Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category


(CNN) — Mansour Daou is known as the “Black Box” of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime — like an aircraft’s data recorder, he knows some of Libya’s darkest secrets.
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And as one of Gadhafi’s top security officials, who remained at his side until the final hours, Daou has a unique insight into the astonishing downfall of Africa’s longest-serving leader.

Now in an interview with CNN he describes how the dictator, who was once of the world’s most feared leaders, was forced to scavenge for food and hide in abandoned houses in the coastal city of Sirte.

“He was very worried and erratic — this could be because he was afraid,” Daou said.

According to Daou, Gadhafi became desperate to travel to his birthplace, the village of Jaref, 20 kilometers west of Sirte, a journey that Daou feared was “suicide.”

“He wanted to go to his village, maybe he wanted to die there or spend his last moments there,” he said.

Finally, after NATO jets attacked his convoy, Gadhafi tried to escape on foot through drainage pipes, but was caught. He was later killed in circumstances that are still far from clear.

Daou spoke as he awaited trial at a detention facility in the city of Misrata, which bore the brunt of the regime’s most brutal assault during the conflict. The most significant charges he faces relate to his alleged role in the Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, and his role in the alleged hiring of African mercenaries by the regime during the conflict. He told CNN he had no role in those events.

The interview was initially delayed by a few hours — officials said Daou was being interrogated and asked CNN to return in the evening to speak to him.

The CNN crew was taken to the bottom floor of the building and led into a conference room where Daou sat at a long table with his interrogator — a tall, tough-looking Libyan man.

Daou, in his late 50s, wore a traditional Arabic gray dishdasha robe and seemed to be in good health.

During the hour-long interview, Daou described how he had been in the same car as Gadhafi as they made their chaotic escape from the former leader’s hometown of Sirte.

Gadhafi left Tripoli for Sirte on August 18, according to Daou — just two days before fighters seeking to oust him entered the capital.

Daou said he remained in Tripoli until it became clear the city was no longer safe for the regime’s top tier.

He then fled to the city of Bani Walid on August 22, along with Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi. He stayed with them for four days before joining the former dictator in Sirte.

Daou said their living conditions went from bad to worse as the rebels tightened their siege of the city. They moved around abandoned houses every three to four days, he said, surviving on the little food they could find. Towards the end, they had no power, water or communication with the outside world. “Our lives had turned by about 180 degrees.”

Gadhafi spent his final days writing and reading books he had stacked in suitcases, Daou said, but his behavior became more unpredictable. As fighters surrounded Sirte, Gadhafi’s group wanted to leave the city.

Daou said he and others knew that if they did not leave before the siege there would be no way out. But Gadhafi refused to leave — until October 20 — when he and his son Mutassem decided to make the move to the former dictator’s birthplace.

Their group of about 350 men had dropped to fewer than 200, according to Daou. “It started dropping daily with some killed, others wounded and those who had left with their families,” he said.
A person has regrets at a time in his life and looks back but unfortunately you sometimes regret when it is too late.
Mansour Daou

Daou described their force as a mostly undisciplined civilian one under the command of Mutassem. They had no plan — not for fleeing and certainly not for fighting.

Their convoy of more than 40 vehicles was supposed to head out before dawn when they thought anti-Gadhafi forces would be resting — but they were too late.

At about 8 a.m. they set out to Gadhafi’s birthplace but NATO jets quickly struck one of the vehicles in the convoy. The impact of the explosion triggered the airbags in the car and Gadhafi sustained a slight injury to his head or chest. Daou remembered a scene of chaos, confusion and horror.

As they tried to escape he says anti-Gadhafi fighters opened fire on their cars as they attempted to flee. Then a second airstrike by NATO followed.

“That is when we had the most casualties and destroyed vehicles, our car was hit after we got out of it. Here were many injured: someone lost an arm, another a leg, some were dead. It was terrifying,” Daou recalled.

They had no option but to run; their escape on foot ended with heavy fire from fighters who surrounded them by the drainage pipes they were using to escape through.

Daou said he lost consciousness after he was hit by shrapnel in his back and does not know how Gadhafi died.

The death of Gadhafi ended the possibility of an insurgency that his loyalists could have mounted, he believes. “The regime and any power it may have had died with Gadhafi,” he said.

The legacy of Libya’s former dictator is now being debated. “It will be up to the historians, everyone has their opinion, some see him as a dictator who killed his own people, and there is an opposite view. History is usually written by the more powerful,” he said.

Gadhafi believed he could remain in power, Daou said, adding that he and other members of the inner circle tried to convince the former strongman to leave the country since March “to leave with respect … to save face.” His sons rejected the idea, especially Saif: “It is not easy for someone who had been in power for 42 years, to believe that it is over in a minute,” Daou said.

Daou said he had no idea where the former regime’s most wanted men — Saif and al-Senussi — were. But with the International Criminal Court pursuing them, he believes they are probably still in Libya as no country will take them.

ICC: Mercenaries may try to help Gadhafi son escape

When asked if he thought Saif, who during the conflict vowed to fight until the end, was a fighter, Daou laughed quietly and said: “I don’t know — I don’t think so.”

As unrest broke out in the region in January, officials in Libya were worried, Daou recalled. “There was fear and there was concern that this wave could reach Libya and the feeling was right,” he said.

Daou said he was in a car with Gadhafi and al-Senussi driving back to Tripoli from Sabha in the south when news reached them about the ousting of the president of neighboring Tunisia.

He said they had a serious discussion, but the threat was not taken seriously. According to Daou, Gadhafi felt betrayed by world leaders he considered allies.

“He spoke of friends he said let him down, and did not stand by him, like (Italian Prime Minister Silvio) Berlusconi, (former British prime minister) Tony Blair, the French president (Nicolas Sarkozy) and (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan,” Daou said.

But a bigger betrayal came from within. Daou says there was a defense plan in place for the capital, but it was treason among the ranks of those who were tasked with securing Tripoli that led to the fall of the capital in a few days.

He said more than 3,800 troops were supposed to guard Tripoli’s gates, but on the night anti-Gadhafi fighters entered the capital, fewer than 200 troops were on duty.

“There was big betrayal by the general who was in charge — it was his brigade that was in charge. Tanks and military vehicles had no crews, watch towers were abandoned, security forces withdrew from the streets because this brigade was not present,” Daou said.

With the regime he served for decades now history, Daou awaits trial by Libya’s new rulers.

He told us in the presence of his interrogators he is being treated well — but has yet to see a lawyer whom he has requested.

Daou has not visited Tripoli since August. He has no TV and does not know what it looks like now, with his former regime’s green flags replaced by the new national flags and walls covered with anti-Gadhafi graffiti.

He says the revolution was the people’s will and they won — now he says they have to preserve it — and Libya’s unity.

Asked if he regretted being part of the regime, he sighed and chuckled. “Sometimes I regret everything, I have even regretted being alive, of course a person has regrets at a time in his life and looks back but unfortunately you sometimes regret when it is too late.”

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United Nations (CNN) — Mercenary forces may be trying to help Moammar Gadhafi’s son escape Libya, even as people linked to Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi have been in contact with the International Criminal Court about his possible surrender, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council on the Libya situation, Moreno-Ocampo also said “hundreds of rapes” occurred in the Libyan conflict this year that toppled Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year-rule and resulted in his capture and killing last month.

U.N. officials visit Libya

Investigations continue into reported atrocities by Libyan forces, mercenaries and anti-government forces, Moreno-Ocampo said. In addition, the reported deaths of Libyan civilians in NATO airstrikes also will be examined, his report said.

“There are more allegations,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “There are serious allegations against multiple actors.”

