SAS training soldiers from Libyan regime that provided explosives to IRA terrorists

From The Times Online (U.K.):

Special forces have been training Libyan soldiers under a Government deal with Colonel Gaddafi, despite his regime having funded many of the IRA’s worst attacks.

SAS soldiers said there was a “weary rolling of the eyes” when they learnt that they would be passing on some of their skills to members of the Libyan infantry.

In the 1980s and 1990s Libya supplied the IRA with Semtex used in at least ten attacks, including the bombings of Harrods in 1983 and Warrington and the City of London ten years later. It was also used by the Real IRA at Omagh in 1998.

Libya also supplied machine guns and anti-aircraft missiles fired at British troops in Northern Ireland.

“The IRA was our greatest adversary. Now we are training their backers. There was a weary rolling of the eyes when we were told about this,” an SAS source told The Daily Telegraph.

“A small SAS training team have been doing it for the last six months as part of this cosy deal with the Libyans,” said another.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We have an ongoing co-operation with Libya in the field of defence”. This had been the case since the former rogue state announced in 2003 that it would abandon development of weapons of mass destruction. The Ministry of Defence refused to comment.

The first moves towards setting up the training agreement are believed to have begun after Tony Blair visited Libya as Prime Minister in 2004. However, the deal was only finalised and “signed off” by Gordon Brown this year.

Robin Horsfall, a former SAS soldier who took part in the breaking of the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 and fought the IRA in Northern Ireland, told the newspaper: “There is a long list of British soldiers who have died because of Gaddafi funding terrorists. The SAS is being ordered to do something it knows is morally wrong.”

The SAS team is believed to comprise up to 14 men and is offering training in counter-terrorism techniques, including covert surveillance.

It is not expected to pass on the “full spectrum of techniques” learnt from fighting Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last week Mr Brown announced that he would set up a Foreign Office team dedicated to assisting victims of bombings using Semtex supplied to the IRA by Libya.

Lawyers representing 138 British victims of IRA attacks had asked the Prime Minister to negotiate with Libya for compensation, but the Government has done little to promote their claims. Colonel Gaddafi’s son, Saif Saif al-Islam, said that Libya would fight the claims. The US government has already gained $1.5 billion (£900 million) in compensation from Libya for American victims of terrorism sponsored by the regime in its days as a pariah state, including those of the Lockerbie disaster, in which 270 people died, most of them Americans returing to the US for Christmas.

However, Colonel Gaddafi would not draw the money from state funds, and instead approached foreign oil companies hoping to do business in Libya to donate to the US compensation pot.

A senior human rights lawyer has called for an independent inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing. Gareth Peirce, who has represented a string of victims of miscarriage of justice, believes forensic evidence that led to the conviction of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi was flawed. She said Britain “bears the responsibility for there being an adequate investigation”.

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