Colonel Gaddafi was 'greatest, state-sponsored terror threat of 1980s'

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Colonel Gaddafi, who sent hitmen to Britain to assassinate Libyan émigrés in the 1980s, posed the gravest state-sponsored terrorism threat to this country during that period, the authorised history of MI5 says.

By the spring of 1980, MI5’s F Branch, responsible for counter-terrorism, “possessed conclusive evidence that the Libyan embassy in London — renamed the Libyan People’s Bureau — was directing operational and intelligence-gathering activities against Libyan dissidents”.

In The Defence of the Realm, published today, Christopher Andrew highlights the killings authorised by Tripoli. The first was Muhammad Ramadan, shot dead outside the Regent’s Park mosque in April 1980. Two Libyans were arrested. Two weeks later “another of Gaddafi’s assassins” murdered the dissident lawyer Mahmoud Abbu Nafa in his Kensington office.

Colonel Gaddafi, who is now courted by Britain after his renunciation of weapons of mass destruction, is portrayed in MI5’s official history as running a vain and “vicious” leadership. “Its more vicious side was shown by a determination to hunt down critics of his personal dictatorship who had taken refuge abroad.”

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