Gadhafi's Son, Seif al-Islam, Arrested

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Libyan officials say they captured Seif al-Islam as he was crossing the southern desert in a convoy. He's wanted by the International Criminal court for alleged crimes against humanity. Guest host Linda Wertheimer talks with Leila Fadel, the Washington Post's correspondent based in Cairo.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Linda Wertheimer. In Libya today, news that Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam has been captured as he was traveling in a convoy across the southern desert of Libya. Seif was the only Gadhafi family member still at large. Officials said he would be held in the mountain town of Zintan until his transfer to Libya's capital, Tripoli. Joining us to talk more about this development is Leila Fadel, The Washington Post correspondent based in Cairo. Leila, good morning.

LEILA FADEL: Good morning.

WERTHEIMER: What more can you tell us about Seif al-Islam's arrest?

FADEL: Well, apparently he was captured outside of Zintan and brought to the mountain town of Zintan. This is the third time that the announcement of his capture has been announced by the NTC, which is the National Transitional Council, the interim government of Libya. But this time, they have a picture of him that's being run on Libyan state TV. So it appears that the last son of Moammar Gadhafi that his whereabouts were unknown is now in rebel custody.

WERTHEIMER: There's a broadcast image that we've seen of Seif nursing what appears to be a hand injury. Do we know anything about his physical condition?

FADEL: Authorities now have said that he was captured unharmed, but as you said, the image that has been broadcast shows that his hand has been injured. So it's unclear if that happened during the capture or if that was a wound that he has sustained in these months that he's been in hiding.

WERTHEIMER: How important is this man to Libyans?

FADEL: I think Seif al-Islam was the heir apparent to Moammar Gadhafi. And a lot of Libyans before the uprising began did see him as somewhat of a reformist, somebody that might be able to bring Libya out from under authoritarian rule and progress it forward. But during the revolution or during their uprising, and eventual civil war, he showed that he was truly his father's son. He warned five days into the uprising that Libya would have rivers of blood and that every member of the family and Libyans will die fighting their opposition. And that really has come true. He is the last member of the Gadhafi family to be captured or try to flee the country in what has been a drawn-out war. And it has turned extremely bloody.

WERTHEIMER: Now, presumably Libyans want to see him tried in their country, but he's also wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. Do you have any notion what is going to happen next?

FADEL: I think that the transitional council, the new Libyan government, has made it quite clear that they plan to try members of the Gadhafi regime and the Gadhafi family in Libya. But also, the international community, I assume, has a lot of concern because of what we saw happen to Moammar Gadhafi and his other son, Mutassim. When those men were captured, they didn't live, and they were apparently executed after they were captured. So I think there is a lot of international concern that Seif won't make it to trial. Many (unintelligible) were also talking about how important it is that he lives and goes to trial in Libya, so that they can get evidence for all of the crimes - the history of crimes of this government (unintelligible) that's something that they were unable to do with Moammar Gadhafi or his other son.

WERTHEIMER: That's the Washington Post's Leila Fadel, speaking to us from Cairo. Thank you very much, Leila.

FADEL: Thank you.

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