Moammar Gadhafi

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya’s parliament elected Wednesday a leading member in the country’s oldest opposition movement to be its new prime minister.

Mustafa Abu-Shakour is tasked with stabilizing a country where armed groups proliferate. Washington’s ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed during a late Tuesday attack on the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Abu-Shakour, deputy to Libya’s outgoing interim prime minister, is considered a compromise figure acceptable to both Islamists and liberals.

He is the first elected head of government since the ouster and slaying of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in last year’s civil war.

He hails from the National Front Party, an offshoot of a longstanding anti-Gadhafi movement that includes both Islamist and secular figures. He narrowly beat liberal Mahmoud Jibril by 96 votes out of 190.

Previous interim governments have faced persistent criticism that they have been ineffective in tackling the multiple troubles facing the deeply divided nation, foremost among them the strength of armed militias that dominate towns and challenge the authority of the central government.

MISRATA, Libya — The bodies of Moammar Gadhafi, his son Muatassim and a former aide have been moved from a commercial freezer in a warehouse area of Misrata in anticipation of burial, a security guard said.

Local military spokesman Ibrahim Beitalmal has said the burial is likely to take place Tuesday. He said the three men would be interred in unmarked graves in a secret location to avoid vandalism. Asked about the removal of the bodies from the freezer, he said he was unaware of the process of burial getting under way.

However, Salem al-Mohandes, a security guard at the warehouse complex, said the bodies were moved late Monday from the freezer, where they had been on display for the past four days.

“Our job is finished,” said al-Mohandes. “He [Gadhafi] was transferred, and the military council of Misrata took him away to an unknown location. I don’t know whether they buried him or not.”

An Associated Press Television News team saw three vehicles leave the warehouse area late Monday. The team then entered the freezer and found it empty. 

In this Saturday, June 12, 2010 file photo, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi talks during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the evacuation of the American military bases in the country, in Tripoli, Libya.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya -- During nearly 42 years in power in Libya, Moammar Gadhafi was one of the world's most eccentric dictators, so mercurial that he was both condemned and courted by the West, while he brutally warped his country with his idiosyncratic vision of autocratic rule until he was finally toppled by his own people.

The modern Arab world's longest-ruling figure, Libya's "Brother Leader" displayed striking contrasts. He was a sponsor of terrorism whose regime was blamed for blowing up two passenger jets, who then helped the U.S. in the war on terror. He was an Arab nationalist who mocked Arab rulers. In the crowning paradox, he preached a "revolutionary" utopia of people power but ran a one-man dictatorship that fueled the revolution against him.

His death on Thursday at age 69 - confirmed by Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril - came as Libyan fighters defeated Gadhafi's last holdouts in his hometown of Sirte, the last major site of resistance in the country.

Their final declaration of victory came weeks after Gadhafi was swept from power by rebels who drove triumphantly into the capital of Tripoli on Aug. 21, capping a six-month civil war.

"Dance, sing and fight!" Gadhafi had exhorted his followers even as his enemies were on the capital's doorstep before fleeing into Libya's hinterlands where his die-hard backers had continued to battle the rebels-turned-rulers.

Gadhafi leaves behind an oil-rich nation of 6.5 million traumatized by a rule that drained it of institutions while the ship of state was directed by the whims of one man and his family. Notorious for his extravagant outfits - ranging from white suits and sunglasses to military uniforms with frilled epaulets to brilliantly colored robes decorated with the map of Africa - he styled himself as a combination Bedouin chief and philosopher king.

He reveled in infuriating leaders, whether in the West or the Middle East. U.S. President Ronald Reagan, after the 1986 bombing that killed U.S. servicemen in Berlin was blamed on Libya, branded him a "mad dog." Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who fought a border war with Libya in the 1970s, wrote in his diary that Gadhafi was "mentally sick" and "needs treatment."

