Monday, August 22, 2011

Tuesday - Saif's Safe - Takes Tripoli Tour of "Hot Spots"

Gadhafi’s Son Free

By KARIN LAUB The Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, who was reported arrested by rebels on Sunday when they advanced on the capital Tripoli, is free.

Seif al-Islam turned up in the early morning hours Tuesday at the Rixos hotel, where foreign journalists are staying in Tripoli under the close watch of Gadhafi regime minders. He then took reporters in a convoy on a drive through parts of the city under the regime's control.

Associated Press reporters were among the journalists who saw him and went on the tour. He told the reporters: "We are going to hit the hottest spots in Tripoli."

They then drove around streets full of armed Gadhafi backers, and controlled by roadblocks. They visited several sites where Gadhafi supporters were gathered.

The convoy ended up outside Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, where at least one hundred men were waiting in lines for guns to be distributed to volunteers to defend the regime.
August 22, 2011 09:26 PM EDT

Gaddafi's safe and well in Tripoli - son
LATEST: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is safe and well in Tripoli according to one of his sons.

Saif al Islam, who rebels and the International Criminal Court said had been arrested yesterday, arrived in the early hours of Tuesday at Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizya compound in the west of the city and was seen by reporters from the BBC and AFP news agency.
BBC correspondent Matthew Price said Saif told another journalist, when asked if his father was safe and well in Tripoli, "Of course."

"I am here to refute the lies," he reportedly told AFP, referring to reports of his arrest.

"Tripoli is under our control. Everyone should rest assured. All is well in Tripoli," he claimed.

Bab al-Azizya compound is reportedly a huge complex and some believe Gaddafi might still be holed up there. The compound came under further Nato attacks this morning (NZ time).
Saif's appearance will now throw doubts on other claims by the rebels and will be seen by some as a major PR coup for the Gaddafi regime.

Saif first arrived this morning (NZ time) at the hotel where foreign journalists stay in Tripoli and then took reporters in his convoy on a drive through the city.

Gaddafi's actual whereabouts remain unknown as his 42-year rule seemingly teeters on the brink of collapse.

Months of Nato airstrikes have left his Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli largely demolished. Most of his security forces reportedly fled or surrendered when rebel forces rolled into the capital Sunday night (early Monday, NZ time) and took control of most of the city.

However, there have been reports of Gaddafi's forces fighting back and rebels have reportedly had to give up some of the ground they seized yesterday.

A mood of joy mixed with trepidation settled over the capital, with the rebels still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, who was in Tripoli, said the "danger is still there" as long as Gaddafi remains on the run.

"The real moment of victory is when Gaddafi is captured," Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the rebel National Transitional Council, told a news conference in the opposition's de facto capital of Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli. He said the rebels have no idea where Gaddafi is and whether he is even in Tripoli. An Obama administration official said the US had no indication that Gaddafi had left Libya.

US President Barack Obama said the situation in Libya reached a tipping point in recent days after a five month Nato-led bombing campaign. However, he acknowledged that the situation remained fluid and that elements of the regime remained a threat.

Saif al-Islam Said to have been captured, is speaking to our producer.

Todick Markowski who is live on the phone with us now. Todic, You actually saw this man, right?

TM: It is an extraordinary scene, we are at the K hotel which is still in Gadhafi territory and the scene of some battles. A convoy of military vehicles pulled up, and In the back of that convoy was Saif Gadhafi

I asked him, and he said “Yes to all of those things – my father is alive and well and directing the defense of the city. He said “We are winning. He said that we have lured them into a trap and broken their backs.” He then …..said, “to the hottest spots in Tripoli tonight..”

Fox : We were told hours ago that he was captured….how is it he is wandering around?
Tadek Markowski: There is certainly a major story here in that he is alive, and….
Fox: Said al-Qaddafi,
TM: He said his father was alive and well…
Journalist and rebels,…the troops melted, pulled back into position so they could ambush the rebels, …reported that his convoy was cut to pieces, so they are going down fighting.
Fox: Hot spots.
TM: Hot spots.
TM: celebrations in Green Square. - 60,000 major exaggeration –
We have not seen any sight of the rebels –
Fox: Not letting them exit. Gadhafi.
TM: …Englnad, detrees in Engineerng and being groomed to take over, aire apparent, they want Gadhafi gone…. TNC, major brigade defending Tripoli tonight.
Fox: Give us an indication of where you are, when …guides melted away, …what’s the status of your security?
TM: Armed guards are outside and won’t let us out.
They have a …and we don’t know what it is…
The TNC is telling a big fib…as SG is alive and will
Fox: ….. is captured no more if he was at all, says that the battle is not over, trap.

Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam is free

Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's son, makes a defiant appearance in Tripoli, after being reportedly arrested by rebels on Sunday

Saif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, gestures as he talks to reporters in Tripoli August 23, 2011. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son and one-time heir apparent, who was reported arrested by rebels on Sunday when they advanced on the capital Tripoli, is free.

Saif al-Islam turned up early on Tuesday morning at the Rixos hotel, where about 30 foreign journalists are staying in Tripoli under the close watch of regime minders. He then took reporters in a convoy of black, armored SUVs on a drive through parts of the city under the regime's control.

He told the reporters: "We are going to hit the hottest spots in Tripoli."

