News / Middle East

Aides: Libyan PM Abduction Was Political Plot

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, left, gives a press conference after being rescued from gunmen who snatched him from his hotel early Oct. 10, 2013.Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, left, gives a press conference after being rescued from gunmen who snatched him from his hotel early Oct. 10, 2013.
x
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, left, gives a press conference after being rescued from gunmen who snatched him from his hotel early Oct. 10, 2013.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, left, gives a press conference after being rescued from gunmen who snatched him from his hotel early Oct. 10, 2013.
A day after Libya’s prime minister was abducted and held for a few hours by militants, his aides said the episode is part of a broad plan on the part of his political opponents to destabilize the government.

The plot to abduct Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zidan on Thursday was hatched two days before U.S. Special Forces seized an al-Qaida suspect in Tripoli, according to government sources close to Zidan. The American action was the main reason the conspirators and militiamen gave for kidnapping the Libyan leader.

But the abduction conspiracy not only predates the American capture of Abu Anas al-Libi, it also was part of a wider plan involving some senior Libyan lawmakers, Libyan sources said.  The sources said the plot possibly reaches as high as the leadership in the country’s parliament.

“This has its origins not only with the militias but with politicians in the GNC,” said an aide to Zidan, who declined to be identified for this article.

Zidan, a former human rights lawyer, served briefly in the diplomatic corps of the former Libyan leader Moammer Gadhafi before going into exile in Europe in 1980. He was freed from the Tripoli house where he was being held after only six hours of captivity by rival militiamen from two Tripoli districts. 

“There was a brief exchange of gunfire,” Haitham al-Tajouri, one of the rescuers, told al-Hurra television.

Zidan’s abductors were militiamen from different towns including Misrata and Zawiya, who were serving in semi-official law enforcement units, say witnesses as well as some of the kidnappers themselves.

The kidnappers brandished the warrant when they stormed Tripoli’s luxury Corinthia hotel Thursday where Zidan keeps an office and a bedroom suite.

More than 400 gunmen were involved in the kidnapping estimates Khalil Yahia, the head of the government security team at the Corinthia, which also houses several foreign missions. Yahia, a bearded 28-year-old, says he was taken aback when the gunmen arrived in an assortment of pick-ups and cars and surrounded the landmark hotel looming over the capital’s old souk.

They blocked the entrances before half of the contingent peeled off and entered the foyer demanding to know Zidan’s whereabouts and shouting they had an arrest warrant.

“I was depressed,” Yahia said. “I was thinking, ‘Here we are trying to build a state and they are now going to arrest the prime minister.’ ”

The gunmen then started to search the hotel, startling guests before someone told them where Zidan was sleeping.

After a brief scuffle with the two guards outside Zidan’s suite, the bewildered Prime Minister was led downstairs and marched outside the hotel to shouts of “Allah Akbar.” The kidnappers put out statements saying they had “arrested” Zidan on accusations of harming state security and corruption. The public prosecutor’s office said it had issued no warrant.

FILE - This file image from the FBI website shows Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda leader connected to the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa.FILE - This file image from the FBI website shows Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda leader connected to the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa.
x
FILE - This file image from the FBI website shows Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda leader connected to the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa.
FILE - This file image from the FBI website shows Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaeda leader connected to the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa.
​There is widespread speculation in Tripoli that the kidnapping was linked to the anger many of the revolutionary militias and Islamic militants expressed over last week’s seizing by a U.S. Delta Force team of al-Qaida  suspect Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, whose nom de guerre is Abu Anas al-Libi.

He was captured as he returned to his Tripoli home after dawn prayers. He is alleged to have been one of the organizers of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200.

Although government ministers denied having given approval for the U.S. raid and demanded al-Libi’s return, Zidan’s criticism was restrained, saying American-Libyan relations would not be harmed by the military action.

The brazen abduction of Zidan underscored the lawlessness of Libya and heightened public and international alarm over the power of the militias and the unruliness of the country.

The Swedish consulate in Benghazi was the target of a car bomb attack on Friday.  No injuries were reported.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More