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THE WORLD / LIBYA

Ties That Bind Kadafi and Neo-Fascists

August 13, 2000|Martin A. Lee | Martin A. Lee is the author of "The Beast Reawakens," a book on neo-fascism

Links between Libya and the European far right have been scrutinized by a number of parliamentary and judicial probes in Italy. According to Roman magistrate Loris D'Ambrosia, the Libyan embassy in Rome gave money to aid the escape of Italian terrorist suspect Mario Tuti shortly after he was accused of bombing an express train near Florence in 1974. Tuti was subsequently captured and sentenced to a lengthy prison term for orchestrating the attack, which killed 12 and injured 44.

Seeking to curry Kadafi's favor, university professor Claudio Mutti founded the Italian-Libyan Friendship Society. An inveterate neo-fascist propagandist, Mutti published Italian translations of various screeds, including the anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and Kadafi's own manifesto, the "Green Book." Curiously, Mutti also collaborated with a pro-Chinese student group, which set the stage for a bizarre political mutation in Italy known as "Nazi-Maoism." Influenced by Mutti, a small band of Italian extremists adopted a seemingly incongruous set of heroes--Hitler, Mao, Kadafi and Peron.

Kadafi's financial largess and his militant anti-Zionism has generated support for the Libyan regime among right-wing extremists around the world, including in Britain, where the "Green Book" was vigorously promoted by the neo-Nazi National Front, which received thousands of free copies from Libyan officials. Several National Front officials visited Libya as guests of the government and returned full of praise. According to former British Nazi leader Ray Hill, the Libyan People's Bureau put up money for a special anti-Semitic supplement to the National Front's monthly magazine.

Libyan money is not the only reason why neo-Nazis--who typically denigrate Arabs as well as Jews--are attracted to Kadafi. Extremists from the Middle East and European white supremacists are united not just in their anti-Zionism but also in the belief that "Europe" and "Islam" should remain separate cultures, equally free from the corroding influence of U.S. economic power and the homogenizing force of globalization.

Kadafi's government paid for various junkets so neo-Nazis from France, the Netherlands and several other countries could visit the Libyan capital. Such was the case in April 1987, when neo-fascist representatives traveled to Tripoli to attend a conference on the first anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Libya (allegedly in retaliation for a Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack). It was a strange scene, as they were joined by an international delegation of left-wing peace activists who opposed U.S. policy toward Libya.

Dr. Lenora Fulani, the African-American leader of the New York-based New Alliance Party, was also present in Tripoli for that occasion. Following this trip, Kadafi was effusively praised in the New Alliance Party's publication. Fulani's longtime ally, Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan, was another honored guest in Libya. In 1996, the Black Muslim minister met with Kadafi, who promised $1 billion to finance Farrakhan's political activities in the U.S., according to a report by JANA, the Libyan press agency.

Envious of his support for Haider and Farrakhan, neo-fascist militants from numerous countries continue to court Kadafi, hoping one day he'll become a major benefactor for them as well.

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