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Posted at 05:03 PM ET, 08/22/2011

Libya news live updates: Gaddafi son escapes house arrest

Libya state TV anchor detained

Rebels storm house of Aisha Gaddafi

Gaddafi’s son escapes house arrest


People in rebel-held Benghazi celebrate the capture of Tripoli early Monday, Aug. 22, 2011. (Alexandre Meneghini - AP)

After a four-decade-long rule and a six-month-old battle with rebel forces, Moammar Gaddafi faces a toppling regime. Sunday, rebel forces swarmed the capital of Tripoli. The world watches as one more Middle East rule looks as if it is about to end. The time is marked in EST. It is six hours ahead in Libya. Read the Post’s lead story here and follow other journalists’ tweets from Libya here.

Below, follow along with our live updates:


5:10 p.m. Night falls in Libya

As night falls in Libya, the rebels are regrouping outside the city and Gaddafi’s whereabouts are still unknown.

Meanwhile, in the Hotel Rixos, CNN Correspondent Matthew Chance tweeted that the journalists still trapped in the hotel are managing fine: “Very dark, very quiet at the #Rixos, some gunshots cracking outside. We raided the hotel larder and got tons of cheese!”

Google also agreed to a name change in recognition of the historic changes in Libya. The once-called Green Square in Tripoli is now marked as “Martyrs’ Square” on Google maps:


View Larger Map

We’re wrapping up for the day, but visit us tomorrow for more live updates.


4:20 p.m. Libya State TV anchor detained


(Image via state TV)
CNN correspondent Sara Sidner reports that Libya State TV anchor Hala al Misrati has been detained.

 Misrati made news Sunday after brandishing a gun on air and saying she would “kill or be killed today.” Misrati said the channel’s staff was loyal to Gaddafi and would be gladly be martyred if the rebels tried to attack it. “We are all armed here and even those without a weapon are willing to be a shield in order to protect their colleagues at this channel. We are willing to become martyrs,” she said.

 Earlier today, rebels took control of Libya state television. Normal programming was replaced by a black screen.

Sidner tweets that the rebels said of Misrati: “She is unharmed.”


3:35 p.m. Rebels reportedly storm the house of Aisha Gaddafi

New footage uploaded by the Libyan Youth Movement purportedly shows rebel forces storming the home of Gaddafi’s daughter, Aisha Gaddafi. Aisha, a lawyer and Gaddafi’s only biological daughter, runs Libya’s largest charity. She was also a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Development Programme before her role was canceled at the start of the the government crackdown. Aisha’s whereabouts are unknown. Watch the video:


2:46 p.m. Gaddafi’s son may have escaped house arrest

Mohammed Gaddafi, Gaddafi’s eldest son, may have escaped his house arrest after forces loyal to Gaddafi stormed the house where Mohammed was being held and clashed with guards there. Earlier on Monday, Mohammed gave an interview to al-Jazeera, which was interrupted by gunfire. He shouted “there is no God but Allah,” before the phone line went dead.


2:25 p.m. Obama remarks on Libya

“NATO has once more proven that it is the strongest coalition in the world,” Obama said in a short recorded message from Martha’s Vineyard. The president praised NATO and U.S. troop involvement in the Libyan operation, but saved his highest praise for the Libyan people. He said, “Your revolution is your own,” and told them the country they deserved was within their reach.


1:52 p.m. Evidence that Gaddafi spied on journalists found

Foreign journalists in Libya long protested the Gaddafi government’s requirements correspondents had to accept in order to stay in Tripoli. The Rixos hotel was a gilded jail, according to one Post correspondent. When fighting broke out Sunday, it became even more of a jail to about two dozen journalists. The hotel has been surrounded by snipers. While many of the hotel’s residents, including the government minders, have been allowed to leave, the journalists have not. It’s left the journalists free to range about parts of the hotel previously cut off to them.

In one office, journalists found printouts of their personal e-mails, the Guardian reports. The journalists had suspected their computers had been hacked, but did not have proof until now.


1:38 p.m. Barack Obama to make a televised address at 2pm

We’ll follow along with updates here. It is uncertain if it will be a live speech, or a recorded message.


1:04 p.m. “Tripoli is not safe at all”

The Post’s correspondent in Tripoli, Thomas Erdbrink, reports that the Libyan capital remains unsafe, with firefights breaking out between rebels and Gaddafi supporters. Erdbrink and other reporters were pinned down in a rebel command post in Tripoli for three hours when it came under fierce attack from pro-Gaddafi forces. The rebels were forced to relocate. "Tripoli is not safe at all,'' Erdbrink says. He says that the mood on the streets was "radically different'' from the celebratory spirit of Sunday night. 

