International

Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi Reappears In Video; Says Father Is Safe, In Tripoli

Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam speaks outside of the Rixos hotel in Tripoli, Libya, Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam speaks outside of the Rixos hotel in Tripoli, Libya, Tuesday, Aug. 23. Dario Lopez-Mills/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi was shown in a video walking the streets of Tripoli. The opposition forces had claimed that Saif, Libya's heir apparent, was under arrest. The International Criminal Court verified those reports, yesterday. But the new images contradict those claims.

The BBC reports:

The BBC's Matthew Price in Tripoli says that one of Col Gaddafi's sons, Saif al-Islam, whom the rebels claimed had been arrested, has just turned up in the back of an armoured vehicle at the hotel where he and other foreign journalists are based.

Our correspondent says that, during a brief exchange, one journalist asked Saif al-Islam if his father was safe and in Tripoli, and he almost shrugged off the answer, saying "of course".

More from our correspondent Matthew Price. He says Saif al-Islam appeared buoyed up and confident when he arrived at the hotel. Asked where he believed the balance of power lay, he said: "We have broken the backbone of the rebels. It was a trap. We gave them a hard time, so we're winning".

In the video Saif appears unharmed, sporting a beard and shaved head. He was smiling and flashing a victory sign. The video, distributed by Reuters, also shows Saif on the shoulders of a crowd of loyalists.

Update at 8:10 p.m. ET. A Press Conference:

CNN's Matthew Chance reports on Twitter that Saif showed up at the Rixos hotel, where a lot of the foreign media have been staying. He was scheduled for a press conference, Chance reports, but he was a no show. Later, he showed up, in an armored vehicle.

Here's a string of tweets from Chance about what Saif told him:

Just had face to face with Saif #Gadhafi - he said word of his detention was a trick by rebels. #cnn #libya

Saif #Gadhafi told me that their forces had broken the backbone of the rebel forces in #Tripoli #Libya #cnn

#Saif #Gadhafi told me that he had been travelling around Tripoli in an armored convoy the whole time. #cnn #libya

Update at 8:18 p.m. ET. Gadhafi Is In Tripoli:

Based an English translation by Sultan Al Qassemi, a widely followed Twitter user and columnist in the United Arab Emirates, said his father, Moammar Gadhafi, was "fine and he is in Tripoli."

Update at 8:31 p.m. ET. Whole Family Is Okay:

CNN has just posted a video of an interview with its correspondent Matthew Chance, who said he saw Saif with his own eyes and took cellphone video of him outside the Rixos hotel:

Update at 8:40 p.m. ET. Video And Photo Of Saif:

CNN's Matthew Chance posted a picture he took of Saif. And here is part of the video that has been circulated by Reuters:

YouTube

Update at 8:50 p.m. ET. A Bit Of Background:

The news of Saif's reappearance comes on the same day that rebels said his brother Mohammed has "fled from house arrest." As The Guardian puts it, that Saif is not in custody is a "potential setback for the rebels."

Update 9:02 p.m. ET. Some More On What Saif Said:

Sultan Al Qassemi has translated a bit more of the interview. His translation is in line with a translation aired by CNN, a few moments ago. He says via Twitter that Saif said he came to the hotel to "refute all the allegations," that he had been arrested. "NATO and the West have advanced technology; they sent Libyans messages, I don't know how," Saif said.

Saif added that Libyans had fought the rebels and "destroyed the spine of the rebels and the rats." he said Tripoli was under Ghadafi's control and offered journalists on hand a tour of Tripoli. Saif scoffed when a journalist told him that the rebels said they would turn him over to the International Criminal Court.

Update at 10:03 p.m. ET. Skepticism:

On Twitter much of the conversation is about the veracity of the images. The BBC, CNN and Al-Arabiya have all independently confirmed that Saif did indeed make an appearance in the streets of Tripoli.

A big dose of skepticism is always good, especially in the fog of war. So here is CBS News weighing the chance that Saif is using a body double:

Saddam Hussein's sons were famous for using body doubles (there is currently a movie in theaters about that very topic,) so there is always a chance that Saif and Qaddafi loyalists could be doing the same now. It is worth noting, however, that reports of the Qaddafis using body doubles are scarce.

At the very least, Saif's public appearance amd statements raises major doubts about coordination and messaging among the rebels. In addition to saying they had captured Saif, they also claim to be in control of most of Tripoli.

For the record, the Saif in the video distributed by Reuters and the images taken by an AP photographer looks very much like the Saif captured on video during an interview with The New York Times in early August.

Update at 10:12 p.m. ET. Saif 'Escaped':

As we noted earlier, the Transitional National Council said earlier today that Mohammed Gadhafi had escaped. Now, Al Jazeera reports that Waheed Burshan, a member of the TNC, told them that like his brother "we had confirmation Saif al-Islam was arrested but he had escaped, we don't know how he escaped."

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