Libyan spy overlord's HQ reveals a rather low-tech underworld

The Tripoli office of Gaddafi's trusted aide Moussa Koussa has been ransacked – and it's more Get Smart than James Bond

Moussa Koussa, Libya's long-time spy overlord, liked books on Bill Clinton, studies about al-Qaida, and gossip about prominent citizens. But his office – and tradecraft – is more Get Smart than James Bond.

In a ransacked colonial building near Tripoli's waterfront, the secret world of former trusted aide Koussa has been laid bare to reveal an old-school world of paranoia and pedantry.

Four decades of Gaddafi secrets sit on shelves in ring binders, along with at least a decade's worth of Libya's dealings with Europe and the US. With the treasure trove guarded only by two sleepy 18-year-olds with Kalashnikovs, it may make for some restless days ahead for Europe's spy services.

The second floor of the once elegant building quickly reveals why. Inside a small room full of old computers and fax machines lie files containing correspondence from most European countries.

The French folder is particularly thick with requests from the French secret service for information on north African Islamists. Italy clearly got a lot of attention, as did Spain and Russia.

Little about Koussa, who was received by MI6 when he defected in late March, reflects a new-age spook.

He kept three business card folders on his desks, which contained low-level MI6 contacts, details of ambassadors, and phone numbers for several waterfront Chinese restaurants. When he fled to the UK, his former fiefdom, known as the External Security Service, continued to function.

Handwritten notes prepared for officials over the past months show that Libya's spooks had a good grasp of who was sending weapons to the rebels.

However, its contacts with MI6 and the CIA had clearly disintegrated, as a series of despairing pleadings reveal.

The correspondence dates mainly from 2003 to 2004, a time when both services were still immersed in the hunt for WMD. One letter from the CIA asked to speak to Iraqi scientists it believed were living in Libya. Another from MI6's Mark Allen tried to pin Koussa down on the dismantling of its nuclear programme and solicit an inventory of Libya's long-range missiles.

"An inventory of all of Libya's Scud missiles would be a useful starting point," he wrote. "We know Libya has previously acquired missile systems [from North Korea]."


David Smith and Martin Chulov

The GuardianTramp

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