On Friday, an Airbus A-320 of Afriqiyah Airlines flying from the Tmenhent Military Base near Sabha to Mitiga Airport in Tripoli was forced to land in Malta by two Libyan hijackers in their twenties who were alleged to be some fighters in Libya remain loyal to the dead former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
M. Birol Guger
Editor-in-chief of Aydınlık Daily
According to the allegations based on a Libyan TV channel, one of the hijackers, who introduced himself as Moussa Shaha, said by phone that he was the head of Al-Fateh Al-Jadid (the New Al-Fateh), a newly formed pro-Gaddafi party.
In a tweet, the TV station quoted the hijacker as saying: "We took this measure to declare and promote our new party."
Foreign Minister Mohamed Taha Siala of Libya's Tripoli based "Government of National Accord" confirmed this information saying the hijackers aimed to establish a pro-Gaddafi political party.
However, the reality that encouraged me investigate, search, and write about this issue was quite different. As the name of the party, which has never been heard of before, was likely to be fabricated awkwardly as Al-Fateh is actually the name of the September 1969 Revolution of the Free Officers Movement led by Muammar Gaddafi.
Moreover, there has already been a relatively coordinated pro-Gaddafi movement, the Libyan Popular National Movement (PNM), which was established by former Libyan officials on 15 February 2012, right after the coup that overthrew Gaddafi in 2011.
Gaddafi loyalist's statement
With an official statement posted on the web page of the pro-Gaddafi Jamahiriya News Agency, PNM Central Committee member Abdallah Al Maqri condemned the hijacking of the plane on behalf of the organization. The statement particularly pointed out that the Tmenhent military base, the airport of the departure of Afriqiyah Airways, is currently controlled by rebel forces.
The statement also said, "Any action leading to the abduction of a civilian aircraft is an illegal act of terrorism and those who are responsible for this action are the terrorist groups that control large areas in Western and Southern Libya."
It was emphasized in the statement that violent acts such as kidnappings and political and economic blackmail, which are actually the dramatic consequences of Western intervention in the country, have been increased in Libya since the February coup d'etat in 2011.
In regard to the hijackers using the name 'El Fateh' with reference to the 1969 revolution Gaddafi, the PNM statement said, "Using the name of Fateh supporters in this process shows naivety and superficiality..."
"Hijackers have links with rebel groups"
A Libyan source from the Gaddafi loyalist circles speaking on condition of anonymity due to security concerns told Aydinlik Daily that the hijacker Musa Shaha in particular, seen with the traditional Southern Libyan tribal clothes, is actually a well-known figure associated with the February 17th Movement, which overthrew Gaddafi.
According to our source, the hijacking theatre staged by Musa Shaha and his so-called assistance Ahmad Aliah had no purpose other than showing the fast-growing Gaddafi loyalists, which have developed a strong alliance with the Libyan Army led by General Hafter, as 'terrorists' in the eyes of world public opinion.
MOUSA SHAHA AHMAD ALIAH
"A false flag operation"
The Libyan source speaking to Aydinlik Daily also said, "It was a false flag operation staged in Malta," adding that the hijackers waving the green flag of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, which is at the same time the symbol of Gaddafi Loyalists, is also a part of the game.
In terms of the possible aims of the act, the source said, "Their purpose is to tarnish our image and show us as terrorists and criminals in the eyes of the whole world because after a long period of instability, Gaddafi loyalists have begun to form the majority of society again."
As regards the future of Libya and the role of the Gaddafi loyalists, the source stated that "I do believe that this year will be full of surprises and many things will change. The era of the rats is about to be finished."