The Post’s Leila Fadel writes from Benghazi that the rebel council urged calm, reminding people that the fight is still not over. Fadel writes, “Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte has yet to rise against him, and [rebel leader] Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the only way for it to fall is through an internal rebellion. Southwest of Benghazi, rebels claimed control of the oil hub of Brega after Gaddafi forces retreated, according to a field commander, Mohammed al-Rujaili. The main coastal highway between Benghazi and Tripoli runs through Sirte.”


12:59 p.m. Tunisian bomb plot uncovered

A Libyan officer, Abd Erazzak Al-Rajhi, surrendered to Tunisian authorities Monday, saying he had been sent by Gaddafi to bomb an Arab embassy in the capital, Reuters reports.

The target was the embassy of an unspecified Arab country.

As Reuters reports: “Libyan state television has routinely accused Arab states Qatar and the United Arab Emirates of being ‘traitors’ for supporting a rebel offensive seeking to topple Gaddafi.


12:18 p.m. Could Gaddafi be at the Rixos?

In the Rixos hotel, where foreign journalists are still sequestered, power has been cut. Human Rights activist Leah McElrath posits a theory of Gaddafi’s whereabouts: He’s inside the Rixos.

The theory has come up before. In May, Gaddafi appeared to give a speech from inside the hotel, much to the surprise of journalists who were lounging in the lobby and never saw the Libyan leader enter or exit. Blogger Andrew Sullivan asked if he could possibly be staying at the hotel. Others opined that perhaps the hotel had tunnel access.

Rumors over the leader’s whereabouts are swarming. He has not been seen in public for more than two months. Throughout Sunday and Monday, people have suggested Gaddafi has left the country for Tunisia, that South Africa has been in talks with the leader to help him leave (a claim publicly refuted by the country’s foreign ministry), and that he is still in the compound heavily bombarded by NATO airstrikes.

The question of Gaddafi’s location is of utmost importance to the rebel forces. Rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said earlier on Monday, “The real moment of victory is when Gaddafi is captured.”

(See five places Gaddafi could be hiding.)


11:35 a.m. Third Gaddifi son possibly arrested; forces continue to clash

Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the rebel government, told al-Arabiya satellite news channel that rebel fighters captured Saadi Gaddafi on Monday. If true, the rebels now have three of Gaddafi's sons. Saadi is known as the architect of the repression of the uprising in the rebel bastion of Benghazi earlier this year.

The Gaddafi compound may have been leveled by airstrikes. Moammar al-Warfali, whose family home is adjacent to the Gaddafi compound, told the Associated Press: "When I climb the stairs and look at it from the roof, I see nothing at Bab al-Aziziya. NATO has demolished it all and nothing remains."

Also Monday, rebel field commander Mohammed al Rujaili, said that Gaddafi troops in the key oil hub of Brega had retreated and that rebels were in full control. The latest offensive for Brega, about 50 miles southwest of Benghazi, began on July 14. The advance means the east now has access to a key oil refinery and terminal.

Several Gaddafi officials have gone into hiding, including Information Minister Ali al-Kilani, who is taking refuge in the city of Sirte. Sirte is now under siege, and electricity to the city has been cut.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi started to shed their uniforms as they saw impending defeat, hoping to blend in with the conquering rebel forces.

On Monday, many more of them tried to flee over the southern Libyan border into Niger, al-Jazeera reports. In response, Niger began air surveillance operations at the border to monitor any armed groups attempting to flee. 

At the Tunisian-Libyan border, Gaddafi forces clashed in fierce fighting with rebels, Reuters reports.


11:18 a.m. Pentagon believes Gaddafi still in Libya

“We believe he’s still in the country,” Marine Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman told a group of reporters Monday. “We don’t have any information that he’s left the country.”

He also said that the United States does not plan to send ground forces into Libya to assist international peacekeeping operations after Gaddafi’s fall.


11:01 a.m. Scenes of jubilation on the streets


Rebel fighters celebrate as they drive through Tripoli's Qarqarsh district. (Bob Strong/Reuters)

Libyan rebel fighters celebrate in Tripoli. (Sergey Ponomarev/AP)

A boy holds a drawing depicting Moammar Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam being hanged. (Alexandre Meneghini/AP)

Libyan rebel fighters embrace at the former female military base in Tripoli, Libya. (Sergey Ponomarev/AP)

Libyan rebel fighters from Tripoli brigade deface a portrait of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. (Sergey Ponomarev/AP)


10:53 a.m. State TV fades to black, rebels regroup

The U.S. State Department confirmed earlier that rebels had taken control of the Libya state television, Gaddafi’s platform for his defiant speeches. Twenty minutes ago, Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, an Arab blogger, tweeted out an image of the television screen, faded to black.

Meanwhile, rebel forces are now trying to coordinate efforts to ensure Gaddafi’s defeat. CNN's Sara Sidner reports that rebels are regrouping on the outskirts of the capital with guns, ammunition, and pickup trucks.

