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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs