Friday, 7 October 2016

Libyan linked to Lockerbie welcome in UK

[This is the headline over a report published in The Guardian on this date in 2001. It reads as follows:]

A senior Libyan official accused of involvement in the Lockerbie bombing and branded 'the master of terror' has been welcomed by the Foreign Office as part of a charm offensive in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

Musa Kusa, head of Libya's external security organisation - which masterminded the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the worst mass murder in Britain - arrived in London last month for talks with MI6, the secret intelligence service, and members of the CIA.

The invitation is a measure of how seriously the Foreign Office regards the Islamic threat. The move will infuriate British relatives of the 270 Lockerbie victims, many of whom believe that justice was not done when a Dutch court convicted a low-ranking member of the Libyan intelligence service for the bombing.

Kusa is known in Libyan dissident circles as the master of terror. He was behind the liquidation of Libyan dissidents in Britain and was expelled from London in 1980 for orchestrating the killing of a BBC World Service journalist, Mohamed Mustafa Ramadan, outside Regent's Park mosque.

He is also wanted in France in connection with the downing of a French DC-10 of the UTA airline in 1989 with 170 passengers aboard, an attack similar to the 1988 bombing of Flight 103.

The rehabilitation of Kusa - who was visiting Britain for the first time in 20 years without an alias - is seen as a reward for Tripoli's backing for the US coalition against terrorism. On his visit, which ended last week, Kusa is understood to have met William Burns, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, in what is thought to be the highest-level official contact between the United States and Libya since the US aerial bombardment of Tripoli in 1986.

'We welcome all attempts at close coordination and assistance whatever the source,' said a US official. 'I'm not aware we've ruled out anyone speaking on behalf of the Libyan government.'

The Foreign Office confirmed a Libyan delegation had been in Britain but refused to disclose its members. But Mohamed Azwai, the Libyan ambassador in London confirmed that Kusa had met British and American officials and provided a list of more than a dozen Libyans in the UK suspected of links to Osama bin Laden.

The list included members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (IFG), which Libya claims is active in Britain. Azwai appeared to accede to Washington's demands to admit responsibility for acts of its officials convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

'Mr Kusa came to Britain and met with his MI6 and the CIA counterparts,' Azwai said. 'Libya will not have difficulty accepting responsibility [for the Lockerbie bombing]. Under international law, the state must accept responsibility for the wrongdoing of its officials.'

[RB: Lots more about Musa Kusa can be read here.]

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