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Whose Terrorists? Libya and State Criminality

NCJ Number
Contemporary Crises Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1988) Pages: 5-24
P Jenkins
Date Published
The 'criminalization' of Libya as a terrorist state fits the conflict paradigm of criminology, since Libya's criminal acts are defined as 'serious' not in terms of their inherent value but through the interests of groups with the power to undertake definitions, i.e., access to world media.
There is no doubt that Libya, between 1969 and 1987, attempted to foster and support insurgent or guerrilla movements in many parts of the world. That it has often been blamed incorrectly for terrorist acts is equally beyond question. The criminalizing of Libya is similar to a phenomenon whereby 'street' criminals receive the most publicity for their crimes even though their relative threat to society is not as serious as powerful criminal enterprises. Rather than a primary actor in terrorism, Libya is an arena in which other far more powerful interests pursue their criminal goals. In reality, Libya may well be a 'surrogate' terrorist state for many countries instead of, or in addition, to Soviet Russia. It is also apparently as much of a puppet of Western as of Eastern clandestine agencies. In 1971 British intelligence collaborated with Qaddafi in capturing and returning Sudanese army officers who had attempted a coup in their own country. Libya has acted as an ally or surrogate for the Italian ultra-right as well as for Soviet-backed leftist groups. The West, including the United States, has viewed Libya as a useful country in splitting radical elements into hostile factions. Overall, it is Qaddafi's weakness and vulnerability to exploitation that has led to his nation's stigmatization rather than the seriousness of Libya's crimes. 89 references.


Length: 20 pages
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