By Moutaz Ali.
Tripoli, 6 June 2014:
Libyan Intelligence chief Salem El-Hassi handed in his resignation to the General National Congress yesterday citing . . .[restrict]a breakdown in government and collapsing security.
Hassi said he was quitting because of the stalled political process and the “almost complete absence of state authority” which had, he said, led to an “extremely complicated security situation.”
Hassi’s departure comes a day after Khaled Osman, appointed Media Minister by Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Maetig, turned in his own resignation.
Hassi was one of the longest-serving officials, being appointed by the National Transition Council in February 2012 to head the replacement for Qaddafi’s old General Intelligence Service.
A long-standing opponent of the old regime, Hassi is among the few survivors of the battle of Bab Al-Azizia in May 1984. Organised by the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, then the main opposition movement, the attack was an attempt to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi and bring down his regime.
The plan began to go awry when its leader Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Hassi was caught entering the country from Tunisia. However, a number of his fellow plotters managed to infiltrate Qaddafi’s compound and in the ensuing battle killed as many as 80 of his guards before being killed or captured themselves. In the aftermath some 2,000 Libyans were arrested and scores were executed.
Salem Al-Hassi lived for many years in exile in the US and took US citizenship. He relinquished this when he returned to Libya at the Revolution.
When he took the job, he said that his major task was restructuring the intelligence service and changing its priorities and ways of thinking. He said the agency had to focus on protecting the country and its people rather than on the security of the leadership, as had been the case under Qaddafi.