“They’re all gathering to do something … we don’t know when its going to happen," Sidner said. "We expect they are going to try to go into the city and do a street-by-street sweep."


10:36 a.m. Londoners chant “Freedom!” outside Libyan Embassy as rebel flag is flown


Demonstrators wave flags of the Kingdom of Libya outside of the Libyan embassy in Ankara. (Umit Bektas/Reuters)
Egypt formally recognized the Transitional National Council, which was formed in February, as the legitimate government in Libya. Around the world, the Transitional National Council flag is now being hoisted over embassies as a signal of the defeat of Gaddafi’s regime.

The flag used by the council is a horizontal tricolor of red, black and green with a white crescent and star in the center.  It is the same flag that was previously used in Libya between 1951 and 1969. The flag used by the Gaddafi regime was pure green.

In March, the flag was first flown by the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations. Now, it flies over the Libyan embassies in Prague, Algeria, Alexandria and London.

In Prague, Libyan diplomats burned a portrait of Gaddafi and his collapsing regime's flag. The rebel flag was hoisted over Libya's mission in the Czech capital.

As the flag was replaced in London, the crowd below chanted “Freedom!”


9:51 a.m. NATO’s role in post-Gaddafi Libya debated

In May, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asked, “How could it be that the U.S. should always take the lion's share of the burden — couldn't European allies step up to the plate?” For the Libyan offensive, NATO did step up to the plate, with the bulk of the bombing done by British and French forces over the last several months. President Obama took  a “decidedly back seat,” writes Time.com.

However, as the fighting seems to be drawing to a close, the role of NATO and the United States, and the role both will continue to play in Libya, are under debate.

While Mahmoud Jibril, a leading member of the Libyan rebel council, praised the outside help NATO brought to the fight against Gaddafi, others wonder about how much involvement the NATO forces will have in a post-Gaddafi Libya.
(Carlos Latuff)

Libyan bloggers did not like the suggestions that the rebellion was a product of Western oil interests:

Do not insult the Libyans and the Libyan revolution, we didn't die to give our land away, do you guys even know where Libyan oil went b4?less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

On Sunday, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had been a strong advocate for U.S. military intervention in Libya, went on “Face the Nation” to speak about Libya and the return of that country’s oil.

Libya has “access to a lot of money. There’s a lot of oil and a lot of assets there. ... But our European friends and we are going to have to help out a lot.”

McCain was still critical of the role the United States played, saying the country took too long to employ the full weight of U.S. air power.

Oil prices were mixed Monday as the markets experienced a knee-jerk reaction to the possibility of Libyan oil coming back online, CNN reports.

The Libyan fields that once pumped around 1.6 million barrels per day are not likely to return to that level for at least a few months, Reuters reported

Manouchehr Takin, senior petroleum analyst at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, said the state of the oil infrastructure in Libya remains uncertain.

Tatkin said unforeseen factors could interfere with the resumption of production. He cited the trouble Iraq’s oil supply faced in coming back online after the U.S.invasion of 2003 because Iraqi engineers were being murdered by hardliners for cooperating with Americans.


9:17 a.m. Boats sent to retrieve migrants from Libya


Migrants wait on the "Red Star 1" in the port of Benghazi, Libya, on April 24, 2011 on a ship organized by the International Organization for Migration.The organization has sent another boat to Tripoli. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

The International Organization for Migration sent a boat to Tripoli Monday to evacuate stranded migrants from the area, Reuters reports. The boat, which is able to carry 300 people, will arrive in Tripoli Tuesday. More than 5,000 Bangladeshis, Filipinos and Egyptians have asked for help in leaving the capital as the battle between rebel and Gaddafi forces escalates. However, now that it looks as if rebel forces are taking over the city, the organization thinks some of the migrants will choose not to leave the country.

“The situation is extremely fluid, not only in terms of how many people may have changed their minds about leaving, but also in terms of changing counterparts on the ground,” said Pasquale Lupoli, IOM’s regional director in the Middle East.

Since the fighting began six months ago, Voice of America reports that 600,000 migrants have left Libya.


9:07 a.m. Rebels claim NATO prepares strike on Gaddafi compound

Al-Jazeera reports that Libya rebels have been advising citizens to stay away from Gaddafi’s Tripoli compounds, claiming that NATO is gearing up for an airstrike. It is unknown if Moammar Gaddafi is at the compound, but one of Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim Gaddafi, is inside the Bab al-Aziziya compound, according to Reuters.

The compound has been bombed repeatedly since a Western air campaign began in March.


View Larger Map

A Libyan blogger who goes by the name Trables Voice is reportedly near the compound. Trables Voice reports that there is no electricity in the area and that planes are flying overhead.

