by Jane Briggs-Bunting; illustration by Paul Szep
As the ground and air war continues in Libya, I received an email from a former colleague and friend from the Detroit media. He related how he covered a story in the mid-1980s about a Gaddafi’s loyalist. Musa Kousa, who had attended school at Michigan State University studying sociology and following the Spartans’ sports teams. He sent me the link for the mid-1980s story he uploaded to You Tube.
Kousa returned to his homeland and then became the equivalent of the Libyan ambassador to the UK when he headed up the Libyan Mission in London. Back then, he was allegedly in charge of assassinating the exiled political opponents of Colonel Gaddafi. In 1984, during demonstrations in front of the Libyan Embassy in London, the crowd of demonstrators was sprayed with bullets from the embassy. Among those killed was a London police officer, Yvonne Fletcher. At that point, the Brits told Kousa to get out and shut down the embassy.
Kousa did and years passed though he evidently continued to follow Division I basketball at his alma mater. In the meantime, there was Lockerbie, international sanctions, nuclear and chemical stockpiling in Libya’s desert and other nastiness by the Colonel. Through it all, Kousa was a survivor. He became in many ways a fixer for Gaddafi, especially after 9-11, when the U.S. desperately needed better intelligence than it had on terrorists.
A 2006 edition of the Washington Monthly published an interesting article by Ron Suskind on Gaddafi’s decision to join in the fight against terrorism and rejoin the world community from his rogue status.
Kousa this past week made a return trip to the UK, this time as a defector. The Libyans deny this, saying he is only on a diplomatic mission.
Kousa had been one of Gaddfi’s most loyal supporters. Apparently his survival instincts are still strong as ever, and the relationships he has built up in his globe-trotting efforts for the Colonel have given him a safe harbor despite his murderous exploits on British soil.
International diplomacy does create some strange bedfellows.