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 (5)

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 (5)

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 (5)

 

Mismari: Gaddafi dispatched a squad to assassinate me in Paris. He then sent his son to bring me back

When Al-Motassim saw revolution breaking out in Egypt, he said: “This is the end of all dictators”

 

 

Nuri Mismari almost fell into the trap that was laid for him. Muammar Gaddafi could not stand the idea of him being away in Paris with years’ worth of secrets and observations. He asked his family to convince him of coming back. He dispatched a squad to assassinate him. He then sent his son, Al-Motassim to fetch him. The family, or at least some of its members, believed the reassurances of the leader and Mismari took the airport road in order to catch a flight back; but he was rescued by an advice that he received at the last minute and he returned to Paris.

Gaddafi does not forgive those who jump off his ship and swim away. Therefore, Mismari was to face a fate similar to that of Omar al-Meheishi who was successfully brought back from Morocco and killed by the Colonel. It was important for the leader to silence Mismari. Indeed, the Chief of Protocol, who was close to the Colonel’s tent and to Al-Aziziya, had heard and seen a lot. In addition, he once accompanied Gaddafi in all his trips and meetings.

Libya had no constitution and no law. The country was living according to the leader’s whims. When he was in a bad mood, he punished minor offenses with imprisonment unless he thought that the offender deserved to be completely liquidated. Mismari was in jail when a conference was being held in Libya. The Qatari preparatory delegation noticed his absence so its members asked about him and they learned where he was. Then, the Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem al-Thani spoke to the colonel and Mismari got his job back. During a mission that he was carrying out in Mali where celebrations were being held in the presence of the Libyan leader, Mismari felt that a plan was being prepared against him. A Libyan officer advised him to flee and so he did.

Below is the fifth part of the interview:

Q. When and why did you leave Libya?

A. I had problems during my work with Gaddafi and I was sent to prison on many instances. I was trying to point out some issues to him but that was difficult because his entourage consisted of his relatives. We used to call them “the Guardians of the Tent.” Those choir members used to cheer for him and praise him whenever he appeared before them in the African attire for instance. He used to like being praised.

Q. Can you provide us with an example of a time you spent in jail?

A. I was sent to prison on several instances; sometimes for a week, and some other times for months. At the last instance, a conference was taking place in Tripoli. As usual, there were preparatory delegations that arrived early. Members of the Qatari delegation noticed that I wasn’t there. They inquired about the issue and staff members of the protocol affairs told them I was in jail. The jail was more of a house arrest in a specific place but it was still prison.

That was back in 2010 at the Rixos Hotel in al-Ghaba in Tripoli. The Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hamad bin Jassem, contacted Gaddafi and asked him to pardon me. In the night, the director of the prison, Colonel A.S. called me. He was one of the worst criminals during the Gaddafi era since he used to carry out external assassinations and he was the commander of a group called the terror unit. This man used to hunt down the so-called stray dogs. He informed me of the decision to release me from jail. Of course, going in and out of jail was an arbitrary issue during the Gaddafi era. While I was in detention, I was joined by Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, the secretary of the General Popular Committee, in addition to the prime minister, the undersecretary of the ministry of finance, the governor of the Central Libyan Bank, and the director of the Al-Aman bank, who were all detained due to a financial issue regarding Gaddafi’s son Al-Motassim Bellah. I was released and they all followed on the following day because the conference was drawing near.

I went to the conference and I oversaw everything. Hamad bin Jassem arrived and I greeted him. Gaddafi told me, “You have to thank this man for releasing you. If it wasn’t for him, you would have remained in jail.” Of course, Hamad bin Jassem spoke to Gaddafi and told him: “Nuri is a loyal, respected, and honest man and he does not deserve prison.” The conference ended and as Gaddafi was leaving I asked him whether I should go back to jail or home. He told me to go home. Then the 41st anniversary of the so-called September revolution came. To be honest, this was indeed a revolution at the beginning because those who staged it were loyal and honest officers. However, Gaddafi hijacked it for some purpose of his own. Many officers and members of the revolution’s command council broke away from him.

