Daily Archives: February 24, 2011

Britain sent sniper rifles to Gaddafi just before his troops began killing

Crossing boarders: An Egyptian loads a minivan after crossing the border from Libya

This is London | Feb 23, 2011

by Joe Murphy

Britain approved the export of sniper rifles to Libya just months before marksmen began murdering protest- ers in Tripoli.

An export licence was granted to let “a small quantity” of deadly long-range weapons be shipped out in November for exhibition or testing. Four licences were approved for the rifles, along with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, with cleaning kits.

They were signed off by officials in the Department for Business and it was unclear today whether ministers were involved in the decision.

Business Secretary Vince Cable told the Standard: “It is essential to stop arms exports where this could be used to suppress human rights and democratic protests and also fuel regional conflict.” He said he was “certainly surprised” about the export licences, particularly in the case of sniper rifles.

He indicated that he would insist on tougher future curbs over exports to controversial regimes, saying: “We are where we are and have to act correctly from here.”

Horrific wounds among Libyan demonstrators, including limbs ripped off, are consistent with the impact of a high-velocity round from a sniper rifle.

Following calls from the Standard, the Department for Business was this morning contacting the firms involved to establish whether the British weapons were sent back, as required under the licence conditions.

Last week the department suspended export licences to Bahrain and Libya after concern at attacks of protesters.

These licences included tear gas but the department was unable to say this morning whether tear gas was exported to Libya. The Business Department was unable to give details of who signed the export licences and when. A spokeswoman said she understood that decisions were delegated to officials.

The department would not say which companies were involved as this was “commercially confidential”. Britain’s top manufacturer of sniper rifles, the Portsmouth-based Accuracy International, said it was not involved.

Labour today called on the Government to freeze Colonel Gaddafi’s overseas assets. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said an agreement on sanctions should be pursued via the European Union.

“The Government appeared slow to act on freezing assets misappropriated from the Egyptian people,” he said. “They should now be urgently seeking agreement in Europe to freeze assets of the Libyan regime.”

The Treasury said the Government could freeze assets owned by a foreign leader but only after a United Nations or EU vote to impose sanctions, a request from the country involved or a Home Office decision that action was needed to prevent terrorism against Britons.

Gaddafi son at heart of British high society

Shooting party: Lord Mandelson

This is London | Feb 23, 2011

by Joe Murphy

A meeting between a dictator’s son and a senior Cabinet minister at a classic English shooting party revealed how deeply the Gaddafi regime wormed its way into the British Establishment.

The weekend took place in 2009 at Waddesdon Manor, the Buckinghamshire home owned by financier Jacob, 4th Baron Rothschild.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was a guest of financier Nat Rothschild and Lord Mandelson, the former business secretary who was virtual deputy to Gordon Brown. The peer and Saif are said to have got on well and met again at the Rothschild holiday home in Corfu, where Lord Mandelson stayed for a week and discussed the case of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, who was freed days later.

Saif is Muammar Gaddafi‘s third son and heir apparent. LSE educated, he owns a home in Hampstead with eight bedrooms, indoor pool, sauna and cinema. Last year Saif claimed Tony Blair was a “personal family friend” who had visited Libya many times, becoming an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi over the fund that manages Libya’s £65 billion oil wealth.

Other key business links include Sir Mark Allen, a former MI6 officer who moved into BP, and Margaret Thatcher‘s former policy aide Lord Powell, whose companies have invested in Libyan hotels and offices.

The Gaddafi family is believed to have stashed most of its wealth in Dubai, south-east Asia and the Gulf, where banking is more secretive than in Britain. The Libyan Investment Authority owns three per cent of Pearson, which owns the Financial Times. Its property includes a retail complex in Oxford Street.

Citigroup ignored Madoff Ponzi scheme warning signs

Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in US history Photo: Reuters

The trustee for jailed fraudster Bernard Madoff has claimed in a lawsuit that Citigroup ignored warning signs of the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, it was reported on Tuesday night.

Telegraph | Feb 23, 2011

Irving Picard believes red flags about Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities LLC were apparent to Citi as early as 2005. The lawsuit seeks $425 million from the bank.

