Gadhafi's Son Says Libya Is Forging Ties With Islamists

Aug 4, 2011

In an interview with The New York Times, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, said his father's government was aligning itself with radical Islamists among the rebels.

The Times reports:

"The liberals will escape or be killed," the son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, vowed in an hourlong interview that stretched past midnight. "We will do it together," he added, wearing a newly grown beard and fingering Islamic prayer beads as he reclined on a love seat in a spare office tucked in a nearly deserted downtown hotel. "Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?"

The leading Islamist whom Mr. Qaddafi identified as his main counterpart in the talks, Ali Sallabi, acknowledged their conversations but dismissed any suggestion of an alliance. He said the Libyan Islamists supported the rebel leaders' calls for a pluralistic democracy without the Qaddafis.

In a video of the interview posted on the Times site, Gadhafi claims that the Islamists don't want a constitution for the country, that one would be against Islam and they want "the Quran."

Moammar Gadhafi has in the past blamed al-Qaida for the rebellion and warned the U.S. and others that if the regime falls, Libya would become a haven for terrorists. At that point, the Times' journalist David Kirkpatrick interrupted and asked if that's what he wants.

"Who cares now about constitution," Gadhafi responds. "First, we stop the war and then we talk about constitution."

The interview comes just as the Libyan rebels are dealing with some serious disagreements. The AFP reports that last week's assassination of General Abdel Fatah Yunis has fractured the rebels. The February 17 Coalition, reports AFP, is now calling for the sacking of the National Transitional Council's defense minister and the minister for international affairs. The United States recognized the NTC as Libya's rightful government in July.

The AFP adds:

The group's blistering criticism marks the most public sign yet of tensions between Libya's revolutionaries and the NTC that has come to be their de facto government.

After five months of fighting against Kadhafi's regime, the NTC has come under increasing scrutiny, with unease fueled by slow progress on the military front.

(Note that we follow AP style when it comes to the spelling of Gadhafi. Others use alternate spellings.)

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