alliance with Turkey? In other words, will the apology facilitate Turkish cooperation in stemming the rise of jihadist forces in Syria, and blocking the transfer of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles to such actors? Finally, what does Obama’s central role in producing Israel’s apology say about his relationship with the Jewish state and the consequences of his visit on Israel’s alliance with the US and its position in the region? And finally, what steps should Israel consider in light of these consequences?

On Saturday, the Arab League convened in Doha, Qatar and discussed Israel’s apology to Turkey and its ramifications for pan-Arab policy. The Arab League member states considered the prospect of demanding similar apologies for its military operations in Lebanon, Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The Arab League’s discussions point to the true ramifications of the apology for Israel. By apologizing for responding lawfully to unlawful aggression against the State of Israel and its armed forces, Israel did two things. First, Israel humiliated itself and its soldiers, and so projected an image of profound weakness. Due to this projected image, Israel has opened itself up to further demands for it to apologize for its other responses to acts of unlawful war and aggression against the state, its territory and its citizens from other aggressors. The Arab League like most of its member nations is in an official state of war with Israel. The Arabs wish to see Israel destroyed. Kicking a nation when it is down is a perfectly rational way for states that wish other states ill to behave. And so the Arab League’s action was eminently predictable.

As for the future of Israel-Turkish cooperation on Syria, two things must be borne in mind. First, on Saturday Erdogan claimed that Netanyahu’s apology was insufficient to restore Turkish-Israel relations. He claimed that before he could take any concrete actions to restore relations, Israel would first have to compensate the families of the passengers from the Mavi Marmara killed while assaulting IDF soldiers with deadly force.

Beyond that, it is far from clear that Turkey shares Israel’s interests in preventing the rise of a jihadist regime in Syria allied with al-Qaeda. More than any other actor, Erdogan has played a central role in enabling the early jihadist penetration and domination of the ranks of the US-supported Syrian opposition forces. It is far from clear that the man who enabled these jihadists to rise to power shares Israel’s interest in preventing them from seizing Syria’s weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, if Turkey does share Israel’s interest in preventing the Syrian opposition from taking control over the said arsenals, it would cooperate with Israel in accomplishing this goal with or without an Israeli apology for its takeover of the Mavi Marmara.

I think the apology was a mistake. Netanyahu, who is notoriously pliable, came under pressure from Obama and could not resist. 
I don’t believe Israel will reap any benefits from the apology. If we’re really lucky, maybe it won’t come back to haunt us.

I’d like to squash Obama like a bug. He’s a smug bully. His day will come soon.


Unbelievable: Israel resuming talks with Turkey over ‘apology’

November 25, 2012
Little Hitler himself, Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, has confirmed that Israel is once again considering ‘apologizing’ to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident. And it may even be willing to end the blockade of Gaza.

In an interview with CNN Turk, Davutoglu said that Turkey will not make any concessions on its terms for ending the bilateral crisis: an Israeli apology for the killing of nine Turks during the 2010 raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, payment of compensation to the families of the dead and wounded, and a removal of the Gaza blockade.

“It was an informal meeting,” said Davutoglu of the Turkish-Israeli encounter in Geneva last week. “We are prepared to talk if the Israelis say they are prepared to fulfill our conditions.”

Haaretz reported over the weekend that the special envoy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Ciechanover, and Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu met last week in Geneva to try to come up with a formula that would end the rift between the two countries, which began after Operation Cast Lead and became a total rupture after the May 2010 Israel Defense Forces raid on the Mavi Marmara, which was attempting to breach the Gaza blockade.

The Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, which is close to Islamic elements in that country, reported yesterday that during the Geneva conversation Ciechanover said Israel is prepared to apologize to Turkey for killing nine Turkish citizens on the ship and would pay compensation to the victims’ families.

Ciechanover reportedly told Sinirlioglu that Israel expects, in return for these steps, that Turkey will normalize relations between the countries, return its ambassador to Tel Aviv and allow the Israeli ambassador to return to Ankara. According to the Turkish report, Ciechanover told Sinirlioglu of Israel’s concern that even if it did what Turkey was demanding, it would not receive an appropriate quid pro quo and relations would not return to what they had been before.

Sinirlioglu reportedly responded that if Israel met Turkish demands, the government in Ankara would regard it as a “new leaf” in bilateral relations, and would respond as Israel requests. With that, Sinirlioglu stressed that in addition to an apology and the payment of compensation, Turkey is demanding that Israel move toward removing the Gaza blockade.