Behind the flamboyance and showmanship, associates say Gadhafi was meticulous in managing the levers of power. He intervened in decisions large and small and constantly met personally with tribal leaders and military officers whose support he maintained through lucrative posts.

The sole constant was his grip on the country. Numerous coup and assassination attempts against him over the years mostly ended with public executions of the plotters, hanged in city squares.

The ultimate secret of his longevity lay in the vast oil reserves under his North African desert nation and in his capacity for drastic changes of course when necessary.

The most spectacular U-turn came in late 2003. After years of denial, Libya acknowledged responsibility - though in a Gadhafi-esque twist of logic, not guilt - for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. He agreed to pay up to $10 million to relatives of each victim.

He also announced that Libya would dismantle its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs under international supervision.

The rewards came fast. Within months, the U.S. lifted economic sanctions and resumed diplomatic ties. The European Union hosted Gadhafi in Brussels. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008 became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the country in more than 50 years. Tony Blair, as British prime minister, visited him in Tripoli.

International oil companies rushed to invest in Libya's fields. Documents uncovered after Gadhafi's fall revealed close cooperation between his intelligence services and the CIA in pursuing terror suspects after the 9/11 attacks, even before the U.S. lifted its designation of Libya as a sponsor of terror in 2006.

Still, Gadhafi's renegade ways did not change. After Swiss police had the temerity to briefly arrest his son Hannibal for allegedly beating up two servants in a Geneva luxury hotel in 2008, Gadhafi's regime arrested two Swiss nationals and raked Switzerland over the coals, extracting an apology and compensation before finally releasing the men nearly two years later. European countries, eagerly building economic ties with Libya, did little to back up Switzerland in the dispute.

But Gadhafi became an instant pariah once more when he began a brutal crackdown on the February uprising in his country that grew out of the "Arab Spring" of popular revolts across the region. The U.N. authorized a no-fly zone for Libya in March, and NATO launched a campaign of airstrikes against his military forces.

"I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents. ... I will die as a martyr at the end," he proclaimed in one of his last televised speeches during the uprising, pounding the lectern near a sculpture of a golden fist crushing a U.S. warplane.

Gadhafi was born in 1942 in the central Libyan desert near Sirte, the son of a Bedouin father who was once jailed for opposing Libya's Italian colonialists. The young Gadhafi seemed to inherit that rebellious nature, being expelled from high school for leading a demonstration, and disciplined while in the army for organizing revolutionary cells.

In 1969, as a mere 27-year-old captain, he emerged as leader of a group of officers who overthrew the monarchy of King Idris. A handsome, dashing figure in uniform and sunglasses, Gadhafi took undisputed power and became a symbol of anti-Western defiance in a Third World recently liberated from its European colonial rulers.

During the 1970s, Gadhafi proceeded to transform the nation.

A U.S. air base was closed. Some 20,000 Italians were expelled in retaliation for the 1911-41 occupation. Businesses were nationalized.

In 1975 he published the "Green Book," his political manifesto that laid out what he called the "Third International Theory" of government and society. He declared Libya to be a "Jamahiriya" - an Arabic neologism he created meaning roughly "republic of the masses."

Everyone rules, it declared, calling representative democracy a form of tyranny, and Libyans were organized into "people's committees" that went all the way up to a "People's Congress," a sort of parliament.

In the end, rule by all meant rule by none except Gadhafi, who elevated himself to colonel and declared himself "Brother Leader."

"He aspired to create an ideal state," said North African analyst Saad Djebbar of Cambridge University. "He ended up without any components of a normal state. The 'people's power' was the most useless system in the world."

In the 1970s and 1980s, Gadhafi supported groups deemed by the West to be terrorists - from the Irish Republican Army through various radical Palestinian units to militant groups in the Philippines. He embarked on a series of military adventures in Africa, invading Chad in 1980-89, and supplying arms, training and finance to rebels in Liberia, Uganda and Burkina Faso.

