Entries in Underground (2)


Search for Gadhafi Focuses on Secret Tunnels

ABC News(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Now that the Tripoli power base of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has fallen to rebel fighters, the hunt for the man who ruled the country for four decades has begun in earnest.

Rebel and foreign officials have said they believe he could still be in Libya, and speculation has focused on key cities still in dispute, as well as on a secret network of underground tunnels and bunkers that the Libyan president had built beneath Tripoli for just such an emergency.

"The real moment of victory is when Gadhafi is captured," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya's rebel council, said Wednesday before adding that the council doesn't have any idea where he is.

In an audio message broadcast early Wednesday morning, Gadhafi called his evacuation from his famous Bab al-Aziziya compound in southern Tripoli a "tactical move."

"I call on all the Tripoli residents with all its young, old and armed brigades to defend the city, to cleanse it, put an end to the traitors and kick them out from our city," he said, once again vowing "martyrdom" or victory.  Gadhafi has not been seen for weeks, releasing only audio recordings in that time.

"He doesn't seem to have much control of anything.  It's interesting that he hasn't been seen," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Tuesday.

Rebels have yet to take Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte and some have speculated that he may be in the southern city of Sabha, his ancestral home.  But the more feverish hypothesizing centers on a long-rumored "underground city" comprised of a series of tunnels and bunkers emanating from the Bab al-Aziziya compound that was attacked by U.S. warplanes in 1986 and again repeatedly by NATO during its five-month air campaign.

Before being overrun Tuesday, the heavily-fortified compound was guarded by the truest of Gadhafi loyalists, leading many to believe that Gadhafi and his family were still holed up inside.  The sprawling 2.3 square mile fortress has a series of 12-foot walls surrounded a military barracks, private residences and a mosque, among other structures.  When rebels entered, several climbed atop the iconic statue of a golden fist crushing an American fighter jet.

Tunnels have been rumored to run from the compound to the airport -- now in rebel control -- as well as to the Mediterranean coast several miles away and to the nearby Rixos hotel, where until Wednesday more than 30 foreign journalists were held by Gadhafi forces.

Tripoli isn't the only place tunnels and bunkers were built for Libya's eccentric leader.  At a palace in the eastern city of al-Baida taken over earlier this year by protesters, a nuclear bunker was reportedly discovered.  According to Al Jazeera, the bunker had a "fully serviced air filter system and is also equipped with emergency generators, fire alarms, water pumps, and a ladder fixed in what could have served as a back emergency exit."

And in the rebel capital of Benghazi, a series of tunnels and prison cells was discovered beneath the once-feared large green government complex known as the Katiba.

Then there's the Great Man-Made River, a project Gadhafi touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Its 2,500-mile system of pipes 12-feet in diameter carries fresh water all over Libya and some have even guessed that Gadhafi may be using it to escape.

With so little concrete information, some analysts believe intelligence services will question the western contractors brought in to build Gadhafi's various tunnels and bunkers.  With few countries willing to take Gadhafi in, it's not terribly far-fetched to believe he may eventually be found in a Saddam Hussein-style spider hole.  But millions of Libyans are hoping to find Gadhafi faster than the eight months it took to hunt down Hussein.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Moammar Gadhafi's Underground Dungeons Exposed

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BENGHAZI, Libya) -- A hole in the ground is drawing a crowd of gawkers because even in Benghazi, Libyans are amazed at the cruelty of their beleaguered leader Moammar Gadhafi. The hole leads to an underground dungeon inside a government compound that was feared and avoided by the people of Benghazi. After chasing Gadhafi's loyalists from the city, the two-room cinder block cells were discovered by people who heard voices coming from beneath them.

Al Sha'beh, who had been a soldier in the Libyan army for 26 years before defecting to the ranks of the rebels 10 days ago, told ABC News Gadhafi's officials used to put prisoners in one of several vault-like underground jails and forget about them. Prisoners would die and you would just find skeletons, he said ominously.

One of those who came to see the cells today was Abdullah Ali, a Libyan engineer.

"It is the worst kind of punishment," he said pointing to the dusty ground where the prisoners were entombed. "Gadhafi is a bad man, frightening man. He has no feeling to the people."

The dungeon was discovered by Libyans who were touring the Benghazi's government compound, a secret world where no one knew what really took place behind its windowless walls. Sha'beh brought his four children to walk through the burnt wreckage of the compound where Gadhafi used to live when he visited Benghazi. "Look, he has so many houses here," he told ABC News and his children.

The former soldier said Gadhafi used to sleep in his tent underground because he was paranoid something would happen to him.

Sky News reported the location of the prison was only discovered after residents heard sounds from below ground. They brought in digging equipment to free those trapped below. Inside is a cramped and frightening tableau: the prison itself is tiny, really just two cells with an opening connecting them. Wooden posts support the crude underground roof. The walls are made of rough concrete blocks.

The only visible sign that the prisoners were meant to stay alive is a white plastic pipe that appeared to provide air for the prisoners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio