Jason Pack

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Person.png Jason PackRdf-icon.png
(researcher, academic)
Jason Pack.jpg
Alma materSt Antony’s College, Oxford University
InterestsMiddle East/History

Employment.png Founder

In office
2016 - Present
EmployerEyeOnISISinLibya.com

Employment.png President

In office
May 2015 - Present
EmployerLibya-Analysis

Jason Pack is a researcher of Middle Eastern History based in the UK and since 2008 has worked in Tripoli, London, and Washington promoting academic, commercial, and diplomatic exchanges between Libya and the West. He is the founder of EyeOnISISinLibya.com, president of www.libya-analysis.com Libya-Analysis, and the North Africa analyst at Risk Intelligence.

Pack has addressed the UK House of Commons on the pressing danger Libya’s militias pose to the country’s stability and constitutional transition. He has advised NATO and its member states on the need to formulate unified multilateral policies towards Libya focused on capacity building in the security, governance, and economic sectors. He believes the Libyan government must stop the spiral of “appeasement” that it has been mired in since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.[1]

In July 2016, the Zintan militia announced that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – who was sentenced to death by a Tripoli court twelve months earlier – had been released from custody. Jason Pack commented:

"The divergent reactions to Saif's alleged release highlight the fissures in today’s Libya. There has been no formal truth and reconciliation process, no meeting of minds to form a true unity government, and no formation of a genuine anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition."[2]

Background

Currently on leave of absence from his position as a doctoral student and researcher at Cambridge University, Jason Pack holds an MSc in Global and Imperial history from St Antony’s College, Oxford. His doctoral research focuses on the strategic, diplomatic, and institutional factors that shaped the British Military Administration of Libya from 1942 to 1951. He has lived seven years in Middle Eastern countries including: Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman and Syria (where he was a Fulbright Fellow from 2004-5). He reads and speaks Arabic and French.

Media

Jason Pack's articles have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic and The Guardian. He is also a frequent commentator on the BBC and Al Jazeera English.[3]

Lockerbie investigators going to Libya: an absurdity

Interviewed by Isobel Fraser on Good Morning Scotland on 17 October 2015, and asked how exactly could foreign investigators gain access to the two Lockerbie bombing suspects Abdullah al-Senussi and Abu Agila Mas'ud identified by filmmaker Ken Dornstein, who are in jail in Libya, Jason Pack replied:

Well there really is no way because there is no sovereign government in Libya. There are two competing parliaments – neither has legitimacy. The UN has proposed a third government that doesn’t have a signed agreement behind it.[4] There is no authority in Libya which can say ‘You know what we’ll give you access to such a prisoner’. In fact things are very much the opposite. Many of the important prisoners who are wanted by international tribunals, such as the International Crime Court (sic), and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is being held by the Zintan militia. So even though the Libyan government, as it were, would like to turn him over, they have no way to effect that happening because the militia in question doesn’t want to. So it seems particularly ill-timed and naïve that American and Scottish authorities would put forward these demands now. Because they have a negative impact on the things we’re supposed to be doing in Libya. Which is building institutions and a government, and trying to fight the jihadis, and help the Libyan people who want capacity building assistance and things of this nature.

IF (21’30’’): So when our prosecution service tells us that the letters have gone to Libya via the Foreign Office we’ve got to assume they are going to the authorities in Tripoli…

JP (21’41’’): Incorrect. Of course not, they go to the authorities in Tobruk. We don’t recognise the Tripoli government, so that doesn’t make any sense. We don’t conduct formal official business with the “Tripoli government”. So of course they are going to Tobruk and Beida, where at least for the next five days the internationally-recognised government sits. I believe that it has no sovereignty or legitimacy, and that will become clear for all to see within five days.

IF (22’07’’): So let’s just say for instance that that government does give permission for the FBI and Scottish investigators to go to Libya to question these two men, how likely would that be? I mean, what have they got to gain by letting in foreign investigators?

JP (22’25’’): One, they won’t do that. Two, they have no authority over the regions in which these individuals are. The Tobruk government barely controls two tiny pockets in the East of the country. Now we’re talking about individuals who are exclusively based in Tripoli where that government, which might issue those letters, has no control. And the idea that Scottish or FBI investigators going to Libya is an absurdity. They’d be kidnapped by jihadis within two instants. No investigators are going to Libya. The fact that Ken Dornstein was able to conduct this documentary is that the political situation two years ago, when he was there, was entirely dissimilar. I could go to Libya at ease a year ago. But I’m not going traipsing around now because I don’t want to get kidnapped.

IF (23’16’’): Is it that simple, that foreigners can’t go to Libya without fear of kidnap or death?

JP (23’21’’): Particularly government officials of course. I mean we have a civil war in Libya which was complex and becoming more complex than the one in Syria. It’s less brutal: there are no barrelbombs, there’s no Assad government. It’s you know a pinprick – multilateral militias killing each other – there’s total chaos in the country. The situation is far more anarchic than in Syria. Why – and it really boggles my mind because there are very intelligent people working on the Libya issue – why it is they would allow these letters or demands to even be made, when we have so many other pressing issues like the growth of the Islamic State in Sirte, the way which Libya is a springboard for illegal migrants and then the key issue is the creation of a Government of National Accord, the GNA, and we’re not investing the energy we need in doing those things? And we’re trying potentially to investigate these two Libyan suspects Abdullah al-Senussi and Abu Agila Mas’ud. I could have told them ten years ago the names of these two suspects. This is not news.[5]

NSG to the rescue

BBC News reported on 21 October 2015 that the National Salvation government (NSG) in Libya, which controls the capital, Tripoli, and large parts of the rest of the country, but is not recognised by the international community, had invited Scottish and American investigators to travel to Libya to question the two Lockerbie bombing suspects Abdullah al-Senussi and Abu Agila Mas’ud.

NSG spokesman Jamal Zubia told the BBC:

"They can send some investigators, they come here to see those guys and see what they can do. Always we are very helpful, we want to talk to people and we want to show what we have. We might have more evidence about other people or maybe those guys have more information about something else, might help you."[6]

Interviewed by The Sunday Times, Zubia said:

“Gaddafi sent Megrahi to be judged abroad but that was against the law because there was no agreement between our countries for extradition. I don’t think it would happen again. What Gaddafi did was shameful but now we must respect our laws and our state. The problem is that the Scottish authorities sent their demand to Tobruk, which shows they know nothing about Libya because they don’t realise the government is in Tripoli. They will be waiting maybe forever for a reply from Tobruk because they can’t give permission for anyone to come to Tripoli and meet these prisoners.”

The Tripoli-based Justice Minister, Mustafa al-Glaib, confirmed that no official request had been received by authorities in the capital:

“What is circulating is media reports only. Until this time, we don’t even know for sure the names of the Libyans concerned, what the accusations are or what evidence there is against them. We will act according to Libyan law and we will not let the Libyan state be violated.”

The head of investigations for Libya’s general prosecutor’s office, Sadiq al-Sour, said if the UK or US made a request that was acceptable within Libyan law, it would be considered.[7]

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Libya: Fine, but why Britainarticle20 March 2011Brian BarderDavid Cameron seemingly Gung Ho on toppling the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, while Barack Obama takes a back seat


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