TRIPOLI - Among Muammar Gaddafis children, Saif Al-Islam was the one with the ambition to become Libyas reformer. The Libyan leaders second son lived and studied abroad and was the presentable face of the regime in the West. But when the insurrection broke out in February, this former engineer stunned the world in a televised speech in which he vowed to fighting against the rebels in Eastern Libya until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.
Four months later, hes playing a key role in Tripoli. Because of NATO strikes, hes very secretive about his whereabouts but he says this last afternoon he went swimming in the sea. Since June 20, hes facing an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC), like his father and the head of Libyan intelligence.
Le Monde: Do you feel you are the target of NATO strikes?
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi: NATO bombed my own house, my fathers office, his tent and other places where they believe my father could be. Theyre trying to kill him. This shows they are gangsters, a group of criminals. I dont think the Security Councils resolution says, You have to kill Mister Gaddafi, or my brother (Saif Al-Arab, Gaddafis youngest son, killed with his family by a NATO strike in May,) or kill the children of Libya.
How do you deal with the International Criminal Court warrants?
Two months ago, several countries called us saying: If you go into exile, well halt the charges. Well fix this. That means its not a real tribunal. Its a tool to put pressure on us. But right now were thinking about the battle more than the ICC. God is with us, we will fight and we will win. They (the NTC and the rebels) are on the side of evil. They commit horrors. Benghazi is like Mogadishu, with terrorists everywhere.
You refer to the National Transitional Council (NTC) as they. Are they not rebels?
I call them rats. There is no way theyll take control of Libya through NATO and France. Rats are very proud of themselves. They were nobodies, now they are invited to the Elysee Palace and 10 Downing Street, and by Obama. They have planes and submarines fighting a war for them. Its like in the movies, but the people dont support them. One day youll remember what I said: rats will never control this country. They are traitors. They work with Europeans, with Americans and others to bomb their own people.
Some African countries also support the NTC.
France has its servants in Africa. They dont worship God, they worship the Elysee Palace. Some have their reasons. Abdoulaye Wade (the Senegalese President) received 20 million euros for his son (Karim, his possible successor.) Qatar paid for it. Our spies tell us everything. But we have many friends on the continent.
The crisis started with an uprising against Libyan power.
What is really at stake here is money, money, money and oil. Nobody supports the Syrian rebels. But here, theres oil. Libya is a giant cake that other countries want to share. Thats enough: we're not in a bazaar. Theyre shedding peoples blood in order to sign contracts.
Nicolas Sarkozy invited Muammar Gaddafi to Paris in 2007. Now France supports the NTC. What happened?
We thought of Sarkozy as our best friend in Europe. The relationship he had with my father was so special. We even had ties to his ex-wife. We had a sort of family relationship with him. Overnight he changed his mind. We heard he was angry because we didnt sign many contracts with France. We didnt by the Rafale (fighter jets). Brazil and Abu Dhabi didnt buy it either. Does France go and bomb them too? Theres still a chance to mend this friendship. If you keep bombing us, you wont get anything. And rebels will never win. Oil, Rafale, contracts: Over! Total (French oil company)? Over! As for (the rebels), soon theyll disappear. If you want to do business in Libya, you should come to the right address. Right now, youre dealing with the wrong people.
Is there still fighting on the front?
There are only hundreds of rebel fighters, about 800 or a thousand in the whole country. They are relatively strong because they have NATO fighting for them, with money, media, arms and Apache (helicopters.) The Tornados, the Rafales, the Charles-de-Gaulle. The 6th flotilla (US), the Awacs. This is not a joke. If you supported Mickey Mouse with such means, Mickey Mouse would be somebody in Libya! Despite all this, theyre losing ground every day.
What if NATO stopped its strikes? Would you stop the war?
With or without NATO, even if the devil helps the rebels, they will lose! Americans supported South Vietnam for a long time and in the end they had to run away. Today, Americans are trying to please the Taliban in Afghanistan, and are negotiating with them. The French Mirage 2000 are sent from Corsica, the British Tornadoes from Sicily. They carry out missions from Europe to bomb a Land Cruiser in Libya and go back to their bases. Do you think they will control Libya by doing this? Those on the ground will win.
The NATO operation is particularly stupid and ill prepared. Everything was done in a hurry. A fast-food campaign, a McDonalds campaign. We have our army. We have more ammunition, more arms. Morale is high. The others are getting weaker.
If negotiation is possible, can it stop the conflict?
You want peace? Were ready. You want democracy? Were ready. You want elections? Were ready. You want Libya to become like Switzerland? Were ready. You want a new Constitution? Were ready. You want war? Were ready too. Were ready for all the options.
I love democracy. I want Libya to be the Switzerland or Austria of the Middle East. I want us to have a modern economy, a modern democracy, with freedom and elections. But if you want war, we love to fight! Until death. Let the Libyans decide if they want a monarchy, a republic or anything else.
What are the chances that the negotiations will have a positive outcome?
Let us organize elections with observers from around the world and in a transparent manner.
Elections for what purpose? At what level?
On all levels. Just ask. We can set up a transition government with technocrats from across the country, for a three or four-month long transition. Then we write a new constitution. Elections will follow right after and well return to peace. Libya is not Iraq. Children will be able to go back to school, well travel, well swim in the sea, well do business, thats it. There are 5 million of us, were rich, we can agree. Its only a problem because of the others, NATO, France, the UK, Italy, the US, Turkey and Qatar.
Will you judge the crimes that were committed?
In Benghazi, there is horror and you can them freedom fighter. They accused Gaddafi of bombing Tripoli. There is no proof. Where are the victims? This time, they have a new story: rapes. We rape women and take Viagra. Its a real movie! And you know another story: wed be ready to attack with chemical weapons. All this to make the situation sexy. Like they did with Saddam Husseins weapons of mass destruction.
Does this country need a President?
No, this country needs strong local powers with a federal system.
What can your fathers place be then?
My father isnt taking part in the negotiations. Its a Libyan conflict, with Libyans and traitors, militias, terrorists. Do you think we can find a solution that doesnt involve him? No, thats impossible.
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photo - Al Jazeera