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Moussa Koussa

Moussa Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister who defected to Britain last night, is a major trending topic in the UK today.

It’s a major international story, a possible turning point in the military action against Muammar el-Qaddafi, with many angles of unique and compelling importance to the UK. On top of everything else, there’s obviously a thrilling escape story involved.

Still, most of the Twitter comments are about the guy’s name.

Koussa is thought by many to have engineered the 1988 Lockerbie jet bombing. He was instrumental in negotiating the release of the only person ever convicted of that crime from a Scottish prison, on the grounds that he had cancer that would end his life within three months. That was in 2009, and the man is still happily living in Libya — to the great anger of many Britons, especially in Scotland.

Moussa’s connections to the UK go back further, to 1980, when, as head of Libya’s embassy there, he gave an interview in which he said he admired the IRA and supported killing Libyan dissidents on British soil. “The revolutionary committees have decided last night to kill two more people in the United Kingdom,” he told The Times in 1980. “I approve of this.”

He was given 48 hours to leave the country.

Many in Britain think he can answer questions about what really happened in 1984 when a female police officer was killed outside the Libyan embassy by a bullet fired from within the building.

Koussa behind Qaddafi in Qatar in 2009.

On the other hand, there are many analysts who say Koussa was perhaps the most influential moderate in Libya in recent years. And there’s his obvious value to the allied coalition as a prominent defector, even as rebel Libyan forces are demanding his extradition to be tried for crimes against humanity.

His dramatic defection is likely to create tensions that could spell political trouble for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Yet what’s the most commented upon aspect of all this on Twitter? Moussa Koussa’s funny name.

We’ll get to those tweets in a moment, but first, there were serious comments:

TelePolitics: Libya: Moussa Koussa, the intelligence chief who was an enemy of the West and then its friend

glynmoody: Moussa Koussa’s defection surprises #Libya – and maybe Britain too – fascinating portrait

helloyoufool‎: Why r they lauding the rhyming defector Moussa Koussa?He should be on the Libya deck of most-wanted cards a la King of Spades Chemical Ali

ManMaun‎: Moussa Koussa has always been in the pocket of the UK government

WillHeaven: Frankly, I think we should treat Moussa Koussa like a modern-day Rudolf Hess.

munrojournalism‎: RT: @willheaven ‘we should treat Moussa Koussa like a modern-day Rudolf Hess.’ <== Er last time I looked, Libya hadn’t started a world war

Parlez_me_nTory: Moussa Koussa may live to regret his decision. If found guilty in Scotland they may return him to #Libya due to ill health

jonsnowC4: Many believe that Musa Kousa WAS the Libyan regime: no Koussa: no regime: only the ‘family’ remain. Koussa ‘a master of the darkest arts’

• And a very funny one:

newsthump: EXCLUSIVE! Moussa Koussa’s leaked Facebook page or

• Here’s just a small sample of tweets about the Libyan defector’s name:

mockduck‎: Clearly I would be a poor newsreader since I don’t think I’d get beyond the Dr Seuessness of the name Moussa Koussa.

Queen_UK: Mr Clegg on the phone. Says he’s delighted that Moussa Koussa is in the UK as he loves Greek food. Awkward.

stephenjdavis1: Breaking: Libyan Foreign Minister,Moussa Koussa joins forces with Chicken Licken, Goosey Loosey and Foxy Loxy…Gadaffi is history!!

jiggajoggy: Moussa Koussa loose in a safe hooser

tobelorone: Why is there no headline reading Mi casa su casa, Moussa Koussa?


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By Paul Hechinger