The Libyan National Transitional Council

. 7.27.11

The self-appointed Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) has now been recognised by the British government as the sole representative of Libya. Regular readers of Human Rights Investigations will be aware of the involvement of the Libyan rebels in lynchings, ethnic cleansing and incitements to racial violence. The attempt to impose the former Libyan Government officials of the NTC on the people of Libya is likely to reinforce the anti-colonial credentials of the authorities in Tripoli, to extend the conflict, impact badly on the human rights situation and put the Libyan people in yet greater danger.

Mustafa Abdel Jalil (aka Mustapha Abdel Jalil)

Chairman of the NTC is Mustafa Abdel Jalil. He was born in the Al-Bayda area in eastern Libya in 1952 and was a player for Al-Bayda Football Club for a spell. He studied at Gar Younis University, Benghazi before moving on to the Islamic University where he studied Sharia and Law, graduating with honours in 1975. He was assistant to the Public Prosecutor before becoming a judge in 1978. In 2002 he became president of the Court of Appeal and in 2007 was named President of the Court in Al-Bayda before quickly moving on to becoming Justice Minister (Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Justice).

In his role as Secretary of the General People’s Committee he endorsed death sentences but offered his resignation on 28th January 2010. He was upset at 300 members of the ‘Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’ (LIFG – an Al Qaeda-linked group) being kept in prison and also at separate releases of prisoners on death row, without the consent of relatives.

Disputes over the release of the members of the LIFG were a key bone of contention within the Libyan authorities before the outbreak of the current hostilities. Officials were trying to minimise the influence of pro-Al Qaeda militants in the east of the country. (Libyans formed the second largest foreign contingent of Al Qaeda in Iraq).

Against the wishes of internal security officials, Saif al Islam helped organise the release of the remaining 110 prisoners, after they had renounced violence, on 16 February 2011.

Reports indicate Mustafa Abdel Jalil was dispatched by Tripoli to negotiate with the rebels at the beginning of the current Libyan conflict:

The group calls itself the “Islamic Emirate of Barqa,” after the ancient name of a region of northwest Libya, and the official said its leadership is made up of former Al-Qaeda fighters previously released from jail.

The official said the same group was responsible for the hanging of two policemen in Al-Baida on Friday that was reported in Oea newspaper.

Justice Minister Mustafa Abdeljalil started negotiations late on Saturday for the hostage-takers to release their captives, he said. “But we will not negotiate over Libya’s integrity under any circumstances.”

As it turned out, Jalil decided to defect.

Ali Al-Issawi (aka Essawi)

Ali Abd-al-Aziz al-Isawi previously served as Secretary of the General People’s Committee of Libya (GPCO) for Economy, Trade, and Investment. His move from this post, according a Wikileaks disclosure citing the French Embassy in Tripoli was “related to accusations of corruption.” He is now responsible for foreign affairs for the National Transitional Council.

At the time of the 2000 race riots, the then Minister al-Isawi — stated about the African presence:

“They are a burden on health care, they spread disease, crime. They are illegal.”

Prospects for the National Transitional Council

The members of the rebel council have been calling for NATO support and military intervention from the beginning, firstly to make up for their lack of popular support and perhaps also as a bulwark against members of the Islamic Fighting Group (now renamed the Libyan Islamic Movement (LIM)) who, with their experience in fighting in Iraq, form a key element of the Libyan rebel forces.

There are varying reports about the extent of Al Qaeda influence among the rebels but the appalling atrocities committed, public lynchings and beheadings and their uploading to the internet, indicate the influence is strong.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have called upon their followers to support the rebellion.

Internet chatter amongst these rebels suggests there is some anger at the NTC issuing statements disowning Al Qaeda. However, NATO air support is essential for the rebels so it remains to be seen how long it will be before open hostilities break out between the NTC and the LIM.