Armed Men Seize Libyan Prime Minister
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was seized by gunmen in the capital Tripoli before dawn Thursday, something that is linked to a raid by US special forces over the weekend that snatched a Libyan al-Qaeda suspect from the streets of the capital.
Zeidan's abduction reflected the weakness of Libya's government, which is virtually held hostage by powerful militias, some of them were angered by the US capture of the suspected militant, known as Abu Anas al-Libi, and accused the government of colluding in or allowing the raid.
In a sign of Libya's chaos, Zeidan's seizure was depicted by various sources as either an "arrest" or an abduction.
That is because the militias are interwoven in Libya's fragmented power structure. With the police and army in disarray, many are enlisted to serve in state security agencies, though their loyalty is more to their own commanders than to government officials and they have often intimidated or threatened officials. The militias are rooted in the brigades that fought in the uprising that toppled autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and are often referred to as "revolutionaries."
A statement on the government's official website said Zeidan was taken at dawn to an "unknown location for unknown reasons" by a group believed to be "revolutionaries" from a security agency known as the Anti-Crime Committee. The cabinet held an emergency meeting Thursday morning, headed by Zeidan's deputy, Abdel-Salam al-Qadi.
Abdel-Moneim al-Hour, an official with the Anti-Crime Committee, told The Associated Press that Zidan had been arrested on accusations of harming state security and corruption. The public prosecutor's office said it had issued no warrant for Zidan's arrest.
A government official said gunmen broke into a luxury hotel in downtown Tripoli where Zeidan lives and abducted him and two of his guards. The two guards were beaten but later released. The official spoke to AP on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Zeidan, who was named prime minister a year ago, had on Tuesday condemned the US raid and insisted that all Libyans should be tried on home soil.
The al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi -- real name Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie -- was on the FBI's most wanted list with a $5-million bounty on his head for his alleged role in the 1998 twin bombings of two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
On Monday, Libya demanded an explanation from the US ambassador over the incident.