According to the report, Ciechanover did not categorically reject the proposal regarding the blockade. He noted it was a process that would take time, and that in any case Israel would need to receive guarantees from Turkey that removing the blockade would not undermine Israel’s security.

The compensation is nothing new – Israel offered that two years ago, although frankly it was ridiculous then and is even more ridiculous now. But until now the apology was not going to happen (Israel suggested other language that fell short of the Turkish demands) and opening the Gaza blockade was out of the question.
The fact that Israel is even considering doing this is absurd. We’ve been vindicated by two blue-ribbon panels – our own and the UN’s. It makes absolutely no sense to undermine our position this way. Turkey is not going to side with us against Iran or allow us to use their airspace.
What could go wrong?


Turks claim Israel offered $6 million to settle Mavi Marmara

May 27, 2012

This doesn’t prove anything. We already knew Israel was trying to do anything to show regret without accepting accountability for murder. I thought it was stupid then… and obviously now we all see why. Israel didn’t do anything wrong then, but was very worried about losing it’s only Muslim so called ally. It was an act of desperation… and now we see how stupid the move was.

(Carl) A Turkish lawyer claims that Israel offered $6 million last month to settle claims related to the Mavi Marmara takeover in May 2010, and that Turkey declined the offer.

Ramazan Ariturk, one of several lawyers representing 465 victims and victims’ relatives, said that the Israeli government had made a proposal to him through an intermediary foreign ambassador in Ankara just over one month ago.
He said the money would have been paid to a Jewish foundation in Turkey for distribution, and been followed by a statement of “regret” for the raid by the Israeli government.
“I told the ambassador I did not think the offer was appropriate or moral and also discussed the issue with the victims and their friends and they also stated that they could not accept this,” Ariturk said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry agreed with his decision, saying Israel should have contacted it directly, he said.
Ariturk declined to disclose the nationality of the ambassador or reveal the name of the Jewish foundation to which the payment would have been made.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry could not be reached for immediate comment, while Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, declined to comment.

(Carl) While Regev would not comment, another Israeli government spokesman did:

However, a senior Israeli official who declined to be named said that Israel, having indicated last year that it was prepared to indemnify victims without accepting blame, had not renewed its offer.

(Carl) That report came just a day after a report that Turkey has indicted four senior Israeli commanders in the Mavi Marmara case, including former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and is seeking ten life sentences against each of them.
The probability of Turkey getting a hold of any of those four commanders is somewhere between slim and none.

So…how’d being a pussy work out for Israel


Haaretz exclusive: Organizer of Gaza flotilla sought assistance from Assad’s office

May 24, 2012

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(haaretz) The organizer of one of the flotillas to the Gaza Strip sought assistance from the office of Syrian President Bashar Assad, requesting it facilitates their departure from the Syrian port at Latakia.

