News / Africa

Libyan Defection Is Potential Intelligence Goldmine

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa reads a statement to foreign journalists at a hotel in Tripoli, March 18, 2011 (file photo)
Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa reads a statement to foreign journalists at a hotel in Tripoli, March 18, 2011 (file photo)
Gary Thomas

Western officials have hailed the defection of Libya’s foreign minister as a sign that Moammar Gadhafi’s government is falling apart. However, Colonel Gadhafi’s forces have mustered a blistering counter-offensive that has pushed back opposition rebel forces. The minister’s defection, though, is a potential gold mine of intelligence about the Libyan government.

Prior to his job as Libya’s top diplomat, Moussa Koussa was the chief of Libyan intelligence, making him one of the most senior figures around Gadhafi. Reva Bhalla, Middle East analyst with the private intelligence firm Stratfor, said that makes Koussa’s defection an intelligence bonanza for the West.

"This is somebody that every Western intelligence agency has a big file on. He knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak. And so he would have an enormous amount of information that would be useful to the coalition partners in basically just figuring out Gadhafi’s vulnerabilities," said Bhalla.

Former senior CIA intelligence officer Emile Nakhleh said Koussa was at the center of just about every policy decision made by Gadhafi, and is intimately familiar with the workings of the Gadhafi government.

"I think it is extremely important because he has perhaps over the years been one of the closest people to Gadhafi - and not just the closeness, the proximity to power, but the involvement," said Nakhleh. "He has been involved in so many decisions, major, major decisions regarding Libya, both nice and nefarious, if you will."

Koussa led the negotiations with the West to have Libya abandon its nuclear weapons programs in return for the lifting of international sanctions. But analysts say that as Libyan security chief, he also was involved in Libyan support for terrorism.

Analysts believe efforts to get Koussa to abandon Gadhafi have been ongoing for some time. Nakhleh said that, given Koussa’s position and knowledge, he would be a prime target.

"I don’t believe that he necessarily decided on his own. I judge that intensive behind-the-scenes contacts must have been occurring between him and Western - people from the West, let’s say. I would be appalled, frankly, if our intelligence services and our government had not attempted to contact him and encourage him to leave," said Nakhleh.

Koussa surfaced in Britain, which, analysts say, make it likely the defection was engineered by the British intelligence service, MI-6. He also was Libya’s ambassador to Britain in 1980.

In announcing Koussa’s arrival, British Foreign Secretary William Hague pointed to the defection as a sign that Gadhafi is fast losing support. "His resignation shows that Gadhafi’s regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure, and crumbling from within. Gadhafi must be asking himself, who will be the next to abandon him."

Other Libyan officials are reported to have defected. Bhalla points out, however, that some of those defection reports have proved false, and warned against reading too much about Gadhafi’s staying power into them.

"I think the defections overall are being exaggerated to some extent. There was a lot of rhetoric that followed from the European capitals and from Washington saying that, well, this was the clearest sign that Gadhafi is completely isolated and that his days are numbered. And, of course, Gadhafi is in a difficult position. But I don’t think that his situation is as dire as some are portraying him to be in."

Nakhleh said the real defections to watch for would be of any of Gadhafi’s sons. That, he said, would be the clearest indicator that the Libyan leader really is on his last legs [ready to collapse].

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid