British elite unit said training Libyan special forces

SAS collaboration with Gaddafi's regime may be connected with release of Lockerbie bomber.

Gaddafi 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaddafi 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
LONDON - British elite forces are allegedly training Libyan Special Forces, according to a newspaper report on Saturday. The Daily Telegraph said the elite SAS has apparently been working with Gaddafi's regime for the last six months, suggesting it may be connected to the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al Megrahi, who was released by Scotland on compassionate grounds last month. The British government has been accused of engineering Megrahi's release to promote Britain's commercial interests, oil in particular, in Libya. The Prime Minister's Office has rejected the claims, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw acknowledged trade and oil had played a part in the decision not to exclude Megrahi from an earlier prisoner transfer agreement with Tripoli. According to the newspaper, sources within the SAS say they are angry at being ordered to train soldiers from a country that provided the Irish Republican Army (IRA) with Semtex explosives, machine-guns and anti-aircraft missiles used against British troops during the Northern Ireland conflict. An SAS source told the Telegraph: "A small SAS training team have been doing it for the last six months as part of this cozy deal with the Libyans. From our perspective we cannot see it as part of anything else other than the Megrahi deal." Another said: "The IRA was our greatest adversary - now we are training their backers. There was a weary rolling of the eyes when we were told about this." The SAS team - said to be between four and 14 men - is training the Libyan troops in counter-terrorism techniques, including covert surveillance. However, techniques learned from fighting Islamic terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is not expected to be passed on, the newspaper said. The Foreign Office said there was ongoing cooperation with Libya but denied that the SAS were training Libyan troops. "There is an ongoing cooperation with Libya in the field of defense. However to suggest this is part of the deal relating to Megrahi is simply untrue," a spokesperson said.