Ths request came to light through the disclosure of emailed correspondence between former British MP George Galloway, who heads an organization called Viva Palestina, and Bouthaina Shaaban, who serves as media adviser to Assad.
What do you think about the leaked emails from Assad’s media adviser’s account? Follow Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views.
The correspondence, which was obtained by Haaretz, was leaked following an attack by the hacker group Anonymous.
Galloway, who is identified with the extreme left in Britain, served as a member of the British parliament until May 2010. A former member of the Labour Party, he was thrown out in 2003 in the wake of his attacks against party chairman and then-prime minister Tony Blair, and his opposition to the war in Iraq.
Galloway has for many years carried on close contacts with dictators and extremist elements in the Arab world. In the late 1990s, he was closely linked with Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the Assad regime in Syria, Hamas in Gaza and the Iranian regime.
In July 2011, at a time when Assad was perpetrating massacres of his own people, Galloway was interviewed on Hezbollah’s al-Manar network, where he heaped praises on the Syrian president. “Bashar Assad wants reform and change, to realize the aspirations of his people,” he said in the interview, which was quoted in the official Syrian news agency Sana. “They are trying to pressure Syria and President Assad because of the good things that he did, such as supporting Palestinian and Lebanese resistance and rejecting to surrender to Israel.”
In January 2009, Galloway founded the Viva Palestina organization, which began to organize aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet security service describes the organization as being “pro-Hamas” and assesses that Viva Palestina activists are involved in the transfer of funds to Hamas.
Galloway is considered persona non grata in several countries. In March 2009, Canada refused to permit his entry, stating that his organization was aiding Hamas in several ways, including the transfer of funds. In January 2010, Galloway was deported from Egypt following a visit he made to the Gaza Strip in the course of which members of his organization clashed with Egyptian soldiers at the Rafah border crossing, leading to the death of an Egyptian policeman. Egypt has since then refused to permit his entry into Gaza from its own territory.
On August 11, 2010, Galloway wrote to Bashar Assad’s media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, who is considered to be one of the closest aides to the Syrian president. In an email message that bore the subject heading “IMPORTANT – private and confidential,” Galloway asked Shaaban for Syrian help in organizing the aid flotilla to Gaza.
“I am writing once again to ask for Syria’s co-operation although I do not doubt it for one moment. Syria is as I have often said is the last castle of Arab dignity,” Galloway noted. “This convoy sets out simulataneously [sic] on September 18th 2010 from London, from Casablanca and from the Gulf. The London and Gulf columns of vehicles would like to converge on Latakia and sail from there to Al Arish.”
Galloway listed the organizations that would be taking part in the flotilla, including IHH, the Turkish group that organized the flotilla to Gaza in May 2010. “It is intended that the vehicles and passengers should sail to Al Arish on board the Mavi Marmara, which as you know is owned by IHH,” he wrote. “If His Excellency the President Bashar al Asad and his government can accept this proposal in principle perhaps you could nominate partner organisation(s) and individuals with whom my colleagues could liaise about the practical details?”
Galloway informed Shaaban that the two members of Viva Palestina responsible for the flotilla were Kevin Ovenden and Zaher Birawi. The Shin Bet charges that Birawi is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. He lives in England, where he engages in intensive anti-Israeli activity. Birawi has been linked to the organizing of past convoys and flotillas to the Gaza Strip. Ovendon is a far-left British activist who was aboard the Mavi Marmara in the May 2010 flotilla to Gaza.
Three days later, Shaaban sent an emailed response to Galloway in which she expressed enthusiasm for the idea. “God bless your amazing efforts and I will be honored to be part and parcel of it and to be the catalyst for my country too,” she wrote. “You will find me happy to put my time and energy to help with this most important cause of the Twenty First Century.”
Galloway responded in another email, in which he wrote, “I knew that I could rely on you and the last Arab country in this historic endeavour. Can I respectfully request that you task officials in Damascus and Latakia to make contact with my comrades in advance of your arrival back to Syria?”
The flotilla ultimately sailed from Latakia on October 18, 2010 and arrived in Al Arish three days later, and from there continued in a land-based convoy comprising dozens of vehicles and hundreds of activists to the Gaza Strip. The entry into Gaza by Galloway and 16 others was denied by the Egyptian security services, although the convoy itself was permitted to enter following talks between the Egyptian and Syrian governments.
The following is the original correspondence between George Galloway and Bouthaina Shaaban:

