Wearing his trademark long flowing robes and gold-rimmed aviator sunglasses, he laughed at the suggestion that he had fortunes stashed overseas, saying he possessed nothing but his famous Bedouin tent. "If they can find it," he said of the purported foreign assets, "they take half and I will keep the other half."
He condemned the countries that had frozen Libyan assets, saying: "The assets are the assets of the Libyan nation.... I am the asset of Libya not the American dollar."
He also insisted that he never ordered aerial assaults on Libyan protestors, but only authorized bombing of ammunitions dumps to avoid weapons falling into the hands of "terrorists," as he refers to the forces that have taken over Benghazi and other cities in the east of Libya.
Indeed, just Monday, two fighter jets attempted to bomb a large ammunition depot in Ajdabiya, a city in the east.
At today's news conference, he again insisted that he will not launch a scorched-earth campaign by torching his own oil installations. He told us he would never attack the oil fields but warned that "the terrorists might try to."
He did speak of freedom of the press and freedom of speech, the first time he has acknowledged any of the protesters' demands, even obliquely.
But he continues to blame the violence in his country on al Qaeda, as he told us as well. "I'm surprised," he said Monday, "that we have an alliance with the west to fight al Qaeda and now that we are fighting terrorists, they have abandoned us."
As I landed in London this morning, I found two very different versions of the Libyan experience as I spoke to my fellow travelers in line at the airport. While I spoke to one of the men standing next to me, who was sent by the Gadhafi regime to study in London, it was as if we were still in Tripoli. "He's good," he told me of Gadhafi. "We just want peace."
But another man I spoke with, who had long ago immigrated to England, said that Gadhafi had done nothing for the country: that education was failing, there was no infrastructure or jobs for young people; nothing worthy of the billions of dollars Libya earns in oil revenues.
He said he hoped Gadhafi would be gone soon but felt that Gadhafi would never "surrender."