Seif al-Islam Betrayed by His Desert Guide
Seif al-Islam Qaddafi was betrayed to his captors by a Libyan nomad who says he was hired by Qaddafi's son to help him reach neighboring Niger in exchange for one million euros.
Seif al-Islam was captured over the weekend, closing what one official called “the final chapter in Libya’s drama.”
Yussef Saleh al-Hotmani told al-Arabiya that he contacted revolutionary fighters in Libya’s south to inform them when Seif’s two-car convoy would be passing through the area on the night of November 18.
“I made Seif believe that I trusted him,” Hotmani said during an interview Tuesday in Zintan.
On the night of Seif al-Islam’s capture, Hotmani said he was traveling with the younger Qaddafi’s personal guard in the first car of their convoy.
“I had agreed with the fighters that the best place for the ambush would be in a part of desert that was surrounded by high ground,” he said.
The commander of the fighters from Zintan, in Libya's Western mountains, and five from Hotmani’s own tribe, al-Hotman, lay in ambush.
“When we arrived at the dark, deep hollow the gunfire was very precise, it only took about half a minute to capture the first car,” Hotmani said, adding he had intentionally told Seif al-Islam’s convoy to have the vehicles spaced roughly two kilometers apart so as to give the fighters time to regroup and for Hotmani to join them.
“When the second car arrived, we started to shoot very precisely, to damage the vehicle so he could not escape.”
Seif al-Islam, he says, jumped out of the car and tried to run, but was captured, “We treated him as a prisoner of war.”
Observers say it remains unclear if Hotmani planned to ensnare Seif al-Islam from the outset, or if he defected when he had doubts about receiving his payment and began to fear that he might be killed.
Hotami, a Saharan nomad who calls himself “son of the desert,” refused to give details on when or how he contacted fighters from the interim government who caught Seif al-Islam.
“I’m sure [Seif al-Islam and his guards] were planning to execute me when we reached the border," he said. "They had two handguns, two grenades, a knife and handcuffs. They were ready to execute me if they had any doubt.”
The fighters allied to the National Transitional Council (NTC) who caught Seif al-Islam refer to Hotmani, who reportedly attended his interview with al-Arabiya draped in the flag of the new government, as a “hero.”
Fighters say there was less than five thousand dollars found in the two-car convoy.
“I didn’t ask for an advance payment or anything,” he said. “There was no money in the car. This proves that he wanted to execute me at the border.”
Seif al-Islam was flown by his captors to an undisclosed location until a new government is appointed. The fighters say the move was made for his own protection – noting his father Muammar Qaddafi was controversially gunned down after having been captured.
Seif al-Islam – who was being sought by the International Criminal Court – is expected to be tried by a Libyan court instead.