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Entries in Moammar Gadhafi (232)

Wednesday
Sep262012

Moammar Gadhafi’s Captor Tortured and Killed

Salah Malkawi/Getty Images(MISRATA, Libya) -- One of the men who pulled former Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi from a drainpipe last year has been buried after he was kidnapped by Gadhafi supporters and tortured, later dying of his injuries.

Omran Ben Shaaban’s body was flown back to Libya by private jet on Tuesday from France, where he’d been receiving medical attention.

Video posted online showed thousands of mourners at a Misrata sports stadium Tuesday night.  The Libyan government said it would give the 22-year-old a funeral fit for a hero.  A photo was also posted of Shaaban in wooden casket, his face visible through a glass window.

Shaaban and three friends were attacked and kidnapped by Gadhafi loyalists in July near the southern town of Bani Walid, where many Gadhafi supporters still live.  After Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif managed to get Shaaban released this month, he was flown to France for treatment, but he died on Tuesday.

Shaaban reportedly never received the $800,000 reward for capturing Gadhafi last October, but his brother said Shaaban considered it his duty.

Gadhafi was found hiding in a drainage pipe near his birthplace Sirte.  He was dragged out and violently carried away during which time he was killed.  Video posted by the aggregator Storyful appears to show Shaaban carrying a pistol while a bloodied Gadhafi pleads for his life.

Libya’s congress has vowed to track down Shaaban’s kidnappers.  A militia commander said they would take matters into their own hands if the authorities fail.

“We will take revenge militarily but legitimately,” Walid Ben Shaaban told Agence France-Presse.  “We will give the authorities an opportunity to tackle the issue but if they fail to act, we know how to make our move.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug102012

Gadhafi Foe Elected Interim President of Libya

File photo. PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Libya has a new leader: Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, a longtime foe of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Magariaf had lived in exile for decades, setting up an opposition to Gadhafi's regime. Now he has been elected interim president by the National Assembly.

Since the revolution that toppled Gadhafi, Libya has seen months of violent unrest. The oil-rich country still faces armed militias, a separatist movement in the East, and bands of Gadhafi loyalists -- all challenges to Libya's new government, which is looking to restore stability.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul092012

Historic Voting Continues in Libya Despite Violence

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Voting in Libya’s first free election in decades continued for a second day on Sunday at polling stations that were closed the day before thanks to violence, which prevented citizens from casting ballots.

Preliminary results could be announced as early as Monday, according to the state-run LANA news agency.

Libya’s High National Election Commission says approximately 1.7 million Libyans -- roughly about 60 percent of the nation's 2.8 million registered voters -- cast ballots on Saturday.

Voters are choosing from more than 3,500 candidates running to fill a 200-seat national assembly that will establish a transitional government.  The assembly will craft a constitution and establish a procedure for a presidential election in 2013.

Tripoli’s main square has become the focal point for celebrations since Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule ended nine months ago, and it has been filled this past weekend with cars honking horns and people waving flags while chanting, “Raise your head up high, you are a free Libyan."

The area was once called Green Square for Gadhafi's Green Book that outlined his political philosophy, but it’s now known as Martyr's Square for those who died during last year’s revolution.

Violence on Saturday included protesters setting fire to two polling centers in the eastern city of Benghazi.  Six other polling centers in other cities either opened just hours before they were scheduled to close or did not open at all.

Many of the protesters are Libyans in the eastern part of the country who feel they will be underrepresented in the national assembly.  Libyans in the east had always felt largely neglected during Gadhafi's long rule, and despite the eastern city of Benghazi emerging as the center of the Libyan revolution, many residents feel their uprising has been taken over by Libyans in the west, in Tripoli.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul062012

Gadhafi’s Cadillac Finally Impounded After Four Years

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RAPALLO, Italy) -- A black Cadillac Escalade belonging to the son of late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has finally been impounded by Italian tax police. The car sat outside a luxury hotel for four years after the son simply left it behind.

The Italian tax police, the Guardia di Finanza, showed up at the lavish Excelsior Palace Hotel, which is set in terraced gardens with panoramic views of the bay of Portofino, and officially taped up Al-Saadi Gadhafi’s luxury SUV, ready to be towed away.

The tax police seized the car following a request made earlier this year by the International Criminal Court in the Hague to collect all former Gadhafi assets to compensate victims of the dictator’s 32-year regime.

The Excelsior’s manager Aldo Werdin told ABC News Friday that the car has been parked in the hotel’s lot since February 2008 when the dictator summoned his son back to Libya.

“He left his friends and two adored dogs at the hotel,” Werdin said. “After a few days the Libyan embassy came and picked up the friends and the dogs, but refused to pay the bill and didn’t take the car.”

Gadhafi left owing the hotel 370,000 euros, or more than $450,000.  The bill has yet to be paid despite legal action taken by the hotel.

The dictator’s son was known for his high-living and fashionable, flashy tastes while he toyed with a soccer career in Italy, playing briefly for the Perugia and Udine soccer teams, but he never succeeded as a soccer star. Instead, he  spent his time enjoying the high life, spending on average about 3,000 euros a day for lodging and meals and traveling about with an entourage of about 15 people including his wife, drivers, bodyguards and personal secretaries.

Werdin said Gadhafi was almost a permanent guest from January 2007 to February 2008 when his father demanded he return to Libya.

Gadhafi’s car had become a tourist attraction in the town of Rapallo, with some posing in front of the Cadillac Escalade which sports a Porsche engine. Werdin said he never considered trying to sell the car to compensate for the bill, saying, “Who would want that petrol guzzler?”

Besides, he said, “We hoped he or someone for him would show up to remove it, and maybe pay the outstanding bill.”

Al-Saadi Gadhafi, who was commander of the Libyan Special forces, supported his father along with his brothers in the Libyan civil war last year. He is now wanted by Interpol and last believed to be in Niger where he and more than 30 other Gadhafi loyalists fled after Tripoli fell to rebels in September 2011.

Libya continues to be unstable after the revolution. On Saturday, Libyans will vote in their first democratic elections in over four decades.  The 200 members of the Constituent Assembly being elected in this vote will draft and approve the country’s new constitution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul062012

Libya Set to Hold First Free Election in Six Decades

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- On Saturday, Libyans will do something they haven’t done in 60 years -- vote in a free multi-party election.

Just nine months ago, Libyans were celebrating the end of 42 years of rule under the late Moammar Gadhafi.

Some three million Libyans have registered to vote so they can choose among 1,400 candidates for a 200-seat National Assembly.  That elected body will form a temporary government and draft a constitution, which will lead to another election a year from now.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun052012

Russia ‘Outraged’ After Pro-Gadhafi ‘Mercenaries’ Sentenced in Libya

MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/GettyImages(MOSCOW) -- Two dozen Eastern European “mercenaries,” including two Russians, were convicted and handed harsh sentences in Libya Monday for allegedly helping to target NATO warplanes on behalf of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi before his death — charges that the accused and their home countries strongly deny.

“We were outraged with the court’s decision,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Tuesday, according to Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti. “We believe this is unfair. We will follow the case seriously.”

The group of men, which in addition to the Russians includes 19 Ukrainians and three Belarusians, was reportedly accused of helping pro-Gadhafi troops zero in on NATO planes with ground-to-air missile systems during Libya’s bloody uprising last year. In early 2011, the U.S. led a NATO effort to secure a no-fly zone over the north African nation in a stated mission to protect civilians.

The supposed ringleader of the group, a Russian, was sentenced to life in prison and the others were given 10 years hard labor.

When the trial began in April, a spokesperson for the court called the men “mercenaries” and said they were captured by rebels when Tripoli fell in late August 2011, according to Agence France Presse.

The men claimed they were only in the country to work in the oil industry and AFP reported the Ukrainian ambassador to Libya, Mykola Nahornyi, said they had been forced to work for Gadhafi “under armed threat.” Nahornyi also said the missile systems did not target NATO aircraft and were never fired.

Bogdanov said Russia would work closely with officials from the Ukraine and Belarus to appeal the case on behalf of their citizens, as well as apply other kinds of pressure on Libya to secure their release.

“Of course there will be an appeal and we will be using other levers of influence on the legal proceedings. And we will also use political leverage and our community,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr032012

Gadhafi’s Mercenaries Spread Guns and Fighting in Africa

Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- When Libya’s dictator for more than four decades fell victim to the Arab Spring, Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s influence didn’t end.  It is now contributing to increased attacks by rebel groups, the arming of terrorists and a hunger crisis in other parts of Africa.

“This is a setback for the international community which has invested so much money in the past decade in democracy, peace, and security in Africa,” said Dr. Mehari Taddele Maru at the Institute for Security Studies based in Pretoria, South Africa.

After Gadhafi’s fall, thousands of his soldiers left the country with stockpiles of weapons, including machine guns, ammunition and shoulder-fired missiles.  Maru says at least 2,000 of them were mercenaries who returned to their native countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Nigeria.  Many have already returned to fighting.

In the West African country of Mali, when ethnic Taureg fighters returned from Libya well armed, it encouraged Taureg separatists to launch a new rebellion against the government in January.  While Gadhafi’s weapons were no match for the NATO forces that came to the rescue of Libyan revolutionaries, they were far superior to the weapons of the impoverished Malian army.  A mutiny by Mali’s out-gunned and frustrated soldiers turned into a coup d’etat when they stormed the Presidential Palace in March, erasing more than two decades of democratic rule.

In the chaos that has ensued after the coup, Taureg separatists in Mali have had more success than ever before.  On Sunday, they seized the last government holdout in the north, the legendary town of Timbuktu.  There is now concern a Taureg victory in Mali could inspire another rebellion in neighboring Niger.

“The Tauregs in Niger got funding from Gadhafi.  The government of Niger has been able to negotiate with them for peace, but for how long?  That is questionable,” said Maru.

Gadhafi’s fighters and weapons also streamed into other nearby countries in the Sahel region bordering the Sahara desert.  It is an area where a major al Qaeda affiliate has announced it acquired thousands of Gadhafi’s weapons.

“We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhar, a leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) told Mauritanian news agency ANI last November.

The proliferation of weapons in the Sahel comes at an especially bad time.  After another year of drought in parts of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso, aid agencies say millions of people need urgent food assistance, but violence in the region makes it hard -- in some places impossible -- to help.

“Under these security conditions, we are not able to access the displaced who are living in extremely difficult conditions,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Fatouma Lejeune-Kabu about trying to help those forced to flee their homes in northern Mali.

The U.N. estimates about 130,000 people in Mali have been displaced by the fighting between Taureg rebels and the government army.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar262012

Al Qaeda Flags Parade in Gadhafi Hometown?

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new video has surfaced online that purports to show a convoy of Libyan military and police vehicles -- more than two dozen in all -- rolling through the hometown of late dictator Moammar Gadhafi while bearing a flag similar to the infamous black banner of al Qaeda.

It was not immediately clear when the video was shot, but according to the accompanying caption written by a self-identified pro-Gadhafi supporter, it was taken in the coastal town of Sirte and shows 29 vehicles -- everything from SUVs labeled "police," "Sirte," and "rebels" to a couple of full-sized fire trucks. A handful of heavy machine guns are mounted on some of the military-style trucks. More than a dozen of the black banners long associated with al Qaeda whip in the wind.

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If the caption is accurate, it would not be the first time the flag belonging to the world's most high-profile terror group has flown in the war-torn North African nation since the popular revolt against Gadhafi began last February. In October, an al Qaeda flag was reportedly raised over a courthouse in the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi. Caravans bearing the flag, similar to the one shown in the new video, have also apparently been spotted in Tripoli, according to a new report by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

But the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told ABC News that the video is not what it seems. Libyan brigades have flown similar flags in the past and, when questioned about them, the brigade commanders always said they were simply the "flag of the Prophet Muhammad," Dabbashi said.

"These brigades have no relation whatsoever with al Qaeda," he said. "There are no al Qaeda elements in Libya."

Similar black flags with the Muslim statement of faith written in white have been used by a variety of Islamist groups in the past, according to Aaron Zelin, coauthor of the new CTC report. And though the ones in the video appear to be the altered version used specifically by al Qaeda, Zelin said it would be difficult to know if the men flying the flag were actual operatives of the terrorist group, sympathizers, other jihadists unrelated to al Qaeda, or simple tribesmen looking for attention.

"Just because they have a flag does not necessarily mean they are al Qaeda," Zelin said. "Anybody could use a flag like that."

One U.S. official told ABC News that either way, the flying of Islamist flags apparently by Libyan military forces was "troubling."

"What you may have here is simply a fundamentalist brigade parade, which is troubling, but [that] doesn't necessarily make this a column of al Qaeda fighters," the official said. "What you also may have is some militias smearing other militias with the al Qaeda-linked tag."

While top U.S. officials have said the popular revolts that have swept Arab nations from Tunisia to Syria -- known as the Arab Spring -- show al Qaeda's irrelevance, the man in charge of intelligence gathering for America recently said the instability could also be an opportunity for would-be jihadists.

"The unrest potentially provides terrorists inspired by the global jihadist movement more operating space," America's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional committee in January. "Ongoing unrest most likely would exacerbate public frustration, erosion of state power, and economic woes -- conditions that al Qaeda would work to exploit."

Last March, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, said at the time there were only "flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda" links.

The same month, Osama bin Laden's replacement as head of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called the Libyan rebels his "brothers and sisters" in an issue of an al Qaeda English-language magazine, but did not mention any particular group.

Libyan revolutionaries who are now in power have had a complicated relationship with al Qaeda. The same man who triumphantly led Libyan rebels into Gadhafi's compound in August had years before been described by U.S. intelligence as the leader of a local terror group with links to al Qaeda. Derna, a city that was a rebel stronghold during the revolution, was known as a wellspring for al Qaeda fighters sent to attack American soldiers in Iraq.

Still, Zelin said there is little to no public evidence al Qaeda has a strong presence in Libya.

"Ultimately, while there are more than 'flickers' of al Qaeda in Libya," Zelin and coauthor Andrew Lebovich wrote in the CTC report, "there is not enough information to determine if the group has the means, or even the desire, to set up a durable presence in the country -- especially when Western governments and special forces are keeping an eye on Libya, and opposing armed militias remain ready to protect their own power and influence."

Officials at the U.S. State Department and the Department of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar192012

Report: Gadhafi's Son Wanted Man-Eating Sharks on His Cruise Ship

JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hannibal Gadhafi, the 36-year-old son of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, would have ruled the seas in a custom-made luxury liner, had his dictator father not been deposed and killed.

The Daily Mail reports Hannibal had been building a ship that would have been decked out with extras -- like a tank filled with man-eating sharks. The ship reportedly cost nearly $500 million and was still unfinished when Gadhafi was ousted and his clan forced to flee. Gadhafi ended up fleeing to Algeria.  

The opulent ship he would have dubbed Phoenicia has since been completed -- minus the shark tank -- and has been purchased by a Korean cruise line company.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar192012

Multiple Extraditions Sought for Gadhafi's Intelligence Chief

AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Col. Moammar Gadhafi's brother-in-law and intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, is being sought after Libya, France and even the International Criminal Court in the Hague for multiple crimes he allegedly committed while under the late dictator's rule.

Al-Senussi was arrested Saturday in the North African country of Mauritania.

The Libyan government is demanding that Mauritania extradite him back home so he can be prosecuted for reportedly ordering the deaths of civilians during last year's uprising and the 1995 massacre at a prison in which 1,200 inmates were killed.

France wants to get its hands on al-Senussi, who a French court found guilty of being complicit in the bombing of a plane over Niger in 1989 that killed 170 people including 54 French nationals.

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court already has an arrest warrant out on al-Senussi for crimes against humanity during the revolution in 2011 that led to the end of Gadhafi's brutal dictatorship.

The U.S. also has an interest in seeing justice done since it's believed that al-Senussi had a hand in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 183 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, most of them Americans returning home for the Christmas holidays.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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