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Gadhafi's Son Reappears In Tripoli


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel. In Tripoli today, Libyan rebels seized control of Moammar Gadhafi's primary compound. At the same time, rebel leaders in the eastern city of Benghazi discussed a post-Gadhafi government with visiting foreign officials. The rebels' success in Tripoli provided a badly needed boost to their Transitional National Council. It suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday when Gadhafi's notorious son, Seif al-Islam, appeared in public after rebel leaders had claimed he was in custody. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in Benghazi, and she sent us this report.


SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON: On television, he taunted the rebels and claimed his father's forces would crush them. His reemergence dealt a blow to Benghazi residents who loathe him as much as the besieged leader himself.

ALI ALBARAZI: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: Ali Albarazi(ph) and other residents say they view the younger Gadhafi as a key force behind the oppression they felt for decades. Fellow resident Muhammad Abdulah Rafali(ph), who is a corporal in the rebel army's special forces, says learning that Seif al-Islam was still at liberty cut deeply.

MUHAMMAD ABDULAH RAFALI: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: But Rafali, like many others here, said they still back the Transitional Council and its leader, Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

ABDULAH RAFALI: (Foreign language spoken)

SARHADDI NELSON: He says they love and respect Jalil and added may God forgive what he did.


SARHADDI NELSON: Jalil refused at a news conference today to answer questions about the incident, but council foreign affairs spokesman Mahmoud Jibril stressed the council's efforts to keep rebels from engaging revenge attacks against any of the Gadhafi family.

MAHMOUD JIBRIL: Personally, I think we have taken extra measures to make sure none of Gadhafi's family, none of Gadhafi's inner circle is harmed. And probably, this is what led to the freeing of Mohammed two days ago.

SARHADDI NELSON: Jibril is referring to another Gadhafi son who reportedly escaped from rebel captivity yesterday.

JIBRIL: We could have arrested him. We could have put him in prison, but we preferred not to do so. We wanted to treat him well, make sure he's not harmed, make sure of his safety and his family's safety.

SARHADDI NELSON: Visiting dignitaries also made no reference to the incident, instead showering the council and its head with praise and vows of support. One was Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who at a Benghazi news conference urged countries with frozen Libyan assets to send them to the rebel council by next week.

AHMET DAVUTOGLU: We are sure that Libya will be one of the leading countries after this historical transformation. The military support will continue until full security is being established.

SARHADDI NELSON: The foreign minister also revealed that his country had provided $300 million in aid to the rebels. Meanwhile, rebel council member Suleiman Fortia says key ministers are working on plans to relocate the leadership from Benghazi to Tripoli. Fortia says a ministerial delegation will soon travel to Tripoli to assess the capital's security, economic and fuel needs in the wake of the fighting. Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Benghazi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.