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Gaddafi's spy chief in Mali, son on way: official

The area has been used for years by drug traffickers as well as by an offshoot of al Qaeda.

News18test sharma |

Updated:October 28, 2011, 7:47 AM IST
Gaddafi's spy chief in Mali, son on way: official
The area has been used for years by drug traffickers as well as by an offshoot of al Qaeda.

Dakar: Muammar Gaddafi's intelligence chief, who is wanted by Interpol, fled to Mali overnight after making his way across Niger where he has been hiding for several days in the country's northern desert, an adviser to the president of Niger said on Thursday.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the matter, said that Abdullah al Senoussi entered Mali late on Wednesday night via the Kidal region, which shares a border with Niger. He is guarded by a unit of about a dozen people and arrived in a convoy that was piloted by ethnic Tuaregs from Mali.

The official said that Gaddafi's hunted son, Saif al Islam, is also on his way to Mali and is traveling across the invisible line separating Algeria from Niger. The area, an ungoverned expanse of dunes stretching for hundreds of miles, has been used for years by drug traffickers as well as by an offshoot of al Qaeda.

"Senoussi is in Mali ... he arrived on Wednesday," said the adviser, an influential elder in the ethnic Tuareg community which overwhelmingly supported Gaddafi and remained loyal to him despite Niger's official stance backing the country's new rulers.

"Saif is going to Mali too. He is right now between Niger and Algeria. He is in the territory at the frontier between the two, heading to Mali," the adviser said. "For the moment, they do not plan to approach the government. They are protected by the Tuaregs ... and they are choosing to stay in the desert."

The region through which they traveled is the traditional home of the Tuaregs the desert dwellers whose members live in the nations abutting the Sahara desert from Mauritania in the east, through Mali, Niger, Libya and Chad. The group felt a kinship with Gaddafi who elevated the nomadic life by pitching his tent in the courtyards of four-star hotels in Europe.

Hundreds of Malian and Nigerien Tuaregs were recruited by Gaddafi to fight as hired guns in Libya in the final months of the conflict. The video showing how Gaddafi was manhandled after he was caught has deeply offended Tuareg communities throughout Africa.

Starting at dinnertime on Wednesday, Tuareg elders met in Agadez to discuss the conflict posed by the arrival of Gaddafi's most trusted collaborators in light of the Niger's government's commitment to hand over anyone wanted by the world court. Both the son and the intelligence chief are wanted by the International Criminal Court which issued warrants for their arrest in May for crimes against humanity committed during the month long struggle for power in Libya.

About 30 other regime loyalists, including another Gaddafi son, al Saadi, fled to Niger in September, but were apprehended by Niger's government and placed under house arrest.

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