Expelled Libyan diplomat denies role in UK shootings

The Guardian, June 14 1980

Musa Kousa, the head of Libya’s London mission, sat back in his elegant office suite with its gilt-edged rococo design, tuned in to the Libyan news on his transistor radio and declared himself quite unmoved by the morning’s encounter with Sir Ian Gilmour, the minister who formally told him of his expulsion from Britain.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m a student. I’ll go back to my academy.” He showed the black leather-bound thesis he wrote at Michigan State University in 1978, a sociological study of Colonel Ghadaffi’s background.

On the wall a giant portrait of Ghadaffi stares down from a golden frame. Musa Kousa says that the killings will go on; and that the IRA may be used against the British government; and that his expulsion will make no difference since he was never involved with the revolutionary committees and courts.

The Guardian was the only newspaper allowed in to the Libyan People’s Bureau in St James’s Square yesterday after Mr Kousa returned from seeing Sir Ian.

Only once did he lose his attitude of complete calm. He said he always laughed when he read newspaper reports about guns being brought into Britain in diplomatic bags. “The cost of a pistol here, the black market, is equal to £40. So why do the embassy need to use the diplomat bag ? It’s more expensive in my country than here.”

When it was pointed out that it seemed strange for a man who had no links with the revolutionary courts to know the price of black-market firearms, he seemed momentarily disturbed. “I don’t think that’s the main problem,” he said.

He said his office had first heard from the Foreign Office just before six o’clock on Thursday evening. He had not received their message until yesterday morning when he had contacted them and been summoned to Whitehall.

At the eleven o’clock meeting, he was told to leave the country. “I didn’t ask for explanation, and they didn’t say anything. I will leave as soon as I have finished things here.” He seems to have offered no argument. “This is his country and his authority, and he can do what he wants.”

But he insists that his departure will gain nothing. “I think the British Government thinks wrongly that the Libyan People’s Bureau is organised for assassination and to kill somebody here. They believe that the facilities of this bureau are used in this matter. They mistaken about this.”

He claimed that the revolutionary committees functioned all over the UK and were composed of Arabs and black Britons as well as Libyans. He said he couldn’t say how many there were and he did not know much more about them.

He told reporters on Thursday that two Libyan exiles in Britain were to be executed but he said he knew no more. “I heard from the revolutionary courts here in the UK that they decided to kill two more here. If they stay here, they will be killed.”

He complained that the government was harbouring exiles who in the eyes of his people were criminals. “If the British authorities keep taking action against the revolutionary committees and help the other side, I expect the committees will take some action. For example, they will help the IRA again.”

Musa Kousa says he is happy to leave his job in the Bureau. “I hate this kind of bureaucracy. I’m a man. I’m not a politician. I’m not a diplomat. I classify myself as a revolutionary. I can’t deal with this bureaucracy. I like to live with the people and work with the people.”

UPDATE: Musa Kousa went on to become head of Colonel Ghadaffi’s notoriously violent intelligence service before fleeing Libya in March 2011 as the rebellion against Ghadaffi gathered strength. For undisclosed reasons, the UK and US governments made no attempt to prosecute or penalise him, and he is reported to have settled in Qatar.