US embassy cable - 95LONDON15945

MURDER OF QADHAFI OPPONENT IN LONDON

Identifier: 95LONDON15945
Wikileaks: View 95LONDON15945 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy London
Created: 1995-11-28 13:03:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER PREL PGOV KISL LY UK
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 281303Z NOV 95
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6355
INFO AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 
AMEMBASSY RABAT 
AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 
AMEMBASSY MADRID 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
AMEMBASSY TUNIS 
AMEMBASSY AMMAN 
GCC COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY CAIRO 
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 015945 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ENA AND S/CT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/05 
TAGS:  PTER PREL PGOV KISL LY UK 
SUBJECT:  MURDER OF QADHAFI OPPONENT IN LONDON 
 
1.  (U)  CLASSIFIED BY:  MICHAEL J. HABIB, 
MINISTER-COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS.  REASON: 1.5(D). 
 
2.  (U)  ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, AN EXILED OPPONENT 
OF QADHAFI'S REGIME WAS FOUND STABBED TO DEATH IN HIS 
WEST LONDON GROCER'S SHOP ON SUNDAY EVENING, NOVEMBER 
26.  FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS OF ALI MEHMED ABU ZEID HAVE 
BEEN QUICK TO SUGGEST THAT HE MAY HAVE BEEN ASSASSINATED 
BY LIBYAN SECURITY AGENTS. 
 
3.  (U)  ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, ABU ZEID WAS FORCED 
TO LEAVE LIBYA ABOUT TWENTY YEARS AGO AFTER SERVING 
EIGHT MONTHS IN PRISON FOR ACTIVITIES HOSTILE TO THE 
LIBYAN GOVERNMENT.  A SPOKESMAN FOR SCOTLAND YARD SAID 
INVESTIGATORS WERE "KEEPING AN OPEN MIND" ABOUT THE 
OTIVE WHILE NOTING THAT THE CRIME DID NOT APPEAR TO 
INVOLVE BURGLARY.  HOWEVER, A POLICE SOURCE TOLD THE 
PRESS THAT A POLITICALLY MOTIVATED KILLING WOULD MORE 
LIKELY HAVE INVOLVED A SHOOTING OR BOMBING, AND NOT, AS 
IN THIS CASE, A GRUESOME MULTIPLE STABBING.  (ACCORDING 
TO TABLOID ACCOUNTS, ABU ZEID WAS STABBED IN THE BACK AT 
HIS STORE'S ENTRANCE AND THEN DISEMBOWELED OVER THE 
HALAL MEAT COUNTER AT THE REAR OF THE SHOP.) 
 
4.  (C)  A CONTACT ASSOCIATED WITH THE LIBYAN OPPOSITION 
TOLD POLOFF ON NOVEMBER 28 THAT ABU ZEID WAS AN 
EXTREMELY WELL-LIKED FIGURE IN THE LOCAL LIBYAN 
COMMUNITY.  HE CLAIMED THAT ABU ZEID WAS NOT INVOLVED IN 
THE EMOTIONAL INTERNECINE DISPUTES THAT CHARACTERIZE THE 
LIBYAN OPPOSITION MOVEMENT AND THAT HE MAINTAINED GOOD 
RELATIONS WITH EVERYONE.  ABU ZEID HAD NOT BEEN 
POLITICALLY ACTIVE SINCE THE LATE EIGHTIES AND HE HAD 
"NO ENEMIES EXCEPT THE QADHAFI REGIME". 
 
5.  (C)  OUR SOURCE CLAIMED THAT ABU ZEID HAD RECENTLY 
RECEIVED THREATENING PHONE CALLS AND HAD MOVED HIS 
FAMILY WITHIN THE LAST TEN DAYS.  HE HAD TOLD FRIENDS 
THAT IF ANYTHING HAPPENED TO HIM, LIBYAN SECURITY 
OFFICIALS WERE TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE.  LIBYAN 
OPPOSITIONISTS WERE CONVINCED ABU ZEID HAD BEEN TARGETED 
PRECISELY BECAUSE HE WAS WELL-KNOWN AND WIDELY LIKED AND 
THUS HIS MURDER, PARTICULARLY WHEN CARRIED OUT IN SUCH A 
BRUTAL FASHION, WOULD HAVE A DEEPLY CHILLING EFFECT ON 
LIBYAN EXPATRIATES EVERYWHERE. 
 
6.  (C)  SCOTLAND YARD WILL UNDOUBTEDLY FOLLOW ANY LEAD 
SUGGESTING A POLITICALLY MOTIVATED CRIME.  POST WILL 
REPORT ANY INDICATION OF OFFICIAL LIBYAN INVOLVEMENT IN 
THE MURDER OF ABU ZEID. 
 
 
CROWE 

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