The Man Who Knows Gadaffi’s Secrets
by Eric Margolis: Gadaffi's
Curse Keeps Haunting Washington
Libya may not be sinking yet, but it’s low in the water and springing
new leaks by the day.
Italy, a key
player in North Africa, sniffed the winds of change, then decided
to abandon old ally Gadaffi and recognize the revolutionary junta
Libya’s Foreign Minister, Moussa Koussa, dressed in his trademark
gray shirt, gray jacket and gray trousers, defected to Britain,
inflicting a major blow on the faltering Gadaffi regime.
Agents of British
intelligence, MI6, spirited former intelligence chief Koussa out
of Libya via Tunisia and to a military airfield in southern England.
The tall, dour
Koussa was always the man in the shadows, the éminence grise
behind Muammar Gadaffi’s tent, the spy master who knew all the secrets
and, one supposes, where the skeletons are buried.
has been closeted in London with British intelligence. MI6 will
have a huge number of questions to ask the man who headed up Libyan
intelligence for some fifteen years, either officially or unofficially,
and acted as a top advisor to the Libyan strongman.
spooks are debriefing Koussa about the loyalty of Gadaffi’s military
and tribal supporters, and his "Plan B" in case of defeat.
In spite of denials, the US, Britain and France are already sending
increasing numbers of special forces into Libya, as I’ve reported
for two months. Egypt’s army, which is still under heavy American
influence, is also aiding Libya’s ragtag rebels.
My old friend,
Libya’s former foreign minister, Dr. Ali Treiki, also reportedly
defected. In 1987, I flew with Treiki to Tripoli to interview Muammar
Treiki, a soft-spoken
intellectual who was Libya’s most accomplished diplomat, was not
in Gadaffi’s inner circle. But he always exercised a calming influence
on the volatile Libyan leader, and restrained him from some more
extreme actions. Treiki will likely figure in any new Libyan government.
officer this writer named three weeks ago as the most likely leader
of the Benghazi insurgents, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, has been named
military chief. Other Libyan "assets" of CIA are being
flown in from North America.
most interesting questions to Koussa will be about the still enigmatic
bombing of US Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 and a French UTA DC-10 in
Libya was blamed
for bombing the Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed
270 people. Western investigators accused two Libyan agents of planting
a bomb aboard the doomed aircraft. Under threats of crushing sanctions,
Libya reluctantly handed them over. One of them, a small-fry named
Abdulbasit el-Megrahi, was convicted by a Scottish court and jailed
view was that the Pan Am atrocity was revenge for the US bombing
of Libya in 1986. A year later, Gadaffi showed me the ruins of his
private quarters where a US 1,000 kg bomb had killed his two-year
old daughter. "Why are the Americans trying to kill me,"
he asked me?
A year later,
a bomb destroyed a French UTA airliner over the Sahara, killing
171. France had just defeated Libya in a sharp border conflict over
Chad. The late head of French intelligence, SDECE, told me French
President Francois Mitterand ordered him to kill Gadaffi, but then
canceled the operation – a bomb hidden in Gadaffi’s aircraft – when
Franco-Libyan relations improved.
In 1999, French
investigators and magistrates who were curiously allowed to search
the files of Libyan intelligence found Libya guilty of the UTA attack.
Six Libyan officials, including the deputy chief of intelligence,
Abdullah Senoussi, were convicted in absentia. Senoussi insisted
to me over dinner in Tripoli that he and his nation was innocent.
But it certainly looked like Libya was getting revenge for its defeat
in Chad, and the attempt on Gadaffi’s life. I wondered if the amiable
Senoussi – from traditionally anti-Gadaffi Benghazi – had not been
set up as a fall guy.
another story. Some veteran observers believed al-Megrahi was framed
to implicate Libya when the real culprit was Iran, seeking revenge
for the downing of an Iranian airliner over the Gulf in July, 1988,
by US cruiser "Vincennes" that killed 290, mostly pilgrims,
headed for Mecca. President George Bush Senior actually decorated
the captain of the "Vincennes" for this heinous crime
and called him a "hero."
over Megrahi’s guilt grew. Scotland’s respected legal system was
considering an appeal that was likely to have revealed efforts by
western agents to frame the Libyan. To head off this embarrassment,
Britain sent him back to Libya, claiming he was about to die from
cancer. In return, British oil and commercial interests in Libya
were quickly expanded. It was a remarkably cynical business, greased
by Tony Blair, oozing synthetic charm and hypocrisy from every pore.
admitted guilt for these aerial crimes, but paid out $1.5 billion
blood money in 2008. US President George promptly "pardoned"
Libya, ended punishing sanctions, and allowed US oil firms to return
to Libya. The hapless Meghrahi was welcome home by Libyans as a
hero and sacrificial lamb.
We still don’t
know who really bombed Pan Am 103 or the full story about the UTA
airliner. Hard evidence has been lacking.
Koussa may reveal the truth about these two notorious crimes to
British intelligence, as well as the alleged Libyan bombing of a
Berlin disco that triggered the 1987 US attempt to kill Gadaffi,
as well as information on Libya’s supposed nuclear program -which
was, in fact, a pile of nuclear junk bought by the wily Gadaffi
so he could "give it up" to Washington, allowing George
Bush to proclaim a great victory in stopping the spread of nuclear
weapons (to disobedient nations, that is).
will Koussa himself be charged with crimes? One suspects a deal
was made before he defected to spare the wily Libyan spook. The
man in gray is stepping out of the shadows.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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