Update: A London attacker’s links to UK covert operations in Syria and Libya

Evidence suggests that one of the London attackers, Rachid Redouane, was in effect part of the broad UK-backed covert strategy to oust Syria’s Assad, following his similar role in Libya in 2011. It is also possible that Redouane could have been trained by Qatari special forces in Libya in 2011, as part of a broad UK-approved covert operation. Indeed, it is possible that this training was presided over by UK and US ‘liaison’ officers.

The analysis below is based on mainstream media sources in the public domain.

The Telegraph reports that London attacker Rachid Redouane fought in the 2011 British/NATO war against Qadafi  – as did Salman Abedi, the Manchester bomber – and joined a militia which went on to send jihadist fighters to Syria. In Libya, Redouane is believed to have fought with the Liwa al Ummah unit.[1]

The Liwa al Ummah was formed by a deputy of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former emir of the al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. In 2012, the Liwa al Ummah in Syria merged with the Free Syrian Army (FSA)[2], which was formed in August 2011 by army deserters based in Turkey[3] whose aim was to bring down Assad.

In Syria, the Liwa al Ummah was often referred to as an ‘FSA unit’[4] and sometimes teamed up with al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. [5]

The UK has been reported as covertly supporting al-Nusra in Syria[6] but more generally backed and supplied the FSA. In February 2012 Britain pledged to send advanced communications equipment to the FSA to help coordinate its forces.[7] In August 2012, it was reported that British authorities “know about and approve 100%” intelligence from their Cyprus military bases being passed through Turkey to the rebel troops of the FSA.[8] In August 2013, the UK announced £1m support to the FSA in form of communication and other equipment.[9] The FSA has been covertly armed by the US and Gulf states[10] and trained by Turkey[11] – as part of the UK-backed covert operation to oust Assad which began in 2011.

There is evidence to suggest that the anti-Qadafi fighters who fought on Britain’s side to oust Qadafi in 2011 – for which the British authorities allowed an ‘open door’ for them to travel from the UK to Libya – then simply moved on to Syria. In December 2011, it was reported that “with explicit consent from Transitional National Council (TNC) chairman” (supported by the UK and NATO) “600 highly motivated troops fresh from toppling the Gaddafi regime” were shipped to Syria to fight alongside the FSA. “The trigger-happy Libyans have access to a wealth of weapons plundered from the Gaddafi’s regimes military depots or gently ‘donated’ by NATO and Qatar”.[12]

It is possible that Redouane was trained by Qatar special forces in Libya in 2011 and also possible that this training was presided over by UK and US liaison officers. Redouane is reported by the Telegraph to have fought with the Tripoli-based Liwa al Ummah unit in the Libya war of 2011.[13] Liwa al Ummah was founded by Mahdi Al-Harati, an Irish-Libyan who led the Libyan rebel Tripoli Brigade during the battle of Tripoli in 2011.[14] This Tripoli Brigade of the Liwa al-Ummah received training from Qatar special forces in Nalut, a town in Libya’s western mountains in 2011, to oust Qadafi.[15] The overall Qatari covert and overt operation to arm and train the Libyan rebels in 2011 was backed – and approved – by the UK.[16]

Furthermore, Qatar’s training involved UK and US ‘liaison’ officers. The Wall Street Journal reported:

“A team of about 60 Qataris helped set up rebel command centers in Benghazi, the mountain city of Zintan and later in Tripoli, according to Qatari Staff Colonel Hamad Abdullah al-Marri, who later accompanied Mr.Belhaj on the march into Tripoli on Aug. 22, broadcast live on al-Jazeera. Mr. Marri said that during the rebel training, he interacted with about 30 Western liaison officers, including Britons, French and several Americans.”[17]



[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/06/london-attacker-rachid-redouane-refused-uk-asylum-2009/

[2] http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/03/al_nusrah_front_free_1.php

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24403003

[4] http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/03/al_nusrah_front_free_1.php

[5] http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/03/al_nusrah_front_free_1.php

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/01/trial-swedish-man-accused-terrorism-offences-collapse-bherlin-gildo

[7] http://syrianfreedomls.tumblr.com/post/17225970100/well-help-rebels-overthrow-syrian-murderers

[8] Sky News, cited in https://uk.news.yahoo.com/syria-rebels-aided-british-intelligence-041638306.html

[9] https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/141127w0001.htm#14112778000328

[10] See extensive list of sources here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Syrian_Army#Arms_deliveries_from_U.S..2C_Turkey.2C_Qatar.2C_Saudi_Arabia.2C_others

[11] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-19124810

[12] http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ML02Ak01.html

[13] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/06/london-attacker-rachid-redouane-refused-uk-asylum-2009/

[14] http://www.irishtimes.com/news/irish-libyans-join-rebels-trying-to-oust-gadafy-1.596469

[15] http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/08/09/the-syrian-rebels-libyan-weapon/

[16] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/14/libya-rebels-weapons-qatar

[17] ‘Tiny Kingdom’s Huge Role In Libya Draws Concern’, WSJ, 17 October 2011, https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/15/152519_-os-libya-qatar-tiny-kingdom-s-huge-role-in-libya-draws.html