“In the last 3 months, a previously developed plan has been implemented. Last autumn, the campaign of criminalisation by the Italian and Libyan authorities against NGOs operating in Search and Rescue at sea was launched, and in the winter and the following spring this campaign of neglect and criminalisation was carried out. The Italians and the Europeans trained Libyan authorities and their military forces as border patrols, including the sea and Libyan coasts. This was a kind of preparatory phase that then has been finalising in the last three months. The Italians have in fact delivered ships to the Libyan Coast Guard- boats that come from the agreements between Berlusconi and Gadda of 2008, and which were only returned today after the lengthy diplomatic work of the United Nations, Europe and the especially of Italy, thus leading to the legitimisation of Serraj’s entourage as a government of national unity. So what remains of the Libyan authorities has been assumed as a legitimate speaker, despite the great doubts about their legitimacy.
Libyans have begun patrolling the coast by claiming this task as their “duty / right” and insinuating as the operations carried out by NGOs are simply “interference”. It has gone a little further than the criminalisation of the same NGOs: those that we know have been taunted by the Italian magistrates; by the media discredit campaign in Italy and Europe; and have been exposed more and more frequently to the danger of Libyan fire- so much so that they had to step back.
Therefore, the plan that has been around for a year and a half between Italy, Europe and Libya has entered its final phase.
The result is that the coasts are being patrolled by Libyans, now able to stop most of the boats loaded with migrants. Where is the critique of the new situation? Those who are blocking migrants today are the same as those who were yesterday trafficking them, so the Minniti plan has led to the institutionalisation of the same traffickers. We are facing a cooperation policy that deals with institutionalised traffickers and some officials of the corrupt Coast Guard. Against some of these, there is also a criminal proceeding from the Aia Criminal Court, and a long file, I do not know how many pages long, within the report of the UN Panel of Experts on Libya, published last June. So in the last few months, the Minniti plan has pushed a lot in the institutionalisation of the militias and the major traffickers in Libya, as well as the conspiracy with the same corrupt guards- that more than corrupt people, I would call a mafia-like system, as an integral part of a mafia system that trafficked migrants. All this to reduce the number of migrants in the shortest possible time».
Is it fair to say that Italy and Europe are actually building a mafia regime, especially in Tripoli?
“I would absolutely say yes. I would like to remind you of a refection I made long ago. Two years ago when the Italians and Europe asked the Libyans to “stop the traffic”, the Libyans, who somehow have a patriotic spirit or perhaps only a survival one, or even simply some dignity, said loudly that the phenomenon of “irregular migration” is a world-wide phenomenon that even Europe with its powerful instruments have failed to solve, and that the Libyans did not even dream of dealing with it. They remembered being a transit country like Italy, not being a country of origin (although things are changing now), and therefore two years ago they refused to do dirty work for Europeans. They repeatedly said “We have many other internal political issues. We are a country with a civil war, no state, no army, and so we are not the people who are solving this problem, which is instead an international problem.”
Well, these critical voices regarding the policy of managing migratory flows have been silenced with loads of money. These criticisms that I think are absolutely meaningful have vanished in these months within the narrative and the rhetoric of the Libyan authorities (I remember that Serraj was the first one who himself opposed the responsibility of Libya about the migratory route, or rather “the war on traffickers”, named by Europe). But these critical voices have been slowly eliminated from the narrative landscape. So Europeans have managed to pull out the “entrepreneurial spirit”, however, in a context of war, in a total absence of a rule of law. Under these conditions, to push that entrepreneurial spirit means to cultivate those mafia-style groups that, in the last few years,- since the end of the revolution, have imposed the so-called “militia system”. I would like to reflect in this regard on the role of the international community in a context such as Libya today. A few days ago I was talking to some Libyan friends and they told me, smiling as someone who knows what is really happening, that there are some selfish traffickers, and others who instead, have a long-term vision for their own community, so they are reinvesting money accumulated with human trafficking- in building hospitals, and more generally in infrastructure for the city.