I was given a mission to do in Mali during the month of Ramadan. I completed the mission successfully. Then there were major celebrations that Gaddafi attended. During the Malian Independence Day celebrations, I had an incident that made me feel that Gaddafi was planning something against me because he was appalled by me.

Q. Did he express that?

A. I remember that the Malian President, Amadou Toumani Touré, who was later on toppled by a military coup, said that “Mr. Nuri is to be credited for preparing these celebrations, the military parade, and the parachute landing parade. May I have your permission to present him with a medal?” Gaddafi replied mockingly: “Had he not done all that, we would have killed him.” I was worried. There was an officer called Colonel Abdel Salam al-Hassin who came to Mali as the head of a special Libyan force to secure the visit of the god-forsaken Colonel. I spoke to him and he asked me about the reasons why I was so upset and I told him. He apparently knew about what was going on. He categorically asked me if I was able to leave Libya. He is now the colonel in charge of the Libyan forces’ operations. I said that I could leave Libya, to which he replied: “As a brother, I recommend that you leave.” We said good bye to Gaddafi who asked me to come along as he always did. But I told him that I had to stay in order to make sure that all the troops, machines, and aircrafts had left. When the plane took off, the Libyan officer told me: You leave and I will take care of the rest. I greeted him, and then left to Tunisia by airplane. I got sick and went into the hospital. I stayed in Tunisia for three days. Then I took a boat to Marseille in France. I stayed in a hotel. I had a heart condition and the doctor said that I needed treatment and that I might need cardiac catheterization. This got me worried so I flew to Italy and received the same diagnosis. Then, I came to Jordan and I was received by the royal protocol department and I had a very special treatment. I stayed there. Ten days later, I got ill and they had to do a catheterization. My heart stopped for ten seconds and they revived me with electrical shocks. I then left the hospital and went to France. I don’t want to say that all the officers and commanders of external security were hostile. However, some members of the Gaddafi entourage were giving them orders because the Gaddafi people wanted me out by any means. They were always trying to harm my reputation. I was once sacked for a week and then brought back after their conspiracies failed. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was plotting to appoint someone else, of his own entourage, in my post. He sent a team to Jordan in order to study protocol affairs there. This team included a man from al-Qahsa who was a close relative to Gaddafi. Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi also took part in the conspiracy to push me aside. I was constantly at odds with him because he belonged to Saif al-Isla’s group. The conspiracy failed and I clashed with them. I tendered my resignation but it was rejected. I always had a clash with Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

I then went back to France. Then, someone called Gaddafi and told him that I fled. Gaddafi got scared. He was always scared whenever I travelled to get treatment. He was afraid that I would break away especially that I quit working for him in 1982 when I left Libya. A story was published in an Italian newspaper and I believe that the newspaper was paid to publish that story, which accused me of plotting to stage a coup against Gaddafi or for a revolution in Libya.

Q. The revolution hadn’t started yet?

A. That’s correct. Al-Motassim, Gaddafi’s son, contacted me. I told him that I was sick and being treated and that I will go back after that. He told me: “Uncle Nuri (they always called me Uncle Nuri), proceed with your treatment and we will receive you when you’re done.” Then, Saif al-Islam called me. My relationship with him was quite limited. I only ran into him occasionally at his father’s house or in the tent. He asked me how I was doing and said: “These are dogs and intelligence agents.” Then, a trusted source close to Saif al-Islam was quoted by some news reports as saying that this was a conspiracy carried out by some security apparatuses against Mr. Nuri Mismari.

Q. What else did he tell you?

A. He greeted me. I told him I was tired and ill. He said, “We hope you will come back to us safely.” Then, this news story was published. The conspiracy implied that Nuri was going to break away and flee. They prepared a lowly conspiracy against me with the participation of the prosecutor. You know the prosecutor follows the minister of justice in Libya because the judiciary system is not independent. All the prosecutions are linked to the justice minister and the counselor was Mustafa Abdel-Jalil. Abdullah al-Senoussi and Abdullah Mansour tried to dig in the papers of the protocol affairs in order to fabricate any possible accusations to frame me. But they found nothing.

