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How MI6 rescued Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam

By Kim Sengupta

British intelligence and Scotland Yard were involved in an international operation to protect Saif al-Islam, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, from an Islamist plot to assassinate him on British soil, secret files have revealed.

The British intelligence services suspected that the plot was linked to Qatar, currently the West's foremost Arab ally against the Libyan regime.

The news came as the National Transitional Council said it had confirmed that Gaddafi's most feared son, Khamis, had died in fighting close to Tripoli and was buried near Bani Walid, the dictator's last stronghold, which on Sunday was besieged by the rebels.

MI6 and the SAS are now involved in the hunt for Saif, along with other members of the Gaddafi family who remain elusive in the endgame of the Libyan civil war.

The dictator's son has been condemned by Prime Minister David Cameron for his part in the brutal crackdown which followed the February revolution and for which he faces war crimes charges.

But, in the past, MI6 was only too willing to protect Saif. The intelligence agency urgently contacted its French counterparts after Libyan authorities reported that a terrorist cell linked to the Gulf state of Qatar was planning to attack from Paris. The French told UK officials at the time that "the Qatari Interior Minister was known to be an Islamist extremist sympathiser".

In a letter dated January 20, 2004, MI6 said: "The report has been passed on to the Metropolitan Police Special Branch and Saif has been placed on their at-risk register. The police have visited Saif to discuss the threat with him and he appears content with the measures being taken."

At the time Saif was being viewed by the Government as a key figure in bringing Libya in from the cold and ending its search for a nuclear arsenal.

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