They spoke mainly of the town of Zawiya, west of Tripoli. Well, I suddenly realised, hearing those words, that the international community and Italy in particular, have the moral duty to help a country that has taken its own construction (because we are talking about a country that has no government, State, Army, and not even a constitution) to deal with what history has taught us. My generation is the daughter of Capaci and Via D’Amelio. We are the children of the birth of the Free Society, the children of anti-mafia culture. We know how the mafia works, how subtle it is. How much mafia develops this narrative of sharing their own power with the community. While it is just a instrument to control the territory. We know it well because, if not for this phenomenon, Sicily today would be the richest region in Italy, given that the mafia phenomenon has had its headquarters in Sicily for a century now. Yet Sicily is a depressed region because even the great Sicilian minds have had to run away, have gone to business elsewhere, where they do not have to bend under the order of the mafia people. And I was thinking about this thing with my Libyan friends, saying “look deeper, do not fall in this trap.” It also reminded me of the experience of Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, who have somehow exploited the power-void in the country through building hospitals, offering services and infrastructures, obtaining consensus and keeping the population under control. And so, in my view, we also have the moral duty to make anti-Mafia culture in Libya. To spread information and awareness that the Libyans do not make the mistakes that Italy has made, and has suffered. Instead, we Italians, we Europeans, are legitimising the militia system and we are in some way urging the worst part of Libya to structure themselves as mafia organisations, just to have a strong institution who can block traffic- the only priority of the EU Member States for purely electoral purposes.”
What does it mean to “institutionalize” traffickers? How do you think the situation changed from giving bribes to giving “salaries” to militants?
“This is a very complex topic. First of all, the big traffickers who have become enriched in the last few years on the backs of migrants rejected by the “Fortress Europe” are either simple militias, or criminals who have small armies with heavy weapons and who control the territory by the power of guns, or criminals who have directly in infiltrated the institutions. We must make a very important distinction between corrupt- and mafia- officials within the institutions. For me this is very important.
Because when it comes to the Libyan Coast Guard, people always tends to generalise. As if members of the Coast Guard were all traffickers. It’s not true. Surely it is a widespread phenomenon. We can also try to guess a number that is impossible to prove statistically: 90% of Libyan officers who, behind bribes, turn to the other side. For me, those are corrupt officers. What’s different is the mafia person who infiltrates himself into institutions and brings his system with him. For the memory of Italians, we know what a “mafia system” is, and what “mafia infiltration” means, or at least we should know. So we should know the difference between corrupt people who are ignorant, who only think of themselves and not the common good, and mafia organisations that infiltrate the institutions by creating a system.
In fact, in the case of the Zawiya Coast Guard unit, we are facing a mafia system. Because men who are part of the same family, then of the same tribe, have developed a system that controls the whole territory and the main trades. And they are the ones who dictate the law and the rules of these trades. We are talking about the family controlling the Zawiya port and the refinery, other strategic assets in the area, and the traffic of migrants, and today even the concentration centre for migrants itself. Why did Zawiya suddenly become so interesting for those who had control ambitions and therefore the mafia organisations? Because since the end of the revolution, the Libyan authorities have no instruments – like ships and so on – and no financial tools to ensure the control of the Libyan coasts. As we know Libya, if I remember well, has about 1700 km of coastline, so we are talking about a very wide part of sea. For this reason the Libyan authorities had to make choices, to strengthen only a few units and to give only very few of them the ships to patrol them. To the west of Tripoli the only unit they had sent, with also the instruments to do so, to patrol the coastline is the one in Zawiya.
