Coffee House

Saif Gaddafi captured — but what now?

19 November 2011

6:14 PM

19 November 2011

6:14 PM

Remember when Saif Gaddafi was the Anointed One of those who wanted a freer, more liberal Libya? Now, he’s at the mercy of militiamen in the city of Zintan, having been captured today. It leaves
Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief, as the most infamous member of the old regime still on the run.


The details of the capture are still hazy, like so much else during Libya’s revolution. What’s striking is that, unlike his father, Saif Gaddafi appears to have been unharmed by the process.
Reuters are sure they spoke with him earlier today (although the man wouldn’t confirm his identity), and the
only wounds he was carrying were, he claimed, sustained during a Nato air strike, ‘one month ago’. These facts have led some — including an analyst in the Al-Jazeera video clip
above — to suppose that this ‘capture’ may be more a negotiated surrender by Gaddafi, weeks in the making.

What happens next is, as yet, equally uncertain. The nascent Libyan government is stressing that Saif Gaddafi will be granted that which Muammar Gaddafi was denied: a trial, and on Libyan soil too.
But the militia that currently holds him says they won’t hand him over until due processes are in place. And, in the meantime, the ICC is sniffing around, likely
suspicious of Libya’s capacity to put any Gaddafi to justice. What they will want to avoid is a show trial, where the execution of Saif Gaddafi is reached as inevitably and almost as swiftly as
that of his father.

All in all, this capture — however it came about — is a testing moment for the new administration in Libya. With Egyptian security forces once again clashing with protestors in Tahrir Square, the West will be looking for assurances that the Arab
Spring hasn’t just swept in new tyrants in place of the old.

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Show comments
  • Augustus

    fergus pickering
    November 21st, 2011 1:52am

    You are right. What I should have said was,
    The indifference of the media about the beastly and prolonged way Gaddafi was tortured and murdered is a troubling sign.
    I doubt even the Russians would have treated
    Hitler like that.

  • fergus pickering

    Augustus, if the media have kept quiet about the way Gaddafi was lynched how is it that I, and you, know about it?

  • Augustus

    “the West will be looking for assurances that the Arab Spring hasn’t just swept in new tyrants in place of the old.”

    It’s a bit late for that. The way the media and politicians have kept quiet about the way Gadaffi was lynched is a complete disgrace. Without NATO the Arab Storm in Libya would have blown over. The Libyan rebels formed the NATO ground troops against the regime. Without NATO the rebels couldn’t even have held Benghazi, let alone
    drive the regime out of Tripoli. The West’s commandos even came in to help lead these rebels. And now it’s ‘Allahu Akbar’, off with his head etc., as if some imaginary deity is taking over and resulting in primitive hatred and revenge. This Arab Spring looks like turning into an ice age,
    and it’s coming nearer and nearer.

  • Verity

    Tankus … ha ha ha ha ha!

  • Minnie Ovens

    the West will be looking for assurances that the Arab Spring hasn’t just swept in new tyrants in place of the old

    Please don’t tell me you are surprised.

  • Jorgen Duus, Denmark

    I’m afraid the Arab spring will just replace the old dictators with new ones.
    Like Roger Daltrey used to sing: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss”.

  • Holly ……

    David Lindsey.7.22.

    Islam in an islamic country.
    By golly.
    Who’d a thunk it?

    I bet you think that the majority who helped change their murderous leader & actively follow Islam in Libya, will be hell bent on trying to stop their laws being more in line with their faith.

    The difference now is….They KNOW how to rid themselves of artichoke leaders whose ideas the MAJORITY do not agree with.

    Stop fretting.

  • Holly ……

    Hands up those who think anyone over there is ‘concerned’ of this man’s fate?

    Hands up those who think anyone over there will ‘feel safer’ or ‘freer’ with this man still around?

    We over here have never lived under the Gaddaffi regime, so cannot honestly say whether they care or not how we judge them when dealing with him.

    Didn’t we just have a petition on hanging the guilty?

    Hands up those who would think bad of them for getting rid of him the same way as he got rid of so many of them.

    We can ‘think’ of the people whatever we like, but should never speak for the people
    who endured the regime.

    They have ‘progresses’ much quicker than we could ever imagine, if only by allowing him a trial…Kangeroo/fair or otherwise.
    Something which many over there never had the chance of

    The people KNOW the truth about this man already.
    A trial is just a show for our benefit.

    One step at a time…IS good.

  • Val Duncan

    Oh, come on, he won’t live long enough to say anything about the Blair dealings…nor the Miliband dealings… or the Prince Andrew dealings… or anything else that may rock a boat…. he is a dead man walking!

  • TrevorsDen

    Lindsay – I did not say Romania was soviet – I said it was European. Libya is an arab islamic country – who do you expect to run it?

  • Mirtha Tidville

    Sorry but does anyone seriously think that the `Arab Spring` did anything other than change one set of dictators for another?????…you really do need to get out more often!!

  • David Lindsay

    TrevorsDen, Romania was not part of the Soviet Bloc. She had a ghastly regime, but not a Soviet satellite one. In fact, that regime had particularly close ties to Britain. To our shame, but there we are. More than once, the Soviet Union came to the brink of invading Romania.

    Which bring us to the National Salvation Front, overthrowers of Ceausescu, and originators of the present political class in Romania. Their objection to Ceausescu was not that he was pro-Soviet. It was that he was anti-Soviet. They emerged out of the Moscow-backing, because Moscow-backed, faction within the Communist Party. In 1989, the Soviet Union still had two years left to go, and few were those who thought that it would collapse entirely.

    When a kangaroo court convicted and executed the Ceausescus for the “genocide” of 34 people and for daring to throw parties at their house on major holidays, it was, as things turned out, the last great triumph of the Soviet Union, taking out a man who was vicious and brutal in himself, but who was nevertheless a dedicated opponent of Soviet power.

    Those who took him out have run Romania ever since. Just as the Islamists now look set to run Libya for a very long time.

  • TrevorsDen

    The fate of Gadaffi was no different to the fate of two European dictators; Mussolini and his mistress and Ceausescu and his wife.

    As for Sharia law is not uncommon amongst most arab states. One interesting aspect to see on today’s news was the interviewing of a number of clearly ‘westernised’ women in motor cars.

    Lets not get carried away.

  • salieri

    Why not give him a Fellowship in International Relations at LSE? At minimum wage, natch.

  • PhilW

    In view of the extraordinary friendship Saif struck up with the Milliband’s culminating in his invitation to speak at their father’s memorial lecture I would have thought Ed,Mandy, Blair and Brown along with 15 plane loads of BBc supporters/reporters would be currently enroute to Libya to volunteer as character references for their esteemed acquaintance when he is put on trial for his crimes (or in nick robinson speak for this ghastly tory smear.)

  • Tarka the Rotter

    I hope he can clench…

  • tankus

    Hope he squeals like a stuck pig over every dodgy deal with Blair and Mandy…..

    bet neither of them are sitting comfortably tonight! …well , Mandy never does anyway !

  • Barnehurst Bob

    Saif Gaddafi captured — but what now?

    From a domestic point of view I’d expect Douglas Alexander and Ed Miliband to keep quiet unless pushed. Then they’ll say it’s a Lybyan matter and should be dealt with in Libya. The last thing they’ll want is all the dirty washing from the last government getting a public airing as Saif Gaddafi gets his own back on the friends who turned on him.
    Blair, the middle east spokesman, has been a bit quiet. Surely he’d have an opinion on this. He’s not usually shy when it comes to camera time!

  • Richard of Moscow

    What a wonderful cast list in this drama. The son of the bloodthirsty dictator, the baying Islamist mob backed by the cowardly little ponces of NATO, and the Dr Roland Freislers of the ICC “sniffing around,” as Mr. Hoskin puts it.
    All hail the “noo demahcracy” as CNN will undoubtedly call this mess.

  • Augustus

    “It leaves Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief, as the most infamous member of the old regime still on the run.”

    Unless, of course, you also include another Gaddafi son, Saadi Gaddafi, who the present regime also wants to indict, and who is presently being granted asylum in Niger.

  • porkbelly

    The tribe that sheltered him is selling him to the highest bidder; couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow. It is still dumbfounding that anyone can shed tears over the fate of his father, torn to death by the jackals he spawned. One can only wish for a similar fate for the good Dr. Assad.

  • David Lindsay

    The arrest of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has them cheering on the streets of Tripoli, the people whose first act was to legalise polygamy because there can be no law contrary to Qur’an, Hadith or Sharia.

    Meanwhile, the Egyptian Army is trying to put down those demonstrators in Egypt, the people who have broken with the Muslim Brotherhood because it might come to some sort of arrangement with the Copts and others.

    And Tunisia, where it all began, has elected Ennahda, which has proclaimed the Sixth Caliphate.

    Remind me, which side are we supposed to be on? In Syria, we are on the same side as Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Again.

  • Harry Osbourne

    A show trial? He’ll be counting the days to that on the fingers of one hand.

  • Frank P

    Having exposed their barbarism by tearing Qadaffi Snr to pieces unmercifully, the New Libyans want to clean up their act by having a show trial with Q Jr.

    Too late folks! Your ‘leaders’ already blew it with their declaration on Sharia Law.