A 1984 incident at the Libyan Embassy in London entrenched his regime's image as a lawless one. A gunman inside the embassy opened fire on a demonstration by Gadhafi opponents outside, killing a British policewoman.

The heat was rising, meanwhile, between the Reagan administration and Gadhafi over terrorism. In 1986, Libya was found responsible for a bombing at a Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. troops in which three people died. America struck back by sending warplanes to bomb Libya. About 40 Libyans died.

The Lockerbie bombing followed in 1988, followed a year later by a bombing that downed a French airliner over the West African nation of Niger. The West was outraged, and years of sanctions followed.

Libya's road back from pariah status began in 1999, when Gadhafi's government handed over two Libyans for trial in the Lockerbie bombing. In 2001, a Scottish court convicted one, an intelligence agent, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The other was acquitted.

In 2002, Gadhafi looked back on his actions and told a crowd of Libyans in the southern city of Sabha: "In the old days, they called us a rogue state. They were right in accusing us of that. In the old days, we had a revolutionary behavior."

Throughout his rule, he was a showman who would stop at nothing to make his point.

His appearances at Arab League summits were an annual cause of cringing among fellow Arab rulers. At one, he argued vehemently with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, winning the monarch's eternal hatred. At another, Gadhafi smoked cigars on the conference hall floor during speeches to show his contempt.

In a 2009 address at the United Nations, he rambled on about jet lag, then tore up a copy of the U.N. charter, saying the Security Council "should be called the terrorism council."

On state trips, he would insist on setting up a tent to stay in. He sported a personal escort of female guards - which he once explained by saying: "There are no men in the Arab world."

A 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by the website WikiLeaks spoke of Gadhafi's intense dislike of staying on upper floors of buildings, aversion to flying over water, and taste for horse racing and flamenco dancing.

"At night, Moammar dreams; by day, he implements," Libyans would say, referring to the bizarre rules Gadhafi would randomly impose on the country, like demanding all storefront doors be painted green, the signature color of his regime. Or like complaining that Libyans were going abroad for medical treatment and deciding it was because of a lack of Libyan doctors - so he ordered Tripoli's main medical school to take 2,000 new students regardless of qualifications, well beyond its 150-student capacity.

He even renamed the months, calling the cold month of January "Ayn al-Nar," Arabic for "Where is the Fire."

In the past decade, power was increasingly concentrated with his eight biological children, who snapped up elite military posts or lucrative business positions. His British-educated son Seif al-Islam was widely seen as being groomed as a successor. There was no immediate word on his fate Thursday.

His only daughter, Aisha, became a lawyer and helped in the defense of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's toppled dictator, in the trial that led to his hanging.

Gadhafi did spend oil revenue on building schools, hospitals, irrigation and housing on a scale his Mediterranean nation had never seen.

"He did really bring Libya from being one of the most backward and poorest countries in Africa to becoming an oil-rich state with an elaborate infrastructure and with reasonable access by the Libyan population to the essential services they required," said George Joffe of Cambridge University.

Still, about a third of Libya's people remain in poverty. Gadhafi showered benefits on parts of the country, such as Tripoli. Meanwhile, eastern Libya, ultimately the source of February's rebellion, was allowed to atrophy.

At least one of his sons, Saif al-Arab, was killed during the 2011 uprising, and another, Khamis, was believed killed. Others, along with his wife Safiya, fled to neighboring Algeria or Niger. Seif al-Islam and Muatassim, who commanded one the military units involved in the crackdown on protesters, fled into hiding when Tripoli fell.

BRUSSELS — Rebels fighting to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi committed unlawful killings and torture, Amnesty International said in a report released on Tuesday.

The 100-plus page report, based on three months of investigation in Libya, draws no equivalency between the crimes of Gadhafi loyalists and those of the former rebels, who now hold power in Tripoli: The Gadhafi forces’ crimes were greater, the list of them is longer, and they may have amounted to crimes against humanity, the report said.

But it said the crimes of the rebels were not insignificant.

“Members and supporters of the opposition, loosely structured under the leadership of the National Transitional Council (NTC) ... have also committed human rights abuses, in some cases amounting to war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale,” the Amnesty report said. 

It said opposition supporters “unlawfully killed” more than a dozen Gadhafi loyalists and security officials between April and early July. And just after the rebels took control of eastern Libya, the report said, angry groups of rebel supporters “shot, hanged and otherwise killed through lynching” dozens of captured soldiers and suspected mercenaries, with impunity. 

Mohammed al-Alagi, a justice minister for Libya’s transitional authorities said that describing the rebels actions as war crimes was wrong.

“They are not the military, they are only ordinary people, “ al-Alagi said. While rebels have made mistakes, he aknowledged, they cannot be described as “war crimes at all.”

In addition, the report said both sides stirred up racism and xenophobia, causing sub-Saharan Africans to be increasingly attacked, robbed and abused by ordinary Libyans.

“In February, there was this rumor about Gadhafi using black people as mercenaries; that’s wrong,” Nicolas Beger, director of the Amnesty International European Institutions office, told Associated Press Television News in Brussels on Monday. “But the NTC has not done a lot to curb that rumor and now there is a lot of retaliation against sub-Saharan Africans.”

Beger also said abuses were continuing under the new government.

“We have even spoken to guards who admit that they use force,” he said. “They say, ‘Yeah we use force in order to get confessions, in order to force people to hand in their weapons.’ So this really needs to be controlled. This is one of the priorities that the new authorities have to really get a clear act on.”

The report also listed an extensive list of crimes allegedly committed by Gadhafi’s regime. The loyalists killed and injured scores of unarmed protesters, made critics disappear, used illegal cluster bombs, launched artillery, mortar and rocket attacks against residential areas, and, without any legal proceedings, executed captives, the report said.

Thousands of Libyans were kidnapped from their homes, mosques and streets, including children as young as 12, the report said.

A rebel fighter climbs atop a statue inside Gadhafi’s compound Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli, where intense fighting has occurred, on Aug. 24.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya — When the end came for Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya, it was stunningly sudden. One minute the rebels were in the mountains, the next they were sweeping through the coastal city of Zawiya to the gates of the capital.

Gadhafi’s dread fortress of Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli then came under siege by rebels, to fall in a matter of hours.

Over the next few days, the secrets of the 42-year-old regime spilled into the open.

Whispered stories about bunkers under Bab al-Aziziya proved true, with miles of tunnels navigable by electric golf carts leading to villas and hideouts across the city.

Inmates freed from the regime’s notorious prisons told of decades of inside tiny cells, cut off from the world. The squalor they endured contrasted with the luxury in which Gadhafi’s children lived, as evidenced by the expensive cars, indoor pools and gaudy decor at the homes rebels trashed and looted.

In the ensuing days, sporadic fighting continued with pockets of Gadhafi loyalists.

As they retreated, they left behind mounds of corpses, sometimes set on fire, before vanishing into the countryside.

GADHAFI LOCATION SUSPECTED NEAR SIRTE

Libyan rebels say they’re closing in on Moammar Gadhafi and issued an ultimatum Tuesday to regime loyalists in the fugitive dictator’s hometown of Sirte, his main remaining bastion: surrender this weekend or face an attack.

“We have a good idea where he is,” a top rebel leader said.

The rebels, tightening their grip on Libya after a military blitz, also demanded that Algeria return Gadhafi’s wife and three of his children who fled there Monday.

Granting asylum to his family, including daughter Aisha who gave birth in Algeria on Tuesday, was an “enemy act,” said Ahmed al-Darrad, the rebels’ interior minister.

Rebel leaders insisted they are slowly restoring order in the war-scarred capital of Tripoli after a week of fighting, including deploying police and collecting garbage.

Reporters touring Tripoli still saw chaotic scenes, including desperate motorists stealing fuel from a gas station.

