Gaddafi’s Former Aide Survives Assassination Attempt

President Muammar Gaddafi Libya
Muammar Gaddafi

Bashir Saleh, one of the most prominent aides of late Muammar Gaddafi, reported an assassination attempt in South Africa by gunmen and was transferred to the hospital, according to his family.

Sources close to Bashir family said that “gunmen shot him near his residence, before fleeing the scene” and he was transferred to the hospital after sustaining two gun wounds.

Saleh has been the director of Gaddafi’s office for years and was considered his most important aide. He was also in charge of managing Libya’s sovereign fund, which includes Libya’s overseas investments. He left his exile in Paris, France, about five years ago and went to South Africa.

Meanwhile, the Libyan National Army (LNA) and a parliamentary committee announced that Libya will not hand over Major Mahmoud al-Werfalli, a special forces officer accused of executions of extremists in Benghazi, even though the Interpol issued a Red Notice for him saying he is convicted of war crimes of seven counts.

An army official, led by Marshal Khalifa Hafter, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Werfalli’s file is currently under the military law of the National Army. Investigations are still ongoing.”

Talal al-Mayhoub, chairman of the National Defense and Security Committee of the House of Representatives in Tobruk, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Libya will not hand over its sons.”

He indicated that Werfalli is under investigation in Libya and raising the issue is part of an attempt to discredit the army and its leadership.

The Interpol posted on its Red Notice section the name of Werfalli saying he is convicted of war crimes of seven counts. He has also been listed as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and has two arrest warrants awaiting him.

“Al-Werfalli is guilty of war crimes in seven counts in Libya and anyone with information about him should come forward and talk to the Interpol,” the Interpol indicated.

Wefarlli was under investigation earlier this month by the military police at the army headquarters in al-Marj, where he appeared in two videotapes, respectively, to confirm that he had taken the step, following instructions of Hafter to complete his investigations.

In other news, Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has declared force majeure on el-Feel field, 900 kilometers south Tripoli, following the shutdown of the field and the evacuation of its employees.

El-Feel was shut after guards withdrew from the field to push demands over pay and other benefits earlier this week.

NOC said force majeure was declared on Friday after “members of Fazzan group from the Petroleum Facility Guards (PFG) threatened workers, entered the administrative offices in the field, tampered with official papers of the field administration and fired in the air.”

The field is operated by a joint venture between state-owned NOC and Italy’s Eni amd produces 70,000 barrels per day (bpd).

NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla was quoted in the NOC statement as saying the guards were attached to the ministry of defense, and it was up to the ministry to respond to their demands.

“The safety and security of workers is a priority,” said Sanalla, adding: “Ministry of Defense is the competent authority to meet their demands.”

He assured that the NOC will pursue by all available legal means against individuals who threaten its workers.

The area around the el-Feel field is dominated by Tebu tribe, and Sanalla confirmed that NOC is in contact with community leaders to return stability to the field and resume operations as soon as possible.

“Force majeure” status is a protection afforded by law to meet obligations and liability arising from the interruption of contract performance as a result of events beyond the control of the contracting parties.

The oil and gas company Mlitah, which operates the field, announced that it had planned to suspend work at the field for a week for maintenance during next month, but it is now closed because of security conditions.

As of last year, Libya’s oil production exceeds one million bpd.