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Report: Israel company recruiting Gadhafi mercenaries

March 1, 2011 8:19 P.M. (Updated: March 1, 2011 8:19 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- An Israeli company is recruiting mercenaries to support Moammar Gadhafi's efforts to suppress an uprising against his regime, an Israeli news site said Tuesday.

Citing Egyptian sources, the Hebrew-language news site Inyan Merkazi said the company was run by retired Israeli army commanders.

The report claims that many high-profile former Israeli officers have been illegally trading weapons in several African nations, and have faced interrogations over their activities in the past.

The news site said the head of the company recently met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israeli intelligence chief Aviv Cokhavi. It added that the officials all approved the company's recruitment of mercenaries to help Gadhafi.

The leader's brutal crackdown has killed at least 1,000 Libyans so far, human rights groups say.

According to the report, Israeli officials approved the recruitment out of fears that if toppled, Gadhafi would be replaced by an "extremist Islamic regime."

During Gadhafi's four-decade rule of the north African state, he has been one of Israel's most vocal critics.

Company representatives recently flew to Chad to discuss the matter with a high-ranking Libyan intelligence officer Abduallah Sanusi, the report said. During the meeting, Sanusi agreed to pay the company to recruit up to 50,000 mercenaries from African countries, according to the news site.
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