Claims in French me­dia that Malta being used as an in­tel­li­gence hub

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

The plane crash that left five French­men dead on Mon­day showed how Malta is being used as a hub by sev­eral west­ern coun­tries to carry out se­cret in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions in Libya, ac­cord­ing to a French news­pa­per source.

French news­pa­per Libéra­tion yes­ter­day quoted a Malta-based Libya spe­cial­ist as say­ing that the coun­try is being used as the ‘Casablanca of the 1940s’. The Moroc­can city was the stag­ing point for al­lied op­er­a­tions in Europe dur­ing World War II.

On the day of the crash the Mal­tese gov­ern­ment said the five vic­tims were mem­bers of the French cus­toms agency on a sur­veil­lance mis­sion re­lated to hu­man traf­fick­ing in Libya. It in­sisted that the flight would not have landed in Libya. But the French Douane later de­nied that the vic­tims were its men.

The French gov­ern­ment later said three of the dead were de­fence of­fi­cers while the other two were civil­ian con­trac­tors. The de­fence of­fi­cials were later re­vealed, by the French me­dia, to be mem­bers of the DGSE, France’s equiv­a­lent of the CIA. De­spite th­ese de­vel­op­ments, the gov­ern­ment in­sists that its own ver­sion is the cor­rect one.

“The pres­ence of the French mil­i­tary in Libya, re­vealed by Le Monde in Fe­bru­ary and con­firmed by Fran­cois Hol­lande after the death of three non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers “on duty” in a he­li­copter crash in July, leaves lit­tle doubt about their true des­ti­na­tion,” Libéra­tion re­ported.

“Malta is the rear base of all Libyan op­er­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to a spe­cial­ist in the coun­try (Malta). This is the Casablanca of the 1940s. The French, Bri­tish, Ital­ians, Amer­i­cans... ev­ery­one is there,” the news­pa­per source says, also point­ing out that in Malta there is the seat of the Libyan Cen­tral Bank and the Na­tional Oil Com­pany (NOC). “It (Malta) has be­come the hub of all traf­fic re­lated to Libya.”

Another ‘ex­pert’ who spoke to the French news­pa­per said a Mediter­ranean re­con­nais­sance mis­sion was “not in­con­sis­tent” with a Libyan in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion. “The plane could re­main at a dis­tance from the ar­eas of in­ter­est and col­lect vi­tal in­for­ma­tion with­out fly­ing over sov­er­eign ter­ri­to­ries. This can in- clude im­age cap­tur­ing, elec­tronic sig­nals to sur­vey ac­tiv­i­ties in Libya that could be of in­ter­est to the DGSE, such as traf­fick­ing, armed ter­ror­ist groups and the pres­ence of for­eign forces. Malta then serves as a dis­creet re­fu­elling plat­form.”

Libéra­tion says that CAE – the com­pany that owned the Metro­liner plane – fre­quently leases out sur­veil­lance air­craft to the French spy agency. It says the French gov­ern­ment will never pub­lish the names of the DGSE mem­bers killed on Mon­day.

The men, it says, were bound for an op­er­a­tion in Libya. “The West is cur­rently in­volved on two fronts – the bat­tle of Sirte, in the cen­tre of the coun­try, where the brigades of Mis­rata are close to over­throw­ing the Is­lamic state with sup­port from US war­planes, and the war in the East by Gen­eral Haf­tar, who faces a coali­tion of Is­lamist groups and more mod­er­ate fight­ers in Cyre­naica.”

It adds: “The Mis­rata brigades and troops of Khal­ifa Haf­tar are sworn en­e­mies. The three French­men killed in July in the he­li­copter crash were fight­ing along­side the forces com­manded by Haf­tar, who still re­fuses to rec­og­nize the gov­ern­ment of na­tional unity. The PM of in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized gov­ern­ment was fu­ri­ous to learn that France was con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions in sup­port of his ri­val.”

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