[This is the headline over a report published today on the Al Arabiya News website. It reads in part:]
Former Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Rahman Shalgam has said that his successor Moussa Koussa, who resigned last month in protest against the brutalities committed by Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, would not be returning to London, and was likely to seek asylum in Qatar.
Mr Shalgam, who was Libya’s foreign minister from 2000 till 2009, told Al Arabiya that civil society representatives in London had been vehemently objecting to hosting dissident Mr Koussa, who stayed in office from March 2009 till March 2011. He said that they objected to “his involvement in several crimes condemned by the international community.”
“Koussa took part in the Lockerbie bombing, funding the Irish Republican Army, and liquidating several opponents to the Libyan regime,” Mr Shalgam told Al Arabiya.
On March 28, 2011, Koussa left Libya for Tunisia and from there flew to the United Kingdom where he issued a statement. That statement said that he no longer wanted to be a representative of the Libyan government in light of brutal attacks on civilians by Mr Qaddafi’s forces.
Mr Koussa subsequently left London for the Qatari capital Doha to attend a conference on the future of Libya and to meet with members of the National Transitional Council.
“He will most likely stay in Doha and will not go back to London,” Mr Shalgam said of Mr Koussa.
The British government of Prime Minister David Cameron was faced with harsh criticism both for hosting Mr Koussa and for allowing him to leave. While civil society slammed granting asylum to someone accused of crimes against humanity, especially that it took place on British soil, relatives of Lockerbie victims consider allowing Mr Koussa to depart without taking the necessary measures against him a kind of “treason” on the part of the government.
Mr Shalgam described Mr Koussa as the “black box” of the Libyan regime, especially that he spent around 16 years as head of Libyan intelligence.
“The fact that he knows that much about the intricacies of the Libyan regime makes him very valuable for the interim council and necessitates staying in touch with him and making use of the information he possesses.”
When asked if Mr Koussa’s decision to defect from Colonel Qaddafi’s ranks meant he would join the revolutionaries, Mr Shalgam replied that Koussa has not so far asked for this.
“However, his dissidence in itself is a patriotic action,” Mr Shalgam said.
[Of the officials of the Gaddafi regime that I met over the years from 1993 to 2009 in connection with Lockerbie, Moussa Koussa was the scariest and Shalgam was the slipperiest.
James Kirkup of The Telegraph has now picked up this story, without acknowledgment, of course.]