16 Mar 2011

Gaddafi’s son: Benghazi to be ‘liberated’ in two days

Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif tells Channel 4 News that millions of people in east Libya will be “liberated from dark forces” in two days, as the UN Secretary General calls for an immediate ceasefire.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s promise of “liberation” for Benghazi and Tobruk comes amid mounting reports of death and violence in Libya, causing the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to call for an immediate cease-fire.

Paris-based medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres has withdrawn its teams from eastern Libya due to heavy fighting between insurgents and forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told Channel 4 News Foreign Correspondent Jonathan Miller that thousands of armed forces and volunteers were progressing east: “Wait and see what will happen in the next two days in the east of Libya.

The Prime Minister has a list of phone calls to make on Libya in the next 48 hours writes Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon.

David Cameron's phone list includes Arab countries he wants to pledge military aircraft to the No Fly Zone plan. Other countries on the list will also be asked for pledges of physical and moral support.

Read more: PM under pressure as Gaddafi forces approach east Libya

“You will see the millions there happy for their liberation from the dark forces. You will see.

“You saw in Zawiyah, you will see it in Misrata, in Ras Lanuf..we have many examples.”


There are reports from Misrata that Gaddafi’s forces launched an artillery bombardment on Wednesday in preparation for an attempt to retake what is western Libya’s last big rebel stronghold.

Read more: Arab revolt and the Middle East uprisings 

“Very heavy bombardments are taking place now from three sides. They are using heavy weapons including tanks and artillery…they have yet to enter the town,” said one resident, called Mohammed.

Accounts of fighting in Misrata could not be verified because Libyan authorities have prevented reporters from reaching the city. Libyan officials had no immediate comment on reports of a bombardment.

A doctor at Misrata hospital said the bodies of five people killed in the shelling had been brought in, but that he had been told more were killed.

Libya: a child next to anti-Gaddafi slogan in Tobruk (Reuters)

Rebel forces ‘killing opposition’

In the East, the city of Benghazi is braced for bloody scenes.

The Libyan army has told residents there to lay down their arms as forces edge closer to the rebel-held heartland.

But the mood in the city is a mixture of defiance and nervousness, with some citizens predicting a bloodbath while others are confident the rebels would still snatch victory against the government offensive.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told Channel 4 News “nothing” would happen to those responsible for the uprising.

“Some of them are underage, 14 or 13, they forced them to fight.

We haven’t punished the terrorists we captured. Did we execute them, torture them, kill them? No. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

“The top guys they will escape, they will go to Egypt – they started fleeing to Egypt today by the way.”

He continued: “We haven’t punished even the terrorists who we captured, we captured a big number of them. Did we execute them, torture them, kill them? No.”

Gaddafi’s son accused rebel forces of killing people who support his father’s government.

He said: “If you are not with them, they kill you so now everybody will say yes because they will kill you.

“It is not a joke. They have no mercy. They have their own police and their own courts.

“In Misrata they have a checkpoint with a list. If you are on this list they kill you..they are armed and violent.”


At the United Nations, a statement from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that he was “gravely concerned” at the signs of an imminent attack on Benghazi, warning that a bombardment of such a city “would massively place civilian lives at risk”, and urging “all parties in this conflict to accept an immediate ceasefire.”

Echoing his fears, the International Red Cross announced on Wednesday that it had withdrawn from Benghazi and called on both sides in Libya to spare civilians.

Rebel forces in Libya are preparing fight Gaddafi's army (Reuters)

Foreign intervention

Foreign powers have condemned Gaddafi’s crackdown in Libya but show little appetite for action to support the revolt.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy on Wednesday wrote to the heads of state of the United Nations Security Council urging them to back a draft resolution including provision for a no-fly zone over Libya that was first circulated on Tuesday by France, Britain and Lebanon. Speaking in Cairo on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hoped there could be a vote on the resolution no later than Thursday: “We are moving as rapidly as we can in New York to see wether we can get additional authorities for the international community to look at a broad range of actions, not just a no-fly zone”

NATO has set three conditions for it to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya: regional support, proof its help is needed and a Security Council resolution.

Those people in the west are against the Libyan people. They are not with us so they are against us. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

An Arab League call for a no-fly zone satisfies the first condition, but with access to most of Libya barred by Gaddafi’s security forces, hard evidence that NATO intervention is needed to avert atrocities or a humanitarian disaster is scarce.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi told Channel 4 News: “If you are not with us you are against us.

“Those people in the west are against the Libyan people. They are not with us so they are against us and those people have no moral values just interests.

“They focus on oil deals, gas, contracts because if they have moral values they should have supported the Libyan people. Not a bunch of gangsters.

“The funny thing is that they represent, or are fighting for, democracy and human rights. This is the biggest joke I have ever heard in my life…wait and see.”