Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the man who twice upheld death sentences in the Bulgarian nurses show trial and is poised to lead post-Qaddafi Libya. But don't worry: The State Department says he's a refomer.
While making a correction in my column regarding Libyan "rebel" front man Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former Qaddafi justice minister who now heads Libya's government-in-waiting, the National Transitional Council (NTC), I realized that US and NATO support for this man and the NTC and the "rebels" is actually worse than I previously thought, which was already pretty bad.
I don't refer only to the role Abdul Jalil played in the Bulgarian nurses show trial, which I mistakenly underestimated: I originally wrote that Abdul Jalil sentenced the five nurses and Palestinian medic to death when, in fact, as president of the Tripoli appeals court, he twice upheld their death sentences. Indeed, for these blatant perversions of justice (charges that the nurses had infected hundreds of Libyan children with HIV virus were unsubstantiated), Abdul Jalil was well rewarded. According to a March interview in L'Express with a Bulgarian journalist who has followed the case since it began in 1999, "loyal among the loyal" Abdul Jalil "was named [justice] minister in 2007 as compensation for his intransigence during that trial.” (Thanks to Nidra Poller for the translation.)
2007 was also the year the Bulgarian nurses were freed due to EU intervention (money?), particularly from France, after serving eight years in Libyan prison. Bulgaria is still seeking a credible probe into allegations that the nurses were tortured by the Qaddafi regime into making confessions (later recanted).
Lotsa luck on that. The new and supposedly improved post-Qaddafi government-in-waiting is a veritable "Bulgarian nurses affair" cabal.
There's Mustafa Abdul Jalil, as noted above. His lead role in upholding the show trial death sentences has completely vanished from the record. Now, he's the "reformer" whom Uncle Sam has had his approving if blind eye on for years. From McLatchey just this week:
A December 2009 cable from the American ambassador in Tripoli, Gene Cretz, passes along praise for Abdul Jalil, who was then the justice minister. Officials at Human Rights Watch told U.S. Embassy staff privately that Abdul Jalil was "a proponent of the rule of law," according to the cable, one of a trove of classified documents obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to McClatchy Newspapers and other news organizations.
"Abduljalil (sic) told HRW that he would continue to fight against the culture of corruption that allowed security services to operate above the law," the cable said.
In a cable sent the next month, embassy staff describe the first meeting between Abdul Jalil and Cretz. Abdul Jalil described efforts to reform Libya's criminal code - efforts that he spearheaded. The reforms would replace prison time with fines for some offenses and ultimately reserve the death penalty for murder only, he told Cretz.
How did Abdul Jalil keep a straight face? How did Crezt get his job?
There's also Idris Laga, as L'Express also reported. In recent months, Laga has been described in Western media as "the military coordinator for the rebel movement." Laga, too, played a prominent role -- "tres active" --in the Bulgarian nurses show trial as head of the Association of Relatives with Children with HIV, as Lysiane Gagnon wrote in Canada's Globe and Mail in April. Gagnon added a couple of key details to the story:
Idris Laga, the council’s “military co-ordinator,” was head of the Association of Relatives of Children Infected with AIDS, an organization set up by the regime to raise the price exacted for the Bulgarian nurses held hostage. Vladimir Chukov, a Bulgarian expert on the Arab world, says Mr. Laga “harbours a deep hatred for the West.”
And, as Gagnon wrote, there was yet another Qadaffi regime player in the torment, literally, of the Bulgarian nurses, who this year came to prominence in the anti-Qaddafi revolt.
Abdul Fatah Younis, a senior military commander of the insurgency, is a former interior and public security minister. As such, he was responsible for the system of torture set up by the Gadhafi regime.
Such torture included, according to the nurses, electroshocks, beatings and attacks from police dogs.
Younis was bumped off in July so we don't have to worry about him.
Or do we?
Sharia aside: These are the ruthless, amoral and bloodthirsty shakedown artists we, the world's easiest marks, have decided to empower with precious blood and treasure we don't have. This cabal -- the ruthless show trial judge, the opportunistic Qaddafi stooge and blackmailer, the Qaddafi torture-master -- came together at the core of the "rebel" movement. US and NATO support for it should cease.