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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs