The keeper of Gaddafi’s secrets reveals the oddities of a leader who killed his opponents, raped women visitors, and washed his hands with deer’s blood (1))

The keeper of Gaddafi’s secrets reveals the oddities of a leader who killed his opponents, raped women visitors, and washed his hands with deer’s blood (1)

Amman - Ghassan Charbel |

The keeper of Gaddafi’s secrets reveals the oddities of a leader who killed his opponents, raped women visitors, and washed his hands with deer’s blood (1)

 

Mismari: Four officers, including al-Senoussi, took part in al-Sadr’s assassination and the subsequent journey of deception

 

Gaddafi used to wake up and order me to fetch the black slave…meaning the visiting African leader!

 

Had I read these words in a novel, I wouldn’t have believed them and I would have accused the author of exaggerating and of having a wild imagination. But my interlocutor here is only recounting what he had personally seen and heard.

 

He was there, in and around the tent, and in and around Bab al-Aziziyah. He was there in Muammar Gaddafi’s jet, during his meetings and travels, and close to his mouth and ears.

 

In the summit meetings, he used to sit behind the leader, ready to receive his instructions and solve his problems, which were many and too often appalling.

 

From 1979 to 2010, Nuri al-Mismari served as the Secretary of Protocol Affairs, a position with the rank of a minister of state. Between 1977and 1982, he served as the General Director of Protocol Affairs. In between the two, he worked in private business.

 

Mismari abandoned the regime in 2010, and was the first to openly announce his defection at the beginning of the uprising in 2011. In fact, Gaddafi offered a reward of 50 million dollars for bringing him back, and prepared for him an acid bath; but he survived.

 

Mismari’s story reveals the involvement of Abdullah Senoussi, husband of Gaddafi’s wife’s sister, in the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr, the head of the Supreme Islamic Shi'ite Council in Lebanon in late August 1978, or at least his part in covering up the crime. Mismari also named other potential suspects.

 

Mismari’s account takes on a special significance because Mauritania has since promised to extradite Senussi to Libya, despite the fact that the International Criminal Court wants him to be handed over to it to stand trial.

 

Mismari’s testimony also reveals Gaddafi’s bizarre ways in dealing with other countries and leaders. It portrays a sadistic man who does not hesitate to rape women visitors and harass women ministers and presidents’ wives. Mismari alluded to two particular incidents in this regard, where two female visitors had been brutally raped. But for legal and humanitarian reasons, Al-Hayat will only be using initials and will redact some names involved in certain incidents of a personal or sensitive nature.

 

After interviewing Abdel Salam Jalloud, Abdel Moneim al-Houni, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, and Ali Abdul Salam al-Treki, Al-Hayat now delves into Nuri Mismari’s memories.

 

Below is the first part of the interview:

 

Q. What would you like to say at the beginning of this meeting?

A. I would like to pay my respects to the martyrs of the Libyan revolution, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the Libyan people’s freedom and for liberating them from the tyrant. I would also like to thank members of my family who put up with suffering and prison including my grandchildren, my children, my wife, and all those who are related to me and all those who suffered immensely at the hands of the tyrant because of my defection. I would also like to sincerely thank King Abdullah II and the Jordanian people and government, for all the support that they have given to the Libyan people and for recognizing the transitional council without any hidden agendas.

 

Q. Did you see Imam Moussa al-Sadr entering Gaddafi’s headquarters in late August, 1978?

A. No. Back then, I was the acting director of protocol. This department was part of the foreign ministry rather than being an independent apparatus. Its director, Ahmad Abou Shakour, was on a mission outside the country and I replaced him in my capacity as master of ceremonies. My movements were thus restricted at the president’s headquarters.

 

But back then, an incident took place that I did not fully appreciate at the time. Abdullah Senoussi called me; he was then still a minor officer in the military intelligence. The agency’s offices were located in Al-Shatt Street, and it was headed by Captain Abdullah Hijazi. Of course, this was his rank back then, but he was one of the “Free Officers” as Muammar Gaddafi used to call them.

 

Senoussi asked me if the Italian authorities stamped the passports of those entering their territory, as a requirement. I told him that the passports must of course be stamped, as these are the rules applied in any country in the world. He hung up. He then called me back and said: I will send you the passports and you have to secure visas to Italy for their holders.

 

I think there were three passports. Recall that this incident took place more than three decades ago. Senoussi sent a soldier who gave me the passports. There was nothing that made me suspicious. However, I opened the passports and found out that one of them belonged to Imam Musa al-Sadr, may God have mercy on his soul. I don’t recall the other names but I remember the name of the Imam because he was a well known figure.

 

I called the Italian ambassador and informed him that we wanted visas for our guests. He agreed. I sent the passports over to him but Senoussi called me again and asked me if it was all done. I told him that the matter required some time and that I will send the passports over to him as soon as I get them back. The Italian ambassador then returned the passports to me along with the visas and I sent them to Abdullah Senoussi. I later heard that Imam al-Sadr disappeared, so this incident remained in my mind especially that Senoussi was the one who had sent the passports.

 

But Sadr never entered Italy and Italy had nothing to do with what happened to him. A figure like Sadr would have obtained a special reception. He would have been officially received at the airport’s lounge and an airport official would have brought the passports after being stamped. Sadr did not go to Italy for sure. Sadr’s impersonator did. I still remember an intelligence officer named Moussa from Sabratha – I don’t recall his surname – who was connected to Abdullah Senoussi. He was also connected to the man who was dressed in Sadr’s clothes and sent to Italy because he had similar features and the same height as the Imam.

 

Q. So they sent an officer to do the job?

A. Yes, they sent an internal security officer with the rank of colonel. Prior to Gaddafi’s 1969 coup, the man used to be the director of the bureau of the Interior Minister, Ahmad Anssaf, under the monarchy. After Gaddafi took over, Anssaf was transferred to the General Investigation department, which later on changed its name and turned into an independent apparatus, the Internal Security. He was a colonel at the time.

 

Q. Why was this particular officer chosen for the job?

A. Because he was tall and resembled the Imam. Thus, he entered Italy. In all likelihood, the Italian immigration officer who usually stamps the passports does not get to see the passport holder whenever the latter is received in the guests’ lounge; most probably, a diplomat from the Libyan embassy would take the passport from the officer and deliver it to its holder. At this point, something interesting took place: the passports and the Imam’s prayer mat were left in the hotel. They were left there on purpose. But why would these passports be left there, if a kidnapping and assassination operation is what had taken place? The passports were left there in order to suggest that Sadr had left Libya, went into Italy and vanished there.

 

In all sincerity, I reiterate that the Italians had nothing to do with the disappearance of Sadr. They were just tricked since three persons went into Italy using the passports of three others. Then, those three persons went back to Libya using Libyan diplomatic passports. The officer who took part in this operation was keen on always travelling with a special passport in order to avoid any mishaps.

 

Q. What was that officer’s name?

A. I think his name was M.A.

 

Q. What was Abdullah Senoussi’s rank?

A. I don’t remember exactly. He was either a first lieutenant or a second lieutenant.

 

Q. Do you believe Sadr was killed immediately?

A. I don’t have any definitive information from anyone who was there. I heard that he was killed, that is, he was liquidated.

 

Q. What was the rumor that circulated back then?

A. I think that two men were connected to the murder. Colonel F.A.G and the other one was T.K, who recently headed of the Internal Security forces. At the time of the incident, he was an army officer. These two know what happened. Of course, Abdullah Senoussi also knows.

 

Q. Do you believe that Senoussi had something to do with it?

A. Yes he did. Why else would he ask for the visas in a hurry?

 

Q. Do you know where the burial site is?

A. No I don’t. Gaddafi killed so many people who vanished without a trace

 

Q. Like whom?

A. The list is very long. I was informed that he prepared an acid tank to drown me in it as soon as I returned.

 

Q. Who informed you of that?

A. Ali Abou Jaziya, who was very close to Gaddafi, told me. He was tied to the revolutionary committees and he was the Minister of Information. He was very close to Gaddafi during the uprising, before he defected.

 

Q. What did he tell you?

A. He said to me: you got a second chance at life. There is something that I hadn’t told you in order not to upset you. Now that the man is gone, I will tell you. Gaddafi had prepared an acid tank for you as soon as you got back.

 

This is what he said anyway. I also met with Moussa Koussa in Doha and we had a talk. He told me: you are welcome in Doha; it seemed as if he was making an official offer to host me. I replied that I am living in Jordan as a guest of His Majesty, King Abdullah II, and that I will not leave Jordan. I then thanked him. He then told me: Nuri, watch out. Gaddafi was willing to pay 50 million dollars to capture you alive.

Both Moussa Koussa and Ali Abou Jaziya told me that and this is not strange given Gaddafi’s methods.

 

Q. Why did you hand over Abdel Baset al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima, who were both accused of being behind the Lockerbie bombing?

A. Libya agreed to hand them in. A committee was formed that was headed by Omar al-Montasser, the Minister of Interior back then. Moussa Koussa, in his capacity as a security officer and I in my capacity as a protocol officer, were both in that committee.

 

A plane with the UN logo arrived. Armed men and police dogs disembarked. I told them that this is unacceptable and that this is a sovereign Libyan land. I also told them that I had nothing to do with Gaddafi but that this is my country and, that, “since you are coming here with arms and police dogs, then you are not part of the UN. You are an army.” Then it turned out that these are Italian armed forces so I refused and said, “Neither Megrahi nor Fahima will be handed to you before you return to the plane.”

 

Here, Omar al-Montasser interfered and told me, “Nuri, hand them over.” I replied by saying that this was completely unacceptable. I asked the UN delegate: “Are these two men going with you willingly or are they under arrest?” I then asked this same question to Fahima and Megrahi and they told me that they were going willingly. So I said: “In this case, we can put them on a civilian aircraft until they reach New York, or The Hague, or Amsterdam”. I also said, “Consider this a civilian airplane. We were the ones who asked for a UN airplane as a guarantee for them. Otherwise, they can travel on board a regular civilian airplane with regular tickets and when they reach Amsterdam, they can turn themselves in.

 

I also asked them, “Why are you handcuffing a man who has turned himself in? I object. On Libyan land, they must have no handcuffs and no guards. Once they are on the plane, you can do whatever you want.”

 

Thus, we agreed to that and they asked to frisk the two men and I didn’t mind that. They also searched the bags. Then, Fahima and Megrahi boarded the plane.

 

Q: Was it difficult for Gaddafi to surrender Fahima and Megrahi?

A: The Lockerbie case is extremely thorny and complicated and somewhat mysterious. When it occurred, I was not part of the state. I have no definitive account and do not know whether the operation was carried out by one or more parties. Due to the bombing, Libya was subjected to massive pressures.

Q:Do you think that Gaddafi planned the Lockerbie incident in response to the American raids on Libya in 1986?

A: There is a gray area at some level. I do not claim to know the implications of this issue.

Q: I do not think you would say the same about the detonation of the French UTA plane over Niger, a case in which sentences were issued against a group including Abdullah Senoussi.

A:This is a different case in which Said Rached and Abdullah Senoussi were implicated. No one can argue about that.

Q: Said Rached, the man who was killed during the revolution?

A: Yes, he and his son were shot in Bab al-Aziziyah by the group affiliated with Khamis, i.e. Gaddafi's son.

Q: Why did they detonate that plane and is it true they thought the dissident Muhammad al-Megrief was among its passengers?

A: This was one of the facets of the bombing, and there was also the war in Chad. They believed that the plane was carrying Chadian figures, including Hissène Habré.

