Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Well-informed Libyan sources revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council [NTC] had concluded a “secret” agreement with Gaddafi’s widow, Safia Farkash, to allow her to return to her hometown in the Libyan city of el-Bayda under the protection of Libyan authorities. This confirms previous news published by Asharq Al-Awsat that the Gaddafi family members who had been present in Algeria – namely eldest son Mohammed Gaddafi, Hannibal Gaddafi and Aisha Gaddafi – had left the country for a third as-yet undisclosed location, whilst Gaddafi’s widow, Safia Farkash, will be allowed to return to Libya.
Libya and Algeria have so far officially refused to confirm or deny this information. However a Libyan official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, revealed that the Algerian authorities informed their Libyan counterparts that Mohammad, Hannibal and Aisha Gaddafi had been transferred to a third country.
Over the past few days, Arab and international media outlets have reported the story of Gaddafi family members being transferred from Algeria to a third country, which was first published by Asharq Al-Awsat. Britain’s Daily Telegraph issued a report on Sunday confirming this story, albeit failing to cite the original Asharq Al-Awsat report.
The Daily Telegraph quoted a London-based businessman who revealed that a Gaddafi family “fixer” had visited Niger recently to arrange a reunion of the Gaddafi children in recent weeks. The report noted that these efforts began after Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci visited Tripoli earlier this year and promised to exercise tight control over the family, adding that Aisha Gaddafi is said to have grown increasingly frustrated with the restrictions imposed on her communications by the Algerian regime, and that the Gaddafi children had therefore sough to seek refuge elsewhere in Africa.
The report also confirmed that a deal had been reached between the Algerians and Libyan officials to allow Gaddafi’s widow, Safia Farkash, to return to Libya as a “free woman.”
However a well-informed Libyan source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, claimed that Mohammad, Hannibal and Aisha Gaddafi had in reality sought refuge in another Arab country, denying that they had joined brother Saadi Gaddafi in Niger. The source stressed that the Gaddafi children had voluntarily taken the decision to leave Algeria, adding that the Arab state where they have sought refuge has also imposed strong conditions preventing them from participating in any political or media work for fear of embarrassment.
The source also revealed that the Libyan ambassador to this unnamed Arab state returned to Tripoli after he was officially informed that the Gaddafi children had sought refuge there. The Libyan ambassador to the unnamed Arab country refused to respond to Asharq Al-Awsat’s repeated attempts to contact him, whilst Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim El-Kib also failed to respond to Asharq Al-Awsat’s request for comment.
A Libyan official with close ties to the Gaddafi family informed Asharq Al-Awsat that an Arab country had offered to host the Gaddafi children after they felt that the Algerian authorities were restricting their communications and movements.
The Libyan official, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that “certainly the authorities in Tripoli and the West are aware [of this] because the concerned Arab state informed the senior Libyan officials of its acceptance to host the Gaddafi children, and vowed that they would not pose any danger to the new political situation in Libya.”
The official also asserted that “the decision to leave Algeria concerns the Gaddafi family alone, and nobody was pressured to accept them. There is a practical agreement in this regard so long as they do not cause any inconvenience or engage in any action that could undermine Libyan security and stability.”
Algerian press reports also quoted a number of Algerian officials, including a Libyan Foreign Ministry spokesman and the Algerian ambassador to Libya, saying that they had no information about the Gaddafi family at the present time.
Libyan sources asserted that Mustafa Abdul Jalil had pledged to return all Safia Farkash’s possessions to her, allow her to return to Libya, as well as provide her with state security protection.
An anonymous Libyan source revealed that Abdul Jalil’s pledge to Gaddafi’s widow occurred during a phone conversation between the two during his visit to Algeria last April, which was Abdul Jalil’s first visit to Algeria since the fall of the Gaddafi regime. The source asserted that the NTC chief had informed Safia Farkash that she could return to Libya whenever she wanted under the protection of the Libyan state, particularly as she had not been involved in politics during Gaddafi’s 42 year rule. Abdul Jalil also promised to return Farkash’s house and land into her possession.