UPDATE, 09:00 CST, Aug. 25
In order for the hunt for Qaddafi not to “turn into a protracted affair,” NATO officials confirm that many assets are being used to try to find the elusive despot as soon as possible. According to the BBC:
These range from agents on the ground trying to pick up the latest reports and rumours, through to satellites watching for any convoys or unusual movement in the desert, as well as the interception of communications to see if any supporters or Col Gaddafi himself gives anything away.
UK Defense Secretary Liam Foxx and officials have declined to comment on reports that the SAS has also been ordered to help with the search on the ground.
His latest radio message will “also be analysed for any clues. He claimed he had come out undercover on the streets of Tripoli. That is impossible to verify.”
Other speculations are that he might be in, or heading for, his hometown of Sirte to make his last stand; that he might use underground tunnels in Tripoli to either hide or make his way out of the city secretly; that he may have headed south to sympathetic tribes, where he also might be able to leave the country.
The BBC article also points out that if Qaddafi manages to evade capture for a long time, it will make it more difficult “for there to be a sense of victory and for a new government to get on with its work. His survival could also prove to be a cause for a resistance to rally,” and reminds us that Saddam Hussein managed to elude his captors for eight months, “and his loyalists began to organise themselves, quickly being joined by al-Qaeda and other radical groups.”
UPDATE, 15:30 CST, Aug 24:
Rebels have placed a nearly $2 million bounty on the head of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and have dispatched fighters toward “one of his last bastions of support, his tribal hometown of Surt,” according to the New York Times:
In the eastern city of Benghazi, base of the rebel uprising, the head of the rebel Transitional National Council told a news conference Wednesday that Libyan businessmen had contributed 2 million dinars, about $1.7 million, for the capture of Colonel Qaddafi dead or alive.
The rebel leaders in Benghazi also called on loyalists in Surt, more than 200 miles east of Tripoli, to join them, and said they had directed rebel fighting units to close in on Surt from Misurata in the west and the port city of Ras Lanuf in the east.
Finally, the White House believes Qaddafi is still in Libya.
CNN has just reported that all 35 journalists and others who had been held hostage by Qaddafi troops at the Rixos hotel have now been released.
UPDATE, 06:30 CST, August 24.
Today brings fresh new clashes in Tripoli, especially around the Qaddafi compound and the Tripoli International Airport. NBC news reports that the clashes around the airport may be part of attempts by Qaddafi loyalists to clear an escape route to the airport for Qaddafi to make his getaway.
NATO, however, is flying missions over Tripoli and the airport.
There have also been clashes around the Rixos hotel where about 35 reporters and others, including a US congressman and an Indian MP, are being held hostage by Qaddafi troops.
The situation deteriorated massively overnight when it became clear that we were unable to leave the hotel of our own free will. Gunmen were roaming around the corridors, some of them, it seemed, trained professional Gaddafi soldiers.
We believe there are still snipers on the roof of the hotel and effectively our movements are curtailed. The ITN cameraman just had an AK-47 pulled on him – a guard approached him and pushed him back, pointing the gun towards him.
He is okay but still there is a huge amount of apprehension and nervousness among the journalists stuck here in this hotel.
There are even rumors that Qaddafi may be at the hotel.
From the New York Times on Qadaffi’s whereabouts:
The victory was by no means complete, however. Colonel Qaddafi and his family were nowhere to be found.
As a reminder that he remained on the loose, Colonel Qaddafi, in an address broadcast early Wednesday over a local Tripoli radio station, called his retreat from Bab al-Aziziya “tactical,” Reuters reported. He blamed months of NATO airstrikes for bringing down his compound and vowed “martyrdom” or victory in his battle against the alliance. It was the second such address by Colonel Qaddafi, 69, since his forces lost control of Tripoli.
Rebel officials and others close to Colonel Qaddafi both said Tuesday that they believed that he had not gone far.
“We believe that he is either in Tripoli or close to Tripoli,” Guma el-Gamaty, a spokesman for the rebels leadership, told BBC television. “Sooner or later he will be found alive and arrested — and hopefully that is the best outcome we want — or if he resists, he will be killed.”
Again, the BBC:
It is not known if Col Gaddafi and his family were in Bab al-Aziziya on Tuesday, but the complex is reported to be connected by underground tunnels to various key locations across the city.
The Gaddafi family are also believed to have access to numerous safe houses in Tripoli and beyond.
When I first posted the breaking news Sunday evening that Libyan rebels had entered the capital, Tripoli, and that little resistance by Qadaffi troops was reported, many, including the U.S. State Department proclaimed that Qaddafi’s days ”were numbered.”
I went even farther and said:
I personally feel and hope that Qaddafi’s hours are numbered, but also hope that the rebels will show the residents of Tripoli the mercy Qaddafi and his troops never showed the rebels or the Libyan people.
Well, while the rebels have made tremendous progress including capturing Qaddafi’s stronghold Bab al-Aziziya, the fighting is not over and Qaddafi and his henchmen remain at large.
As it has now, technically, been more than two days—more than just “hours”— since the rebels’ entrance into Tripoli, I must admit to, my surprise and chagrin, that I was too optimistic—in other words, wrong.
Another thing that has surprised me is how much the news coverage of such a momentous and historic event has diminished.
Granted, the Washington, DC, earthquake is claiming most headlines, but I expected a little more coverage, for example at that great news aggregator—my favorite— memeorandum.com.
Memeorandum arranges links to the day’s must read political news and opinion pieces “in a single, easy-to-scan page. It auto-generates a news summary every 5 minutes, drawing on experts and pundits, insiders and outsiders, media professionals and amateur bloggers.”
Unless I missed it completely, at 10:40 PM ET, August 23, 2011 , there were only two links related to Libya or Qadaffi. (There was a link to “Michelle Obama shows up her husband in tiny purple bike shorts as the President lags behind in jeans.”)
Well, here at TMV, we are not going to miss a beat and will continue to update the story—in a brand new page—whether it is hours, days, or weeks until Qaddafi’s whereabouts are known.
Here is the latest update from the BBC.
The BBC Reports that Col Muammar Gaddafi has vowed death or victory in the fight against “aggression.”
Some excerpts from the report:
Pro-Gaddafi al-Urubah TV said the colonel – whose whereabouts remain unknown – made an audio speech, saying the retreat from the Bab al-Aziziya compound was a “tactical move”.
The compound was one of the final areas under Col Gaddafi’s control in Tripoli.
TV footage also showed fighters breaking the head off a statue of the Libyan leader and kicking it along the ground after capturing Bab al-Aziziya on Tuesday. They also seized items from Col Gaddafi’s home.
However, there are still pockets of resistance in the capital, including the Abu Salim and al-Hadba districts, and near the Hotel Rixos, where many foreign journalists are staying.
Speaking on a local Tripoli radio station on Wednesday, Col Gaddafi pledged “martyrdom or victory” in the fight against Nato and the Libyan rebels, al-Urubah said.
Col Gaddafi also said that his compound was destroyed by 64 Nato air strikes.
It is unclear if any members of the Gaddafi family are still here. I suspect they are not, because it is the one place they know the people of Tripoli would tear to shreds.
Al-Urubah also broadcast what it said was a live telephone interview with government spokesman Musa Ibrahim.
He said Libya would be turned into a “burning volcano and a fire under the feet of the invaders”.
The spokesman also said that 6,000 volunteers had arrived to Libya to fight for Col Gaddafi.
The claim has not been independently verified.
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