By Keith Johnson
Did U.S.-based mercenaries in Libya assist in the assassination of Col. Muammar Qadaffi, the former leader of Libya? Recently hacked emails obtained by Internet whistleblower Wikileaks and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar not only suggest they did, but reveal that American hired guns may be operating in Syria as a covert arm of the U.S. government.
The emails in question were exchanged between James F. Smith, CEO of the private military contracting firm SCG International, and members of the global intelligence outfit known as Stratfor. In one exchange, Smith, who was formerly of Blackwater, claims he got “air cover” from North Carolina Republican Rep. Sue Myrick to engage Syrian opposition in Turkey on a fact-finding mission for Congress. Smith claims that the “true mission” for his team was to “help in regime change.”
According to Al-Akhbar, other emails reveal that “during his involvement with Stratfor, Smith. . .allegedly ‘took part’ in the killing of. . .Qadaffi.”
This AFP writer recently asked former National Security Agency consultant and investigative journalist Wayne Madsen if these emails could be relied upon as credible.
“Sounds very plausible from what I’ve heard from Syrian and Lebanese sources about covert U.S. support for Syrian opposition,” said Madsen. “Private military contractors [PMCs] are arranging covert support from assets in Libya, Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and [the] Arab [Persian] Gulf, working in tandem with the Saudis and Qataris.”
Concerning the hit in Libya, Madsen states: “PMCs were playing both sides. Veritas Worldwide Security was involved in trying to rescue Qadaffi, while SCG had a role in his assassination.” In November 2011, two members of the private security firm Veritas were arrested in Mexico for attempting to smuggle Qadaffi’s son into a resort near Puerto Vallarta.
Others dispute the claim that SCG was involved in the murder of Qadaffi. Franklin Lamb, a Palestinian civil rights activist and journalist, was on the ground in Libya throughout the NATO assault and remained there for some time after Qadaffi’s death. This AFP writer recently asked Lamb if he believed PMCs were directly involved in Qadaffi’s assassination. “No,” said Lamb. “I spoke with the young man who shot him at point-blank range in Sirte, and it all happened spontaneously in the frenzy of the moment.”
If PMCs are operating in Libya, Syria or other parts of the Mideast and North Africa region, they are doing it under the radar, say many experts.