Al Jazeera reports that Muammar Gaddafi’s wife, Safia, his daughter Aisha and sons Hannibal and Mohammed entered Algeria on Monday morning via the Algeria-Libyan border, according to the Algerian foreign ministry. Algeria is the only country bordering Libya that has not recognized the rebel-led National Transitional Council. The whereabouts of Gaddafi himself remain unknown.
Ahmed Bani, military spokesman of the NTC, said that he was not surprised to hear that Gaddafi’s wife and family had been welcomed in Algeria; the rebels have previously accused Algeria of supply Gaddafi with mercenaries during the uprising. Last week, Egyptian’s MENA news agency reported that a “convoy” of six armored Mercedes had crossed from the southwestern Libyan town of Ghadamis into Algeria.
According to the Guardian, Safia and Aisha were reportedly sent to Belarus by Gaddafi in May.
In general, the whereabouts of all of Gaddafi’s family members, including his other sons Saif al-Islam, Mutassim, Khasim, and Saadi and an adopted daughter Hanna remain unknown. At least two of Gaddafi’s sons were reportedly briefly captured by the rebel forces, and Gaddafi himself claimed that Hanna was killed in a 1986 US air strike. However, she was found last week to be working as a doctor in a Tripoli hospital:
The director of the Sharwa Zarwa hospital, in the centre of the capital, told the Guardian that Hannah Gaddafi had ordered staff not to treat wounded rebels during the past six months. “She also stayed here sometimes during the night,” said Dr Ghassem Barouni.
Gaddafi’s other son, Saif al-Arab, is thought to have been killed by a Nato strike in April. However, the reappearance of his second daughter after 25 years has left some members of the Transitional National Council sceptical of the claim.
The New York Times notes that, while rebel fighters feel they have accomplished a greatest task by ousting Gaddafi after 42 years in power, others say that he still casts a disturbingly long shadow. Two-thirds of Libya’s population has known no other leader:
“It’s the same effect as when you’re trying to get a comfortable night of sleep and there’s an annoying mosquito buzzing around the room,” said Aref Nayed, who heads the rebel leadership’s Stabilization Committee. “I’m absolutely convinced that he’s finished but it is a nuisance.”
The comparisons with Saddam Hussein are inescapable. Like Colonel Qaddafi, the Iraqi dictator fled with his sons as his capital fell in 2003. He evaded capture for seven months, moving around a series of safe houses and subterranean hide-outs. American troops carried out more than a dozen raids trying to capture him before a close associate finally gave him up.
Gaddafi still poses a “threat” to Libya and to the world, say NTC leaders in the BBC. But the NTC’s main concern remains restoring essentials — running water, electricity, fuel — to war-torn Tripoli. Another concern is to locate tens of thousands of Libyans who were detained in the uprising that began in February and whose whereabouts remain as unknown as those of Libya’s fallen leader.
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Photo of Gaddafi and his wife Suffiya in Dakar in 1985 by شبكة برق | B.R.Q
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