Q. Who is Abdullah Mansour?

A. He was an officer in the army and the director of the Libyan Radio. He was succeeded by Ali al-Kilani. He’s a relative of Abdel Salam al-Zadema who used to belong to the external security and then he passed away. He was the worst criminal and he took part in liquidating people. He was a murderer and he took part in assassinating Libyans abroad. Mansour and Senoussi tried to frame me and they failed; so they asked the prosecutor during the meeting to frame Nuri Mismari by any means. Unfortunately back then, all this was overseen by the minister of justice and under the instructions of Gaddafi. A conspiracy was staged against me and I was accused of stealing public funds. That was a stupid conspiracy because the budget of the protocol affairs was actually run by the General Popular Committee, i.e. the council of the ministers.

Q. You were framed and arrested in France?

A. Gaddafi asked the French to extradite me to Libya. The French refused to do so. Then, a deal was made between Libya and France to purchase aircrafts. The deal was supervised by Mohammad al-Hueijj, the minister of economy back then. The deal was valued at around 1.5 billion Euros.

Q. That was for the purpose of purchasing weapons?

A. It was for the purpose of purchasing aircrafts, technology, and modern equipment. This was used as a means to get me extradited. But to be honest, former President Nicolas Sarkozy refused and said that the matter is to be decided by the judiciary. Gaddafi threatened to cancel the deal and he was told to do whatever he pleases and that “we cannot do a thing without the judiciary orders.” Gaddafi then dispatched a group to assassinate me. The group was headed by an officer from the external security apparatus. I don’t want to say that all the external security officers are Gaddafi’s henchmen. There are of course the relatives of Abdullah Senoussi and Abdullah Mansour as well as Gaddafi’s relatives who are of course loyal to him. However, the external security apparatus does include a number of patriotic and honest people who made every effort at helping the February 17 revolution. The name of the officer who headed the assassination squad was Saad. He knew me very well. Thus, Gaddafi asked him to form a group and to assassinate me. The officer was a consul in France and he knew the country well. So he did not seriously try to assassinate me, because he knew me very well and he knew of my patriotism.

Q. Was the squad sent to France?

A. Yes. Most of the consuls were former officers of the external security apparatus and they were placed in general consuls’ posts for this purpose. The French authorities learned that a squad has arrived to assassinate me so they arrested me and put me in jail and treated me well. There were some security issues and political matters that I was supposed to keep hidden as much as possible because there were plans to kill me by any means. Some Libyans started to contact me and they tried to convince me to go back but I said no. A defense attorney was appointed for me. Then the assassination squad left and the French were relieved.

I was then released without bail and I had the freedom of movement until the issuing of the verdict. Upon my release, Gaddafi followed another cheap method by sending Abdullah Mansour to me. I remember that I met with him at the Focet Hotel where we shook hands. The meeting was good and he transmitted the greetings of “my brother” to me. They never say “the leader,” they always say, “your brother.” For instance, if there were instructions to be given, they would say, “your brother has asked that you do so.” This term has a different meaning that people think. It is not used to bring people closer. On the contrary, it is used in order to mask the identity of the person. I told them, “You have framed me for a horrible crime, that of stealing public money.” He said, “You know that we fabricated this accusation.” I replied, “Yes, and you are even admitting that.” My daughters Amal and Thuraya as well as a third person called Malek Baayo witnessed this conversation. He said, “You know your brother.” I said, “Who issued these instructions” to which he replied, “Your brother did. However, we will drop the charges as soon as you come back.” I then told him that I will not be leaving this place before you drop this accusation whether you like it or not. His attempts at convincing me failed so he told me: “The Libyan state will be paying for your treatment from now on. Come and stay in this hotel, the Focet Hotel, and we will pay for your stay.” I accepted because I wanted to see where things were going. My family was banned from leaving Libya including my relatives, my children and my grandchildren. Senoussi was always calling me and saying that he wants to reassure me to come back. But I used to say: “I trust Mohammad; and Mohammad is dead.” I tried to find excuses and I told them that I couldn’t leave France without a court order; but this wasn’t true. The Libyan Ambassador back then, Dr. Salah al-Zarem, came by and tried to convince me. He was a friend of mine but he belonged to the group of Moussa Koussa. Al-Zarem also attended a court hearing along with a member of the embassy. We told the judge that the ambassador along with a group of people is here to attend the session, so he ordered an adjournment of the case. Then, Abdullah Mansour came by again. I met with him and asked him, “How can you tell me that your brother is asking for you, while you have prevented my family from travelling?” My daughters Thuraya and Amal came and tried to convince me. During the trial, my daughters Settel Kol and Manal came to France in order to support me. Settel Kol was residing in Jordan because her husband was the first secretary at the embassy. Amal and Thuraya were in Tripoli and Manal came all the way from America where she lived. They all came to support me because I was very ill. Meanwhile, my son, Ehab Mismari called me. He used to be an adviser at our embassy in Canada and then he broke away. He called my eldest daughter Amal and he told her that he will cover for all the expenses of the lawyer. He asked her not to take a single dime from the Libyan government. He covered all the expenses.

