No Gadhafi Kids in Custody: Escapes and False Reports

Rebel leader said reports of arrests still led to 'political' gains.

ByABC News
August 24, 2011, 10:37 AM

Aug. 24, 2011 — -- Of the three sons of Moamar Gadhafi reportedly arrested by rebel forces, none is actually in custody and, according to the rebel representative to the U.S., one of them never was.

The arrest of the sons, including likely Gadhafi successor and de facto Libyan prime minister Saif al-Islam, was widely reported in past days after jubilant announcements by the rebel Transitional National Council as rebels invaded the Gadhafi stronghold of Tripoli. But after Mohammed Gadhafi escaped hours after his arrest Sunday and Saif al-Islam appeared defiant and free in front of foreign journalists Tuesday, only one son, Saadi was left. Now, Libyan ambassador to the U.S. Ali Aujali, told ABC News Saadi was never in rebel custody.

"The rebels never claimed they had arrested Al-Saadi," Aujali said. "We never claimed that he was in our custody."

The rebel announcement of Saadi's supposed arrest Monday was widely reported by the international and local media, including ABC News.

Despite having none of the Gadhafi family in custody, TNC leader Mahmoud Jibril said the claims themselves -- particularly concerning the alleged arrest of Saif al-Islam -- "yielded important political results." Jibril told reporters Tuesday that after news of Saif al-Islam's capture spread, many loyalists officers surrendered and several foreign nations officially recognized the TNC as Libya's legitimate government.

When Saif al-Islam appeared before foreign journalists Tuesday, he said he was there to "refute the lies" that he had been captured at all by the rebels. The only Gadhafi son that appears to have definitely been in rebel custody is Mohammed, who was taken by rebels as he was conducting a live interview with the Al Jazeera television network. Aujali told ABC News Monday Mohammed was later "hijacked" by pro-Gadhafi forces and managed to escape.

One former Libyan government official told ABC News Tuesday night that the entire Gadhafi clan is "on the run" as the rebels continue encountering pockets of resistance in the Libyan capital. No one has yet been able to confirm where Moammar Gadhafi and his family could be hiding out.

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