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Entries in Moammar Gadhafi (10)

Tuesday
Nov012011

American Supermodel Defends Gadhafi Family, Loses Job

Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- An American model who has appeared in ads for Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani and L'Oreal lost her biggest client Monday after she defended boyfriend Mutassim Gadhafi and the Gadhafi family in an interview with Italian media.

Vanessa Hessler, a 23-year-old Italian-American model, said that she had shared a "very beautiful love story" of four years with Mutassim Gadhafi, the 36-year-old son and heir of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi who died with his father in a last stand outside the Libyan city of Sirte on Oct. 21.

Hessler also said that the West had made a mistake in backing the rebels who ended Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year reign. "We, France and the United Kingdom, financed the rebels but people don't know what they are doing," Hessler told Italian magazine Diva e Donna, adding that she is disgusted by what is happening in Libya and that "the Gaddafi family is not how they are being depicted, they are normal people."

On Monday, Telefonica Germany fired Hessler from a job that had made her instantly recognizable to television viewers across Germany, France and Italy. For several years, Hessler had been known to the public as "Alice," the onscreen spokeswoman for the company's "Alice" internet service, but Telefonica declared an immediate end to the relationship with a tweet. Telefonica said the model's romantic relationships were "private business," but the company "cannot accept her comments on the Libya conflict."

Hessler's Facebook page, however, has been flowing with messages of support from her fans congratulating her on her "courage and honesty." One fan consoled her on her firing with a picture that reads: "Stand for what is right even if you stand alone."

The model was born to an American father and an Italian mother and spent much of her formative years in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Obama: Gadhafi Death Marks End Of 'Long And Painful Chapter'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said Thursday that the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi marks “the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya, who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya.”

“Today we can definitively say that the Gadhafi regime has come to an end.  The last major regime strongholds have fallen.  The new government is consolidating the control over the country, and one of the world's longest-serving dictators is no more,” Obama said in the first official White House response to the killing of the long-time leader.

The president commended the Libyan people for demanding their rights and noted “for the region, today's events prove once more [that] the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end. Across the Arab world, citizens have stood up to claim their rights. Youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship. And those leaders who try to deny their human dignity will not succeed.”

Just seven months after the president authorized forces to begin limited military action in Libya, Obama praised the global community who “refused to stand idly by” and hailed the U.S. strategy. “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives, and our NATO mission will soon come to an end,” he said. Obama had initially said the U.S. commitment in the African country would be limited to "days, not weeks."

Going forward, Obama stressed that the Libyan people face a long road ahead. “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted, and with this enormous promise, the Libyan people now have a great responsibility: to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gadhafi's dictatorship,” he said.

“We're under no illusions.  Libya will travel a long and winding road to full democracy.  There will be difficult days ahead. But the United States, together with the international community, is committed to the Libyan people.  You have won your revolution, and now we will be a partner as you forge a future that provides dignity, freedom and opportunity,” the president concluded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Gadhafi’s Death: Lockerbie Families React

Libyan Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi (C) escorted by security officers in Tripoli in Libya in a photo dated Feb. 18, 1992. (MANOOCHER DEGHATI/AFP/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- Bert Ammerman answered the phone and proclaimed, “It’s a great day. Gadhafi is dead. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Ammerman’s brother, Tom, died at the age of 36 when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Dec. 21, 1988, leaving behind a wife and two daughters.

“I never thought I would live to see the day that Gadhafi would be brought to justice,” Ammerman told ABC News. “It’s the last chapter for me personally. I now can walk away, nearly 24 years later, and be able to say that my brother and 269 other individuals did not die in vain.”

The Boeing 747 was bombed as it traveled from London to New York, and Gadhafi’s regime was implicated in the attack.

“When it’s all said and done, you never get over the fact that your loved one was blown out of the air at 31,000 feet. But satisifed absolutely, there was justice and our system works,” said Ammerman.