Rebel fighters were converging on the heavily militarized town of Sirte, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Tripoli.

The rebels gave pro-Gadhafi forces there a deadline of Saturday — the day after the end of the Muslim holiday — to complete negotiations and surrender. After that, the rebels will “act decisively and militarily,” said Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the head of the rebels’ National Transitional Council.

FUNDS DETAINED

UNITED NATIONS — Libya’s rebels got a boost Tuesday with the unfreezing of about $1.6 billion in Libyan currency held in Britain as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for urgent international support and billions more for the incoming government.

The U.N. chief said he was encouraged by events on the ground and told the Security Council “I think we can now hope for a quick conclusion to the conflict and an end to the suffering of Libya’s people.”

The National Transitional Council, which controls most of the country, says it urgently needs at least $5 billion in frozen assets to pay state salaries and maintain services in Libya, including in areas still under Moammar Gadhafi’s control, as well as for salaries for an army and a police force to restore order and confiscate arms.
Analysts estimate that as much as $110 billion is frozen in banks worldwide.
 

FAMILY FLEES TO ALGERIA, DAUGHTER HAS BABY 

ALGIERS, Algeria — Hunted throughout her homeland and forced to flee into exile across a dangerous desert border, the daughter of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi paused somewhere in the Sahara to have a baby.

The dramatic birth of Gadhafi’s granddaughter after her mother and other relatives escaped Libyan territory into Algeria, lends a human dimension to the dictator’s downfall and the ongoing mystery of his whereabouts.

The birth in exile was disclosed by the Algerian Health Ministry on Tuesday.

Algeria’s U.N. Ambassador Mourad Benmehidi said in a letter to the Security Council obtained by The Associated Press that at 8:45 a.m. local time Monday two vehicles, a bus and a Mercedes entered Algerian territory from Libya carrying Safiya Gadhafi, her daughter Aisha, sons Hannibal and Mohammed, and their children. Benmehidi said one child “was born the same day at the border without medical assistance.”

The Health Ministry earlier said that Aisha Gadhafi gave birth to a girl on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear which day was correct.

Benmehidi said the country allowed them to enter the country for “humanitarian considerations.” Algerian news reports had said Aisha’s pregnancy was one reason for Algeria’s controversial decision to take the family in.

An Algerian newspaper reported that the exiles, who also included an unknown number of Gadhafi’s grandchildren by his eight children, had waited 12 hours to receive authorization to cross the Algerian border from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika — while Aisha was in labor.
 

POCKETS OF RESISTANCE 

TARHOUNA, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi’s green flags still fly proudly above the main street in this bastion of support for his crumbling regime. Many here still openly pledge allegiance to the longtime Libyan leader.

And don’t even ask about the rebels, who ostensibly control the small market town but mostly keep to the outskirts.

“We felt safe with Gadhafi, but not now, not with the rats,” Hassan Sultan, 35, an unemployed laborer, said of the rebels.

Tarhouna’s loyalty is a stark sign of the problems the rebels face as they try to bring stability — and eventually a new government — to a country ruled by Gadhafi for more than four decades. Residents here say many of their neighbors have hidden weapons, leftovers from government programs to arm civilians against attackers, and some say they believe there could eventually be attacks on the rebels.

Because while Gadhafi was detested by many Libyans as a dictator who enriched his family but left much of the country in poverty, he also earned support by nurturing particular tribes and regions, offering generous government benefits and jobs to those he saw as key supporters.

Sultan, for instance, received about $500 a month in unemployment assistance — more than the salary of a low-level civil servant — but received his last check in July as the rebels pushed closer to Tripoli, the capital.

But in Tarhouna, residents say their loyalty runs far deeper than the next welfare check. The town, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli, was widely seen as a Gadhafi favorite, and its dominant tribe — also called Tarhouna — holds many positions in the Libyan military.

