Western countries currently bombing Libya benefited from intelligence provided to them by Mr. Qadhafi's regime on “jihadi'' groups in east Libya, according to WikiLeaks documents and American intelligence sources, The Times reported on Tuesday. Names of “hundreds of suspects” were passed to the CIA and British intelligence, it said.

In a cable sent on August 10, 2009, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli described Libya as a “critical ally in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts” and emphasised that U.S.-Libya “strategic partnership in this field has been highly...beneficial to both nations”.

It said: “Libya has acted as a critical ally in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts, and is considered one of our primary partners in combating the flow of foreign fighters”.

The newspaper said one senior British intelligence source confirmed that MI6 had close contact with Mr. Qadhafi. He was quoted as saying that “valuable information was picked up” as a result of Libyan intelligence-sharing.

Paul Pillar, a senior CIA official who reportedly negotiated with Libya over its nuclear programme, told The Times that there was a “strong, shared concern” between the Qadhafi regime and the British and American governments about radical jihadist groups such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Close intelligence links with Libya continued until 2009 despite public British and American criticism of alleged human rights abuses in Libya, the report said.

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