[On this date in 2009 Moussa Koussa was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in a ministerial reshuffle announced by the Libyan parliament. What follows is excerpted from a report published on The Telegraph website in March 2011:]
The former Libyan intelligence chief who has defected to Britain has been implicated in the Lockerbie bombing and a number of other atrocities conducted by the regime of Col Muammar Gaddafi.
However, in recent years he has also become an important contact for both MI6 and the CIA as they attempted to rehabilitate the regime, according to sources and leaked US diplomatic cables.
The Daily Telegraph understands that MI6 had discussed his desire to leave Libya in recent days but was not expecting his escape.
Moussa Muhammad Koussa is the man closest to Col Muammar Gaddafi to have defected, arriving in Britain a week after his 62nd birthday.
Western educated, he attended Michigan State University, earning a degree in sociology in 1978 before working in various Libyan embassies across Europe, probably as an intelligence officer.
He was appointed as Libya's Ambassador to Britain in 1980 but soon afterwards he was expelled from the country after claiming, on the steps of the embassy, that the Gaddafi regime had decided the night before to kill two dissidents in Britain, apparently adding: "I approve of this." (...)
Western intelligence agencies have claimed Mr Koussa was involved in the planning of the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 over Lockerbie which killed 270 people. (...)
Western intelligence agencies have claimed Mr Koussa was involved in the planning of the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 over Lockerbie which killed 270 people.
He has also been accused of complicity in the destruction of a French airliner over Niger in 1989, the bombing of a disco in Germany, and supplying arms to the IRA as Gaddafi’s regime wreaked havoc across the world.
Always involved in secret intelligence, he served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1992 to 1994 and then as the head of the Libyan intelligence agency from 1994 to 2009.
However, a few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Mr Koussa led a delegation to London for talks with MI6 and CIA officials.
He went on to become a key figure in the normalisation of relations between Libya, Britain and the US as Libya abandoned its chemical weapons and paid compensation to the victims of their attacks. In that role and as head of Libyan intelligence, he also became well-known to his counterparts.
He was also central to securing the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence officer found guilty of the Lockerbie bombing, after meeting officials from the government and Scottish executive in October 2008 and January 2009.
US diplomatic cables published by the WikiLeaks website and seen by the Daily Telegraph, reveal that Mr Koussa told the British Ambassador Sir Vincent Fean that the bomber of Flight 103 was a “a very ill man, too ill for anything but a quiet return to his family”, days before he was released.
Mr Koussa also promised that the bomber’s reception would be low key – later admitting it was a “big mistake” when he was given a hero’s welcome.
A communiqué sent in late May 2009, relates how Mr Koussa boasted to a visiting US general of his connections with the CIA.
In another cable from May 2009, a US diplomat said: “Kusa [sic] is one of the most influential figures in the regime and has been a proponent of improved ties with the United States…
“Kusa is the rare Libyan official who embodies a combination of intellectual acumen, operational ability and political weight. Promoting specific areas of cooperation with him is an opportunity to have him cast that message in terms palatable to Libya’s leadership.”