Israel, Zimbabwe send mercenaries to Qaddafi: reports
An Israeli company is recruiting mercenaries to support Moammar Qaddafi's efforts to put down the uprising against his regime, an Israeli news site reported March 1. Citing Egyptian sources, the Hebrew-language news site Inyan Merkazi said the company is run by retired Israeli army commanders. The report said the head of the company recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and intelligence chief Aviv Cokhavi. It added that the officials all approved the company's recruitment of mercenaries to help Qaddafi. It said Israeli officials approved the recruitment out of fears that if toppled, Qaddafi would be replaced by an "extremist Islamic regime."
Company representatives recently flew to Chad to broker the deal with a high-ranking Libyan intelligence officer, Abduallah Sanusi, the report said. Sanusi agreed to pay the company to recruit up to 50,000 mercenaries from African countries, according to the report. (Ma'an News Agency via Eurasia Review, March 3)
Reports on Arab TV network AlJazeera that Zimbabwe is helping to provide mercenaries for Qaddafi has sparked a political brouhaha in the southern African country. Opposition whip Innocent Gonese challenged Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa on the matter in a session of parliament on March 2—and he refused to give a straight answer. Asked if soldiers from Zimbabwe are fighting in Libya, Mnangagwa said "that there are mercenaries who are African and are in Libya—I have no mandate in my duty as Minister of Defence to investigate activities happening in another African country." Mnangagwa told Gonese to "direct his question to the Foreign Affairs Ministry." Although he went on to say there was no provision in Zimbabwe's defense act for members of the army "to participate in cases or in events outside the country," he avoided giving a yes-or-no answer to Gonese's question. (ZimEye, Feb. 24)