Libya conflict: Gaddafi sons 'left Bani Walid'

Anti-Gaddafi forces near Bani Walid, 4 Sept Anti-Gaddafi forces have moved into positions around Bani Walid

Two sons of fugitive Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi were holed up in the town of Bani Walid until Saturday but have now left, says the head of the country's interim authorities.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil told the BBC that Saif al-Islam and Mutassim Gaddafi had been blocking the town's surrender.

Earlier, rebels said negotiations for Bani Walid's surrender had broken down and an assault was imminent.

But Mr Abdul Jalil said the talks would continue until a deadline on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a senior anti-Gaddafi commander is demanding an apology from the UK and the US over his capture and torture in Libya in 2004.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil: "Gaddafi sons had been blocking surrender of Bani Walid"

Their role has been revealed in CIA papers found when offices and prisons in Tripoli were captured by anti-Gaddafi forces belonging to the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Details of the case of Abdel Hakim Belhaj are included in messages sent to the Gaddafi government by US and British intelligence services.

Relations between Col Gaddafi's government and China have also been revealed.

Other documents found in Tripoli show Chinese arms manufacturers held talks as recently as July with Gaddafi government officials who were seeking arms and ammunition, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported.

The colonel's representatives visited Beijing, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman said, but no contracts were signed and no shipments were made.

A UN embargo on such sales was in place at the time.


Abdel Hakim Belhaj is now the commander of Tripoli, and an important ally of Britain and the United States, but in 2004 he was involved with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

In an operation which Britain and America put together, he was taken off a plane in Bangkok. He says he was tortured there by the CIA, flown to Libya without any legal process and tortured again.

British and American agents were not, he said, inside the torture rooms here but they went and interrogated him afterwards. A lot of these documents have been revealed here, and I've been reading some of them.

What also comes out is the extraordinarily cosy relationship between [former Libyan spy chief] Moussa Koussa and British officials. Many Libyans believe Mr Koussa, who defected in March, is absolutely dripping in blood. There are even letters from a very senior member of MI6 saying, "Dear Moussa, such a shame you couldn't join us for Christmas lunch."

At the same time, Mr Belhaj, who was seen as a dangerous jihadist terrorist at the time by the British and by the Libyans, was talking to Moussa Koussa in jail in Tripoli. According to Mr Belhaj, Moussa Koussa was saying to him, "You will die in this cell."

Fears of revenge

NTC forces have moved into position near Bani Walid, 150km (95 miles) south-east of the capital Tripoli.

Bani Walid is one of four towns and cities - the others are Jufra, Sabha and Col Gaddafi's birthplace in Sirte - still controlled by Gaddafi supporters.

Senior members of the anti-Gaddafi forces surrounding the town say the negotiations have now stopped - and were never serious because pro-Gaddafi forces continued to fire while the talks were going on.

Negotiator Abdullah Kenchil told the BBC the loyalists had wanted anti-Gaddafi forces to enter the town unarmed.

He said he feared civilians could be shot in revenge or used as human shields.

As well as being a Gaddafi stronghold, Bani Walid is also the home of the biggest and most powerful Libyan tribe, the Warfalla.

The whereabouts of Col Gaddafi remain unclear, but Mr Kenchil said his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi had only left the town on Saturday, heading to an unknown destination further south.

Meanwhile Col Gaddafi's chief of security, Mansour Daw, is reported to have crossed into neighbouring Niger.

He arrived in the northern city of Agadez along with 10 other people, Reuters quoted unnamed Niger officials as saying.

Mr Jalil, who is chairman of the NTC, said the pro-Gaddafi bastions were being given humanitarian aid and time to surrender "to avoid further bloodshed".

For now, the NTC is preaching a gospel of reconciliation, says BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, who is Tripoli. The NTC does not want to start off as a government with a bloody fight in Bani Walid, he adds.

Finding the Gaddafis

  • Muammar Gaddafi, sons Saif al-Islam, and Mutassim: Whereabouts unknown
  • Saadi Gaddafi: Claims to be near Bani Walid
  • Sons Muhammad and Hannibal, daughter Aisha and wife Safia: Fled to Algeria
  • Sons Saif al-Arab and Khamis: Reported killed

Documents uncovered in Tripoli show a close relationship between Western intelligence agencies and Col Gaddafi's government, which is known to have used torture.

The documents mention the names of several people targeted for rendition - the extrajudicial arrest and transfer of terrorism suspects - including Tripoli's new rebel military commander, Abdel Hakim Belhaj.

Mr Belhaj, who has been congratulated by UK Prime Minister David Cameron for his role in ousting Col Gaddafi's government from Tripoli, says he wants an apology from London and Washington.

After Col Gaddafi came in from the cold, Libya and its prison system became an important part of the war on terror, our correspondent says.

Shortly before the fall of Tripoli, a close advisor to Col Gaddafi told our correspondent that MI6 had been working them in the Libyan capital right up until the start of the uprising, in February.


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