By now, you're probably familiar with the background surrounding Monitor Group's involvement with the Qaddafi regime in Libya: cash—and lots of it—for PR work on behalf of The Mad Dog himself. Unfortunately for the Cambridge-based strategy outfit, this particular PR project has turned into a bona fide PR nightmare.
Now, the media is compounding Monitor's troubles yet again. Enter: Abdullah Al Sanusi.
Muammar Qaddafi's brother-in-law and purported right hand man, Sanusi gained international notoriety after a French court convicted him in absentia for his role as the "ringleader" in a plot to bomb a commercial airplane over Niger. That plot went live in 1989, killing 170 innocent passengers aboard French airliner UTA 772.
The Boston Globe reports today that Sanusi was also the ringleader of Monitor's consulting engagement with the Libyan government. "In 2006," the Globe writes, "Abdullah Al Sanusi was also the man who arranged the services of a noted Cambridge consulting firm in a very different project: revamping Libya’s reputation on the world stage."
UTA 772: Abdullah Al Sanusi orchestrated the deaths of 170 civilians in 1989.
According to documents acquired and published by the Libyan opposition, Mark Fuller, Monitor's CEO, wrote to Sanusi in 2006: "We believe that your commitment to creating a program of mutual education and relationship building with the United States remains of critical importance at this turning point in Libyan history. We remain privileged to be trusted with this work."
He also requested the "immediate payment" of roughly $1.4 million. CNN reports that Monitor earned more than $3 million per year for the engagement.
The Globe reports that, as Qaddafi's proxy, Sanusi "oversaw initial negotiations with the Monitor Group" when the pair decided to do business in 2006. When the consultancy arranged for prominent American academics to visit Libya (who would subsequently publish complimentary articles on Qaddafi and Libya), Sanusi served as the main contact between the visitors and the regime. Benjamin Barber, a Rutgers professor who went to Libya on behalf of Monitor Group, suggested that working with Sanusi was a necessary evil. "I'm not saying that he is a good guy, but he was very pro-American," said Barber.
After the 1989 airliner bombing, the pro-American thug further consolidated his reputation as Qaddafi's ruthless lapdog at a Benghazi prison in 1996. From the Boston Globe:
In 1996, when political prisoners in Benghazi rioted against the conditions in the prison, Sanusi arrived at the site “in a dark green Audi with a contingent of security personnel,’’ according to the Human Rights Watch report.
At first, Sanusi tried to negotiate an end to the prison uprising, the report said, but then an estimated 1,200 prisoners were killed with grenades and heavy weaponry, and wounded prisoners were shot in the head.
As the "longtime head of Libya's intelligence services," Sanusi has undoubtedly played a major role in the current conflict in Libya. In fact, the Globe says that Sanusi was "recently accused of orchestrating atrocities against antigovernment protesters"; at the very least, the publication asserts, he is responsible for training nearly every working Libyan intelligence officer of the last two decades.
Monitor has kept mum on its involvement with Sanusi, preferring to highlight the "period of promise" in which it engaged the Libyan government. "Given the terrible spectacle of Col. Khadafy using force on his own people," the firm said in a statement, "it may be difficult to imagine that just a few years ago many saw a period of promise in Libya."
For more information:
The Boston Globe