[This is the headline over a report on the Frum Forum website. It reads in part:]
Is Libya’s most important defector to the West really on a deep-cover diplomatic mission? One of the architects of the 2001 prosecution of two Libyans charged with downing the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie thinks it is possible.
One of Qaddafi’s most reliable allies – and most feared enforcers – Moussa Koussa arrived in England on Wednesday from Tunisia. He has reportedly been seeking medical treatment and is now being debriefed. Both the UK and US heralded his defection as a stunning coup since he is the highest-level member of the dictator’s palace guard to abandon him since the popular uprising began in January.
But Robert Black, the Edinburgh University law professor emeritus who engineered the special trial that convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, said Koussa may well be playing a double-game with the full knowledge and encouragement of the US and UK.
“Has Moussa Koussa really defected? There are some indications that this may be a diplomatic mission – negotiating an exit strategy for the Qaddafi regime – rather than a defection,” Black said at his blog, listing some of those indications:
"2. He was accompanied to Tunisia (but not beyond) for his flight from Djerba to Farnborough by Abdel Ati al-Obeidi who remains a trusted counselor of Qaddafi (and a trusted intermediary in the eyes of the UK and US).
"3. If Koussa had defected, he would surely have negotiated immunity from prosecution for any personal involvement in Lockerbie (if Libya was implicated in any capacity, Koussa would inevitably have been personally involved). According to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, no such immunity has been granted. This suggests that his visit is already covered by diplomatic immunity."
Some intelligence analysts agree. They say a defection story may have been floated for a combination of plausible reasons: as a face-saving maneuver for a proud Qaddafi while Koussa discusses the final terms of his exile; as a morale-booster for rebel forces; and, perhaps most consequentially, as a feint allowing for Anglo-American input into the shape of whatever Libyan government emerges if the strongman exits the stage.
Neither the UK or the US wants to exchange Qaddafi’s regime for an Islamist-dominated one on the Mediterranean. Koussa might be able to play a post-Qaddafi role in shaping that next regime.
According to diplomats, Koussa has come to be viewed as a trusted partner by both the US and the UK as well as a skilled go-between with the sometimes obdurate Qaddafi. But his past is not very clean. (...)
Scottish police have said they would like to interview Koussa concerning the Lockerbie case, but in what The Times called “an unusual intervention”, Foreign Office officials later said Koussa was not the “prime suspect” in the Lockerbie bombing. And they also failed to rule out the possibility Koussa might leave the UK before investigations are completed.
“Surprise, surprise,” commented Robert Black.
[Professor Paul Wilkinson takes a not dissimilar line in an article headed "Why our 'defector' may not be quite what he seems" in today's edition of The Scotsman.]