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Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Uncle Sam and the Terrorism Baloney

by Sachi Sri Kantha, October 28, 2011

“[In 2002] On his return motorcade through Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, Gaddafi tossed fistfuls of dollars from his car to appreciative crowds, remarking that this way he could be sure they went to the poor.” ...While attending the 5th International Non-Aligned Conference Summit in Colombo, organized by the then prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Gaddafi’s entourage performed this tossing of lowest denomination currency notes, to the assembled crowd in the pavement. The talk of the town then was that, while the crowds were keen on picking these notes, the police folks on duty themselves were more enthused in fighting to retrieve the same notes, rather than controlling the surging crowd!

baloney: n. (informal) foolish or deceptive talk; nonsense. [New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001, p. 125]

The ever vigilant high priest Uncle Sam, who preached anti-terrorism to the world and banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1997 found it convenient to do business with Libya in 2008 and throw away its anti-terrorism principles for want of Libyan oil and arms sales. I provide two brief news clippings from Reuters news agency that I’ve preserved for this occasion; one from Tripoli and the other from Washington DC.

The Tripoli report dated December 29, 2008 stated “1st U.S. Ambassador in 36 years arrives in Libya.” More than two months later, the Washington report (dated March 8, 2009), “U.S. eyes arms sales to Libya”. In December 2008, George W. Bush was in his penultimate month as the President. The current incumbent President Barack Obama (who would be anointed with the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009) had barely completed 45 days in his presidency. But remember that the nominations for the Nobel prizes close on February 1st of the year.  Thus, within five weeks of being nominated for the Nobel peace prize, President Obama had sanctioned arms sales to Libya! Who cares about the terrorism baloney, if the high priest himself abdicates his responsibility and practices terrorism all over the globe, when it suits his interests?

I had checked four obituaries to Col. Muammar Gaddafi that appeared in the New York Times, the Telegraph (London), the Guardian (London) and BBC news, for their coverage relating to Gaddafi’s sponsorship of terrorism in the past.

Neil Macfarquar had written, “Meanwhile he was cementing Libya’s rogue-state status by bankrolling terrorist and guerrilla organizations, including Abu Nidal, the radical Palestinian organization, and the violent Red Army Faction in Europe. At least a dozen coups or coup attempts in Africa were traced to his backing.” [New York Times, Oct.20, 2011].

“In the first two decades of his rule Libya became the world’s pariah, as the flamboyant colonel used his country’s oil wealth to support groups such as the Irish Republican Army and the Palestine Liberation Organisation.” [anonymous, BBC News, Oct. 20, 2011].

“Gaddafi sent arms shipments to the IRA, Abu Nidal and numerous other terrorist organizations and set out to export revolution to his neighbours, perpetuating regional conflicts in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Chad and Liberia.” [anonymous, the Telegraph, Oct. 20, 2011].

David Hirst had written, “Gaddafi turned more and more to propaganda, subversion and the patronage of every conceivable ‘liberation’ movement, from semi-respectable Palestinian organizations to outright terrorists such as Carlos the Jackal and Abu Nidal.” [the Guardian, Oct.20, 2011].

The LTTE, thanks to the idealistic leadership of V. Prabhakaran and not being a Muslim-led group as well as located in Asia, was out of favor from Col. Gaddafi’s munificence. But, LTTE gained the prestigious merit of being a certified liberation movement and not being tainted with Gaddafi’s oil money. One cannot say this to PLO or IRA or to African National Congress.

Nelson Mandela and Muammar Gaddafi

     Nelson Mandela and Col. Muammar Gaddafi

What I find nauseating is the omission in the above four obituaries two vital items. First, Gaddafi supported the anti-apartheid campaign of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress openly. The nearest the New York Times obituarist comes was this sentence: “he hedged his bets by financing and arming a cornucopia of violent organizations, including the Irish Republican Army and African guerrilla groups…” Still, he couldn’t openly mention the African National Congress led by Mandela from 1960 to 1989.  Until the end of 1989, Uncle Sam and his fellow travelers in the democratic caravan like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, viewed Mandela as a terrorist! Now that Mandala had been transformed into a saint, these obituarists find it uncomfortable to link Mandela’s name with Gaddafi. Secondly, Gaddafi also supported ruling despots and tyrants, such as the current Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Muslim political pimps in Sri Lanka cunningly made some fortune in promoting Gaddafi-Rajapaksa ties, from 2006.

The Telegraph obituarist had recorded that, “[In 2002] On his return motorcade through Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi, Gaddafi tossed fistfuls of dollars from his car to appreciative crowds, remarking that this way he could be sure they went to the poor.” One can quip that the flamboyant, eccentric Gaddafi might have practiced this routine in Sri Lanka, way back in August 1976. While attending the 5th International Non-Aligned Conference Summit in Colombo, organized by the then prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Gaddafi’s entourage performed this tossing of lowest denomination currency notes, to the assembled crowd in the pavement. The talk of the town then was that, while the crowds were keen on picking these notes, the police folks on duty themselves were more enthused in fighting to retrieve the same notes, rather than controlling the surging crowd!

It is unfortunate that Gaddafi, in his exuberance, badly underestimated his waning popularity among the Libyans. He could have saved his life, if he had followed the path of his dictator contemporaries like Fidel Castro and General Suharto, who had long tenures at the helm like him.

At least one can say, that in his death, Gaddafi had preached a lesson to his ‘friend’ Mahinda Rajapaksa: Your own people will turn against you, if you squat too long at the top of the totem pole.

Cited Sources

Anonymous: Obituary: Muammar Gaddafi. BBC News Africa. Oct.20, 2011.

Anonymous: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The Telegraph (London), Oct. 20, 2011.

 David Hirst: Colonel Muammar Gaddafi obituary. The Guardian (London), Oct.20, 2011.

Neil Macfarquar: An erratic leader, brutal and defiant to the end. New York Times, Oct.20, 2011.

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Col.Muammar Gadhafi Cartoons