Libya wanted to pay IRA $50m to murder Thatcher - Irish state docs

Libya wanted to pay IRA $50m to murder Thatcher - Irish state docs
A senior Libyan official voiced a proposal to give the the Irish Republican Army (IRA) $50 million to murder then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, according to a newly-released Irish state document from 1986.

The document details an Irish ambassador’s account of an “urgent” visit to Tripoli following concerns about a possible renewal of support by the Libyan government for the IRA. It was released Friday under the country’s 30-year rule for the publication of state material.

The Irish ambassador to Rome at the time, Eamon Kennedy, was ordered to urgently meet Libyan officials in Tripoli after the Libyan Major General Ahmed Jalloud made comments about renewing Libyan support for the IRA, according to Irish state broadcaster RTE.

Kennedy was directed to make it clear that the “IRA is the enemy of the Irish state” before his June 21 meeting with Saad Muzber, Libya’s Chief of Protocol.

Describing Muzber in a record of the visit, the Irishman said: “He is very close to Gaddafi and is the political link between the people’s committees and the foreign office."

The Libyan official blamed Thatcher for assisting US President Ronald Reagan with the bombing of Libyan cities Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1986.

"Thatcher and her children will have to pay, let there be no doubt about that. If she does not leave office she and her family will be destroyed," he reportedly told the Irish ambassador.

The two hour meeting consisted of some “screaming, weeping and sweating all at once” on the part of Muzber, according to Kennedy.

"But towards the end he said something to which I took serious exception. He said that at the next popular congress he would advocate, despite all I had said, full support for the IRA against Thatcher. 'What could the IRA not do, he asked, if they had $50 million to use against Thatcher'?"

The Irish diplomat expressed his alarm that “Libya will reactivate its support for the IRA in Britain and will endeavour to murder Thatcher and her family.”

“Two hours with Saad Muzber made that quite clear," he concluded.

Thatcher escaped death at the hands of the IRA in 1984 when they bombed the Brighton hotel which was hosting the Conservative Party conference. Five people were killed and more than 30 injured in the attack.

After the bombing, the IRA announced: “Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once – you will have to be lucky always.”

Thatcher’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Airey Neave was killed in a car bomb outside the House of Commons in 1979. Another republican paramilitary group, the Irish National Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the killing.

Links between the IRA and Libya date back to 1972, when Gaddafi first praised the group. He later provided the paramilitary organization with a large arsenal of arms.

The relationship was resumed in 1986, according to Gaddafi, in the wake of the US bombing raids on Libya which had been launched from UK bases.

A year later, French authorities stopped a Libyan ship en route to Northern Ireland carrying around 1,000 AK-47 machine guns, more than 50 ground-to-air missiles and two tonnes of Semtex. It’s believed previous weapons smuggling runs had been successful.

In January this year, an inquiry into Libyan-backed IRA terrorist activities was held to investigate issues surrounding compensation for victims. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was criticized for his refusal to attend the inquiry.

In November, a bill for the compensation of victims was passed through Britain’s House of Lords. The bill aims to free up £9.5bn of Libyan assets linked to Gaddafi’s regime frozen in London by the United Nations and the European Union.