Q. Did Gaddafi repeat his attempts?

A. Abdullah Mansour came and he tried to convince me but failed because I was scared. Muammar Gaddafi sent for my daughter Thuraya. She went to see him and he told her, “Nuri is like a son and a brother to me and I love him. Let him say which post he would like to have.” Of course, my daughters did not know the intentions of that man so they came by smiling. Thuraya worked under the protocol affairs department. She was also appointed as a First Secretary in our embassy in the Seychelles. My daughter Ghada was also in the Seychelles and she also broke away. I wasn’t convinced. Then, his son Al-Motassim Bellah came and wanted to see me. At this point, I felt the danger.

Q. Al-Motassim came to Paris?

A. Yes he did and he stayed at the Bristol. He wanted to see me and I was worried about a potential kidnapping so I informed the French authorities and they asked me to go see him along with members of the French security services.

Q. Where did you meet with him?

A. I met with him at night in the Bristol Hotel and I had Amal and Thuraya with me. We met and it was a good meeting, I do not deny that. Al-Motassim said: “Welcome Uncle Nuri. How are you? What happened?” I told them. Back then, the January revolution had started in Egypt and it was carried live on TV. I looked at Al-Motassim and told him: “Look at this.” Al-Motassim replied with an odd answer. He said: “This is the end of all dictatorships.”

I looked at my daughters, Thuraya and Amal. Al-Motassim went to bring something from his room and I noticed that there were 15 pairs of shoes. I thought they belonged to the group that came along with him. My daughter said: “What kind of a reply is that?” His reply was hostile towards his own father. He came back and we dropped the subject. He was against all his father’s interferences with the state and security affairs. He literally told me: “I am the National Security Advisor but I am just a front. I have no power at all.”

Q. Al-Motassim was killed later on?

A. Yes, the rebels killed him. Al-Motassim told me: “I have my private jet with me and I will be leaving France tomorrow. I want you to go back with me. I told him, “We will see,’ and I went back home.

