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Western agencies eager for crack at Gadhafi archives

U.S. intelligence agencies hope to find details of Libya's involvement in terrorism worldwide. NBC's Robert Windrem reports.

By Robert Windrem, NBC News investigative producer

Western intelligence agencies believe there is a "treasure trove" of material in Libyan intelligence archives, and they may have already prepared to exploit it once Moammar Gadhafi's regime finally falls.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials point to the possibilities of what could be found in the files, among them:

• The intelligence service's (and Gadhafi's own) role in the 1988 bombing of PanAm 103 and UTA 772 months later, which killed 430 people in the air and on the ground, as well as their role in the 1986 LaBelle Disco bombing in Berlin, which killed two U.S. soldiers and wounded 79 others.

• Support for various terrorist groups, including Palestinian groups, the Irish Republican Army, the El Rukns street gang in Chicago and individual terrorists like Carlos the Jackal and Abu Nidal.

• A purported 1981 assassination plot against U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

• Gadhafi's financial support for the Pakistani nuclear weapons program in the 1980s and the relationship between Libya and Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan a decade later, as well as Western countries that supported Gadhafi's chemical and biological weapons programs.

Obama promises to support Libyan transition

There may also be materials on U.S. intelligence operations against al-Qaida, which began under President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A steady stream of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials visited Libya over the last decade as relations between the two countries got better.  

U.S. officials say Gadhafi has one major intelligence service but that there are also "security elements around him" who carry out intelligence and security operations and whose files Western intelligence agencies would also like to exploit.

One former official suspects there may already be planning for that exploitation. He noted that Musa Kusa, the former head of Libyan intelligence and one of Gadhafi's most loyal aides, had defected.