From: b.shaaban@mopa.gov.sy
Sent: Sun 15/08/10 6:30 PM
To: buthainak1@hotmail.co.uk
Fwd: VivaPalestina5 convoy to Gaza
Your Excellency dear Ambassador and honourable lady Dr Shaaban,
Assalam o Aleukum.
Thank you for your beautiful reply. I knew that I could rely on you and the last Arab country in this historic endeavour.
Given the shortness of the time (we leave London Casablanca Doha on September 18th, and these three columns joined by big contingents from Turkey Jordan and Lebanon hope to sail from Latakia aboard the Mavi Marmara between October 5-7th) can I respectfully request that you task officials in Damascus and and Latakia to make contact with my comrades in advance of your arrival back to Syria?
I remind you they are Kevin Ovenden kevin.ovenden@gmail.com and Dr Zaher Birawi zkb2002@hotmail.com
This would be very helpful to us.
I hope you are enjoying your travels and have a safe journey back to Damascus.
With all my good wishes,
Yours fraternally
George Galloway
VivaPalestinaArabia
From: b.shaaban@mopa.gov.sy
Sent: Sat 14/08/10 12:05 PM
To: office@georgegalloway.com
Re: IMPORTANT – private and confidential
Dear George
Thank you very much for your email which I was delighted to receive. God bless your amazing efforts and I will be honored to be part and parcel of it and to be the catalyst for my country too. I am now abroad for about 10 days and expected to be back in Syria on August 24. If we can touch base then and get further details about what is really required and from whom in more details you will find me happy to put my time and energy to help with this most important cause of the Twenty Firtst Century. I hope you are following my writings in Counter Punch. Take care and God bless you and your efforts.
As ever
Bouthaina
On Wed 11/08/10 3:05 PM , Ayesha Bajwa <office@georgegalloway.com> wrote:
Your Excellency Dr Bouthaina Shaaban
Special Advisor to President Bashar al Asad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic
Damascus
By e-mail
Your Excellency, dear Dr Shaaban
I hope this letter finds you well. Please be assured of my warmest fraternal greetings always. I am writing on behalf of Viva Palestina whose world-wide family of solidarity organisiations and registered charities will soon be setting out for beseiged Gaza again with our fifth convoy of aid. You will recall the outstanding assistance
afforded us in Syria on previous occasions over the last period. I am writing once again to ask for Syria’s co-operation although I do not doubt it for one moment. Syria is as I have often said is the last castle of Arab dignity. My only regret is to have to ask for your help again.
This convoy sets out simulataneously on September 18th 2010 from London, from Casablanca and from the Gulf. The London and Gulf columns of vehicles would like to converge on Latakia and sail from there to Al Arish. The Casablanca column hopes to join us in Al Arish and we hope all three columns – hundreds of vehicles strong – will enter Gaza through Rafah without hinderance.
The aid on board the vehicles will be 50% medical equipment and 50% educational, construction and other aid.
The organisers of the convoy are Viva Palestina UK, Viva Palestina USA, Viva Palestina Arabia, Viva Palestina Malaysia, Viva Palestina Ireland, the Turkish NGO IHH,the International Committee to break the Seige on Gaza, Kia Ora – the Viva Palestina sister organisation in New Zealand, Viva Palestina Australia, Viva Palestina South Africa, Viva Palestina Spain, Viva Palestina Italia, and Viva Palestina France.
It is intended that the vehicles and passengers should sail to Al Arish on board the Mavi Marmara, which as you know is owned by IHH.
If His Excellency the President Bashar al Asad and his government can accept this proposal in principle perhaps you could nominate partner organisation(s) and individuals with whom my colleagues could liaise about the practical details? The liaison from our side would be Mr Kevin Ovenden and Mr Zaher Birawi of Viva Palestina UK (as we believe 2 is enough).
In any case please convey my respect and my admiration to His Excellency the President.
With all good wishes
George Galloway


George Galloway flatters Assad’s media advisor | FP Passport

February 7, 2012

((blog.foreignpolicy.com) Posted By David Kenner ) As my boss Blake Hounshell noted this morning, Syrian activists are having a field day trawling through the hacked e-mails of officials in President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. One particularly interesting note was sent by former British parliamentarian George Galloway to Assad advisor Bouthaina Shaaban.Galloway was writing to request the Syrian government’s help in organizing a convoy to the Gaza Strip. The plan was for vehicles to travel over land from London and the Gulf to the Syrian city Latakia, at which point they would board the Mavi Marmara – which had been the scene of a deadly raid by Israel Defense Forces solders only months earlier, as it tried to breach the Gaza blockade — and travel to the Egyptian port city of al-Arish. From there, they would enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing. While the convoy did complete its mission, the Mavi Marmara does not appear to have ultimately taken part. In securing Assad’s help, Galloway recited the Baath Party’s own rhetoric back to Shaaban. “Syria is as I have often said is the last castle of Arab dignity,” he writes.

Von: b.shaaban@mopa.gov.sy
Reply-to: b.shaaban@mopa.gov.sy
An: buthainak1@hotmail.co.uk
Betreff: Fwd: IMPORTANT – private and confidential
Datum: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 06:03:38 +0300 (14.08.2010 05:03:38)
Your Excellency Dr Bouthaina Sha’aban
Special Advisor to President Bashar al Asad
President of the Syrian Arab Republic
Your Excellency, dear Dr Sha’aban
 