Q: Later on, you surrendered the Bulgarian nurses who were accused along with a doctor of Palestinian origins of having infected children with HIV…

A: When Cecilia Sarkozy (Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife) came, I was part of the team which engaged in the negotiations with Cecilia and the delegation accompanying her. She came as a mediator to ensure the release of the nurses and there were negotiations between her, al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and another Libyan party. We launched endless discussions which would last until two or three in the morning. Cecilia was very blatant and I clashed with her more than once. In the end, we were at the airport in the presence of the head of the legal department and the head of the European administration at the Libyan Foreign Ministry; the presidential plane was ready and Cecilia Sarkozy wanted to usher them away. Why would the wife of the head of a state handle the reception of released prisoners? A French official tried to calm me down but I would not cooperate. In the meantime, Baghdadi and the Libyan prime minister were engaged in a discussion over the surrender of the nurses and asked for $450 million. The state of Qatar thus made a pledge in this regard via Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mr. Hamad Bin Jassem (Bin Jabr al-Thani) I believe.

Q: Did Qatar pay?

A: I think it did and played a role in paying on behalf of France. I told Cecilia she could not receive them at the plane, just as it happened with the United Nations. They were brought in by an officer from Central Security who asked that they be brought in. I said they could not, at which point Baghdadi spoke to me and said "Brother, let them in." I insisted that this was not possible as I was trying to gain time because the person called Gaddafi could change his mind. This was in the presence of the Portuguese ambassador whose country held the presidency of the European Union at the time, along with the chief of security in the EU, the EU delegate and Palestine's ambassador - who was there for the Palestinian doctor. I said we will surrender them to the European Union and it was recorded on television. I then addressed the Portuguese ambassador and asked him: Do you know about this. And he said: Yes I do and I vouch for it. At that point, I said to the Bulgarian minister: Apart from the nurses, there is a Palestinian doctor carrying the Bulgarian nationality and asking to leave with them to Bulgaria, and he concurred. So I addressed the Palestinian and he did the same. Later on, Gaddafi became mad and adopted measures, including cutting a one-month salary for Baghdadi and Mahmoudi and the sentencing of Interior Minister Rajab al-Mismari to one month in prison and a salary cut. The latter was then excluded from the ministry.

Q: Why?

A: These were games played by Gaddafi. He protested and said he did not say that and that we acted rashly.

Q: Were any measures adopted against you?

A: No.

Q:How was Gaddafi's relationship with Sarkozy?

A: It was good.

Q: Is it true that he financed his electoral campaign?

A: To be honest, I never witnessed anything of the sort but heard such talk.

Q: What were the problems you faced as head of protocol with a leader as temperamental as Gaddafi?

A: He used to give appointments and interviews as he pleased. He used to wake up and say bring me this or that president. He acted as though he was the president of presidents and that he had the right to summon them whenever he wanted, while they had the obligation to show up. We faced endless difficulties and problems and tried to handle and overcome them. This method once provoked an African president who said to me: I too am the head of state just like the head of your state. Gaddafi took pleasure in demeaning and humiliating presidents. Imagine that he used to say to me: Bring me that black slave, in reference to the president of an African state who was preparing to see him. And when the president would leave, he (Gaddafi) would say: The slave is gone, give him something.

Q: Did he despise the Africans?

A: Yes he did. Even those whose compliments pleased him, he would describe them as idiots. He expressed his arrogance through his selection of the position of the guest, in order to differentiate it from his own position, chair and seating. This complex which pushed him to differentiate himself from others accompanied him in his receptions and even in his travels, and I always had to expect such predicaments. I had to convince myself he was not the head of a state, i.e. that he was greater than that, and should be dealt with accordingly. He used to say: I am not the head of a state and want to sit on a chair on my own. I remember that during a summit in Qatar, he wanted to sit alone in a corner and not with the heads of states. Certainly, this was impossible to achieve and the Qataris did not allow it. Sometimes, he used to request the presence of a president. We would thus extend an invitation to the leader in question. And when he was unable to attend due to other obligations, Gaddafi used to accuse us of not having delivered the message. He would ask: Why did he not come? I am Muammar Gaddafi. He could not believe he offered to receive a president and that the latter did not rush to cancel all his appointments and seize the opportunity. Because of his ego and in order to avoid any embarrassment before his entourage, he used to accuse us of not having delivered the invitation.

