By Alexandra Valiente
There have been several conflicting reports regarding Saif Al Islam Qaddafi’s status over the past few months and they have become progressively more alarming. In a statement made this week the Zintan Military Council claimed, and I quote,
- Ben Souda’s [ICC Prosecutor] information about Saif al-Islam was false,
- the council did not know the whereabouts of Saif al-Islam or the circumstances of his detention,
- media reports of an assassination attempt on Saif al-Islam were pure fabrication.
However, the Rishvanna Military Council provided an informative comment and a copy of a letter that this report is based on, which raise questions about the veracity of the above statement and the motivations of the various actors behind it.
We have a more credible report posted by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya in which we read that,
“An informed source in the city of Zintan stated there was a high level security alert within the battalion of Abu Bakr Siddiq, issued by the parliament of Tobruk and the Council of Zintan elders, to protect the captive Saif al-Islam Gaddafi. The source added that the alert came after information about the mobilization of militias in the city of Zintan intent on attacking Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s residence (place of detention).”It ends with this disclosure that “dissident forces of the military council of Zintan loyal to the Council of elders…are responsible for the supervision and care of Saif al-Islam.“
This is not the first attempt to be made on Saif’s life by hostiles inside Zintan and it begs the question, why is he being held there if security is so precarious? ( See: PFLL Confirm Assassination Attempt on Saif Al Islam was Thwarted | Reports of Assassination Attempt on Saif Al Islam Qaddafi)
In a separate report published by the PFLL, we read again that “Saif al-Islam is still imprisoned in Zintan, and although [Zintan] welcomed the amnesty law, [he] remains under house arrest.”
Since the issuance of the Founding Declaration of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya last December, there has been no irrefutable proof that he is alive, living as a free man.
We must challenge narratives, regardless of their source, that ask us to accept further delays in obtaining vital answers and evidence.
If Saif is alive and leading the Popular Front for the Liberation of Libya, he has numerous means at his disposal whereby he can provide proof that he is secure and free. Not only would this assuage anxieties felt by his supporters, it would provide opportunity for the world to hear Saif’s views on current events in Libya and to discover the political platform of the PFLL.
If Saif is free, he can communicate with the outside world through articles and position statements. To prove he is alive in real time, he could host a video blog featuring weekly commentary on the challenges facing the nation.
It is not enough to hear from his lawyer. In December, 2016, I believed that his lawyers were truthful in media statements made. But since that time, something has changed and we need to understand what has happened.
It is time that the world heard from Saif. He was born to lead. His leadership and inspiration are essential now.
In a 2013 appeal to the international community, Safia Qaddafi said,
“I demand that the world community should help me to come in touch with my son Saif al-Islam, who has been isolated from all members of our family from the moment of his arrest. Saif’s only “crime” is that he has warned that this revolution can only lead Libya to a chaos – which is something that we are witnessing now. “Saif al-Islam has always been concerned about the situation with human rights in Libya. He has taken many former radical Islamists from American and European prisons and persuaded them to become law-abiding citizens. Many of them have promised him that they would never come back to terrorist activities. But now, some of the people whom Saif has saved from prison are demanding that he should be executed.”
We are the “international community”. If there are further delays in Saif assuming a public role, it is our duty to challenge those charged with keeping him safe, those who continue to detain him unlawfully, defying the general amnesty law, and any individuals, groups or nations that have been complicit in a process of treachery that began with Saif’s capture in 2011, escalating to a more profound level of deception in April, 2016.