The Address | Benghazi – Libya
BENGHAZI – Libyan online newspaper Al-Marsad has published leaked documents which reveal new information about the case of the arrested secret cell of the Palestinian Hamas movement in Libya.
The case was announced by the Director of the Bureau of Investigation in the Office of the Attorney General, Siddiq Alsour, in April 2017.
At the time, Alsour confirmed that his office obtained all the evidence that condemns this cell, including reports concerning the security of the Libyan state and others related to the disclosure of military secrets and the smuggling of large quantities of weapons to the Sinai and the Gaza Strip.
Documents published by Al-Marsad detail reports, correspondence, minutes of meetings, methods of funding, recordings and video clips belonging to the cell’s arrested members led by Palestinian Marwan al-Ashqar aka “Abu Yousef”, Hamas’ representative in Libya and his deputy Mohammed al-Barsh aka “Abu Salah”, the cell’s PR official.
The documents reveal the seriousness of the case and the reasons for the secrecy that strangely shrouded the case.
The Address obtained copies of these documents contain lists of names, codes of communication, forms of mobilization, smuggling and purchase of weapons, training videos for terrorist acts, and minutes of meetings, all of which provide irrefutable proof of this cell’s efforts to violate the sovereignty of Libya and engage in prohibited activities in the country.
These documents also prove the involvement, at the highest level, of leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group militia and the Muslim Brotherhood’s political branch in Libya, the Justice and Construction Party. The cell’s co-conspirators include the Muslim Brotherhood’s branches in neighboring countries such as the Tunisian Ennahda Movement.
The documents also showed a direct coordination of the Hamas cell with the leaders of al-Qaeda and the Ansar al-Sharia group in Libya and training them for combat skills, including the manufacture of mines and explosives.
The cell also arranged meetings for coordination with certain important figures led by the Emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the head of al-Watan Party, Abdelhakim Belhaj, and head of the Justice and Construction Party, Mohamed Sawan, whose party members met with the cell’s leaders in Tripoli.
The Office of the Attorney General issued on Thursday an arrest warrant for Belhaj, accusing him of conspiring with the Chadian opposition to attack Libya’s oil infrastructure in Libya. The case of “Hamas cell” also indicates Belhaj’s involvement in these attacks, which will further complicate his legal situation and drag with him heavy names, military and partisan leaders, businessmen and others and bring them to justice.
These documents show the cell’s preparations for detailed tactical military plans, logistical arrangements and acts of subversion, in addition to providing terrorist elements in several Libyan cities, including Benghazi and Derna.
It also show close coordination with prominent terrorist leaders such as Wissam Ben Hameed, Ziad Balam, Yunus al-Fayidi and many other leaders of the so-called Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. The cell provided the Shur Council with terrorist Palestinian fighters of Al-Qaeda, coming from Gaza, who conducted tasks in Benghazi, Derna and other cities.
Al-Marsad contacted officials of the Attorney General’s Office whom, according to the newspaper, confirmed that this case, ‘Number 65/017 – State Security’, is still pending before the Attorney General after the Director of the Bureau of Investigation concluded investigations. The officials described the case as one of the most serious cases of foreign organizations that was established in Libya after 2011.
These documents reveal the infiltration of a secret foreign organization in the Libyan society over the past 6 years away from the eyes of everyone in a secretive and complex organizational manner, taking advantage of the chaos and security vacuum. It also reveal the penetration of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Libyan state.
The cell’s activities were initially concentrated in Benghazi before leaving after the war broke out in 2014 to Misurata and from there to Tripoli. In the latter two, it practiced many of its activities related to recruitment, training and funding from other cities.
A number of local and foreign parties have exerted pressure to try to release the detained cell members in Tripoli. Among the most prominent of these parties is is the Head of the intelligence committee of the Turkish parliament, Emrullah Işler, who is also the special envoy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Libya.
Işler, according to officials of the Attorney General’s Office, has transferred messages to particular Libyan parties from the Head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan, regarding the release of the cell members.
In April, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the Head of the High Council of State, Khaled al-Mishri, a senior official in the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood. The Council’s media office said at the time the Abbas’ phone call was to congratulate al-Mishri on the anniversary of Isra and Mi’raj but sources from the Attorney General’s Office confirm that Abbas discussed the release of Hamas cell with al-Mashri. This was during the negotiations of the Palestinian reconciliation between the Authority and Hamas, where the latter demanded Abbas to show goodwill and peruse the release of these prisoners.
Former Mufti of Libya, Sadiq Al-Ghariani, denounced the arrest of the “Hamas cell” immediately after the prosecutor’s office announced the arrest and said that these elements should be supported instead of being arrested, despite the fact that they are violating the law which prohibits foreign operatives from conducting activities inside Libya.
The Libyan Penal Code, in its articles 166 and 171 of the same law, stipulates that any citizen who finances or communicates with foreign organizations outside the State’s framework shall be punished with life imprisonment and execution.