The trustee has also accused a Citibank executive of knowing that the Madoff’s trading strategy couldn’t generate the promised returns.

The unidentified banker, who was responsible for making recommendations to clients on derivatives, “concluded” by June 2007 that returns reported by a Madoff feeder fund, Fairfield Sentry, couldn’t have come from the strategy, it is claimed.

The lawsuit cited one email by the trader in September 2008 reaching out to another bank, which was unidentified.

“We’re needing to terminate our Madoff trade. Do you have appetite for that risk over there?” the email said.

According to the court document, the other bank responded, “don’t think so, madoff is not very popular here either.”

Citi said in a statement on Tuesday that the allegations in the lawsuit were false and it would “vigorously defend against these claims”.

Mr Picard also has sued JPMorgan Chase & Co, Madoff’s primary banker, for $6.4bn, alleging the bank turned a blind eye as Madoff orchestrated his fraud.

JPMorgan has said it will defend itself, calling Mr Picard’s claims unfounded and saying it was not part of Madoff’s fraud.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence in Butner, North Carolina, after pleading guilty to orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in US history. At the time of his arrest, Madoff’s statements reflected 4,900 accounts with $65bn in non-existent balances.

Investors lost about $20bn in principal. So far, Mr Picard and his team of lawyers have recovered about $10bn.

Meanwhile, financier Allen Stanford has been moved to the same prison in Butner where Madoff is serving his sentence. Stanford is awaiting trial on charges that he ran a $7bn Ponzi scheme. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

7/7 inquests: MI5 had chance to identify July 7 leader

Mohammed Sidique Khan, the ringleader behind the July 7 bombings, pictured after his arrest by West Yorkshire Police for assault in 1993 Photo: PA

MI5 could have identified the leader of the July 7 bombers as an extremist with links to terrorists just four months before the attacks, a senior member of MI5 has admitted.

Telegraph | Feb 23, 2011

By Duncan Gardham

It also emerged that they had earlier dismissed a trip by Mohammed Sidique Khan to meet terrorists in Pakistan as “jihadi tourism.”

A series of opportunities to identify Sidique Khan were put to a senior member of MI5 at the inquest into the 52 deaths as he answered questions about whether the attacks could have been prevented.

A key piece of information was received in March 2005 from an informant who told them that a man called “Saddique” had been to a training camp in Afghanistan in the late 1990s and lived in Soothill, Batley – where Sidique Khan was living.

The MI5 witness said he had a “high degree of confidence” that could have been used to identify Sidique Khan and to have linked him with an al-Qaeda cell from Cawley, West Sussex, that was plotting a fertiliser bomb attack.

But he said there were “good operational reasons” why that was not done, which he was unable to refer to in open court.

He added that a “high degree of intensive surveillance would have been required” in order to catch Sidique Khan buying bomb-making chemicals at that stage and “we could not have made a case to maintain that degree of surveillance.”

However, when they returned to the source on July 11 2005, after the bombings, the informant told them that Sidique Khan was “prepared to use a baseball bat and capable of carrying out a martyrdom operation.”

Hugo Keith QC, said that had been MI5’s “greatest chance” to identify the leader of the July 7 bombings but it was an “opportunity that had to go missed for good operational reasons.”

In May 2004, MI5 was given access to a prisoner, referred to only as “Detainee 2” who had met Sidique Khan in Pakistan and knew him as “Ibrahim.”

Witness G, the MI5 officer, said: “A phrase that is used in the service then and is still used, is the phrase jihadi tourism.

“Individuals go to Pakistan to have a look and see what’s going on, and the material from Detainee 2 would have tended, at that point, to suggest that perhaps that’s why they were going.”

As a result of investigations into Operation Crevice, a plot to launch a fertiliser bomb attack, West Yorkshire Police were asked to try and find out more about Sidique Khan, who had been seen in the surveillance operation.

They sent a photograph of him to MI5, shown for the first time at the inquest, at the time of his arrest for assault occasioning actual bodily harm from February 2003 when he was cautioned.

But the inquest heard that he looked much younger than in the surveillance pictures and it was not shown to the detainee.