Libyan rebels claim Gaddafi son captured, but escaped

NTC president: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi "got away due to inexperience, gullibility of rebel fighters"; Libyan leader's son appears in Tripoli.

August 23, 2011 11:10
2 minute read.
Saif al Islam Gaddafi

Saif al Islam Gaddafi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Saif al-Islam Gaddafi had been captured by Libyan rebels but escaped, Interim President of the National Transitional Council Waheed Burshan told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"We don't understand what happened," he said of Gaddafi's son's escape. "It is the inexperience of [our] fighters, it is just the way of the gullibility, if you will, of our youth.

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"Remember, this is an uprising. We don't have that structured military guard," he explained.

The interview came after Muammar Gaddafi's son appeared with cheering supporters in Tripoli, who rebels claimed had been captured. 

His appearance gave a boost to forces loyal to the veteran leader trying to fight off insurgents who say they control most of the capital.

Saif al-Islam, who has been seen as his father's heir apparent, visited the Tripoli hotel where foreign journalists are staying to declare that the government was winning the battle against the rebels.

He took journalists to his father's Bab al-Aziziyah stronghold. Television footage showed Saif pumping his fists in the air, smiling, waving and shaking hands with supporters, as well as holding his arms aloft with each hand making the V for victory sign.

"We broke the back of the rebels. It was a trap. We gave them a hard time, so we are winning," Saif said.

Saif's arrest had been reported both by rebels and the International Criminal Court in The Hague and his appearance before the foreign media raised questions as to the rebels' credibility.

He said that Tripoli was under government control and that he did not care about the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court seeking him and his father for crimes against humanity.

Gaddafi himself has not been seen in public since some time before the rebels arrived in the capital at the weekend. But when asked if his father was safe and well in Tripoli, Saif told journalists: "Of course."

World leaders urged Gaddafi, 69, to surrender to prevent more bloodshed and appealed for an orderly transition of power, as the six-month-old battle for control of the oil-producing North African nation appeared to enter its final stages.

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