Tripoli, March 17: It is reported that Abdullah Senussi has . . .[restrict]been arrested at Nouakchott airport in Mauritania.
Reports of the arrest first circulated this morning. However, there was confusion as to whether it was him or Abdullah Mansur, Qaddafi’s internal security chief. A Libyan government spokesman then confirmed early this afternoon on Libya TV that it was Senussi who had been arrested.
Senussi, Qaddafi’s brother-in-law and head of his intelligence services, was said to have been caught at the airport early in the morning, travelling in transit from Casablanca in Morocco to Mali. He was reportedly using a fake Malian passport.
The Libya authorities say that a team will go from Libya to Nouakchott to investigate and ask the Mauritanian government to hand him over. However, it did not say when the team would go.
The International Criminal Court also wants Senussi. It issued a warrant for his arrest for him on May 16 last year, along with warrants for the arrest of Qaddafi and Saif Al-Islam. Mauritania could decide to hand him over to the ICC rather than Libya. Both Niger, which is providing asylum to Qaddafi’s son Saadi, and Algeria, which is doing the same for sons Mohamed and Hannibal and daughter Aisha, have said thet they would hand them over to the ICC if there was a request — but not to Libya.
There have been numerous reported sightings and arrests of Senussi since October when he managed to flee from Sirte. Shortly afterwards, a Nigerien minister said he was in Niger. He was later said to be helping Saadi there. In November, he was reported to have been arrested in Sebha and taken to Tripoli. In December Abdullah Naker, self-appointed head of the Tripoli Revolutionary Council, announced that he was holding him, a claim he repeated on TV last month.
Senussi who has a reputation for cruelty and violence, is one of the most hated figures in Libya. Libyans are convinced he was responsible for the massacre in Abu Salim jail in 1996 of over 1,200 prisoners. He has also been accused of being behind a plot in 2003 to assassinate the then Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah. In 1999, a French court convicted him in absentia for the 1989 bombing of a UTA plane flying over Niger in which 170 people died.
If today’s report is true, it means that the three most sought after figures from dictatorship — Qaddafi himself, Saif Al-Islam and Sennussi — are now accounted for.
As an aside, it also means that the credibility of the politically ambition Naker, who at the end of February formed his Al-Qimma party (The Summit or Pinnacle party), is in tatters. [/restrict]