Criticism of NATO After Airstrikes Reportedly Kill Gaddafi’s Son & Grandchildren (VIDEO)

The reports from the Libyan government that NATO airstrikes killed Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab, and three grandchildren, underscore two things: (1) The difficulties faced by NATO in keeping the mandate of a United Nations resolution that allows it to maintain a no-fly zone over Libya and to protect civilians and (2) the challenge of getting accurate information about what is going on in Libya.

NATO commanders insist that they had “struck a legitimate military target” and had not targeted Gaddafi, says the New York Times. However, Gaddafi himself has accused NATO commanders of mounting an assassination attempt against him, which is illegal under international law. The Russian foreign ministry has accused NATO of “exceeding the mandate” of the UN resolution, noting that Saturday night’s airstrike “‘arouses serious doubts about coalition members’ statement that the strikes in Libya do not have the goal of physically annihilating M. Qaddafi and members of his family.’”

Konstantin I. Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament, added that he was surprised about “the total silence of the presidents of the U.S., France, and some other Western countries,” in regard to the reported deaths.

According to the Libyan government spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, Gaddafi himself and his wife, Safiya, were in the residence but escaped uninjured. The Guardian adds that:

The attack, which one diplomatic source said had been carried out by Danish airmen possibly in an F16 bomber, ripped through the Gaddafi residence at around 8pm on Saturday night. It was the second time in recent days that an airstrike has come close to the Libyan leader, and Ibrahim indicated that someone within the leader’s circle may have leaked intelligence on his whereabouts.

But in Washington, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser in the Bush administration, warned that the assassination of Gaddafi by Nato aircraft could prove counterproductive.

“The narrative we want to come out of this is that the Libyan people overthrew a dictator – not that we came in and toppled a despot,” he told CNN. “What we really want him to do is to leave or to die at a Libyan hand, not an American hand.”

However, the Guardian also quotes two senior Republicans who “expressed little concern over the prospect of Gaddafi becoming a casualty.” Senator Lindsey Graham of Florida told FOX News that Gaddafi is a “legitimate military target,” while Senator John McCain of Arizona told CBS, “We should be taking out his command and control. If he is killed or injured because of that, that’s fine.”

British diplomats have reported that, in retaliation for the airstrikes, a “mob” of Gaddafi supporters destroyed western embassy buildings in Tripoli that had recently been abandoned as the unrest in Libya grew:

A British official, speaking on condition of anonymity said there was no doubt in London that the mob attacks had been officially sanctioned. “There are no demos allowed to move anywhere in Tripoli unless they are 100% orchestrated by the regime.”

The British Foreign Minister, William Hague, has condemned the attacks on the British embassy buildings. The Libyan ambassador, Omar Jelban, was given 24 hours to leave the UK.

The deaths of Saif al-Arab and of Gaddafi’s three grandchildren have been widely reported in news outlets, though not confirmed by NATO or other sources beyond the Libyan government. Al-Jazeera reports “skepticism” about the reported deaths. While the news was greeted with cries of “‘God is great’” in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, opposition fighters noted that “they could not trust Gaddafi.”

Reporting from Benghazi on Sunday, Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton says that there are an “‘awful lot’” of suggestions in Libya that the news of the deaths has been made up:

“One of the main spokesmen for the Transitional National Council, Abdul Hafez Goga, is saying he thinks it could all be fabrication, that it may well be Gaddafi is trying to garner some sympathy,” she said.

“Back in 1986, Gaddafi once claimed that Ronald Reagan, then US president, had launched a strike on his compound in Tripoli and killed his daughter.

“Many journalists since then dug around and found out that the actual child that had died had nothing to do with Gaddafi, that he sort of adopted her posthumously.”

Among Gaddafi’s children, Saif al-Arab has kept a very “low profile.” Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from the Tunisia-Libya border, says that “He hasn’t been visible in any significant form. He hasn’t appeared on TV or made any speeches, he hasn’t been on any crowd-rallying marches.” 

The Guardian reports that Saif al-Arab had been “increasingly well known to the police in Munich, where he was a student at the city’s Technical University from 2006″ on, among other things, allegations of smuggling arms. In 2006, he was detained after a fight with a bouncer at a Munich nightclub. The brawl occurred “after his girlfriend began stripping on the dance floor,” according to a press account. Saif al-Arab was recalled home when the Libyan revolt broke out, put in charge of a unit of troops and sent east, though it is not known how much combat he partcipated in.

Fighting continues in Libya, on its western border with Tunisia; near the rebel-held city of Zintan, where rebel forces said NATO air strikes had hit pro-Gaddafi troops; and in the western city of Misurata, where rebel fighters have tried to seize the airport from Gaddafi forces. In the video below, Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports from Benghazi about the situation in Misurata.


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Syrian Ambassador Not Welcome at Royal Wedding; Daraa Under Siege

Yemen Agrees to Peaceful Transition Plan As Its People Struggle to Find Food

Photo from a screenshot from a video by Al-Jazeera via YouTube.


Jeanne Papadakos
Jeanne Papadakos6 years ago

Pls sign petition for Saif Gaddafi

petition2 -

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y8 years ago

Qaddafi is such a notorious propagandist and liar that even Al-Jazeera questioned this one.

Lybian civilians, even Qaddafi's relatives, have every right to deserve our sympathy, but this is a guy who ran his country like George Orwell's '1984'. As in Iran, almost 20% were employed by the govt. to spy, accuse, detain, and 'discipline' (i.e. torture or kill) any who questioned the regime or even failed to kiss up properly. The sooner he's gone the better.

Lybian tribal structure is such that almost anyone from one's tribe can be claimed as a 'nephew' or 'niece' and even 'son' or 'daughter' are often blurry euphemisms. In his letter to Obama to recall U.S. forces Qadaffi calls our President 'my son'.

Yolande A.
Yolande A.8 years ago

Typical of British arrogance, complaining about their embassy building being attacked by mobs when their air strikes are causing loss of life of Human Beings! This is a lesson to all those governments silly enough to be coerced into giving up their effective weapons. For sure Danish airmen?? would not have ventured over Libya dropping bombs indiscriminately and killing people if Gadaffi had kept his weapons. The useless UN, always quick to accede to the wishes of certain western coountries when they expressa desire to wage war on hapless small countries, remains silent and unconcerned at the Pandora box they have opened in Libya.

Kathleen D.
Kathleen D8 years ago

I agree that is tragic the loss of lives of children whether in war, while seeking a maniacal leader, from the hands of their own parents, at the hands of a pedophile murderer, etc., etc. As a blogger posted here, it was the responsibility of the Gaddafi to ensure the safety of the children by making sure they would not become a target by having them in the same place as Gaddafi and his son. They obviously new Gaddafi was in this home and it is horrific the children were also.

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi8 years ago

We should be ashamed in killing innocent children whether they are grand children of Gaddafi or any one else it hurts to loose a innocent life

Herb L.
Herbert Low8 years ago

I cannot imagine the number of unneccessary deaths this Ghaddafi has caused. He struts around with a chip on his shoulder, NATO knocks it off and gives him a bloody nose. He got his kids caught in the middle. Rather they did not die, but difficult to see any injustice from this point of view. He is reaping what he has sown.

Marie W.
Marie W8 years ago

Wars are not kind to children and other living things.

Robert O.
Robert O8 years ago


Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez8 years ago

thanks for the article

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M8 years ago

Killing children is never right!
However Ghadaffi can never be trusted in giving
truthful information. I hope they force him into hiding the Antartic...who else would want this terrible, vile man in their country???