They then drove around streets full of armed Gaddafi backers, controlled by roadblocks. They visited several sites where Gaddafi supporters were gathered. The convoy ended up outside his father's Bab al-Aziziya compound and military barracks, where at least a hundred men were waiting in lines for guns being distributed to volunteers to defend the regime. They also toured the Gaddafi stronghold neighborhood Bu Slim.

Rebels appear to have taken control of large parts of the capital since they entered on Sunday night and Gaddafi's grip on power seemed to be slipping fast. But it was known that the area around the Rixos hotel and nearby Bab al-Aziziya were still under the regime's control.

In addition to Saif al-Islam, the rebels have claimed they also captured two other sons of Gaddafi, but that has not been independently verified.

There was no explanation from either Saif al-Islam or the rebel leadership council in the city of Benghazi as to why Saif al-Islam had been reported arrested, something that was confirmed by the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Saif al-Islam and his father are both wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity.

Given that the ICC had confirmed the arrest, his bizarre appearance raised the possibility that he had escaped rebel custody.

When asked about the ICC's claim that he was arrested by rebels, he said: "The ICC can go to hell," and added "We are going to break the backbone of the rebels."

At Bab al-Aziziya he shook hands with his supporters, who waved green flags and posters of his father. He blamed NATO for bringing rebels into the capital through the sea.

At one point, he stepped out of his white stretch limousine to shake hands with a wildly cheering crowd, who chanted in support as he beamed and flashed the "V for victory" sign. He wore an olive-green T-shirt and camouflage trousers, with a full beard.

Inside the limousine, he told AP Television: "We are here. This is our country. This is our people, and we live here, and we die here. And we are going to win, because the people are with us. That's why were are going to win. Look at them -- look at them, in the streets, everywhere!"

Asked about the situation in Tripoli, he said: "We will go around to the most heated areas to make sure that the situation is all right."

He claimed NATO and the West distorted Libyan communications.

"They sent text messages to the Libyan people through the Libyana network. They stopped our broadcast transmission. They perpetuated an electronic and media war in order to spread chaos and fear in Libya. Also they brought gangs from the sea and by car to Tripoli," Saif said.

Libya state television went off the air on Monday, prompting speculation it had fallen to the rebels.

"And you have seen the Libyan people - women and men: citizens, rise up and break the backbone of the rebels," he said. "Now we will go and turn around things in Tripoli city in order to see that the situation is all right."

Loyalists Fight on in Tripoli; Two Gadhafi Sons Reported Free
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 2:35 am UTC
Posted 14 seconds ago

Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi battled rebels in scattered pockets of the Libyan capital late Monday, as the leader's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, moved freely in Tripoli despite opposition claims they had detained him.

Seif al-Islam presented himself to foreign journalists confined to the Gadhafi-controlled Rixos Hotel early Tuesday. He told reporters that his father's government still controls Tripoli and had lured rebels into a trap by allowing them to enter the city. He then lead a convoy through loyalist areas, where television footage showed him pumping his fists in the air as supporters cheered him.

Earlier, opposition leaders as well as the Hague-based International Criminal Court, had stated that Seif al-Islam – who has been indicted for crimes against humanity – was in rebel hands. Senior rebel sources also said another of Mr. Gadhafi's sons – Mohammed – escaped house arrest Monday. A third son is apparently still in detention.

Meanwhile, the head of the opposition Transitional National Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said the rebels do not know whether the Libyan leader is still in the country. He said Mr. Gadhafi will receive a fair trial if captured and that the “real moment of victory” will be when he is taken into custody.

Jalil acknowledged that the rebels have yet to establish full control in Tripoli. Opposition fighters say pro-government forces still hold 10-15 percent of the capital, including Mr. Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound.

Fighting had intensified earlier when tanks emerged from the compound and opened fire, although months of NATO airstirkes have left the area largely demolished.
Libyan state television remained off the air late Monday amid reports that rebels seized what had become a key instrument of government propaganda.

In addition to parts of Tripoli, pro-government forces also control at least two major cities affiliated with his tribe – Sabha, to the south, and Sirte, some 450 kilometers east of capital along the coast. U.S. military officials say government forces fired at least one Scud missile from Sirte Monday. No injuries were reported.

The rebels broke through Tripoli's outer defenses Sunday and reached the city's central Green Square, where thousands celebrated the opposition's arrival. Jubilant Libyans in the square, which the rebels have renamed Martyrs Square, tore down posters of Mr. Gadhafi and stomped on them. Until recently, the government had used the area for mass demonstrations in support of Mr. Gadhafi.

The rebel troops moved into central Tripoli with little resistance after capturing a key military base run by the government's elite Khamis Brigade and commanded by another of Mr. Gadhafi's sons.

The International Organization for Migration said it had chartered a boat to Tripoli to begin evacuating stranded migrants. The boat, which can carry 300 people, left Benghazi early Monday.

On Sunday, Libyan state television broadcast a series of defiant audio messages from Mr. Gadhafi. The Libyan leader said he would stay in the capital “until the end” to defend the city and called on supporters to help liberate it.

Mr. Gadhafi has seen the areas under his control shrink significantly in recent weeks as rebels advanced on Tripoli after six months of fighting to end his four-decade long rule. NATO warplanes have been supporting the rebels by bombing pro-Gadhafi forces under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action to protect Libyan civilians from government attacks.

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