I can hear an air plain comming.... looks like there is a late gift must be delivered to bab alazizia :)less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply


8:49 a.m. U.S. State Department: Gaddafi regime past tipping point

Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” after meeting with Libyan rebel leaders this weekend in Benghazi. He said the Libyans want a modern, secular, unified and independent country and that Gaddafi is “part of Libya’s past.”


8:37 a.m. Mahmoud Jibril, head of Libyan rebel council, gives press conference

Mahmoud Jibril, of the Transitional National Council, spoke Monday, praising the Libyan rebellion, calling it an “epic, heroic battle.” He promised the Libyan leaders will be put on trial, thanked foreign leaders for their help in the battle, and congratulated the Libyan people for their resolve in the fight. He urged Libyans to practice self-control and said that after the rebellion, citizens would lay down their arms.

He said Tripoli is not completely under rebel control and they have no knowledge of Gaddafi’s whereabouts.


8:31 a.m. Libyan Prime Minister has left country

Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi is on the Tunisian island of Djerba, al-Jazeera reported.

Abdallah Mansour, the head of the country’s television union, is also reported to be with him. The Associated Press reports that the rebels have taken over the state television station.


8:29 a.m. Live video from Tripoli; BBC crew attacked

Video shot by Russia Today from a rooftop in Tripoli shows pickup trucks outfitted with machine guns and men greeting each other on a sunny afternoon. It appears peaceful in this area of town, with the only background noise what sounds to be the afternoon call to prayer.

In a separate incident earlier Monday, a BBC crew accompanied rebels into central Tripoli when pro-Gaddafi troops attacked their convoy. The BBC posted video of the attack.


8:05 a.m. Catch up on Sunday night news

Events rapidly unfolded Sunday night, as rebels swarmed Tripoli, staging an uprising inside the city as forces moved in from the east and west. Residents met them with cheers and celebratory gunfire. Though rebels took over most of the capital, Gaddafi forces still held on to parts of the city, including Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound. Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam has been captured.

Alex Crawford of Sky News was with one rebel group as they moved into the city. Her gripping report showed the celebrations moving into the city. Crawford said she wore a helmet and bullet proof vest not out of fear of the government forces, but out of fear from any fallout from celebratory gunfire.

In a brief broadcast on state television Sunday night, Gaddafi made what came across as a desperate plea for support. “Go out and take your weapons,” the Libyan leader said. “All of you, there should be no fear.”


7:50 a.m. World leaders call on Moammar Gaddafi to surrender

President Obama on Sunday called on the Libyan leader to relinquish power to avoid further casualties.

“The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end," Obama said in a statement. "Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all.”

Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland and other European countries joined the call on Monday. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Gaddafi must stop fighting as his regime is in “full retreat.” He also warned of difficult days ahead for Libya.

Protesters have entered Libyan embassies in Greece and in Kuwait, lowering the Libyan flag and replacing it with the rebel tri-color flag.

Not all countries support the Libyan rebels, however. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned the NATO bombings, accusing the alliances of plotting to exploit the country’s oil wealth.


7:30 a.m. Journalists trapped in Rixos Hotel

Forty international journalists are trapped in the Rixos Hotel. One Reuters journalist, Missy Ryan, reports that they are not locked in, but they are surrounded by guards and snipers. The hotel is located in one of the few parts of the city still under Gaddafi’s control. Journalists reported throughout the night via Twitter about their status. Matthew Price, a BBC correspondent wrote about his night in the hotel, saying, “We dined in flak jackets — helmets by our side. And as the Iftar meal, the breaking of the fast ended, so too did the relative silence. Heavy weapons opened up again, explosions outside the hotel.”
Members of the media mark white flags with TV initials. (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

Members of the media mark their flak jackets with TV initials at the Rixos hotel. (Paul Hackett/Reuters)


7:15 a.m. Violence continuing in the capital

Clashes and violence are continuing in the capital, with the rebels facing resistance as they push toward Gaddafi's Bab al-Azizya compound. Forces loyal to Gaddafi have stationed tanks near his compound

“The situation is not stable. There is gunfire everywhere. Gaddafi's forces are using tanks at the port and al-Sarine street near (Gaddafi's compound at) Bab al-Aziziya,” a rebel official in Tripoli, who gave his name as Abdulrahman, told al-Jazeera.

Rebel armed forces are also being sent to maintain law and order in some neighborhoods.

But the mood is jubilant in most neighborhoods. Watch a group gather together to sing the national anthem in Tripoli:

As rebels captured the capital, the Internet connection was returned, and with that many celebrated the return of Libyan voices online.

After 171 days, internet connection has returned to Libya, and with that @TrablesVoice is back online. Welcome back friend.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

Did you miss me? I'm glad that i managed to survive this! I missed you all.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

By and  |  05:03 PM ET, 08/22/2011

 
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