Late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam is making his way toward Mali through the Sahara, aided by ethnic Tuareg nomads.
The younger Qaddafi last week reportedly had asked for a plane to fly him out of Libya's southern desert region – but the report was never confirmed.
Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) told Reuters that Saif al-Islam was willing to give himself up to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, together with Libya's former intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, a week after his father was killed in a bloody clash that followed a NATO air strike on the dictator's hometown of Sirte.
Senussia is said to already have reached the desert region of Mali, and under the protection of the Tuaregs, who have been fiercely loyal to the Qaddafis for generations.
Likewise, Tuareg nomads are said to be guiding Muammar Qaddafi's heir-apparent and eldest son of his second wife, Saif al-Islam, to join Senussi in Mali.
From there, sources told Reuters, the two were expected to be spirited out of the country to a third nation that is not a signatory to the ICC, where they could be safe.
Although the government of Niger has been the recipient of decades of Qaddafi largesse, and both that country and Mali are populated by large Tuareg communities, they both are also signatories to the ICC. As such, they are being placed in a difficult position, as they are both obligated to surrender Saif al-Islam and Senussi to the The Hague if they are caught.
However, Saif al-Islam's mother, brother Hannibal and half-brother Mohammed, his sister Aisha and her new baby were all accepted into Algeria – which is not a signatory to the ICC. Neither is Zimbabw nor Sudan.
The Tuareg nomad tribes have also long been recipients of Qaddafi largesse, and strong friends of the family throughout the dictator's 42-year reign. Based in the Sahara regions of most of the countries through which Qaddafi and Senussi will require safe passage, the Tuaregs are now essential to their survival.