My daughters were concerned and they begged me to go back but I refused. His office manager called me and said, “We have postponed our flight until tomorrow. Uncle Nuri, get ready. Al-Motassim greets you and he asks you to get ready to leave.” I told him that I couldn’t leave because I had an appointment for a medical check-up. I then clashed with my daughters because they were convinced by the words they heard including what Thuraya had heard from Gaddafi in Tripoli and what they heard from Al-Motassim and what Abdullah Mansour had said about the framing process being a fabrication under Gaddafi’s orders and that it will be dropped. However, I was adamant. Al-Motassim left. Then, the ambassador came by along with a Libyan lawyer who was a resident of France and they tried to convince me but I still refused. They asked me to tell the French court on the day of the trial that I have decided to go back to Libya so that the court would let me go back. But whether I leave France or not was something I could decide alone because the court never imposed any terms on me, not even a bail. At the end, and in order to please Amal and Thuraya, I decided to go back to Libya. While I was in the airport, a member of the French lawyer’s office came by. He told me that he prefers that I do not go back to Libya and added: “Going back is not good for you. There might be threats.” So I canceled my flight and went back to the hotel. The signs of the revolution started to appear. There were calls to stage a Day of Rage on February 17. The movements started on Facebook and I was following them closely. Some friends were also contacting me. On the 17th, a Day of Rage was indeed staged. On the 14th, a rebellion had erupted in the Al-Bayda area, where my tribe, Al-Masamir, was located along with the Al-Baraissa and other tribes. The region of the Jabal al-Akhdar had strong tribes such as Al-Obeidat… In short, the movements started and there were clashes. On the 17th, there were also clashes. On the 18th, there were disasters. And on the 19th, the crackdown started. I was upset. On the 20th, the killings were massive. On the following day, I appeared on Al-Jazeera and I announced my defection.

Q. You were the first defector?

A. Yes, I was the first one. A member of the protocol affairs unit, Hussein al-Mesrati, followed right after. He was a delegate in China. Then, the ambassador to India broke away followed by Mr. Moustafa Abdel Jalil. The revolution had started.

Q. You worked with Gaddafi as the Secretary of Protocol Affairs from 1997 to 2010. This means that you are the man closest to Gaddafi?

A. I also worked with him before that from 1977 until 1982 and then I left.

Q. How would you describe Gaddafi’s personality?

A. Gaddafi was an arrogant man who believed that he is the only one who knows anything and that he is an expert in law, economy, and social and political affairs. He had the first and final say in all matters and he would accept no opposition from anyone. He liked to brag and he liked whoever praised him and told him that he is the best. Anyone who complied with him would obtain many gains. This also applied to other leaders.

Q. Name some of those

A. Some African presidents

Q. There is no longer a need to hush matters up

A. I don’t want to harm these people. I will write a book and I will try not to hurt these presidents.

Q. But that era will eventually be exposed

A. God willing, I will talk about them in the future. There were some African presidents on whom Gaddafi had an effect such as President Sassou-Nguesso of Congo Brazzaville and Mali's President Amadou Toumani Touré. The Nigerian President, Obasanjo, was moody. He would be with Gaddafi at some point and against him at some other point. One of the presidents that Gaddafi used to have an effect on and that he used to lure with money was the Liberian former president and dictator, Charles Taylor, who is now in jail. Gaddafi also had a close relationship with President Compaoré of Burkina Faso. However, this friendship broke when Compaoré visited Israel. He also had an effect on Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings, a major effect on the President of Sierra Leone, a relative effect on the president of Ivory Coast, and an effect on the President of Central Africa, Bozizé. Bozizé also had the support of the Chadian President, Idris Deby who took power through his support and then joined the Gaddafi wing. As for the relationship between Gaddafi and Idris Deby, they used to have a rapprochement as some instances and a distancing at some other instances. They were close in the last phase.

Q. Did these presidents receive any money from Gaddafi?

A. Of course they did. They received aid and investments for their countries. Mr. Bachir Saleh, the director of Gaddafi’s bureau was in charge of the investments and gifts. He used to act based on the orders and instructions of Gaddafi and he was in charge of African affairs.

Q. Which of the Arab presidents did Gaddafi affect in the last ten years?

A. Gaddafi had a definite effect on the Tunisian Preisdent Zine al Abidine Ben Ali. There was a sort of coldness between Gaddafi and President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika. However, they used to have a rapprochement as some instances. At the beginning, Ben Ali and Gaddafi were not close. Then, they grew closer through the relatives of Ben Ali’s wife and the family of Ben Ali’s brother-in-law. Major celebrations were thrown whenever Gaddafi was visiting Tunisia. In the last years, Gaddafi was supporting the decision makers in both Tunisia and Egypt.

 

The sixth and final part will be published tomorrow.