The Return Of Musa Kusa

Twenty years ago, give or take a few weeks, I was travelling north from El Fasher, the capital of the Sudan's Darfur region, to investigate the issues of famine and food availability in Darfur's far northwest.  Some forty miles from El Fasher my vehicle was stopped by a curiously ragtag bunch of Sudanese military blocking the road to Jabal Meidob. I was told by the English-speaking officer in charge that my team could go no farther.

The officer himself was unusually pleasant and loquacious.  As we shared a pot of tea, the officer informed me that in their battle to destroy the government of Chad President Hissene Habre, Libya had been arming the Zaghawa tribe that straddled the Chad-Sudan frontier.  In turn the Zaghawa were selling arms in quanity to the Arab camel and cattle nomad tribes (abbala and baqqara) of Darfur.  The Arab tribes were in the early stages of the battle for land with "African" Muslim tribes that would eventually lead to the great Darfur crisis that truly exploded in 1999. In sum, the region was crawling with armed bandits, and a fuse having been lit, the regional powder keg was waiting to explode.

In the course of our conversation, I was informed in no uncertain terms that the United States and the CIA were responsible for conditions in Darfur.  To say the least, I was surprised because to my knowledge the United States Embassy in Khartoum had next to no interest in the region or Libyan activity therein.  When asked to explain, the Sudanese officer claimed the man responsible for the chaos in the borderlands was one Musa Kusa (1949-), then a forty-two year old Libyan intelligence agent who reported directly to Muammar Qaddafi.  Somehow the officer had learned that Musa Kusa was a graduate of an American university (Michigan State, Bachelor in Sociology, 1978), and he was convinced that all foreign students educated in the United States were offered (and accepted) CIA employment after graduating.  Ipso facto, Musa Kusa was one of mine.  A week later, I was on the road from El Fasher to the Fur heartland when I was again stopped and turned back.  The reason was the same.  The "rebels" were on the road, and once again the individual responsible for the mounting blooshed was the very same Musa Kusa.

One does not easily forget the Musa Kusa rhyme, and I later found that very shortly after receiving his degree from Michigan State Kusa was already a senior government official.  In 1980 he was named Libyan ambassador to the United Kingdom but was very soon thereafter expelled for publicly stating that he was determined to assassinate two Libyan political figures living in exile in the U.K. 

A decade later, Qaddafi was obviously pleased with the overthrow of the Hissene Habre regime and the role Musa Kusa had played in that affair.  Kusa was then promoted through the ranks of the intelligence service (Mukhabarat) and the Libyan foreign service until he achieved the high rank of Minister of Foreign Affairs, which he held until a few days ago.  Now, a man who has waded hip deep in the blood of African victims, and who has been tied to the Lockerbie bombing, has sought asylum and has been allowed to return to London from where he was so ignominiously expelled in 1980. One is left to wonder, What's next?  An honorary degree from Michigan State?  
Twenty years ago, give or take a few weeks, I was travelling north from El Fasher, the capital of the Sudan's Darfur region, to investigate the issues of famine and food availability in Darfur's far northwest.  Some forty miles from El Fasher my vehicle was stopped by a curiously ragtag bunch of Sudanese military blocking the road to Jabal Meidob. I was told by the English-speaking officer in charge that my team could go no farther.

The officer himself was unusually pleasant and loquacious.  As we shared a pot of tea, the officer informed me that in their battle to destroy the government of Chad President Hissene Habre, Libya had been arming the Zaghawa tribe that straddled the Chad-Sudan frontier.  In turn the Zaghawa were selling arms in quanity to the Arab camel and cattle nomad tribes (abbala and baqqara) of Darfur.  The Arab tribes were in the early stages of the battle for land with "African" Muslim tribes that would eventually lead to the great Darfur crisis that truly exploded in 1999. In sum, the region was crawling with armed bandits, and a fuse having been lit, the regional powder keg was waiting to explode.

In the course of our conversation, I was informed in no uncertain terms that the United States and the CIA were responsible for conditions in Darfur.  To say the least, I was surprised because to my knowledge the United States Embassy in Khartoum had next to no interest in the region or Libyan activity therein.  When asked to explain, the Sudanese officer claimed the man responsible for the chaos in the borderlands was one Musa Kusa (1949-), then a forty-two year old Libyan intelligence agent who reported directly to Muammar Qaddafi.  Somehow the officer had learned that Musa Kusa was a graduate of an American university (Michigan State, Bachelor in Sociology, 1978), and he was convinced that all foreign students educated in the United States were offered (and accepted) CIA employment after graduating.  Ipso facto, Musa Kusa was one of mine.  A week later, I was on the road from El Fasher to the Fur heartland when I was again stopped and turned back.  The reason was the same.  The "rebels" were on the road, and once again the individual responsible for the mounting blooshed was the very same Musa Kusa.

One does not easily forget the Musa Kusa rhyme, and I later found that very shortly after receiving his degree from Michigan State Kusa was already a senior government official.  In 1980 he was named Libyan ambassador to the United Kingdom but was very soon thereafter expelled for publicly stating that he was determined to assassinate two Libyan political figures living in exile in the U.K. 

A decade later, Qaddafi was obviously pleased with the overthrow of the Hissene Habre regime and the role Musa Kusa had played in that affair.  Kusa was then promoted through the ranks of the intelligence service (Mukhabarat) and the Libyan foreign service until he achieved the high rank of Minister of Foreign Affairs, which he held until a few days ago.  Now, a man who has waded hip deep in the blood of African victims, and who has been tied to the Lockerbie bombing, has sought asylum and has been allowed to return to London from where he was so ignominiously expelled in 1980. One is left to wonder, What's next?  An honorary degree from Michigan State?  

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