Muammar Gaddafi has issued an audio message encouraging Libyans to take up arms against the fighters battling his loyalists and accusing the National Transitional Council (NTC), currently running the country, of being a front for Western powers.
“To all my beloved Libyans, the Libyan land is yours and you need to defend it against all those traitors, the dogs, those that have been in Libya and are trying to take over the land,” Gaddafi said.
“They were spies for the Italians and now they are spies for France. All those germs and rats … capture all those who are working with NATO and the UK to bomb our country and kill Libyans and our children.”
“They have nothing else to resort to apart from psychological warfare and lies. They last said Gaddafi had been seen in a convoy heading towards Niger,” he said in the first message from the fugitive deposed Libyan strongman in several days.
Earlier, Niger said it was considering how to deal with him if he decided to enter the country to seek refuge. Niger would decide later whether to accept Col Gaddafi or hand him to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the country’s foreign minister told the BBC.
There has been speculation that Col Gaddafi may go to Niger after groups of loyalists fled there in recent days. However, in a BBC interview on Wednesday, Niger’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum admitted that officials from his government were among those people who had recently crossed into Niger.
But he said that neither Col Gaddafi nor any of his sons were currently in his country, dismissing reports in some media. “There is no news about Gaddafi in Niger, we have no news about him, it is not true that he has tried to come into Niger or he came into Niger.”
“How many times do convoys transporting smugglers, traders and people cross the border every day for Sudan, Chad, Mali and Algeria,” Gaddafi said. “As if this was the first time a convoy was headed towards Niger. They want to weaken our morale,” he said, addressing his countrymen. “Do not waste time on this weak and ignoble enemy.”
Col. Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are unknown, instead said in the brief live speech carried by Arrai TV that his forces would rally to defeat the rebels and NATO, which has attacked his military through air strikes.
“The youths are now ready to escalate the resistance against the ‘rats’ (rebels) in Tripoli and to finish off the mercenaries,” Col. Gadhafi said during the call, which the television station said was being made from within Libya.
“We will defeat NATO … and NATO is rejected by the Libyan people,” he said. “We are ready in Tripoli and everywhere to intensify attacks against the rats, the mercenaries, who are a pack of dogs,” he said.
Col. Gadhafi said the Libyan military convoy, which French and Niger military sources said showed up in the northern Niger city of Agadez this week, was nothing exceptional.
“Columns of convoys drive into and out of Niger carrying goods and people inside and outside (of Libya) say Gadhafi is going to Niger,” he said.
Col Gaddafi’s wife, two of his sons and his daughter fled to Algeria last week. His own whereabouts remain the subject of speculation – though the NTC say they believe he is still in Libya.
Since his Tripoli complex was overrun on August 23, Gaddafi has made several appeals for resistance in tapes aired by Arrai, run by Damascus-based Iraqi Sunni former MP Mishan al-Juburi.
Juburi has been the only person who has been able to contact Gaddafi since he went into hiding after forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) took the capital Tripoli. “When I need to talk to him, I send him a message, or he contacts me when he wants to pass a message,” Mr Juburi told AFP by telephone.
Senior Western officials say they have no information about where Col Gaddafi may be, but have no indication he has left the country. A Nato spokesman, Col Roland Lavoie, told the BBC that Col Gaddafi was not a target, but Nato would continue to strike “command and control centres”.
“If we have intelligence revealing that from a specific location attacks are being co-ordinated or communications are being received or sent to conduct attacks or the threat of attacks, we would take action,” he said. [via The Telegraph and BBC]