martedì 8 novembre 2011

Gheddafi prima della resa

In an interview with CNN, Mansour Daou, one of former Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi's top security officials, who is reported to have remained at his side until the final hours , describes how the dictator, was forced to scavenge for food and hide in abandoned houses in the coastal city of Sirte.

Daou, who spoke the the American TV channel while awaiting trial at a detention facility in the city of Misurata, said that the man who was once of the world's most feared leaders was very worried and erratic. Supposedly because he was afraid.

According to Daou, Al Qathafi became desperate to travel to his birthplace, the village of Jaref, 20 kilometres west of Sirte, a journey that Daou feared would have been a suicide. "He wanted to go to his village, maybe he wanted to die there or spend his last moments there," he said.

Finally, after NATO jets attacked his convoy, Al Qathafi tried to escape on foot through drainage pipes, but was caught. He was later killed in circumstances that are still far from clear.

Among the most significant charges Daou faces rare those relating to his alleged role in the1996 Abu Salim prison massacre, and his role in the alleged hiring of African mercenaries by the regime during the conflict. In his interview with CNN he said he had no role in those events.

During the hour-long interview, Daou, in his late 50s, and wearing a traditional Arabic grey dishdasha robe, seemed to be in good health CNN said. He described how he had been in the same car as Al Qathafi as they made their chaotic escape from the former leader's hometown of Sirte.

According to Daou, Al Qathafi left Tripoli for Sirte on August 18, just two days before NYC fighters entered the Libyan capital Tripoli. Daou himself said he had remained in Tripoli until it became clear the city was no longer safe for the regime's inner circle.

He then fled to the city of Bani Walid on August 22, along with Al Qathafi's son, Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi, and stayed with them for four days before joining the Al Qathafi in Sirte.

Daou said their living conditions went from bad to worse as the rebels tightened their siege of the city. They moved around abandoned houses every three to four days, he said, surviving on the little food they could find. Towards the end, they had no power, water or communication with the outside world. "Our lives had turned by about 180 degrees," he said.

The former Libyan leader spent his final days writing and reading books he had stacked in suitcases, Daou said, but his behaviour became more unpredictable. As fighters surrounded Sirte, Al Qathafi's group wanted to leave the city.

Daou said he and others knew that if they did not leave before the siege there would be no way out, But the former leader refused to leave - until October 20 - when he and his son Muatassem decided to make the move to the former dictator's birthplace.

Their group of about 350 men had dropped to fewer than 200, Daou told CNN. "It started dropping daily with some killed, others wounded and those who had left with their families," he said.

Daou described their force as a mostly undisciplined civilian one under the command of Muatassem. They had no plan - not for fleeing and certainly not for fighting, he said.

Their convoy of more than 40 vehicles was supposed to head out before dawn when they thought NTC forces would be resting - but they were too late.

At about 8 a.m. they set out to Jaref but NATO jets quickly struck one of the vehicles in the convoy. Daou remembered a scene of chaos, confusion and horror as the impact of the explosion triggered the airbags in the car and Al Qathafi sustained a slight injury to his head or chest.

He went on to say that as they tried to escape anti-Al Qathafi fighters opened fire on their cars . Then followed a second air strike by NATO.

"That is when we had the most casualties and destroyed vehicles, our car was hit after we got out of it. It was terrifying," Daou recalled, adding that they had no option but to run; their escape on foot ended with heavy fire from fighters who surrounded them by the drainage pipes they were using to escape through.

Daou said he lost consciousness after he was hit by shrapnel in his back and does not know how Al Qathafi died. But he believed that the death of the former Libyan leader ended the possibility of an insurgency that his loyalists could have mounted. "The regime and any power it may have had died with Al Qathafi," he said.

The legacy of Libya's former dictator is now being debated. "It will be up to the historians, everyone has their opinion, some see him as a dictator who killed his own people, and there is an opposite view. History is usually written by the more powerful," Daou said.

According to Daou. Al Qathafi believed he could remain in power. He and other members of the inner circle tried to convince him to leave the country since March "to leave with respect ... to save face." His sons rejected the idea, especially Seif: "It is not easy for someone who had been in power for 42 years, to believe that it is over in a minute," Daou said.

Daou said he had no idea where the former regime's most wanted men - Seif and al-Senuossi - were. But with the International Criminal Court pursuing them, he believes they are probably still in Libya as no country will take them.

When asked if he thought Seif, who during the conflict vowed to fight until the end, was a fighter, Daou laughed quietly at the suggestion that Seif was a fighter. "I don't know - I don't think so," he said.

Daou recalled that as unrest broke out in the region in January, officials in Libya were worried. "There was fear and there was concern that this wave could reach Libya and the feeling was right," he said.

Daou said he was in a car with Al Qathafi and al-Senoussi driving back to Tripoli from Sabha in the south when news reached them about the ousting of the President of neighbouring Tunisia. He said they discussed it but the threat was not taken seriously. According to Daou, Al Qathafi felt betrayed by world leaders he considered allies, like Britain’s Tony Blair, Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan,

Daou explained to CNN that a bigger betrayal came from within. He said there was a defence plan in place for the capital, but it was treason among the ranks of those who were tasked with securing Tripoli that led to the fall of the capital in a few days. He said more than 3,800 troops were supposed to guard Tripoli's gates, but on the night the revolutionaries entered the capital, fewer than 200 troops were on duty.

Daou, now awaiting trial, said that the revolution was the people's will and they won. Now they have to preserve it,- and Libya's unity,” he said.

Asked if he regretted being part of the regime, he sighed and chuckled. "Sometimes I regret everything, I have even regretted being alive, of course a person has regrets at a time in his life and looks back but unfortunately you sometimes regret when it is too late."

The Tripoli Post, 7/11/11

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