Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Qatar’s former emir said they could contact al-Qaeda and suggested Yemen’s former leader reached out and made peace with the terrorist organization, according to a 2013 interview with Yemen’s late President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The claims made by Saleh in an interview with Al Arabiya have resurfaced in the light of a series of leaked audio recordings that capture conversations featuring Gaddafi, Qatar’s former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and other political figures.
The leaks, which could not be independently verified by Al Arabiya English, capture Gaddafi discussing a range of plots and intrigue across the Middle East, including his plans to carve up Saudi Arabia and his efforts to coordinate with Muslim Brotherhood affiliates across the region.
Watch: A recent flurry of audio recordings leaked by a Qatari opposition activist has again drawn attention to #Qatar’s foreign policy positions and ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and former Libyan dictator Muammar #Gaddafi. Discover the full story here. https://t.co/DrKg4xAUxs pic.twitter.com/SuZdOWUpMs— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 2, 2020
Most recently, a leak reportedly captured Gaddafi and Qatar's former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim discussing a plan to give the Yemen-based Houthi militia Saudi Arabian territory.
Listen: #Qatar's former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and former Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim discuss the #Houthi militia’s claim to a region in #SaudiArabia in a conversation with the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.https://t.co/wyWnTsf2F2 pic.twitter.com/OUR3VIQkXP— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) July 18, 2020
In the recently resurfaced 2013 interview, President Saleh suggests that the two leaders had further interests in Yemen, including an ability to reach out to al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization behind the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Saleh told the Al Arabiya interviewer that he was at a conference in the Gulf of Sirte, Libya, when Gaddafi and Sheikh Hamad suggested: “Why are you going head to head with al-Qaeda? Why don’t you make up with them? We are willing to agree with them so they can spare you the problems. We’ll assign Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam to communicate with them.”
Saleh says he refused the offer and rejected any destabilizing influences on Yemen.
“I told them we are against anyone who disturbs the safety and stability of Yemen and gets involved in its business. We do not accept terrorism,” Saleh claims he told Gaddafi and Sheikh Hamad.
“I understood it as them having a relationship with al-Qaeda, and that they were willing to play the role of the middleman,” he added.
Saleh also said he had “more dangerous information” that he could not reveal during the interview.
Saleh served as president of Yemen from 1990 until his resignation in 2012 in response to the Arab Spring wave of protests in the country. Three years later, Saleh allied with the Iran-backed Houthi militia against the UN-recognized government led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
However, his supporters later clashed with the Houthis. He was killed in December, 2017, reportedly by a Houthi sniper.