Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the mentor behind the successful creation of the African Union, continues his metamorphosis from international terrorist to a respectable politician.
Libya is better known today as a broker for the release of hostages than for its terrorist attacks on US interests in the 1980s, the Lockerbie bomb being the most divulged of a string of events. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the second son of the leader of Libya, successfully secured the release of western hostages on the island of Jola, Philippines, last year and is currently negotiating the release of eight “Shelter Now” aid workers, being held by the Taleban.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is now on a diplomatic mission to Germany, the return trip after German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to Libya in September 2000, a sign that Tripoli intends to normalise relations with the international community after being branded a “terrorist state” by the USA.
In an interview with the German newspaper Tagesspiegel, he declared that “The Taleban foreign minister asked the Ghadafi Foundation to find a solution to the question of the Shelter Now prisoners already before September 11th”.
Both Muammar Gaddafi and Saif al-Islam have distanced themselves from terrorism after September 11th, openly supporting the United States, declaring that this country has every right to defend itself “as long as they are 100 per cent sure who is guilty”. Declarations made by Osama Bin Laden this weekend, that the targets in the USA were “legitimate” link him clearly to the September 11th attacks.
Libya hopes in this way to qualify for a suspension of the nine-year-old sanctions imposed on the country in the aftermath of Lockerbie. However, there is another thorny issue to be resolved between Germany and Libya in the coming weeks: the case of the bombing of La Belle discotheque in Berlin in 1986, in which American troops were killed, is due to be opened. The Libyan authorities are the main suspect, as in Lockerbie.
The Libyan authorities want to pay damages to the families of the victims, as was the case with Lockerbie, without admitting guilt. The Libyans try meanwhile to tempt the Germans into a closer relationship by offering important oil contracts.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru