It is nearly two decades since the murder of Ali Abuzeid, a Libyan dissident, who was
cut down on the streets of London in the most brutal fashion. Having been identified as one of Colonel Gaddafi’s “stray dogs”, he was tracked down to his west London grocery,
where he was living out his time in exile and assassinated. It was a particularly brutal murder: kebab skewers were thrust through Mr Abuzeid’s face.
I first wrote about the case in the Observer with my colleague Antony Barnett when Security Service files were
leaked that showed how MI6 had been led a merry dance by a senior Libyan diplomat they had hoped to recruit. The diplomat involved, Khalifa Bazelya, was expelled shortly after the murder.
Mr Abuzeid’s brave daughter, Huda, has been pursuing the British government over the case ever since. Her appearance on Newsnight opposite Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Douglas
Alexander this week reminded me of how shameful the Blair government’s realpolitik was with regard to Libya.
It is worth reading the whole leaked MI5 document (Libyan Intelligence Service Activity in the UK) to get an idea of how Gaddafi’s loyalists operated in the UK in the 1990s. It is still
available on the wonderful Cryptome website here. Among other things, Bazelya harassed dissidents and ran the PR campaign in Britain to discredit
the theory that Libya was responsible for the Lockerbie bombing.
Two years ago Huda Abuzeid wrote a remarkable piece in The Spectator entitled “Why
has my father’s murder gone unpunished?” It is an important question and one that Douglas Alexander could not answer on Newsnight.
As events unfold in Libya we cannot pretend we were not warned. It’s just that Labour ministers chose not to listen to the voices of those like Huda Abuzeid, who urged them not to do deals
with this psychotic dictator.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.