.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Israelis hiring mercenaries for Gaddafi? Another stupid rumor spreads in the Arab world

Arab and anti-Israel sites have been abuzz over the past couple of days over this story (this version from Tehran Times:)
Israeli arms distribution company Global CST has reportedly, under the authorization of Tel Aviv, provided Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi with African mercenaries to clamp down on anti-government protesters.

Egyptian sources have revealed that the Israeli company has so far provided Gaddafi's regime with 50,000 African mercenaries to attack the civilian anti-government protesters in Libya.

The arms company was previously convicted in an African country over illegal deals, News-Israel website reported.

Sources say Global CST had obtained the permission for providing the mercenaries to Gaddafi from the Israeli officials in advance.
Like all good rumors, this one has a tiny shred of truth.

First, the first published source was the Israeli Inyan Mercazi (Central issues) website. The article there quotes unnamed Egyptian sources making these accusations, including the charge that the CEO of the company met with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials and received explicit approval to provide weapons and men for Gaddafi.

So already we see that the original source for this article is suspect. No documents are reproduced, no proof is made, and how could an Egyptian source know that the Global CST CEO met with Israeli leaders, let alone what transpired in the meetings?

All these unsourced accusations are being repeated without confirmation by Inyan Mercazi.

The Israeli site then adds on some background: that the company was once in trouble for selling arms to some African country in the past, and indeed it does provide security services worldwide.

Let's look at the previous incident, as it will shed light on how absurd this rumor is:

From Ha'aretz, May 6, 2010:
The Defense Ministry's recently fined Global CST and its owner, Maj. Gen. (ret. ) Israel Ziv for deviating from the restricted permit it was granted by the ministry and signing a contract with the government of Guinea to set up and train Special Forces there and supply them with weapons. According to sources in the Defense Ministry, it was agreed that the fine, around NIS 90,000, would not be transferred to the state's coffers, and instead the company would invest it in developing training courses for its employees, where they would learn the Defense Ministry's guidelines and export regulations. Global CST denies they were fined, but confirmed that it had been ordered to retrain its employees.
This means that the company will not do anything without the approval of the Israeli government. So in order to believe this story, you must believe that Israel is supporting sending mercenaries to Gaddafi.

Is it a coincidence that this was the same rumor that erupted in the early days of the Libyan uprising, when both sides accused the other of Zionist collusion?

Tracing back this rumor, there is not a shred of evidence and it belies logic. That of course doesn't stop people who hate Israel from seizing on this story, buttressed by it being quoted in an Israeli newspaper, as being unquestionably true.

Ma'an picked up on the story, from where it spread to Al Jazeera, where it then turned into 50,000 mercenaries being recruited from South Sudan, Chad, Nigeria - and Guinea, the same country we know that Global CST is banned from dealing with!

Interestingly, Global CST's head, General Yisrael Ziv, sent a letter to Al Jazeera completely denying the story, calling it absurd, ridiculous and disgusting, and saying that Al Jazeera's broadcasting of these lies threatens the legitimate security work done by the company. (They have done security work worldwide, including Georgia.)

Of course, it is now too late, and none of the news sites are bothering to publish the explicit denials of a story that had no basis to begin with. Israel haters don't need proof for their lies, after all - just a small peg to hang their lies on, one that was provided this time - stupidly - by an Israeli newspaper.

(h/t Suzanne and Naftali)