Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gadhafi in Minsk?

Gaddafi may be hiding on border with Algeria, say rebels

The man most Libyans now call 'the tyrant' or 'the fugitive' may be sheltered by Tuareg tribesmen near the town of Ghadamis

Or he could have pitched his tent next to the National Library of Minsk after arriving there with two planeloads of Libya's gold reserves that he intends to invest there.

Ian Black in Tripoli, Wednesday 28 September 2011 15.28 EDT

Muammar Gaddafi could be hiding near a picturesque town on Libya's borders with Algeria and Tunisia, sheltered by Tuareg tribesmen who are in his pay, according to officials of the country's western-backed rebel leadership.

They said the man most Libyans now call "the tyrant" or "the fugitive" may have been near Ghadamis, a Unesco world heritage site famous for its oasis, walled old town and largely Berber population.

Evidence of his presence apparently emerged after an attack at the Algerian border last weekend killed at least nine rebels, though there is suspicion this may have been a diversion to let Gaddafi flee.

Gaddafi was last seen in Tripoli a few days after the Nato-backed uprising on 20 August. Witnesses spotted him at an army base with his daughter Aisha, who arrived in Algeria the following day with her brothers Hannibal and Mohammed, their mother, Safia, and other relatives. Saadi, another son, fled to Niger with other senior regime figures.

Hisham Buhagiar, coordinator of the hunt for Gaddafi, revealed the deposed leader had been in the southern town of Samnu a week ago, before moving to Ghadamis, 350 miles south-west of Tripoli.

"There has been a fight between Tuareg tribesmen who are loyal to Gaddafi and Arabs living there [in the south]," Buhagiar told Reuters. "We are negotiating. The Gaddafi search is taking a different course."

Libyan military sources say that Tuaregs, nomads who live in the Sahara in Libya, Algeria and Mali, support Gaddafi because he is paying them generously.

Colonel Ahmed Bani, military spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council, told reporters that he could not be certain of Gaddafi's whereabouts. But he confirmed that Gaddafi's son Mutasim, his national security adviser, was still in the coastal city of Sirte, where heavy fighting is continuing. The better-known Saif al-Islam is in Bani Walid, south of Tripoli, where there is a stalemate, and where a senior rebel commander was killed on Wednesday. A phone call between the two was intercepted by the NTC at the weekend.

"Gaddafi's location is a riddle," Bani said. "But this does not worry us. What we worry about is the complete liberation of Libya. After that we will do our best to hunt down this bloody man. He will be found wherever he is."

But there is scepticism about reports about Gaddafi. "It's propaganda," said one Tripoli analyst. "He spent 42 years fooling people and he's doing the same now."

The hunt for Gaddafi is also causing tensions with Libya's neighbours, though Algeria this week warned Aisha Gaddafi to stop making statements to a Damascus-based TV channel, al-Rai which has also broadcast defiant words from her father.

Rebel activists plan to demonstrate in Tripoli on Thursday to protest against the "hostile attitudes" of Algeria and Niger, as well as Syria, where Bashar al-Assad's regime seems bent on crushing protests that have already killed 2,700 people.

Tunisia said last week it had detained Gaddafi's last prime minister after he entered the country illegally and sentenced him to six months in prison. But it emerged on Tuesday that Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi has been freed – despite demands that he be handed over to the authorities in Tripoli.

It was reported from Belarus, meanwhile, that a military plane from Libya landed in Minsk on Monday with 15 people on board. It was immediately moved into a hangar. The Belorusski Partizan said it was met by diplomats and intelligence officials, fuelling rumours that Gaddafi and his family were on the aircraft.

Belarus Denies Rumors on Gaddafi's Arrival in Minsk
2011-09-28 22:17:45 Xinhua Web Editor: Yihang

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday denied rumors that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has arrived in Minsk.

"It's perhaps impossible to comment on this nonsense," a Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesperson told reporters.

"One of the planes carried Gaddafi himself and his family members, and the other two planes have delivered Libya's gold reserve, which the ex-head of the Libyan state intends to invest in the development of Belarusian agricultural farms. Gaddafi's famous marquee has already been pitched near the National Library in Minsk, and you can come and see it," the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a sarcastic commentary on reports by a number of Internet services that Gaddafi arrived in Minsk on Monday.

Muammar Monitor: Colonel arrives in Minsk, sets up shop…err, tent

Published: 29 September, 2011, 10:49

Do many of you know where Minsk, Belarus is?

Libya’s hide-and-seek champion Muammar Gaddafi does. He knows it so well, in fact, that he’s just relocated there, wife and national gold in tow.

It’s an understandable choice of location. First of all, friend and ideological ally Aleksandr Lukashenko (more often referred to as Europe’s Last Dictator) is guaranteed to give Gaddafi a warm welcome. In fact, he’s already set aside a chunk of prime real estate right by the country’s huge National Library, where Gaddafi has pitched his tent up. He’s there right now, polishing his bullion, while the wife makes some tea (it does get cold at night in Belarus).

According to an unnamed diplomat in Minsk, despite the no-fly zone (and the bomb-a-lot-shoot-at-unsanctioned-planes zone) over Libya, Gaddafi managed to sneak three aircraft out of his shot-up country. The first carried him and the missus, and the other two brought all the gold Gaddafi’s been hiding in tunnels, under rocks and buried in desert sands. The same unnamed Belarusian source said negotiations are already underway (in the tent by the library) to invest the gold in village towns in the country. It’s as yet unclear whether “invest in” is being seen by Gaddafi as “hide in – until the dust over Libya settles.”

This is, of course, a hoax – an appropriately jokey reaction by a diplomat in Minsk to yet another Gaddafi sighting (of which there have been hundreds). In the months since he was last seen in public, Libya’s former leader has been sighted anywhere and everywhere, including Algeria, Chad, Venezuela, Tunisia, South Africa and Niger. Libya’s National Transitional Council and various NATO officials on the ground constantly claim to be “very close” to Gaddafi or having finally uncovered his actual whereabouts. But despite those reports, the Colonel remains at large, sporadically communicating with local TV and radio channels, denying the fact he has – or ever will – left the country.

Recent reports have unearthed another potential blunder. It seems that Gaddafi’s ability to evade capture may be due to none other than President Sarkozy. Back in 2008, Sarkozy (who was prime minister at the time) apparently sold an armoured Mercedes 4x4 to the Libyan leader. The car reportedly has an in-built command system which allows Gaddafi to communicate with his troops and serious anti-tracking equipment which prevents NATO from locating the man.

There are thousands of articles claiming that yet another “source” has said Gaddafi is being helped by a Tuareg tribe somewhere on the Libya-Algeria border. Google has also joined in the “where in the world is Muammar Gaddafi?” game and in response to a “Gaddafi location” search states that the “best guess for Muammar Gaddafi location is Libya”. But until the man is captured, all those rumors remain just that – and considering the Colonel’s evasive techniques, a Google best guess is all the world is going to get.

Katerina Azarova, RT

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