Other units such as Sabrata, such as Zuara (basically these two because these are the three main cities in the west of Tripoli), having no instruments available from the central authorities, are in a sort of stand by. They go to the sea only if there is a rescue request to answer. But there is no preventive patrol activity. Zawya is the only city that has been given the tools needed to patrol. So this unit has regained control over the entire western region of the capital and is not indifferent. That is why those, who had traffic control aims, are focused on Zawiya. Obviously they are the people from Zawya. At least, apparently it is a tribe of the city that has set this system up. Then I do not know if there are political leaders behind this tribe who reside in Tripoli. I am this moment ignorant about it and therefore I do not talk about things I do not know. But who actually works in the area are men from Zawya who have, then, taken control of the harbour that is a fortress in the literal sense of the term. Inside there is both the headquarters of the Libyan Coast Guard, but also and above all, the only refinery that exists in the entire region west of Tripoli. In fact, having created this joint venture, making up this group of criminals, the “main association”, they have managed to take control of all illicit traffic, that is the most profitable there, like the diesel one or the migration one. However, these people, unlike the militia that trafficked migrants without any “official assignment”, have now had their own jobs. There is one of them who is responsible for petroleum sites, in charge of refinery security, another is the head of security in the harbour, another is the head of the unit of the Zawya Coast Guard.
Of which you have made names and surnames
“Yes, names and surnames that are part of my investigations that have been going on for almost two years and which were resumed by the UN Experts Panel in June 2017. So we are talking about a mafia association that from my point of view is different from the simple bribery that you have in other Guardianship units.
Why is there a political and moral responsibility for the Italians, or for any Europeans, who are in some way defining, if not suggesting, the line of cooperation with the Libyans? Those subjects could be cut off from the deals. It
is true that in a context such as the Libyan one, that in a state without a state, without an army and without government, dealing with traffickers and militias is a “must do”. But it is true that somehow this becomes needed due to the hurry. And Italy has run for election purposes. And with Italy, all Europe has run because as we know, the rise of nationalism is seen as the main threat to the democracy of those countries. Nationalism grows on the fear of migrants, but we know that the problem is actually much deeper. So what is the main criticism that can be made on this line of cooperation?
Surely it is a good thing to dismantle the network of traffickers, but it is not true that it was necessary to do it by dealing with and paying the same traffickers that in the meantime have become institutionalised. I would not necessarily speak of bribes, because I saw in the international press many articles of denunciation against the Italians who would pay the bribes. For me, it is not a question of bribery, it is a co-operation, although questionable, but a co-operation line that provides funding for former traffickers as legitimate support for the authorities.
Because Minniti has actually allowed (to use a euphemism) traffickers in the last few months, to have the time and the means to institutionalise, so to shield themselves behind a brigade rather than behind a unit responding to the Ministry of Defence or the Interior Ministry, thus becoming legitimate funding beneficiaries. The “Brigade 48” responds to Al Ammu (Anas Dabbashi) who actually works on a double track because he is not happy with just one brigade. He is already the leader, in fact, but not on paper, of Brigade Anas Dabbashi, which is operational since 2012 and which in 2015 also got approval by the Libyan authorities to deal with the external security of the compound Mellita (oil refinery of the NDR).
What I would like to emphasize in this regard is that this kind of endorsement, because the contract was never really finalized because of some criticisms (I do not know if my investigation helped block this process that could instead have been shut down quietly).
However the endorsement that was made by Libyans to the militia Anas Dabbashi, responding to Ahmad Dabbashi, took place two weeks after the abduction of the 4 Bonatti Italian workers who were kidnapped in that area. Indeed these days, the widow of one of the two workers who were killed in the clash between local militias and Isis, in March 2016, is also complaining about the abandonment by the Italian state to make light and clarify the responsibilities of the Italian authorities, or any of the Italian people present in the territory, for the death of her husband. It is clear that concluding agreements with the mafia members of that city means also closing an eye on what happened to the 4 workers of Bonatti, on the responsibilities of those controlling the territory, including this “gentleman” and the responsibilities of the Italians who evidently, according to the Italian Government, did not implement the security protocol for the transfer of their workers to the letter.
Two weeks after the kidnapping of the 4 Bonatti workers in the Mellita area (compound Mellita), this “gentleman,” Ahmad Dabbashi got the position of the compound’s external control. There is also something else that must be pointed out. Who is considered to be the kidnapper of the four workers is the cousin of Ahmad Dabbashi, who was the head of the Islamic State in Sabrata. It is clear that Italy closed an eye on the investigation into the abduction of the four Italians and the deaths of two of them. So the process of institutionalisation has begun in 2015 and has been accomplished in recent months. Ahmad Abbashi, I already denounced in March 2015, but I preferred to cover the events, basically not giving any more information to the press. As we say between journalists, I decided to kill this story with my hands, this investigation, to protect my sources. Because I did not get the support I expected from other young Italian colleagues to denounce. So somehow, the fact that I remained the only voice out of the chorus, in such a delicate situation, led me to decide to kill my story to protect other people. Obviously, the truth of my story has remained intact, in the sense that the credibility of my inquiry has never been doubted, so much that today it is present in the Panel of United Nations Experts Report. I remember that- and here I give news that I have never mentioned before – at the time of the interview with which my Sabrata source gave me names and surnames of the people who controlled Sabrata’s mafia, which was in March 2016, the following day of the deaths of the two Bonatti workers, when Sky Tg24 sent my on-air interview to a source of mine, of course with a covered faced, an ENI representative called immediately.
Because in the interview my source said “Certainly the security management contract was given by the Libyans, of course we are talking about the biggest trafficker” and I said, “but according to your opinion, the Italian intelligence agencies know that the biggest trafficker is also the one who has been called to protect the outside of the compound” and my source in front of the room told me “Certainly if they are good secret services they should know.” An answer of so much diplomacy, I believe- so extreme, that I did not even expect that, but I think that it explains a lot. ENI called a few hours after the broadcast, the director of the TG, asking about the interview. The director replied without hesitation whether ENI had something to respond about the information spread through this interview. ENI denied, the official said no. She asked for a reason for that call and the answer was “it was only for a small comparison.” Since then, they have not called anymore. I was expecting a lot more support from the Italian press, because it was clearly an investigation of significant political importance. But I was left alone in telling these dynamics and then decided, for the sake of my source, to step back.
And today we find the same identical names, but let’s say, now enforced within the context of the various ministerial brigades so much so that Ahmad Abbashi today also has a spokesman. So it is clear that today we talk about bribes but they are no longer simply bribes. Meanwhile, Ahmad Abbashi, in addition to leading Brigade Anas Dabbashi, also took (as I said before) the control of “Brigade 48”, which responds to the Ministry of Defence. How can you call them bribes?”
So they are wages?
“Sure! Did the Italians deal with traffickers? Yes. Italians have paid for the traffickers? Yes. Can we talk about bribes? I do not know why they are actually funding channels that go through ministries or local authorities, according to cooperation policy.”
In his interview, many doubts emerge about how the two Bonatti workers were killed.
“Yes. There is the widow of Salvatore Failla, Ms. Rosalba Castro, (who also asked me to speak with her lawyer, but to whom I replied that all I knew about that affair had already been made public), she said these days, with the new agreements, a will was made to not know about an inquiry, that may never even have started, to confirm the responsibilities of the kidnapping and killing of her husband and colleague.”
You talked about the mafia and it seems to like a movie you’ve seen, set in a different place.
“Yes, from the the history of the murders of Capaci and Via D’Amelio we have the political and moral responsibility to pass the so-called vaccine to mafia culture, instead we are literally doing the opposite. I repeat, two years ago, the best part of Libya, the most honest one, said, “No, we are not going to do dirty work for you,” today they say, “Yes, till you pay us.” Obviously because there has been done a sort of selection between the talkers.”
… and those left are unscrupulous. But we talk above all about Tripolitania, because there is some sort of control in Italy and that Serraj government has a minimum of power over other militias. Right? And having a “bigger pie” to divide between them has lowered the level of conflict between militias?
“There is certainly a larger cake to be distributed and to make an agreement between all the actors in the regional chessboard, Italy has played the Egyptian card. It is not a mystery that the return of the Italian ambassador to Cairo, after Giulio Regeni’s killing, is considered an offer from Italy to Al Sisi, who is the puppeteer of the puppet Haftar (in Cirenaica Ndr). Negotiating with Al Sisi indirectly, if not directly, means negotiating with Haftar. General Haftar in the last year has carried out a campaign against the agreements between Libya and Italy, and Ue and Libya, on the migration front. Well, this campaign has faided during the time. It is also true that last week, the Supreme Court of Tripoli overturned the verdict of a Tripoli Court issued in the past, legitimising the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the agreements between Italy and Libya this year . It is that clear?”
Something is changing also in the south, where people are trying to enter, coming from the Sahel countries. Does this have something to do with the agreements with the Italians or it is because of the EU intervention and an action of the Libyan authorities in that area?
“To be precise, the agreements with the southern countries of Libya and so with the countries of the “Sahel Area” started with the Khartoum Process (2014 NDR). Since then, Europe is pursuing a policy of cooperation with local governments, with reasonable questions about their democratisation, though legitimate because they are in fact a national government (countries are not fragmented in different administrations). I read an interview with the head of the OIM in Niger, Giuseppe Loprete, where some numbers are given. OIM is an agency working on behalf of the United Nations, even if not under the UN, that has started a series of cooperation policies in some countries, such as Niger, which work for a better patrol of roads and boundaries in order to stop the migrants heading for Libya. OIM proposes as an alternative to irregular migration and detention, when migrants are stopped and arrested, voluntary assisted repatriation (RVA). In 2016, about 1,700 cases of RVA were recorded in Libya, in the first half of 2017, 5,000 cases. After that, it is important to to analyse the nature of this procedure. As Amnesty International’s director in Libya, which I met a couple of weeks ago in Tunis explained clearly, the fact that migrants sign for voluntary assisted repatriation, within a detention system, questions the nature of the voluntary agreement. Voluntary is a euphemism.
What happens? In fact, they should get the so-called “fair trial”. Once stopped for irregular entry especially in Libya (because Niger is part of the “free movement” area of Sub-Saharan countries, then Gambian or Senegalese people stopped in Niger cannot be considered as an irregular because in fact they are not: they become irregular when they enter Libya). The OIM is doing this persuasion campaign in Niger but I do not know what the Nigerian authorities have to do to stop migrants on their way to Libya. I believe that the main stops are just close to the border when they are caught in some way doing the crime of trespassing. There are more patrols as I said, checking those who are travelling in cars without number plates, those overloaded with men and women, where there is the possibility to doubt that this is a regular passage in Libya. The OIM is working hard in countries on the southern Libyan borders. On the other side Libya immediately uses the detention measure. Any migrant stopped for irregular entry should have the opportunity to be defended by a lawyer and to face a trial. Instead, all irregular migrants are held in these detention facilities for an indefinite time and without any legal assistance. Now it is clear that the Libyans have been very clear about this. It is impossible to think that the Libyan justice system, which does not exist even for the Libyan ones, can take on all irregular migrants. So it is impossible to think about a fair process. The reason why the detention system remains the only pathway. In the detention system, NGOs and international organisations are assisting, as the only possible alternative, the mentioned voluntary repatriation, and it is clear that in Libya it becomes complicated to think that it is voluntary repatriations. People are locked up in crumbling structures, without of any kind of human rights protection.
We talk about structures where there are no mattresses, there are in most cases only a carpet that divide the body of man, woman or child from the ground. In many cases these are prefabricated houses that are made up in big structures where they are crammed in hundreds and hundreds, where it is difficult just to move one leg without kicking the next one, where the hygiene conditions are terrible. Where the official operators, the prisoners, do not have a culture of human rights. Beyond that there are no tools and facilities (and now Italy and Europe are providing resources to improve the quality of the facilities). The operators as I said did not have that culture of human rights that would allow them to interact with migrants with a respectful attitude. So you go from kicking, to beating, to the insult, without overwhelming the many cases of sexual violence on women. It is clear that a distinction needs to be made between centres and centres- and this is very important – there are the “historical centres” already operating at Gaddafi’s times that respond to the Interior Ministry, and there new detention centres. The new ones, just like the traffickers do business moving migrants, there are criminal traffickers involved in the detention of migrants. Over the past 3 years, several detention centres have been opened by militias together with the traffickers, and they have received recognition from the Ministry of the Interior over time. It is clear that conditions there are even worse because we are talking about sadistic criminals who have nothing to do with the security apparatus, not even the ones in Gaddafi’s times.