“It had nothing to do with money,” said Jafer Abdel Sadik, 21, who still sells the once-ubiquitous green flags of the Gadhafi regime in his mobile phone shop, where one wall was decorated with a large poster of the former dictator. “Under Gadhafi, we lived peacefully and were secure.”

Despite such talk, Libya’s emerging new government keenly fears a repeat of the mistakes of Iraq, where Saddam Hussein’s supporters were purged by U.S. forces and quickly turned against the new regime, destabilizing the country for years.

Rebel spokesman Mahmoud Shammam said that while Gadhafi’s key aides and fighters would be prosecuted, his civilian supporters would face no punishment.

“We are going to convince them that they are in the wrong camp, and we will welcome them to come back to the majority and understand that we’d like to build a new Libya,” he told reporters.

Printed on Wednesday, August 31, 2011 as: Rebels dispose dictator Gadhafi, Libya begins its transition.

Rebel fighters trample on a head of a statue of Moammar Gadhafi inside the main compound in Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli, Libya.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya — Hundreds of Libyan rebels stormed Moammar Gadhafi’s compound Tuesday, charging wildly through the symbolic heart of the crumbling regime as they killed loyalist troops, looted armories and knocked the head off a statue of the besieged dictator. But they found no sign of the man himself.

The storming of Bab al-Aziziya, long the nexus of Gadhafi’s power, marked the effective collapse of his 42-year-old regime. But with Gadhafi and his powerful sons still unaccounted for — and gunbattles flaring across the nervous city — the fighters cannot declare victory.

The rebel force entered the compound after fighting for five hours with Gadhafi loyalists outside, using mortars, heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. They killed some of those who defended the compound and hauled off thousands of rifles, crates of weapons and trucks with guns mounted on the back in a frenzy of looting.

“We’re looking for Gadhafi now. We have to find him now,” said Sohaib Nefati, a rebel sitting against a wall with a Kalashnikov rifle.

Abdel-Aziz Shafiya, a 19-year-old rebel dressed in camouflage with a rocket-propelled grenade slung over one shoulder and a Kalashnikov over the other, said the rebels believe Gadhafi is inside the compound but hiding underground.

“Wasn’t he the one who called us rats? Now he is the rat underground,” he said.

Shafiya said he felt “an explosion of joy” to be standing inside Gadhafi’s stronghold in the capital after a lightning-quick rebel advance. He had left the rebel-held western city of Misrata just two days earlier.

“I lost friends and relatives and now I can walk into Gadhafi’s house,” Shafiya said, choking up with emotion. “Many of my friends have died and now all of that meant something.”

Tripoli’s new rebel military chief, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, said at nightfall that a small area of the vast compound was still under the control of regime fighters and heavy shooting was heard across Tripoli toward midnight.

The atmosphere in the compound was a mix of joyful celebration and tension. The air was thick with smoke from the battles, and the boom of mortars and the crackle of gunfire was constant. Rebels chanted “Allahu akbar” or “God is great” and on loudspeakers they cried: “Al-Hamdullilah,” or “Thank God.”

As the fighters stormed in, they captured a guard at the gates and threw him to the ground, slamming rifle butts into his back. A hostile crowd gathered around, punching and kicking him until one rebel stepped in, stood over him and kept the crowd at bay. Inside the walls, a few bodies of Gadhafi fighters — one with a gaping head wound from a gunshot — were sprawled on the ground.

Several young men wrenched the head from a statue of Gadhafi and kicked it around. One lifted it above his head while his jubilant comrades danced and yelled around him. Fighters with long beards hugged each other and flashed the “V’’ for victory sign. Others carried injured rebels to ambulances.

A fighter climbed atop the iconic statue of a huge golden fist clenching a model of an American warplane and shot his machine gun in the air in celebration. The statue stands outside a building that was once Gadhafi’s home, preserved with the pockmarks of an American bombing in 1986 as a symbol of his defiance.

Gadhafi delivered many fiery speeches from the balcony of that house, railing against the West. It was there that he appeared on television six months ago, at the beginning of the uprising, mocking his opponents and saying his supporters would “purify Libya inch by inch, house by house, alley by alley.”

Bab al-Aziziya has since been pummeled many times over by NATO bombings in the air campaign against the regime that began in March.

Thousands of rebels converged on the compound after it was breached, snatching ammunition and arms from depots inside. They found brand-new rifles still in their paper wrappings.

Scuffles broke out among rebels pushing and shoving to get inside two white buildings where the rifles, machine guns and handguns are stored. They came out drenched in sweat from the struggles.

One fighter gleefully blasted rocket-propelled grenades over the compound’s eastern wall, with little idea about what was happening on the other side.

Ali Sameer, a Tripoli resident, stood with three brand-new rifles resting on his legs.

“They are for my friends. I don’t even know how to fight,” he said.

The rebels carted out boxes of the weapons and ammunition, and some drove off with trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns on the back.

One drove out with a golf cart. Another walked out with a fan. Others were busy ripping down posters of Gadhafi.

Near Gadhafi’s old home with the statue outside, the body of a dead regime loyalist lay inside a round building with glass windows shot out. The body was partly covered by a blanket, the head sticking out with a gaping gunshot wound.

A large tent nearby was on fire.

Gadhafi has a famous penchant for Bedouin-style tents, meant to symbolize his roots as a simple desert dweller. He received guests in the tents inside Bab al-Aziziya.

The storming of the compound was a new high for the rebels in what has been an emotional roller coaster since they moved into Tripoli on Sunday night. It began with euphoria and claims that they had taken over most of the city with little resistance. The first night they partied in Green Square, a major symbol of the regime where Gadhafi supporters had held almost nightly rallies throughout the uprising. And it seemed Gadhafi rule was teetering on the brink of collapse.

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, there was a shocking setback. The rebels had claimed that they arrested Gadhafi’s son and heir apparent, Seif al-Islam. It was confirmed by the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, which has charged him and his father with crimes against humanity.

But inexplicably, Seif al-Islam showed up at the hotel where foreign journalists are staying under the close watch of regime minders in early morning hours of Tuesday. He giddily took reporters on an eerie drive in the middle of the night to see hundreds of pro-regime gunmen around Bab al-Aziziya and at least a hundred more lined up outside, where guns were being handed out to volunteers.

The rebels waited hours to explain, saying word of his capture had come from secondhand reports from some rebels that were never confirmed and had been leaked to journalists. But in an indication that the announcement of his arrest might have been a ruse calculated to demoralize the regime, Mahmoud Jibril, head of the rebels’ acting Cabinet, said the reports had some political and military benefits.

“About 30 officers and soldiers surrendered when they heard the news, which helped us take over Bab al-Aziziya swiftly,” he said. “And 11 countries recognized the (rebels’) National Transitional Council after receiving news of his arrest.”

By Tuesday morning, it looked like the capital might descend into bloody urban warfare. There was sporadic gunfire in many parts. The rebels were in control of parts of the city, though it was not clear how extensive their control really was. Then the fighting took focus around Gadhafi’s compound.

However, rebels were trying to establish civilian control in the chaotic city, even while fire fights continued.

In a deserted five-star hotel on the city’s beachfront, a group of rebel leaders who had operated underground for the past six months announced that they had formed a 24-member city council and would now be in charge.

Deputy council chief Usama el-Abed el-Abed called on city workers to return their jobs so life could begin to return to normal. However, the founding members had not invited guests, saying the city was still too dangerous for large gatherings.

Gadhafi, meanwhile, has not been heard from since Sunday, when rebels entered Tripoli and he delivered a series of angry and defiant audio messages that were apparently phoned in to state television.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the Russian head of the World Chess Federation who has known Gadhafi for years, said he spoke Tuesday by telephone with Gadhafi, who told him he was “alive and well and still in Tripoli.” The report could not be independently confirmed.

In other parts of the capital, the rebels said they were also in control of state television. They raised their tricolor flag on the top of the building. Rebels claimed they also control the airport.

In Tripoli’s Green Square, hundreds of rebels celebrated the storming of Bab al-Aziziya, dancing and clapping and waving the red, green and black rebel flag and firing celebratory gunfire in the air.

Libya’s former deputy ambassador to the U.N. said he expected the entire country would be in rebel hands within 72 hours. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who with other diplomats has continued to work at the Libyan mission since disavowing Gadhafi in February, said Tuesday he expects Libya will be “totally liberated.”

In the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli, the news of the Bab al-Aziziya storming was greeted with celebratory gunfire and firecrackers. Men drove around waving rebel flags.

Wael Abu Khris, a shipping agent turned rebel fighter from Tripoli, was walking around Gadhafi’s compound after the battle, carrying his Kalashnikov.

“I feel great satisfaction. We are at last free of this dictator,” he said. “Libya is free at last. No more Gadhafi!”

Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Rebels storm compound, seek Gadhafi.

Violent protests in Libya arose in the aftermath of peaceful protests in other parts of Northern Africa, and our government’s intervention may also pose a threat to the safety of civilians, said a UT professor. By sending troops to defend the rebels, the U.S. is sending a message that to gain military support, rebels should arm themselves against their governments, said Alan J. Kuperman, an associate professor in the Lydon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Kuperman has written an article on Libya for USA Today, authored a book entitled “The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention” and is co-editor of “Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention.” U.S. support of the fight against Gadhafi and enforcement of the no-fly zone actually increases danger to civilians because it encourages violence from Eastern Libyan protesters, he said. “This is not in humanitarian interest nor is it in our national interest,” he said. “There’s a very big difference between supporting nonviolent protest movements and supporting armed rebels.” The East used Egypt and Tunisia as an excuse to start their own rebellion but chose a violent approach, and Obama fell for the trick, Kuperman said. The solution will not be to aid the armed rebels but to encourage the two sides of Libya to negotiate and come to a peace agreement, he said. “We don’t want to be encouraging the war, we want to be discouraging it,” he said. “We need to try and calm down the rebels and tell them to cease fire. I don’t think the solution down the road should be or will be to arm the rebels.” Uprisings arose from the Eastern half of the country on Feb. 15 with a short, peaceful protest movement, following nonviolent protests in Egypt. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his regime in the Western half of the country responded with military action, similarly to leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, but protesters in Eastern Libya led by Mustafa Abdul Jalil responded by taking up arms against the government. Civilians were injured and killed, and the United Nations authorized military action against the Libyan military. The U.N. and the U.S. are now enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, and are taking action against all Libyan aircraft and Libyan military entities that may pose a threat to Libyan civilians. Rebels put the death toll at more than 1,000, while Gadhafi’s forces say it is only 150, according to The Associated Press. Although the no-fly zone is troubling because it appears that the U.N. and the U.S. have not determined the end result yet, the U.S. government’s decision to watch the situation unfold before deciding what to do was wise, said Ed Dorn, a professor in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. “The Obama administration has handled the situation with admirable restraint and sound judgment,” Dorn said. “The president did not jump in with both feet as some pundits and a few politicians urged him to do.” The vast majority of the Libyan population supports pro-democracy protesters, said finance sophomore Ali Mavrakis. Mavrakis is Libyan and has family still in Libya. His family in the U.S. has organized protests in Dallas and Washington D.C. “It’s not just some small faction,” he said. “It’s important to note that it’s really the Libyan people standing united against a government that’s been oppressive for many years and done egregious things to its people, things that would not be tolerated in the United States.” Mavrakis’ family exclusively supports pro-democracy groups, he said. “People being called rebels are really pro-democracy groups who are pushing for the same fundamental freedoms that we have in the U.S.,” he said. “By being here and raising awareness among those around us, we’re building up support.”