Gaddafi capable of anything - including taking US hostages

Rick Moran
Muammar Gaddafi is massing his remaining forces in Tripoli, fighting to hang on to the capitol. The New York Times:

"We are not afraid; we are watching," said the witness in Sabratha, a doctor reached by telephone. The city was under lockdown, he said, with no stores open, and the buildings of the police and Col. Qaddafi's revolutionary committees were in ruins, he said, burned by protesters. "What I am sure about," he said, "is that change is coming."Clashes were also reported 130 miles east of the capital near Misurata, a city where opposition forces had claimed control. Tripoli, meanwhile, remained in a state of lockdown, even as Colonel Qaddafi called on thousands of mercenaries and irregular security forces to defend his bastion, in what residents said was a desperate and dangerous turn in the week-old uprising.

Distrustful of even his own generals, Colonel Qaddafi has for years quietly built up this ruthless and loyal force. It is made up of either special brigades headed by his sons, segments of the military loyal to his native tribe and its allies, and legions of African mercenaries he has helped train and equip. Many are believed to have fought elsewhere, in places like Sudan, but he has now called them back.

Unless a sizable portion of the military defects to the other side, it would seem that Gaddafi is personally safe - at the moment. This is not good news because the Crazy Colonel is capable of anything - including taking hostages to force western powers to help him contain the revolt. In fact, the White House is using this as an excuse to explain why the president is the last major leader in the world to speak out against the violence in Libya. The Washington Post:

By late Wednesday only one major Western leader had failed to speak up on Libya: Barack Obama. Before then, the president's only comment during five days of mounting atrocities was a statement issued in his name by his press secretary late last Friday, which deplored violence that day in three countries: Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. For four subsequent days, the administration's response to the rapidly escalating bloodshed in Libya consisted of measured and relatively mild statements by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Administration officials explained this weak stance by saying they were worried about U.S. citizens, hundreds of whom were being extracted by ferry Wednesday afternoon. There were fears that the desperate Mr. Gaddafi might attack the Americans or seek to take them hostage. But the presence of thousands of European citizens in Libya did not prevent their government's leaders from forcefully speaking out and agreeing on sanctions.

The temptation is to pile on Obama for his tardiness, but frankly, Gaddafi is such a loose canon and has such a pathological hatred for America that a case can be made - one that many do not agree with - that any statement by Obama might have triggered a hostage crisis. On the other side of that coin is the idea that Americans in Libya took the risk themselves and the government shouldn't be responsible for their poor choices. Take your pick.

I personally am ashamed that President Obama waited so long to strongly condemn the slaughter - the body count may have reached a thousand by now. Even the French condemned Gaddafi by name - Obama did not. Americans in Libya should have been aware that Gaddafi was capable of taking hostages with or without a revolution breaking out and therefore, the government owes them their best efforts to get them out safely, but no more. While Obama dithered, hundreds were gunned down.

It doesn't make the US look like a leader, that's for sure.



Muammar Gaddafi is massing his remaining forces in Tripoli, fighting to hang on to the capitol. The New York Times:

"We are not afraid; we are watching," said the witness in Sabratha, a doctor reached by telephone. The city was under lockdown, he said, with no stores open, and the buildings of the police and Col. Qaddafi's revolutionary committees were in ruins, he said, burned by protesters. "What I am sure about," he said, "is that change is coming."

Clashes were also reported 130 miles east of the capital near Misurata, a city where opposition forces had claimed control. Tripoli, meanwhile, remained in a state of lockdown, even as Colonel Qaddafi called on thousands of mercenaries and irregular security forces to defend his bastion, in what residents said was a desperate and dangerous turn in the week-old uprising.

Distrustful of even his own generals, Colonel Qaddafi has for years quietly built up this ruthless and loyal force. It is made up of either special brigades headed by his sons, segments of the military loyal to his native tribe and its allies, and legions of African mercenaries he has helped train and equip. Many are believed to have fought elsewhere, in places like Sudan, but he has now called them back.

Unless a sizable portion of the military defects to the other side, it would seem that Gaddafi is personally safe - at the moment. This is not good news because the Crazy Colonel is capable of anything - including taking hostages to force western powers to help him contain the revolt. In fact, the White House is using this as an excuse to explain why the president is the last major leader in the world to speak out against the violence in Libya. The Washington Post:

By late Wednesday only one major Western leader had failed to speak up on Libya: Barack Obama. Before then, the president's only comment during five days of mounting atrocities was a statement issued in his name by his press secretary late last Friday, which deplored violence that day in three countries: Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. For four subsequent days, the administration's response to the rapidly escalating bloodshed in Libya consisted of measured and relatively mild statements by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Administration officials explained this weak stance by saying they were worried about U.S. citizens, hundreds of whom were being extracted by ferry Wednesday afternoon. There were fears that the desperate Mr. Gaddafi might attack the Americans or seek to take them hostage. But the presence of thousands of European citizens in Libya did not prevent their government's leaders from forcefully speaking out and agreeing on sanctions.

The temptation is to pile on Obama for his tardiness, but frankly, Gaddafi is such a loose canon and has such a pathological hatred for America that a case can be made - one that many do not agree with - that any statement by Obama might have triggered a hostage crisis. On the other side of that coin is the idea that Americans in Libya took the risk themselves and the government shouldn't be responsible for their poor choices. Take your pick.

I personally am ashamed that President Obama waited so long to strongly condemn the slaughter - the body count may have reached a thousand by now. Even the French condemned Gaddafi by name - Obama did not. Americans in Libya should have been aware that Gaddafi was capable of taking hostages with or without a revolution breaking out and therefore, the government owes them their best efforts to get them out safely, but no more. While Obama dithered, hundreds were gunned down.

It doesn't make the US look like a leader, that's for sure.