THE LIBYAN-Irish man who led the main rebel brigade into Tripoli in August has strongly denied reports that he received funds from US intelligence agents to help topple the Gadafy regime.
Mahdi al-Harati, who resigned as commander of the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade earlier this month, issued the denial in a video message broadcast on YouTube.
“I have never dealt with intelligence services inside or outside Libya,” Mr Harati said in Arabic. “This revolution was done with God’s help. No foreign parties had anything to do with it apart from Nato striking certain locations and Qatar supporting with everything it has militarily, politically and financially.”
A report in the Sunday Worldnewspaper claimed that Mr Harati had told gardaí investigating a burglary at his Dublin home in early October that a significant sum of money taken by the thieves had originally been given to him by US agents. The paper did not interview Mr Harati.
The story was picked up by some media outlets in Libya and swept Facebook and Twitter, prompting Mr Harati to issue the denial.
Mr Harati, an Arabic teacher who moved to Ireland some 20 years ago and lives in Firhouse with his Irish-born wife and family, said pro-Gadafy elements, including the deposed leader’s son Mutassim, had tried to smear the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade.
“Regime supporters spread rumours that members of this brigade were hired by the CIA or other intelligence services.”
The brigade, he insisted, had been funded solely by business people from Tripoli and other parts of Libya. It did not receive financial support from the interim body, the National Transitional Council or any foreign authority. “I challenge anyone who can prove otherwise,” he added. “I will list the names of those who supported us.”
In a series of tweets, the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade condemned what it called “irresponsible” and “baseless” media reports.
Mr Harati had stepped down both as commander of the brigade and deputy head of the Tripoli Military Council before the Sunday Worldstory appeared.
Announcing the move on Twitter, the brigade said Mr Harati’s resignation was “in conjunction with the steps taken [by the brigade] in disbanding . . . and merging its members within the new government military and state apparatus.” It added that he would now “relinquish all military duties and assume a position as a civil servant”.
The brigade thanked Mr Harati for “his truly exemplary leadership, courage and for representing the ideal soldier leader”.
The Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade was the largest of the anti-Gadafy units that swept into Tripoli on August 21st. Its ranks contained many expatriate Libyans, including several from Ireland.