I hope this letter finds you well. Please be assured of my warmest fraternal greetings always. I am writing on behalf of Viva Palestina whose world-wide family of solidarity organisiations and registered charities will soon be setting out for beseiged Gaza again with our fifth convoy of aid. You will recall the outstanding assistance afforded us in Syria on previous occasions over the last period. I am writing once again to ask for Syria’s co-operation although I do not doubt it for one moment. Syria is as I have often said is the last castle of Arab dignity. My only regret is to have to ask for your help again.
This convoy sets out simulataneously on September 18th 2010 from London, from Casablanca and from the Gulf. The London and Gulf columns of vehicles would like to converge on Latakia and sail from there to Al Arish. The Casablanca column hopes to join us in Al Arish and we hope all three columns – hundreds of vehicles strong – will enter Gaza through Rafah without hinderance.
The aid on board the vehicles will be 50% medical equipment and 50% educational, construction and other aid. The organisers of the convoy are Viva Palestina UK, Viva Palestina USA, Viva Palestina Arabia, Viva Palestina Malaysia, Viva Palestina Ireland, the Turkish NGO IHH,the International Committee to break the Seige on Gaza, Kia Ora – the Viva Palestina sister organisation in New Zealand, Viva Palestina Australia, Viva Palestina South Africa, Viva Palestina Spain, Viva Palestina Italia, and Viva Palestina France.
It is intended that the vehicles and passengers should sail to Al Arish on board the Mavi Marmara, which as you know is owned by IHH. If His Excellency the President Bashar al Asad and his government can accept this proposal in principle perhaps you could nominate partner organisation(s) and individuals with whom my colleagues could liaise about the practical details? The liaison from our side would be Mr Kevin Ovenden and Mr Zaher Birawi of Viva Palestina UK (as we believe 2 is enough).
In any case please convey my respect and my admiration to His Excellency the President.
 
With all good wishes
George Galloway

more will come out later.


Libyan Rebel Commander: I Was on the Mavi Marmara

December 30, 2011

(John Rosenthal h/t writingtw.blogspot.com) According to the Spanish daily ABC, a Libyan rebel commander who played a key role in overthrowing the rule of Muammar Qaddafi previously participated in the May 2010 attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza aboard the Turkish-owned vessel the Mavi Marmara. The operation famously culminated in a deadly clash between Israel Defense Force commandos and “activists” armed with iron rods and knives aboard the ship.

The paper’s source for the story is the rebel leader himself: Mahdi al-Harati, the commander of the so-called Tripoli Brigades, which are widely credited with having played a decisive role in the rebel conquest of the Libyan capital in August. After the seizure of Tripoli, al-Harati was named second-in-command to Abdul-Hakim Belhadj, the head of the newly formed Tripoli Military Council. Belhadj is the historical leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the Libyan affiliate of al-Qaeda.
According to his December 17 article, ABC correspondent Daniel Iriarte unexpectedly ran into al-Harati and two other Libyan associates of Belhadj in Syria, where the Spanish journalist was working on a story on the “Free Syrian Army,” the recently formed rebel force that aims to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. The Libyans made no attempt to hide their identities, Iriarte reports, explaining to him that that they were in Syria “in order to evaluate the needs of our Syrian revolutionary brothers.” Altogether “a few dozen” Libyans were in Syria to support the anti-Assad insurgents, they said.
Prior to the Libyan rebellion against Qaddafi, al-Harati was living in exile in Ireland. He is reported to have returned to Libya in February, at the very outset of the uprising. On his own account, barely eight months earlier he participated in the “Free Gaza” flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara. “I was wounded on the Mavi Marmara and spent nine days in an Israeli prison,” he told Iriarte.
Abdul-Hakim Belhadj’s al-Qaeda links were widely reported in the Western press following his emergence as the military governor of Tripoli in August. But the Spanish press has shown particular interest in Belhadj and the other members of his jihadist network. This is because Belhadj is known to have had contact to Serhane ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the leader of the terror cell that carried out the March 2004 Madrid train bombings, which took the lives of 191 people. Spanish police investigators discovered telephone records that document contacts between Belhadj and Fakhet just weeks before the attacks.
Contrary to what some have claimed, Belhadj’s connection to the Madrid train bombers was not first “revealed” by former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar in a recent contribution in English for the business channel CNBC. The connection has long been a topic of discussion in the Spanish media.
In September, ABC conducted interviews in Tripoli with several associates of Belhadj from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. The LIFG members confirmed that Belhadj had run a jihadist training camp in Afghanistan. One Tareq Muftah Durman noted that at the time Belhadj had “a direct line to Osama bin Laden.” Durman insisted, however, that the Libyan jihadists “never shared Osama’s strategy.”
— John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook.