PM's kidnap reflects Libyan govt's weakness
10 October 2013, 10:33
Tripoli - Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was snatched by
gunmen before dawn on Thursday from a Tripoli hotel where he resides, the
The abduction appeared to be in retaliation for the US
special forces raid over the weekend that seized a Libyan al-Qaeda suspect from
the streets of the capital.
Ali Zeidan’s abduction reflected the weakness of Libya's
government, which is virtually held hostage by powerful militias, many of which
are made up of Islamic militants. Militants 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 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".
Security and corruption
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 Zidan's deputy, Abdel-Salam al-Qadi.
Abdel-Moneim al-Hour, an official with the Anti-Crime
Committee, told The Associated Press that Zeidan had been arrested on
accusations of harming state security and corruption. The public prosecutor's
office said it had issued no warrant for Zeidan’s arrest.
A government official said gunmen broke into the luxury
hotel in downtown Tripoli where Zidan 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.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki, traveling with
Secretary of State John Kerry in Brunei, said, "We are looking into these
reports and we are in close touch with senior US and Libyan officials on the
The snatching of Zidan came hours after he met with the
family of Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, the al-Qaeda suspect seized by the Americans,
now being held in a US warship.