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

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa 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.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs