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Pro-insurgency Libya office opens in Brussels

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(BRUSSELS) - A pro-insurgency Libya foundation opened in Brussels on Thursday to facilitate European Union and NATO contacts with rebels and work towards an "independent, unified and democratic" Libya.

The well-endowed Independent Libya Foundation, which supports the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council, said its immediate aim was to provide information on developments in Libya and strengthen ties with European institutions.

Its first initiative was to host a visit by Abdulfatah Younis, a former Moamer Kadhafi interior minister turned leader of the rebel armed forces, who was in the EU capital to plead for sophisticated weaponry for the rebels.

"The Libyan underground is engaged in the fighting so we are trying to build a bridge with the outside," said the group's financier Basit Igtet, a wealthy Zurich-based Libyan with interests in hotels, real estate and investment funds.

Igtet told AFP he was also financing a refugee camp for 600 people in Tunisia as well as trying to raise medical help for people injured in Misrata.

Co-founder Richard Reinert, a former chairman of the International Petroleum Exchange and a hedge fund and oil executive, said the foundation ( was set up due to perceived "lack of understanding" in the media about the Transitional National Council.

The TNC is "really passionate" about forming a democracy, he said.

"The beauty with Libya is that they don't need money" because of the country's oil wealth, which eventually "can be used to benefit the people and the country."

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