As Libyan rebels continue to meet fierce resistance from Moammar Gadhafi’s last remaining stronghold in Tripoli, they suspect they might be close to capturing the former leader and his sons; but the Gadhafi regime continues to fight.
According to The Washington Post, a Gadhafi spokesman contacted The Associated Press this week to announce that the former leader remains safe and “in control” of his country. As the battles continue, news continues to surface around the country’s rebel insurrection, such as reports that the dead bodies of Gadhafi sympathizers and rebels alike piling up due to random acts as the violence continues.
Democracy Now reported on Wednesday that documents recently uncovered by Human Rights Watch reveal that Gadhafi had strong ties to the U.S. Government — most notably the CIA — and was instrumental in helping operatives in the 2004 capture and torture of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, who is now being backed by the U.S. as military commander of Libyan rebels. These ties may have allowed the former leader to stockpile large quantities of dangerous weapons.
New concerns about weapon stockpiles that Gadhafi may still control have come to light. The Pentagon said in August that all Libyan weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were secure, but now The Washington Post reports that about 11 tons of mustard gas shipped into the country remain unaccounted for, and rebels believe the gas may be used by the former regime in an effort to end the insurrection.
“It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not beyond Gadhafi,” said Mohammed Benrasali, a senior member of Libya’s civilian stabilization team.
Gadhafi has used chemical weapons in the past. But in 2003, he agreed to dismantle WMD stockpiles, asking for more favorable Western relations in return; both sides failed to deliver on their promises. The weapons that remain in Gadhafi’s control are a major concern, as are stockpiles that have been taken over by rebels.