Even then, officers and prisoners did not excel in respect for human rights, but somehow there was some kind of framing and awareness of their responsibility as officials. Nowadays, we are facing criminally-owned detention facilities that have improvised institutions, by themselves, have been self-imposed and through the mafia system they have received recognition from the Ministry of the Interior. One of them, on the very first floor, the Nasser centre, run by cousins to the distant Al Bija who would be the head of Zawiya Coast Guard.
In March 2016 they opened a detention centre, while the official one in Abu Aissa in the same city was constantly harassed by armed commandos who opened fire in the middle of the night to oblige the director to close the centre. And so the centre opened by the relatives of the head of the Zawiya Coast Guard has become the only centre of the city, which then, after 3 or 4 months obtained the recognition by the Ministry of Interior, and hence entered into full title in the business of traffic, reception and detention. Within 4 months the centre of Abu Aissa, where I was last December, closed. That is why today we can no longer speak of bribes, and in any case it is also irrelevant to talk about bribes. Here we are talking about a mafia that has become an institution, in the eyes of Italians and Europeans. The names are there»
How many detention centres exist in Libya today?
“In my opinion, it is difficult to know. I’ve read that there are 34, but I cannot confirm it, and between them entry is only allowed in 19, speaking only about Tripolitania and Fezzan. I do not know in Cirenaica. For example, in Sabah in Fezzan, a newly-built prison, designed for Libyan criminals and not migrants, was assaulted and occupied by traffickers, who now use it as a “connection house”, as a centre where migrants are concentrated to move them after.“
We talked before about diesel traffic. How much have the system of institutionalised militias gained control in that important economic sector? And how is the clash between Italy and France going to take control, rather than over the migrants, over the economic resources in Libya?
“The point is that Italy – as we said in the interview a few months ago – had distinguished itself for its really polite vocabulary whenever it was talking about Libya. Italy was the only one that somehow tried to avoid alarms or simplifications. I do not speak of Italians (unfortunately I quote Berlusconi) who do crazy stuff in television shows, but about Gentiloni and some other representatives of the Italian government who, every time they should say and speak about Libya, were very careful to measure the words they use. And they avoided alarms and generalisations just because they were aware of the complexity. This is not because the Italians are better but because they tried not to embezzle any of the parties involved. In Libya, interests for Italy are very important because ENI has significant assets there, particularly in Tripolitania, so much so that the former C.E.O. (Chief Executive Officer NDR) of Paolo Scaroni, said that if it is not possible to come to an agreement for a national unity government in Libya, it would be good for Italians to focus on Tripolitania. This clarifies a lot about the approach of Italians who have interests in Libya. And the Italians had always had a fairly moderate attitude. They were the last to leave with the birth of the Isis, the first to return, in fact the Italian consulate is the only one to have an operational headquarters in Tripoli. But French insistence in wanting to take away this sort of “primacy right” from Italy has led to the fact that Italy had to change policy.
This kind of French interventionism, I mean, has already had its major effects in 2011, with Sarkozy’s declaration of war, when Berlusconi, who was known to be a friend of Gaddafi, had to capitulate and deploy with the “friends” of new Libya, has still been a decisive factor in today’s Italian politics. It is the cause behind this sudden acceleration that we have witnessed in the last two, three months. The current non-elected government understands that if it had not accelerated the timing of Italian diplomacy and cooperation in Libya, France would play in advance. So Italy has accelerated the time so much, making big mistakes like doing agreements with pseudo-authority that are actually traffickers and could have been somehow excluded from negotiations in a long-term cooperation policy. But they have given up on a long-term plan and they have focused on the myopic observation of their primacy right in Libya. At any cost.”
