ABC News’ Lama Hasan reports:
Moammar Gadhafi was scheduled to take to the airwaves again Monday via the Syrian TV channel Arrai. But Arrai, which has transmitted Gadhafi’s messages in the past, said it couldn’t air his most recent message for security reasons, according to Reuters.
The televised message was supposed to show Gadhafi among his fighters and people, according to Reuters, but Gadhafi’s message was read by Arrai’s anchor instead, who quoted the deposed leader as saying, “We cannot give up Libya to colonization one more time. … There is nothing more to do except fight till victory. … ” The message went on to describe the opposition forces as “traitors,” who were willing to turn over Libya’s oil riches to foreign interests. “We will not hand Libya to colonialism, once again, as the traitors want.”
The ousted Libyan leader is still on the run, his whereabouts unknown. There are reports that he may be hiding in the southern part of Libya, perhaps in the town of Sabha, which is one of his strongholds. To keep the population on alert, there are several “wanted” posters plastered around the capital that show what the colonel might look like in disguise. One shows him wearing a hijab, the Islamic headscarf that covers a woman’s hair, another depicts the Gadhafi with his head shaven.
In what’s been taken as another sign that Gadhafi’s close circle has abandoned him, his third son, Saadi Gadhafi, has fled Libya and is in the neighboring country of Niger. Niger’s justice minister confirmed that Gadhafi had crossed into Niger in a convoy of cars heading toward Niamey, the capital. A former soccer player and commander of the Special Forces, Saadi Gadhafi was considered one of his more Westernized sons, and his escape has not come as surprise. As Tripoli was falling, he called the Arab satellite channel Al Arabiyah and said he wanted to negotiate a peaceful outcome, and did not want to take part in a war. Saadi now joins other family members who have left his father’s side — his mother Safiya, and sister, Aisha, have found refuge in Algeria.
Saadi’s flight could serve as a boost for the rebels, who are struggling to control the four remaining Gadhafi bastions. The battle for the town of Bani Walid, 100 miles southeast of Tripoli, began in earnest Friday night before a deadline for Gadhafi’s loyalists to lay down their arms and surrender ran out. Three days later, the rebels are still meeting fierce resistance. Abdel basit Hussein al Oryani, a rebel who has been on the frontlines told ABC News that Gadafi’s loyalists have ”a lot of weapons … shooting at us using grad missiles rockets.”
Mohammed Saleh Rahal, a leader of a group of 15 rebel fighters, believed that the majority of the population of 100,000 people backed the revolution and the rebels. ”The people there are with us and trying to help us and support us. … Ninety-five percent support us,” said Rahal. But as the fighting intensifies in Bani Walid, families have been streaming out in a scramble for safety.