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Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Qaddafi reportedly South of Tripoli as Algeria offers Family Members Safe Passage

Qaddafi reportedly South of Tripoli as Algeria offers Family Members Safe Passage
by Juan Cole, August 30, 2011

An Italian news service, Ansa, reported Monday that Muammar Qaddafi, his eldest son Saif, and another son, Saadi (a military commander during the failed attempt to put down the uprising) are hiding in Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli.

Saif, the de facto ruler of Libya in recent years, had been reported taken prisoner (a report confirmed by the International Criminal Court) but appears to have escaped, possibly through a tunnel in the house where he was being kept under house arrest. Saadi has been involved in alleged war crimes, leading tank units against civilian urban populations that rose up against the regime.

Saadi has allegedly been attempting to make a separate deal with NATO, offering to negotiate a settlement without his father or brothers.

Another son, Khamis, has again been reported dead by rebel sources. There have been frequent earlier reports of his demise, all greatly exaggerated. He headed the dreaded 32nd Brigade and has or had a great deal of innocent blood on his hands.

Algeria announced, “The wife of Muammar Gaddafi, Safiya, his daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, entered Algeria at 8:45am (1745 AEST) [on Monday] through the Algeria-Libyan border,” and said that the Qaddafi family members had been given a free pass to go to a third country.

The new Libyan government is upset at the Algerian announcement, and wants the Qaddafis returned. The BBC says one rebel source called the Algerian stance “an act of aggression.” Many Libyans are distressed at Algeria’s hostility to their revolution and rumored help for Qaddafi.

Muhammad Qaddafi probably has no blood on his hands, and simply profited from his family position to become wealthy and dominant in the telecom sector. Hannibal has behaved like a psychopath in the past; I do not know if he had an operational role in the former regime’s war crimes.

United Nations-authorized allies announced Monday that the war is not over. Fierce fighting was waged in Sabha in the south, and the new Libyan government said that if the city of Sirte in the north does not surrender soon it will face an invasion. Sirte is Qaddafi’s birthplace and a site to which Qaddafi loyalists have retreated, and from which they have attacked innocent Libyans as well as the forces of the new transitional government.

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