Q: Do you remember any particular incident?

A: There were many incidents of the sort. It once happened with the president of Madagascar in 1980. There was an African Summit meeting and the president of Sierra Leone was supposed to attend it to secure the legal quorum. But he did not come. He spoke with the president of Madagascar so that he would be on our side and I even spoke to him. When this did not materialize, he held us responsible for the shortcoming. I told him we had spoken to the president and he insisted: No, No you did not. During the African Summit conferences also, the hosting states would organize an official dinner and Gaddafi would intentionally organize another official dinner. We were thus forced to print the cards and inform the participants, and when only a few of them showed up, he used to say: You did not tell them about the dinner. In reality, those who responded to his invitation were only three or four, and did so because they desperately needed his help.

Q: This was during the African not the Arab summits…

A: Gaddafi did not dare do the same in the Arab summits. We reached a point where we would print two cards, one sent to the heads of protocol of the presidents and the other carrying the embassy seal. Despite that, he was not convinced that the African presidents were refusing to come. There was a lot of embarrassment.

Q: Did the tent issue cause you any problems? And where?

A: This was often the case. In Paris for example, he wanted the tent to be erected in the garden of the Elysée Palace, bearing in mind that there was a special hotel affiliated with the Elysée for presidents and monarchs. So we erected the tent in the garden and was only used once for pictures and press interviews.

Q: Where did the tent also provoke problems?

A: In Moscow. Gaddafi was so persistent that we feared the tent would cause the failure of the entire visit. We faced serious problems and there was a controversy and leaks about a dispute. Vladimir Putin was prime minister and learned about the problem, so I went to him to request his help. He told me: This is Moscow and we have environment protection. I told him we were not bringing a camel, just a tent. In the end, the authorization was issued and the tent was erected in the garden of the Kremlin. In New York, there was no housing and Gaddafi did not want stairs or elevators. He wanted to reside on a ground floor. He did not go up the stairs due to his health and refused to enter an elevator because he had a phobia which also applied to tunnels. He also feared long trips, which forced us to go through many airports. We thus went to New York but he voiced a fierce and stringent objection, so Motassem came to brag in front of his father about having rented a villa outside of New York and erected a tent. Naturally, the news spread and all hell broke loose. The police wanted to arrest them and the erected tent was photographed from a helicopter.

Q: Where you at the United Nations General Assembly when he delivered the speech?

A: This was also a problem at the protocol level. There was a room behind the rostrum for the president who will take the floor following the first speaker. The speaker who preceded us was Obama and Gaddafi refused to sit in that room as though waiting for him. This was meaningless. He only had to congratulate the president who finished for his speech, and the latter would in turn wish him good luck on his speech. This is a protocol measure which bothered Gaddafi who said he will go from his seat to the rostrum. At the time, the head of the General Assembly was Dr. Ali al-Treki who tried to complain to me. But I responded by saying: You know him better than I do. For his part, the head of protocol at the United Nations came up to me and said: You have been here the longest and you know about protocol anywhere in the world.

Q:Did Obama not see him and shake hands with him?

A: In Italy yes, not in New York. Gaddafi waited until Obama finished his speech at the General Assembly and headed to the waiting seat, insisting that I go up with him on the podium.

Q: How did you feel while he was delivering his speech?

A: It was good at the beginning. But when he tried to tear the charter apart and could not because it was too thick, he threw it and embarrassed us. It was shameful. His speech lasted 95 minutes, i.e. an hour and a half, in order for it to be longer than Obama's address.

(Episode 2 tomorrow)