Interpol Widens Net in Hunt for Qaddafi and Sons

The New York Times on September 29, 2011 released the following:

“By KAREEM FAHIM and RICK GLADSTONE

TRIPOLI, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the fugitive former Libyan leader toppled from power a month ago, is likely to have taken refuge near the Algerian border under the protection of sympathetic nomadic tribesmen who have fought for him, an official of the new Libyan government said Wednesday.

On Thursday, Interpol also widened its net for members of his family.

The government official said Colonel Qaddafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, was likely to be hiding in the loyalist desert enclave of Bani Walid, and that a second son, Muatassim el-Qaddafi, a militia commander and former national security adviser, was probably in Surt, the Qaddafi clan’s hometown on the Mediterranean coast.

On Thursday, Interpol, the international police agency based in Lyon, France, placed a third son, Saadi el-Qaddafi, 38, on the equivalent of its most wanted list, publishing what it called a Red Notice for him to be sought on charges of “allegedly misappropriating properties through force and armed intimidation when he headed the Libyan Football Federation.”

In a statement, Interpol said it had confirmed reported that Colonel Qaddafi’s third son who had a reputation for dissolute behavior as a soccer player in Italy was last seen in Niger. Interpol said the alert was the first to be issued at the request of Libya’s Transitional National Council.

Previous such alerts for Colonel Qaddafi himself and members of his family and entourage were issued at the request of the International Criminal Court, where they are accused of crimes against humanity, Interpol said.

The Interpol statement said the younger Mr. Qaddafi had commanded military units “allegedly involved in the repression of demonstrations by civilians during Libya’s uprising” and, since March, had been subject to a United Nations travel ban and a freeze on his assets. Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble was quoted as saying the Red Notice would “significantly restrict his ability to travel and cross international borders” and would enable neighboring countries to arrest him with a view to returning him to Libya.

Armed supporters of Colonel Qaddafi in Bani Walid and Surt have defied demands for surrender by anti-Qaddafi forces who have besieged both towns. And despite days of bombardment by NATO warplanes, the colonel’s loyalists, with a seemingly plentiful supply of ammunition, have repelled repeated advances. On Wednesday, anti-Qaddafi commanders sent at least five tanks into Surt; they quickly came under fire by Grad rockets, which barely missed the tanks, Reuters reported.

The fierce resistance has helped fuel the speculation that senior Qaddafi family members are hiding in the two towns. In recent weeks, military commanders from Misurata, who have led the fight to take Surt, have said that they have heard Muatassim el-Qaddafi’s voice on radio transmissions, and witnesses have told anti-Qaddafi fighters that Seif al-Islam has been seen in Bani Walid.

The latest information about Colonel Qaddafi and his two sons was reported by Hisham Buhagiar, a military official in the Transitional National Council, in an interview with Reuters.

He said Colonel Qaddafi, who has not appeared in public since his opponents overran Tripoli in late August and drove him underground, was sheltering near the western town of Ghadamis, near the border with Algeria, under the protection of the Tuaregs, tribesmen who roam the Sahara traversing Libya and its neighboring nations.

Mr. Buhagiar did not explain the sources of his information. Previous assertions by the Transitional National Council about their whereabouts have not proved accurate.

The council’s political leaders continued their efforts to try to form a working government, a process that has stalled amid in-fighting and regional rivalries. A list of cabinet members released unofficially on Wednesday by a person with knowledge of the deliberations included prominent names from the eastern city of Benghazi and seemed intended to placate leaders from that region, but it was not clear whether former rebels from other areas would be satisfied.

A powerful Tripoli militia leader, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, warned that Islamists should not be ignored in the new government.

Mr. Belhaj, a former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, wrote in The Guardian on Tuesday: “What worries us is the attempt of some secular elements to isolate and ignore others. Libya’s Islamists have announced their commitment to democracy; despite this, some reject their participation and call for them to be marginalized.

“We will not allow this.””

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Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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