For Rosemary Wolfe, who lost her stepdaughter Miriam, a 20-year-old Syracuse University student returning from a semester abroad, there is satisfaction, but there is not justice.

“While we know that he [Gadhafi] was behind it, we don’t know all the others that were involved,” she said. “We want to know the answers to that...and we won’t have truth and justice until we know.”

The only person convicted in the bombing was Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, who spent eight years in prison before he was released in 2009 on humanitarian grounds because he was “near death.” Two years later, Megrahi is still alive and living in Libya.

“We know that there was no way that Megrahi...did it by himself,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe has urged the U.S. government not to release billions of dollars in frozen assets to Libya’s new government until the people who know more about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 come forward and provide information.

“At this point I’m concerned now that Gadhafi is gone that everyone will just call it a day and we won’t get any further information,” Wolfe told ABC News. “The one thing the U.S. is intent on is establishing a good relationship with Libya and the basis for that should be the rest of the truth.”

Ammerman does not believe the full story of the attack will ever be known.

“The cloud and conspiracy will never go away, and one thing I do know is that Libya was involved and I am 100 percent sure that he [Moammar Gadhafi] ordered this to take place,” Ammerman said. “Megrahi to me is irrelevant. He is the guppy in this process. Gadhaif is the big fish.”

Ammerman said he has always believed that once Gadhafi was removed from power the U.S. should immediately open relations with Libya and assist the Libyan people as they establish a new government.

“I never had a gripe with the population of Libya. I’m a firm believer that citizens throughout the world just want to live a good quality of life,” he said. “They do not support or agree overall with the policies of these maniacs...Today’s enemies are tomorrow’s allies.”

For both Ammerman and Wolfe, Gadhafi’s death may be satisfying, but it will never fill the void in their lives.

“There’s never closure,” Wolfe said. “There really is no such thing as closure because once something like this has happened it changes you and your family forever.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

The $77 Billion Fighter Jets That Have Never Gone to War

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker(WASHINGTON) -- More than five years and nearly $80 billion after the world's most expensive fighter jets joined the U.S. military fleet, the high-tech F-22 Raptor has yet to see combat -- despite the U.S. Air Forces' involvement in three simultaneous major combat operations.

When the U.S. led an international effort to secure a no-fly zone over Libya last month, the F-22, the jet the Air Force said "cannot be matched," was not involved. The Air Force said the $143 million-a-pop planes simply weren't necessary to take out Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses.

"If this was a requirement, it would've been used," Air Force spokesperson Maj. Chad Steffey told ABC News. "We had all the assets that we needed in Europe already... It simply wasn't an operational requirement."

In fact, though the Air Force has more than 160 F-22s, Steffey said that they have not been an "operational requirement" in any major theater of combat for the U.S., from Iraq to Afghanistan, since the first of the planes went combat ready in December 2005.

Not a single one of the planes -- which cost U.S. government $77.4 billion for a total of 187 planes from Lockheed Martin according to recent report by the Government Accountability Office -- has used what Lockheed Martin's website called a "revolutionary leap in lethality" in defense of U.S. interests. And though Congress cut all funding for new Raptors in 2009, Lockheed Martin is still receiving hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to make upgrades.

The closest an F-22 has come to combat was in 2007 when a pair of Raptors intercepted and monitored two Russian bombers that were on patrol in airspace near Alaska, according to a report by Air Force Magazine.

Both the Air Force and Lockheed Martin said the reason the planes have yet to fire on any enemies is because they're designed to dominate the air against rival, sophisticated air forces or air defenses, not a small, poorly armed third-world militaries and insurgent groups.

The planes' natural enemy, therefore, is one that the program's biggest critic, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said as of now does not exist.

"The F-22 is clearly a capability we do need -- a niche, silver-bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios -- specifically the defeat of a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in 2009 while advocating that Congress ditch further funding for the Raptor from the budget. "[But] the F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict."

Dozens of supporters of the F-22 program in the House and the Senate wrote letters to President Obama ahead of the 2009 budget decision, arguing a full force of F-22s would be needed to meet the future challenge of other nations like China and Russia that are also developing fifth generation fighters and new, high-tech air defense systems. Gates dismissed these claims and said the U.S. next generation fighters, both the F-22 and the newer F-35, would greatly outnumber any adversaries for the next 15 years at least.

Jeff Babione, the vice president and project manager for the F-22 program at Lockheed Martin, said China and Russia's fighter programs were a consideration in the F-22's development, but also said the F-22 could find a home in strike missions against rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

"[The F-22s] are in an area where they would be solely or more suited for a sophisticated adversary like North Korea," Babione told ABC News. "In particular, its ability to penetrate highly defended locations -- such as North Korea -- only the Raptor would be able to get in there and prosecute the missions."

Another reason Gates argued against continuing the F-22 fighter is that he said he wanted to put some of that money into the newer F-35 jet fighter. That plane, which is also in development by Lockheed Martin, "will be the backbone of America's tactical aviation fleet for decades to come if -- and this is a big if -- money is not drained away to spend on other aircraft that our military leadership considers of lower priority or excess to our needs," Gates said in 2009.

"The F-35 is 10 to 15 years newer than the F-22, carries a much larger suite of weapons, and is superior in a number of areas – most importantly, air-to-ground missions such as destroying sophisticated enemy air defenses," he said.

The F-35, at a smaller price tag per plane than the F-22, is designed to replace the F-16 -- which incidentally was involved in operations in Libya -- and "will complement the F-22," according to Lockheed Martin and the GAO report. According to Lockheed, the F-35 is better suited for current combat operations since it has a superior air-to-surface attack capability, but can work in tandem with the F-22.

While the F-35 has experienced its own serious development issues, the first planes are scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force this spring, Lockheed told ABC News earlier this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr072011

FBI Director: US 'On Guard' Against Possible Libyan Terror Attacks

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday the FBI is interviewing Libyans who live in the U.S. to be "on guard" against any possible terror attacks from Libya or to locate any Libyan agents operating inside U.S. borders.

"We want to make certain that we are on guard for the possibility of terrorist attacks emanating somewhere out of Libya," said Mueller, appearing before the House Appropriations Committee, "whether it be Gadhafi's forces or, in eastern Libya, the opposition forces who may have amongst them persons who in the past have had associations with terrorist groups."

At the outset of military operations against Libya, U.S. officials expressed concern that Gadhafi could launch revenge attacks against the U.S. or European nations.

Last month, John Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and counterterrorism, said, "Gadhafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature.  We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community."

Officials say one reason for the interviews is Libya's prior involvement in terror attacks like the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Asked whether there might also be danger from Libya's anti-Gadhafi rebels because of rumored ties between some factions and terror groups like al Qaeda, Mueller said he did not know who those individuals with alleged terrorist links might be.  "I'm not certain at this point that anybody really does," said Mueller.  "This is an ongoing effort by us at the same time as the State Department and the [Central Intelligence] Agency and others to identity individuals who may be part of the opposition."

Mueller also told the committee that the FBI has concerns about former Gadhafi officials who have defected to the opposition.  Said Mueller, "There may well be intelligence officers who are operating with different types of cover in the United States.  We want to make sure we've identified these individuals to ensure no harm comes from them, knowing they may well have been associated with the Gadhafi regime."

The interviews have been taking place in 10 FBI field offices, including Washington, D.C., New York, Houston and Denver.  According to FBI officials, the effort is aimed at Libyan nationals who have U.S. visas and students studying here in the United States.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Tuesday about the interviews that reminded individuals of their civil rights when they are contacted by law enforcement but also noted, "American Muslims strongly support law enforcement and the protection of our national security." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar222011

'NY Times' Journalist Endured Sexual Assaults, Death Threats in Libya

Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A war photographer for The New York Times, the only woman in a group of four journalists captured in Libya last week, said that she was sexual assaulted and threatened with death by Libyan soldiers while in captivity.

Lynsey Addario and her colleagues were released into the custody of the Turkish Embassy in Libya Monday, after a six-day ordeal. The team was detained last Tuesday when pro-Gadhafi forces stopped their car at a checkpoint near the war-torn city of Ajdabiya.

The soldiers pulled them out of the car and the group tried to make a run for it. The soldiers quickly caught them and considered shooting them, they told the Times. But the soldiers instead chose to detain them after realizing they were Americans.

Addario's shoelaces were removed and a soldier used them to bind her ankles, she said. Once immobile, the soldier punched her in the face, laughing as he struck her. The soldier then groped her breasts, setting off two days of disturbing sexual assaults by a series of armed men, she said.

As the fighting in Ajdabiya died down, the group was transported out of town. On the way, one soldier threatened to decapitate photographer Tyler Hicks; another stroked Addario's head and threatened her with death.

Addario and Hicks, along with Times Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid and reporter Stephen Farrell, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 and rescued by British commandoes, were slowly transported to Tripoli.

They passed through pro-Gadhafi checkpoints along the way. At each stop, new batches of soldiers beat them up, they told the Times. They spent one night in the vehicle in which they were being driven and another in a prison cell before being flown to Tripoli Thursday, where they were held at a safe house.

It took three more days in Tripoli to negotiate their release, according to the Times.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

Will Libya's Gadhafi Attack the United States?

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As an international coalition pounds armed forces still loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, intelligence experts said that despite fears of a desperate terror attack on Americans, Gadhafi likely no longer has the means to carry out such an attack.

"I think clearly from what we've seen he's got intent, but the second piece is capability," former senior U.S. intelligence official Phil Mudd told ABC News. "He's been out of this business a long time so whether he's retained the capability is an open question. Whether he can resuscitate it, I think, is an even bigger question."

Gadhafi had been in the process of dismantling a stockpile of highly lethal mustard gas when a popular uprising put his 42-year reign in jeopardy. International monitors gave Gadhafi a deadline for this May to complete the dismantling but he has not yet completed it.

"It's clear that he has some mustard agent left," said Charles Duelfer, a former U.N. weapons inspector. "To use that, to drop it on somebody, you need to put it in something. And so far as anyone's been able to tell, he doesn't really have munitions to effectively use that. So I think that the military risk posed by this is relatively small."

On ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen said the remaining amount of the chemical was being "very closely monitored."

"I haven't seen it as a problem thus far," he said.

Concern over a possible terrorist attack directed by Gadhafi was raised Friday when White House terrorism advisor John Brennan told reporters the Libyan leader "has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature."

"We have to anticipate and be prepared for things that he might try to do to flout the will of the international community. Terrorism is certainly a tool that a lot of individuals will opt for when they lose other options," he said.

Any attack on Americans would not be the first terror strikes linked to Gadhafi.

Last month, Libya's justice minister said he had "proof" Gadhafi directed the deadly attack on Pan Am flight 103, which killed 189 Americans when it blew up over Scotland in 1988.

Two years earlier, two Americans died in an attack on a German disco popular with American servicemen. In retaliation, then U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered an airstrike on Gadhafi's personal compound.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

At UN, US Pushing for Broader Military Authorization Versus Gadhafi 

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though U.S. officials repeatedly have expressed ambivalence about how well a no-fly zone imposed over Libya might work, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations would vote for a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for one -- and more, officials tell ABC News.

During the eight-hours of the U.N. Security Council meeting Wednesday, the U.S. pushed for amendment after amendment that would broaden the military action authorized against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces well beyond just a no-fly zone, sources tell ABC News.

"The U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told reporters Wednesday evening, saying consultations will continue Thursday, when she also hopes for a vote.

Since the U.S. is concerned that a no-fly zone would have limited impact because most of the attacks by Gadhafi's regime against the Libyan people are not by air, the U.S. also is pushing for the resolution to authorize international forces to stop attacks by Gadhafi's forces on its people conducted on land and by sea as well.

This could include, for example, allowing aircraft from the international coalition to bomb Libyan tanks. And the U.S. reportedly is insisting that Arab countries participate in any military action.

Other steps the U.S. wants to include in a resolution would include more sanctions against the Gadhafi regime, further mechanisms to enforce the arms embargo, and a push to allow the U.N. and member states into the country to provide humanitarian aid.

The Arab League endorsed the proposal for a no-fly zone over the weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Mar142011

ABC News Poll: Do Americans Support Libyan No-Fly Zone?

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than half of Americans support U.S. participation in creating a no-fly zone over Libya, but support for unilateral U.S. military action is lower – and a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds substantial skepticism about the aims and outcome of political unrest across the region.

Seven in 10 in the national survey express uncertainty that protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are committed to democracy. And sizable numbers see negative impacts of the unrest on U.S. political and economic interests and anti-terrorism efforts alike.

Whatever their compunctions, 56 percent support having U.S. military aircraft participate in efforts to keep Libya's air force from attacking rebel-held areas. France and Great Britain have been pushing for a U.N.-enforced no-fly zone, the Arab League endorsed it Saturday and foreign ministers of the G8 industrialized nations were expected to discuss it in Paris on Monday.

Public support, however, is hardly solid. When people are asked if the United States itself should create a no-fly zone, rather than participate in one, support declines to 49 percent, with nearly as many opposed. And support drops further, by a quarter, given the prospect of bombing runs on Libyan anti-aircraft positions and continuous air patrols -- efforts U.S. military officials have said would be needed.

Support for the United States creating a no-fly zone peaks among Republicans (61 percent) and conservatives (54 percent), falling to fewer than half of Democrats, liberals, and independents. Support for participation in such an effort, by contrast, is similar across partisan and ideological lines.

There are broader questions about the unrest in the region. Most fundamentally, just 20 percent of Americans see the protests as plainly pro-democratic; 71 percent instead think demonstrators want new governments, but not necessarily democratic ones.

Moreover, 58 percent think that in the long run the outcome of the protests will hurt rather than help U.S. political and economic interests in the region, a view possibly informed by soaring gasoline prices. A plurality, 49 percent, also thinks the unrest will hurt the ability of the United States to fight terrorist groups based in these countries. Just 29 and 33 percent, respectively, think U.S. political and economic interests, or anti-terrorism efforts, will be helped.

The perceived aim of the protesters informs these views. Among Americans who think they seek democratic governments, 55 percent expect that U.S. anti-terrorism efforts will be improved in the long run, and 49 percent see help for U.S. political and economic interests. Among those who question the protesters' commitment to democracy, fewer than 3 in 10 say the same.

Additionally, support for a no-fly zone in Libya is higher among people who think protests in the region ultimately will help, rather than hurt, U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.

President Obama, for his part, gets split ratings for handling the situation in the region overall: 45 percent approve, 44 percent disapprove, largely along partisan lines. On Libya particularly, an identical 45 percent approve, while 36 percent disapprove, with more undecided.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar012011

Singer Nelly Furtado to Donate Gadhafi's $1 Million Payday

Photo Courtesy - Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for LARAS(NEW YORK) -- Singer Nelly Furtado plans to donate the $1 million she was paid to perform for the "Gadhafi clan," Furtado announced on Twitter Monday, while other celebrities have stayed silent on the hefty paychecks they reportedly received from the family of the Libyan strongman.

Furtado told fans the million-dollar performance took place at a hotel in Italy for members of the Gadhafi family and guests in 2007. Furtado's announcement came after news surfaced that celebrity A-listers Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyonce had each taken the stage for one of Gadhafi's sons.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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