18. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the 40 Committee (Ratliff) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Curbing Libyan Influence in Africa

CIA asked approval to explore with President Mobutu of Zaire the possibility of his using his contacts with other African leaders to reinforce their opposition to Qadhafi’s efforts to pressure African states to support Libyan policies (Tab A). A quick vote is necessary in order to talk to Mobutu before he leaves to attend the 10th anniversary session of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa on Thursday.

While the Agency called this a “preliminary approach” to Mobutu, with whom it has a long-standing close relationship, it admitted that he may construe such a conversation as implying a commitment of funds. Based on past experience he deems it necessary to provide gifts to other Chiefs of State he approaches, and CIA estimated that this would mean up to [dollar amount not declassified] for each [less than 1 line not declassified] potential recipients [less than 1 line not declassified]

CIA’s aim is to strengthen the resolve of African leaders to resist Qadhafi’s pressures, to negate his influence in the area, block expansion of Arab terrorism and terrorist organizations, and thwart efforts to involve them in Arab-Israeli disputes.

Defense, JCS and CIA principals approved this proposal; State voted against it. Under Secretary Porter noted that there were others already taking an anti-Qadhafi line and therefore Mobutu’s help might not be necessary to block pro-Qadhafi moves at the OAU meeting. He also expressed reservations about the possibility that Mobutu might do himself and us discredit by being exposed as a funded spokesman for the U.S.

Dick Kennedy, Hal Saunders and I subsequently reviewed this proposal in separate meetings with State and CIA representatives. We reached agreement that there is merit in enlisting Mobutu’s efforts to [Page 37] combat any growth of PLO/Fatah/terrorism in Black Africa [less than 1 line not declassified] where Qadhafi has already made inroads. Mobutu would also be asked to generate an anti-PLO/Fatah/terrorism mood with other leaders, [1 line not declassified] Mobutu would be asked to build the anti-PLO/Fatah/terrorism mood in his associations with other Chiefs of State at the OAU meeting. We would be expected to offer funds to enable him to assert a leadership role on this subject. An estimated [dollar amount not declassified] would be required.

State reconsidered its negative vote. It is not opposed to Mobutu’s efforts to generate anti-terrorism sentiment at the OAU among those countries [1 line not declassified] It is opposed to any more general effort at this time. This appears to be acceptable to all parties—it is a first step and if Mobutu demonstrates an ability to advance our aims, additional support can be considered. State believes that any financial support for this more limited effort should be not more than [dollar amount not declassified]


That you approve CIA’s immediate initiative to enlist Mobutu’s support in generating anti-PLO/Fatah/terrorism sentiment and action during and subsequent to the OAU meeting [1 line not declassified]


Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Operations, Central Intelligence Agency (Colby) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)

Washington, May 19, 1973.


  • Political Action Operation to Negate Qadhafi’s Influence in Black Africa

1. CIA proposes to utilize its long standing and close relationship with President Mobutu of Zaire to explore the possibilities of mounting a political action operation designed to negate Qadhafi’s influence in Black Africa, limit the expansion of Arab terrorism and terrorist organizations into Black Africa and thwart Arab efforts to embroil Black Africa in the Arab-Israeli confrontation. The need for such an operation is demonstrated by Qadhafi’s current efforts to pressure African states to support Libyan policies which are inimical to U.S. interests in Africa. Failure to oppose Qadhafi’s political offensive will likely result in the proliferation of Palestine Liberation Organization offices, the spread of Arab terrorism and increasing opposition to U.S. interests throughout Black Africa. On several occa[Page 38]sions in the past, President Mobutu has pointed to his own limited resources to pursue common objectives, stating that the U.S. Government should work through proven friends such as himself to attain these objectives, and suggesting the funneling of funds through him to influence other African states toward these objectives. Mobutu has been discreet in the past and we forsee no security risks in this operation.

2. A discussion with Mobutu as outlined above could be construed by him as implying a commitment of funds, for he would likely want to provide financial gifts to other Chiefs of State. We estimate each such “gift” in the range of [dollar amount not declassified] with the potential recipients being [1½ lines not declassified]

3. Policy for this operation is contained in the 40 Committee decision on Libya taken in 1970 which [less than 1 line not declassified] which called for efforts to influence the Libyan government to adopt policies consistent with U.S. objectives and simultaneously oppose Libyan policies and leaders inimical to U.S. interests. On 20 April 1973, Dr. Kissinger orally approved a paper which reaffirmed [less than 1 line not declassified] the “use of agents of influence to alert other governments to the dangers which missions to their governments by Libyan-backed Palestinian organizations may represent.”

4. The above political action initiative via Mobutu would substantially strengthen and support moves already underway [1 line not declassified] to oppose Qadhafi’s political initiatives in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which begins its tenth anniversary session in Addis Ababa on 24 May. Since many attitudes and positions will be crystallized at the OAU meeting, it is necessary to discuss this operation with Mobutu before he departs for Addis Ababa.

5. Your approval in principle for this preliminary approach to Mobutu is requested.

W.E. Colby
  1. Summary: Ratliff asked Kissinger to approve a request from the Central Intelligence Agency to enlist President Mobutu’s support to curb Libyan influence in Africa.

    Source: National Security Council, Nixon Administration Intelligence Files, Subject Files, Libya, Box 9, February 10, 1970–June 26, 1973. Secret; Eyes Only; Outside the System. Sent for action. Concurred in by Saunders and Kennedy (NSC Staff), Director of Central African Affairs Herman J. Cohen, Alfred E. Wellons in INR/OPS, and CIA. Scowcroft approved the recommendation May 22. A handwritten notation on the document reads: “not to be noted in minutes per RRR.” The attachment is Secret.