Saturday 25 March 2017

Informants help rebels tighten net for Gaddafi

Leaders compile 'white list' of informants from regime entourage

Libyan boys pose with toy guns as they gather during the first day of Eid al-Fitr near the courthouse in Benghazi, Libya, yesterday
Libyan boys pose with toy guns as they gather during the first day of Eid al-Fitr near the courthouse in Benghazi, Libya, yesterday

Rob Crilly in Benghazi

Rebels are using informants drawn from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's entourage, phone taps and Google Maps as they search for the fugitive dictator, amid fears he could mastermind an insurgency from Libya's southern desert.

At the same time they say they are tightening the noose around his remaining strongholds, including his home town of Sirte, as they try to flush out the last resistance to their fledgling government.

Yesterday marked a pause in the rebels' military campaign as they celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid and waited for Saturday's deadline for Gaddafi loyalists to lay down their weapons.

But the hunt for Gaddafi himself continues, led by Hisham Buhagiar, a senior official in the rebel military. "Of course he doesn't use the phone, but we know the people around him who use the phones," said Mr Buhagiar, describing the techniques used to home in on Gaddafi's whereabouts.

"Usually we trace a lot of people who are not in the first inner circle with him, but the second or third circle.

"Some of them know the regime is falling, and they want to make sure they don't get hurt. They want to strike deals. That's why we've created the white list. Everyone who helps us is on the white list."

Mr Buhagiar said he believed the missing leader was in the Bani Walid area, south-east of Tripoli, or in his home town of Sirte, about 400km east of the capital.

However, he admitted that Gaddafi might remain at large longer than Saddam Hussein, who was found in a hole in the ground near his hometown of Tikrit. "Yes, Gaddafi could live in a hole. He's proud of being the guy who lives in a tent," said Mr Buhagiar.

Ahmed Darrad, the rebel leader who is charged with overseeing the interior ministry until a new government is elected, said opposition forces retained the right to kill Gaddafi. "He is killing us," he said.

"He is a criminal and an outlaw. All over the world if the criminal does not surrender, it is the right of law enforcers to kill him."

Nato said that its planes had continued to bomb Gaddafi forces near Sirte. They also hit targets in the area of Bani Walid.

Surrender

Sirte, Sabha, Bani Walid and other Gaddafi towns have been given until Saturday to negotiate a surrender or face military force.

Gaddafi's chief spokesman rejected the offer yesterday. "No dignified honourable nation would accept an ultimatum from armed gangs," Moussa Ibrahim said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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