His report called on U.N. states to “do all they can to disrupt” any attempt to help Gadhafi or former Libya intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi get away.

Both men are charged by the ICC with crimes against the Libyan people during the conflict.

“It is up to Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi to decide if they will surrender themselves, remain in hiding or try to escape to another country,” Moreno-Ocampo said in the report. “It is up to the U.N. Security Council and the states to ensure that they face justice for the crimes for which they are charged.”

Other son challenges Interpol warrant

While offering no details of contacts with anyone linked to Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi, Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC had offered him the possibility of safe transfer to The Hague to stand trial with legal representation.

“We cannot negotiate,” Moreno-Ocampo said. “We offered him what we can offer him.”

He was unable to say where Gadhafi is now.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said Gadhafi and al-Senussi “must be brought to justice in a legitimate process governed by the rule of law.”

On the rape allegations, Moreno-Ocampo’s report said some witnesses indicated Moammar Gadhafi and al-Senussi had discussed “the use of rape to persecute those considered dissidents or rebels,” but that it was too soon to determine “who may be the most responsible for such gender crimes.”

Gadhafi gone, but militias keep fighting

Meanwhile, Bosnia’s U.N. ambassador called Wednesday for an independent investigation of Moammar Gadhafi’s death after being captured by opposition forces.

Libya’s National Transitional Council has promised to examine what happened, but the statement by Ambassador Ivan Barbalic said the investigation must be seen as impartial, adding: “The rule of law should be a cornerstone of the new rebuilt country.”


By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
November 2, 2011 — Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
NTC forces remove a tank from the Drua military base hit by NATO bombing during it's offensive to help rebel fighters oust Moammar Gadhafi
NTC forces remove a tank from the Drua military base hit by NATO bombing during it’s offensive to help rebel fighters oust Moammar Gadhafi

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — The Libyan war may be over, but rivalries rage on among some regional militias, leading to a mutual distrust that poses a challenge to the new leadership.

Earlier this week, the rivalry was evident when dozens of fighters clashed at a Tripoli hospital in what residents said was the biggest armed confrontation in the capital in weeks.

Clashes erupted at 2 a.m. Monday when a half dozen former rebels from Zintan city in the western mountains stormed the hospital, according to doctors.

Some of the former rebels were drunk, and demanded staff hand over a wounded fighter shot earlier that day, according to the doctors, who spoke on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.

The patient and the body of a dead fighter had been taken to the hospital earlier, the doctors said, and the former rebels wanted to kill the wounded man.

Hospital staff declined to hand over the patient, who was undergoing surgery.

Tripoli fighters in charge of hospital security forced them out , but not before the returning fighters shot rounds in the hospital.

Both groups called for backup, which arrived as fighting raged around the hospital grounds until 5 a.m. Witnesses said both sides were using heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns.

Walls near a hospital entrance were riddled with bullets holes, and nearby glass doors and windows were shattered. Across the street, bullets pierced through the walls of two buildings.

There were no deaths from gunshots, but medical staff said three patients died of stress-related causes that they linked to the fighting.

At least three of the Tripoli fighters were wounded in the clashes, according to Salem Abaza, who is in charge of hospital security. He described it as the most serious incident of infighting so far.

Accounts differed over how the three-hour battle concluded, but at least three witnesses said it ended after calls from a local imam and senior commanders from both groups talked by phone with their men.

Tripoli fighters said Tuesday they are concerned about the rising tensions among the various groups, which are increasingly divided along regional allegiances.

“We are concerned, as you can see, every day there is fighting between the rebels, this is something we don’t want, we want a united Libya,” said fighter Tammam Basheer.

The scene on Tripoli’s streets these days — heavily armed men brandishing guns and racing across the city with no central command and little or no accountability — has raised concerns among residents.

“There are no security forces, everyone is running their own group, their own brigade, and they all control Tripoli,” said Tripoli militia member Taha, who did not provide a second name.

Disarming tens of thousands of fighters who brought down ruler Moammar Gadhafi and bringing them under control is a top challenge for the fledgling interim government.

Acting Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib is expected to present his Cabinet within two weeks.

Military officials downplayed the tensions among the various militias, and say their biggest challenge is rebuilding the military.

“We would like to reorganize our army again,” said Col. Ahmed Bani, the National Transitional Council’s military spokesman. “When we have a great and strong army, we are safe. We will save our dreams, we will save our democracy, our borders.”

At the Tripoli hospital, staff spoke of other recent incidents of intimidation by armed militiamen and called on authorities to provide protection and pull the weapons off the streets.

“We are really afraid, we do not want stethoscopes to be fighting guns,” Dr. Ali Osman said.


Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Libya’s transitional government picked an engineering professor and longtime exile as its acting prime minister Monday, with the new leader pledging to respect human rights and international law.
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The National Transitional Council elected Abdurrahim El-Keib, an electrical engineer who has held teaching posts at the University of Alabama and Abu Dhabi’s Petroleum Institute, to the post with the support of 26 of the 51 members who voted. El-Keib emerged victorious from a field that initially included 10 candidates.

“This is a new Libya,” El-Keib told reporters. “It’s been 42 years with our friends and people all around the world dealing with a brutal dictator, so concerns are in order, but I want to tell you there should be none of those.

“We expect the world to understand that we have national interests as well, and we expect them to respect this,” he said. “In fact, we demand respect of our national rights and national interests. In return, we promise respect and dealing according to international law.”

But in response to questions about allegations of human rights abuses by the revolutionary forces that toppled longtime strongman Moammar GGadhafi, El-Keib said Libyans needed time to sort things out.

“I also need to remind myself that the Libyan revolution ended just recently in Bani Walid, Sirte, and in Tripoli only about two months ago,” he said. “We beg you , the media, to give us the opportunity and the time to think through all the issues that have been raised by yourself as well as other Arab media. But we guarantee you that we are after building a nation that respects human rights and that does not permit abuse of human rights, but we need time.”

El-Keib, an NTC member representing Tripoli, has been a member of the Libyan opposition. He is to hold the prime minister’s job while Libya writes a constitution and prepares for a national election to vote in a new government, and said he plans to meet a deadline to form a new government within a month of the October 23 declaration of liberation that followed Gadhafi’s killing.

It was not immediately clear when he returned to Libya from the United States, where he had lived since 1975. According to his university bios, he earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Tripoli in 1973, a master’s at the University of Southern California in 1976 at a Ph.D. at North Carolina State in 1984.

He joined the Alabama faculty in 1985 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 1996, teaching in the university’s electrical and computer engineering department and serving as director of the engineering school’s Energy Systems and Power Quality Center, according to a university directory.

He is currently listed as “former faculty” on the website of The Petroleum Institute, which said he served as chairman of its electrical engineering department and lists him as an expert in power system economics, planning and controls.


BBC

Saif al-Islam in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of August 23, 2011 
Saif al-Islam has not been seen in public since late August
Saif al-Islam – the son of slain ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – says he is innocent of crimes against humanity, an international prosecutor has said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said talks with Saif al-Islam had been held through intermediaries.

The ICC says Gaddafi’s son, accused of crimes during the recent conflict in Libya, would get a fair trial.

Saif al-Islam, aged 39, has been in hiding for months.

Recent reports claimed the man, who had once been the presumed successor to his father, was in a convoy heading toward Libya’s desert border with Niger, where other Gaddafi allies have fled.

But those reports have not been confirmed, and the ICC says it does not know where he is.
Prosecutor’s fears
 
Mr Moreno-Ocampo told Reuters that the contacts with Saif al-Islam were through intermediaries, without revealing their identity.

“There are some people connected with him that in touch with people connected with us, so we have no direct relation,” the prosecutor said.

Saif al-Islam: ICC charges

  • Indirect co-perpetrator of murder and persecution as crimes against humanity
  • Between 15 February and 28 February, Gaddafi security forces carried out systematic attacks against civilians
  • Saif al-Islam “assumed essential tasks” to make sure plan worked
He added: “But we trust very much the person who is in touch for our side. He says he (Saif al-Islam) is innocent, he will prove he is innocent, and then he is interested in the consequence after that.” 

Mr Moreno-Ocampo earlier expressed fears that Saif al-Islam might decide against surrendering to the ICC and try to escape to a friendly country with the help of mercenaries.
The ICC denies that any kind of deal is being arranged with Saif al-Islam, stressing that the goal of the talks is to ensure an arrest warrant is carried out.

An ICC arrest warrant issued for Saif al-Islam in June accuses him of murder and persecution.

The document claims that he played an essential part in systematic attacks on civilians in various Libyan cities carried out by Gaddafi’s security forces in February.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC had learnt “through informal channels” that mercenaries were offering to move Saif al-Islam to a country that has not signed up to the ICC’s Rome statute.

Reports say Zimbabwe is a likely final destination for Saif al-Islam if he chooses to flee from the ICC.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was a long-time ally of Muammar Gaddafi.
ICC difficulties
 
The ICC has no police force of its own, but member countries are legally bound to enforce its warrants.

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC: “What happens to Saif al-Islam shouldn’t really be subject to behind-the-scenes deals”

However, the credibility of the court has been called into question in recent years in Africa.
Many of the continent’s governments have argued that the ICC disproportionately focuses on crimes in their countries.

Those claims have led the African Union to advise its members that they should no longer feel bound by the ICC’s rules.

Member countries including Malawi, Chad and Kenya have all defied the court by failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has a long-standing arrest warrant against him.

The warrant issued against Saif al-Islam came alongside warrants for intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi, who is still believed to be on the run, and Muammar Gaddafi.

The former Libyan leader, who was deposed in August after six months of civil conflict, died from gunshot wounds last week after fierce fighting in the city of Sirte.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) is now overseeing political reform intended to lead to national elections within eight months.


BBC

International prosecutors have had “informal contact” with the son of slain Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said intermediaries had been used in indirect talks with Saif al-Islam.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said the court had made it clear to Gaddafi’s son, who is wanted for war crimes, that he was innocent until proven guilty.

Saif al-Islam, who was once the presumed successor to his father, has been in hiding for months.


BBC

President Omar al-Bashir addressing parliament on 12 July 2011  
Mr Bashir said the move was a response to Gaddafi’s support for Sudanese rebels
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says his country gave military support to the Libyan rebels who overthrew Col Muammar Gaddafi. 

In a speech broadcast live on state television, Mr Bashir said the move was in response to Col Gaddafi’s support for Sudanese rebels three years ago.

Sudan and Libya have had a complicated and frequently antagonistic relationship for many years.

Libya was declared liberated on Sunday, two days after Col Gaddafi’s death.

‘Opportunity to reciprocate’
 
President Bashir said the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfuri rebel group, had attacked Khartoum three years ago using Libyan trucks, equipment, arms, ammunition and money.

He said God had given Sudan a chance to respond, by sending arms, ammunition and humanitarian support to the Libyan revolutionaries.

“Our God, high and exalted, from above the seven skies, gave us the opportunity to reciprocate the visit,” he said.

“The forces which entered Tripoli, part of their arms and capabilities, were 100% Sudanese,” he told the crowd.

His speech was well received by a large crowd in the eastern Sudanese town of Kassala.
JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim lived for some time in southern Libya.

Now he is back in Darfur, in western Sudan, where an eight-year-old civil war continues.
Mr Bashir’s remarks show a desire to forge firm links with Libya’s new government.

But the easy availability of weapons in Libya, and that country’s porous border with Darfur, are also of great concern to the Sudanese authorities.