In this picture, how do you see the Italian military mission in Libyan territorial waters? Which in my opinion certainly has an electoral purpose to prove that it is able to stop immigrants, but also to mark the territory and to strengthen its presence in Libya
“We can talk about “military operation”, but it is true that Italian soldiers who are currently present in Libyan waters do not have a mandate to engage Libyans but have a mandate to support the Libyans logistically. I think it was the only doable way, within Minniti’s plans for Italians and Libyans. In this way, it does not go to affect the national sovereignty of Libya and that makes the operation safe. Of course the operation is anyway directly functional to the Italian and European aims, so to make the Libyan security forces able to patrol the coastline. So the Italians are present in Libyan waters basically with a kind of gigantic workshop. Any problem with the Libyan engines, of their motorboats that Berlusconi hand them over in 2008 and returned a few months ago (after maintenance) to Tripoli, are ready to be repaired by the Italians. Libyans have few tools. The point is that this was the only possible way because Italians and Europeans can not provide huge resources to the Libyans, precisely because we are not talking about a security system in full service. So these support activities are used to pass over the weapons and military tool embargoes. We try to get the better out of what’s going on through the delivery of this unit of logistics support.”
This operation contributes to preventing, for almost a month and a half, almost every departure of migrants, along with the absence of almost all humanitarian ships of the NGOs after the Minniti Code of Conduct?
“Absolutely yes. But not just them. The Italians are giving support and in the meantime there is also a kind of training. Then I think, but I believe this will remain an accusation without proof, that Italy continues to do an intelligence activity having an outpost directly on the territory. So there is the ability to collect, gather information, offer new tips in the business, without having to justify their presence in any other way, but saying “we are doing support activities” to Libyans in the fight against traffickers. So in the perfect narrative.”
Especially in electoral mode. While talking about the future of Libya seems to have remained only the “best Libyans”. For the rest that the future looks ahead to you for this country?
“Decades and decades of instability. It is delivering Libya to a handful of mafia criminals and is teaching them to behave as “authority”. It is institutionalising them with an incalculable political and moral responsibility.”
Isis, of whom we had been terrified for years seems to have disappeared from this scenario.
“The Isis in Libya has lost. Also because historically Libya is not a country easy to give up. The Libyan mentality and the Libyan culture do not offer themselves to fundamentalist theories. This is the legacy of the Gaddafi regime that in its repressive politics has nevertheless kept under control the fundamentalist movements. After that, over the last few years, in the void of power, groups of internationally structured groups have also emerged in Libya, building their own field structure. Also making an effective campaign based on promises of security and peace in the country, among the poorest parts of society. Then, the non-fundamentalist Libyan culture has resisted so much that the Islamic state was defeated and it had to retreat. The Islamic State affiliations to Al Baghdadi in Syria and Iraq, present in some provinces, were shut down and its militias had to flee. The real problem in Libya today is the Salafism. The Salafites, between others pretty numerous in the new Libyan security unit, are imposing new rules of conduct on Libyans, which are absolutely alarming. Those people have the support of the international community, who referred to them as “enemies of the Islamic State” which is true, (I speak of those in Tripolitania because in the area controlled by Haftar they are of a different ideology). But they can defeat the Islamic State and after they will prepare the ground to impose their ideology, which is something I would not even wish for the worst enemy of mine. And when I think about that I found myself crying. I have been crying so many times thinking about so many friends because the international community has great responsibility for what is happening. A few days ago, at a Tripoli airport, some boys were prevented from entering because of shorts, something unthinkable until a few months ago. They are starting to hunt the infidels. And these are the security forces sustained by the international community.”
According to you, returning to what is happening to migrants, the blockade that has been made, to which somebody has already been able to escape, is bound to last or to go back to the dynamics of Gaddafi’s era of the “open/close water fluxes” in which people started to travel if there were no resources coming from Europe to the government?
“I believe that the Libyan system done by Minniti will, first of all, suffer a great deal of arrest when some of the characters he has been dealing with and legitimising (because they are legitimised by the Libyan authorities through a game of Chinese boxes) will be found guilty of major and serious violations of human rights. Because many judicial authorities are already on their tracks as far as I know. And somehow my journalistic work could not have a better aim. In the sense that this is for me the ultimate goal of journalism as a watch dog to the authorities. I now turn to the judicial authorities. Surely it is not my personal mission, it is not my mission of life. Luckily I’ve never suffered, even if I did received direct death threats from certain people, but I never suffered any violation of my person’s integrity. So there is not a big personal fight between me and these people, it is just my job as a journalist that I hope will be collected as a witness by the competent authorities.“
Does the eventual accusation of some of the people involved in the deal bring also some Italian powerful people who are in contact with them under investigation? Is it just fantasy or can someone keep their fingers crossed and hope for it?
“At the moment I keep my fingers crossed and I still hope. Because I want to hope that in Italy we live in a state of at least “almost” democracy, where the three powers of the state; judicial, political and legislative, are still separate, even if there are points of contact. But I want to hope in the rightness and in the justice of some authorities. Especially in the judiciary, looking at the circus that politics has become.“
It would mean that your journalist’s work not only helped to make healthy information
“Journalism in the field, as I mean it, must be a form of political resistance, certainly not the only one. But let’s talk openly. My name has risen to the honours of the story in Italy because I am a “war” journalist. On the international stage it is different, it started much earlier. And in Italy my name came out to the general public only through TV. And this says a lot about the dynamics of the appreciation of journalistic work. If you’re not on TV, your job, daily tiring work, does not count. But for me the mother of journalism is the anti-mafia one. There are so many who do it but remain confined to their solitude. But they really deserve much more attention, even just to give them support and create around them a real crowd to ensure defence. There are many colleagues who are anti-mafia and who continue to write in newspapers but on TV, and for that they have never gone. For me it is much more important to do that job there. I respect them almost as crazy as to have the courage to do anti-mafia in your home is the no plus ultra. Making anti-mafia, as I am doing, in a land that is not my home, is a previous level. Unfortunately, however, the work done by colleagues remains outside the circus of Italian politics and media, and so the mafia continues to win. Think about Calabria.
A magnificent, wealthy, resourceful land, but because of the power of the n’drine, (groups of mafia organitazio- ne n’drangheta N.d.T.) it is preferable to keep the Red Jolly carcass on the shores rather than leave room for entrepreneurial ideas. Paradoxically, anti-mafia tactics should use liberal free-market rhetoric. The mafia prevents the free market, they are “signs”. We should talk to the right-wing ones, because the left-wing is more clear, saying to them, “Do you want the free market or not? For people with a lively political intelligence that only talk about “job opportunities” I would say that doing anti-mafia means working for the free market.
Instead, look at what’s happening in Libya. How do you build a country on a mafia system that is already occupying all the power posts. Who can then actually rebuild the national economy? With which bases? I think of Calabria where some hospitals are terrible. We have to put it all together, however, because partitioning the problems makes it easy to fall into conceptual and ideological tricks. So let’s put together everything, everything. I repeat, today Sicily would be the richest region in Italy if it were true that the mafia produces wealth”.
They should explain Sicily and Calabria to Libya?
“Yes, Libya is not “rebuilding” but “building”, and we are delivering the generation that believed in the revolution to the Mafia, in the name of our well-being. Agreements with “bad” traffickers can then secure the security of the Mellita compound, as we mentioned before. And, as we have in Italy, we have in the apparatus of the State mafia organizations, so much that there are not shooting any more, in Libya we are training them in these terms, not surely about human rights. We are doing training on how to build that structure, how to associate with extraterritorial criminal organizations and more. It is bitter to say that in Libya they are still not experts in that field, but they are learning well and quickly. Their masters are good.»