British spies foiled Libya plot to kill Westerners: Hague



LONDON- British intelligence agencies have helped disrupt a plan to kill Western representatives in Libya and attack the country's interim leaders, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday.
In a rare speech on Britain's secret intelligence efforts, Hague also confirmed for the first time that agents from the MI6 foreign intelligence agency have died in recent years protecting the country.



Hague admitted that Britain's role in NATO-led intervention in Libya to protect civilians from late former strongman Moamer Kadhafi was "backed by effective intelligence" which "saved lives."
"For example the Kadhafi regime tried to attack the National Transitional Council in Benghazi, and to kill some of the Western representatives in Libya," Hague said in the speech.
"The agencies obtained firm intelligence, were able to warn the NTC of the threat and the attacks were prevented."
The United States, Britain, France and Qatar led a coalition enforcing a UN Security Council resolution permitting air strikes against Kadhafi's forces. Kadhafi was killed, apparently by NTC forces, on October 20.
Britain had also disrupted a plot by extremists who travelled abroad for "terrorist training," Hague said, without specifying the country involved.
Speaking to an audience that included the heads of MI6 and the head of the domestic intelligence agency MI5, Hague paid tribute to those who served in Britain's secret services.
"Many agents and sources risk their lives -- some lose their lives -- to give us the vital information to keep us safe. We have a duty to protect them," he said.
Hague said that without the work of Britain's intelligence agencies, "terrorist groups would have free rein to harm UK citizens here and abroad."
He also said in his speech that Britain's alleged complicity in the illegal rendition of terror suspects to countries where they were tortured after the 9/11 attacks harmed its global reputation.
"The very making of these allegations undermined Britain's standing in the world as a country that upholds international law and abhors torture," Hague said.
Prime Minister David Cameron SET up an inquiry last year to probe allegations of British complicity in torture.
In addition, the government will bring forward plans to bolster legal arrangements and improve monitoring of intelligence agencies, Hague announced.
"At its heart are proposals to ensure that cases involving sensitive national security information can be heard fairly, fully and safely in our courts, and that we protect UK national security by preventing the disclosure of genuinely sensitive material," he said.
According to Hague, a former leader of his Conservative party, the initiatives demonstrate that the government was "drawing a line under the past" and reconciling the interests of national security and justice.
The Guardian newspaper in September published claims by Libyan Islamist Sami al-Saadi that in 2004 he and his family were detained by foreign intelligence agency MI6 and handed over to authorities in Libya, who allegedly tortured him.
They followed claims by Abdelhakim Belhaj, now a rebel military commander in Libya, who said Britain and the US were complicit in a plan that led to his illegal transfer to Libya in 2004 and subsequent torture.
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Thursday, November 17th 2011
AFP
           


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