Blog Post

The Day the Libyan Rebels Received Piles of Cash

September 3, 2011

I’ve been in Libya for the last week filming and producing for the BBC in Benghazi with correspondent Jon Leyne and producer Shaimaa Khalil. The trip has yielded some interesting surprises, including laying my eyes on a fortune in cash.
On Wednesday evening we got a call from the British embassy telling us to be at Benghazi airport for a very important visit. Initially we thought the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, or Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, were paying a surprise visit. After a few calls to the BBC foreign desk back in London, we established that the Royal Air Force were on their way to deliver
new Libyan banknotes worth £140m (280m Libyan dinars). The banknotes were printed in the UK on behalf of the old Libyan regime but were impounded in February when the UN imposed sanctions against the country.
It was the first tranche of £950m unfrozen Libyan assets held in Britain that would be delivered to the rebels at Benghazi airport amid tight security and under the cover of darkness.
When we got to there, the place was swarming with security officials from the Libyan rebel movement as well as British embassy officials and of course the press. The plane was late but eventually it descended from the night sky to deliver its precious cargo. Over the next hour the money was unloaded into six waiting trucks. When all the cash had be transferred, a huge convoy of police and army cars drove the money across town to the local branch of the central bank. When it was over, I felt like I had been watching a scene from a Hollywood movie.
We rushed back to our hotel to cut a tv package for the morning. The above package was the end result of our efforts. It’s an experience I will never forget and certainly ranks among the most surreal events in my life.

One Response to “The Day the Libyan Rebels Received Piles of Cash”

  1. Dominic Caraccilo says:

    The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored and we are a large part of why that has happened.

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