Seif al-Islam, son of Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi, has dismissed the importance of the country’s former foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, who has defected to Britain and reportedly providing intelligence to U.K. officials.
Seif derided Koussa as “old” and “sick” and claimed he could provide no new details about the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am airline that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland and killed more than 270 people.
Speaking to BBC, Seif said Koussa is likely to “make up funny stories” in exchange for asylum. He also asserted that authorities in the U.K. and U.S. already know everything about Lockerbie so there are no secrets Koussa could divulge.
“There are no secrets anymore,” he added. “We have no secrets to the world.
Seif accused the British government of coercing Koussa into speaking out against Gaddafi.
“The British government said this: you have no immunity unless you cooperate,” he said. “He is sick, he is sick and old so if you put it this way -- no immunity -- of course I will come out with the funny stories.”
Koussa, formerly one of Gaddafi’s closest Aides, has reportedly been offered asylum by British authorities, although UK foreign secretary William Hague earlier said that he will not be granted any immunity.
Scottish authorities are expected to interview Koussa in the next few days to find out what he knows about the Lockerbie tragedy.
Separately, the U.S. government has lifted financial sanctions against Koussa, in a step that is likely designed to inspire more of Gaddafi’s closest aides to defect.
David S. Cohen, the acting treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the sanctions on Koussa were dropped because he was no longer part of Gaddafi’s regime.
“One of the intended purposes of sanctions against senior officials in the Libyan government was to motivate individuals within the Gaddafi regime to make the right decision and dissociate themselves from Gaddafi and his government,” Cohen said.
Questions have been raised about the ethics of embracing a man like Koussa, who was sometimes referred to as Libya’s “torturer-in-chief” and was likely complicit in many acts of terrorism and other crimes, including murder, over his long career as intelligence chief and foreign minister.
Ironically, three decades ago Koussa was deported from Britain for telling a newspaper reporter that he was in favor of Libya’s practice of hunting down and killing opponents of Gaddafi’s regime.
The Libyan government is also suspected of providing arms to the Irish Republican Army and of murdering a British policewoman in 1984 during a protest outside the Libyan embassy in London,
Koussa is also widely believed to have ordered the bombing that led to the Lockerbie massacre.
U.S. FBI officials are also seeking to question Koussa about Lockerbie.
“Any defection is a bet on which side is going to win,” said Paul R. Pillar, a former official of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to media reports. “I assume he’s banking on the leverage he has with his inside information, even without a formal grant of immunity. It’s a plea-bargaining situation.”