The Head of the Libyan Presidential Council, Mohammed Menfi, has stirred controversy in the North African nation after landing in Abuja, Nigeria on a private jet notoriously used by Khalifa Haftar for smuggling.
Haftar is a Libyan-American and the commander of the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA).
According to 1st News, Menfi arrived in Nigeria on Monday. He was in Nigeria to participate in the extraordinary summit of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). However, reports monitored by 1st News in Libya say his use of Haftar’s private jet raises concerns; especially as to the kind of relationship that exists between both men.
Haftar is currently believed to have no political or military capacity in Libya.
Menfi attended the LCBC summit held on Tuesday to discuss the political and security impact of the unrest in Chad. His attendance was based upon an invitation from President Muhammadu Buhari. But Menfi’s decision to use Haftar’s private jet stirred a heated controversy in Libya; especially in view of the fact that the plane left the country’s eastern region; where Haftar is located and arrived in Tripoli on Monday for the Nigeria trip.
Further raising the controversy is the fact that the private jet was implicated by the United Nations; as well as the international media as being used by Haftar and his allies to smuggle Libyan gold to Venezuela.
Reports in Libya indicate that Haftar is also insubordinate to the authority of Menfi, who is head of the Presidential Council. He is reported to have been preparing for a massive military procession to commemorate the seventh anniversary of his so-called Operation Dignity that was launched in Benghazi in May 2014. This is in spite of Menfi’s previous orders that prohibit military movements or media statements for military officers without prior permission.
Haftar was born in the Libyan city of Ajdabiya. He served in the Libyan army under Muammar Gaddafi; taking part in the coup that brought Gaddafi to power in 1969. He also took part in the Libyan contingent against Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In 1987, he became a prisoner of war during the war against Chad after being lured into a trap and captured; which was then a major embarrassment for Gaddafi and represented a major blow to Gaddafi’s ambitions in Chad.
While being held prisoner, he and his fellow officers formed a group hoping to overthrow Gaddafi. He was released around 1990 in a deal with the United States government. Thereafter, he spent nearly two decades living in the US in Langley, Virginia, and gained U.S. citizenship.
In 1993, while living in the United States, he was convicted in absentia of crimes against the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and sentenced to death.