Gadhafi Was Killed In Crossfire, Interim Prime Minister Says

Oct 20, 2011
Originally published on October 21, 2011 9:14 pm

Moammar Gadhafi was killed in the crossfire of a battle between his supporters and fighters loyal to the opposition that topped the dictator's regime, Libya's interim prime minister told NPR this afternoon.

"Nobody can tell if the [fatal] shot was from the rebel fighters or from his own security guard," Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

Jibril, speaking by telephone from Libya, also read from what he said is the coroner's report on Gadhafi's death.

"The [fatal] shot was in his head," Jibril read. "He was shot also in his right arm. ... When he came out [from hiding] he was safe. [But] the intensity of the fire" led to Gadhafi's death.

According to Jibril, Gadhafi "did not show any resistance" at first. But as "freedom fighters" were taking him into custody, "he came under crossfire from both sides."

Gadhafi was not executed by the fighters who captured him, Jibril told Robert.

Some of what Jibril said does not quite line up with the report from freelance journalist Marine Olivesi, who has seen Gadhafi's body and told NPR earlier that it appeared he had been shot several times in the chest.

The interim prime minister also repeated that it's his intention to step away from government now that Gadhafi is gone and that all the leadership in his government plan to keep to their pledges and resign now that there's been a "liberation." It will be up to the Transitional National Council, he said, to form a new interim government. And Jibril said he's confident Libya can hold national elections within eight months to a year.

Much more from the conversation is due on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we'll add the as-broadcast version of the interview to the top of this post.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I'm Robert Siegel.

Libya's ousted leader, Moammar Gadhafi is dead.


SIEGEL: Celebrations erupted on the streets of Tripoli and across Libya today. NPR producer Grant Clark was in the capital city and spoke with one woman, Malika Mohammed(ph).

MALIKA MOHAMMED: I'm very happy.

GRANT CLARK: Why are you happy?

MOHAMMED: Because it's - killed my...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

MOHAMMED: (Through translator) Because he killed my uncle. And today, we're avenged.

SIEGEL: Gadhafi was captured early today in his hometown of Sirte. He died a short time later.

BLOCK: Sirte was the last stronghold of forces loyal to the former dictator and it is now under the control of anti-Gadhafi militia. With his death and the fall of Sirte comes a new phase in the transformation of Libya, the transition to a democracy.

SIEGEL: That involves unifying a country that Moammar Gadhafi intentionally divided for many years and laying the groundwork for elections within a year. I'm joined by the country's interim prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril. He's also a member of the Transitional National Council, the TNC. And he joins us from Tripoli. Welcome to the program once again.

Prime Minister MAHMOUD JIBRIL: Thank you very much. Glad to be with you.

SIEGEL: And first I'd like you to clarify what happened today. From what you know of what happened in Sirte, is it accurate to say that Moammar Gadhafi was captured alive and that he died after he was captured?

JIBRIL: That's true. He was captured alive. He did not show any resistance. And the freedom fighters were taking him into custody. But when they took him out, he came under crossfire from both sides because there was a fierce fight at that time. So he was in between the two sides. He got shot first in his right leg. And then they tried to move the car probably just a few yards, he got shot again in the head, which was the deadly shot.

SIEGEL: Was he shot by the rebel fighters when he was in custody?

JIBRIL: Nobody can tell if the shots were from the rebel fighters or from his own security guards.

SIEGEL: But as far as you know, this was not an execution of Mr. Gadhafi.

JIBRIL: No, it was not. I heard those allegations. Just a few moments ago, I was with the coroner myself and he read the medical report. Asnd I can even read you that the shot was in the head and he was shot also in his right arm, not leg, by the way. And he was only carrying a pistol when he came out to a safe, but the intensity of fire - now I am reading from the report.


JIBRIL: His face was completely safe, no traces of any hits or anything. Before he reached the hospital, he passed away. Some samples were taken from his hair, which turned out to be some sort of artificial hair. We took sample from his beard. We took a sample from the liquid in his mouth, you know.

SIEGEL: Saliva.

JIBRIL: Samples of blood. Yes, yes. Medical reports will be sent to the ICC in (unintelligible) The Hague. His son Mo'tassim also was shot in the head and there is five shots in his back and one shot in his neck.

SIEGEL: I want to ask you now a bit about the future of your country. The chairman of the council said today that there will be elections. I believe, both presidential and legislative elections, in eight months, next April. Is Libya ready for elections that soon?

JIBRIL: Well, the technical assistance of the U.N., I was discussing the issue yesterday, and he thinks that we can do it in less time than eight months.

SIEGEL: Now, will the TNC now resign? Will you leave office? Will you seek office in the elections next year?

JIBRIL: The government will resign immediately after the - our liberation, you know, which I expect to be within 48 hours, you know. Then the TNC, which is the legislative body, will start consultation to form the interim government, you know.

SIEGEL: Sir, do you hope to take part in the transitional government or in seeking the...

JIBRIL: No, no, no.

SIEGEL: ...some permanent office?

JIBRIL: I'm going to be turning in my resignation and under no circumstances - from the very beginning of this revolution, I committed myself and I pledged by the day the regime collapses, I'm going to leave, you know.

SIEGEL: Leave government or leave Libya?

JIBRIL: Leave any official post.

SIEGEL: Do you think that Libya lost anything by not taking Moammar Gadhafi alive and putting him on trial and having him account for his crimes?

JIBRIL: Oh, I wish we were able to do that because that was, I think, the wish of every Libyan to put him in jail and look just to see him on trial, you know, to be tried in his crimes for 42 years. I wish, myself, that - but it's too late now to be the attorney of his trial, you know.

SIEGEL: Well, it seems that when Libyans are asked today about it, they seem to be equally happy that he's gone, or at least those who are speaking (unintelligible).

JIBRIL: Yeah, they are happy because he is vanished, in a way, you know. But if you ask at least those intelligencia people, they will tell you: Oh, no, I just want to know why he did this to this country.

SIEGEL: I just have one other question. The fact that fighters from Misrata captured Moammar Gadhafi and then took him to Misrata doesn't speak well for how national the armed forces are today in Libya. These are local groups that are fighting and they seem to have ties to their local city. What do you do? Is it time to reconstitute the Libyan army, to bring these militias into the army? How do you make a...

JIBRIL: Well, I think this is first priority to establish the national army because we didn't have a national army before, you know. I mean, in the last 20 years, because just late '80s Moammar Gadhafi, you know, just dissolved the national army.

SIEGEL: So this is a task still for the...

JIBRIL: This is number one task, try to collect those arms from those armed brave men.

SIEGEL: This is quite a task you face, though.

JIBRIL: It is. It is. It is.

SIEGEL: Well, Prime Minister Jibril, thank you very much for talking with us. This must be a great day in your life.

JIBRIL: It is. I just want to seize this opportunity to extend my thanks to the government of the United States and to the people of the United States.

SIEGEL: OK. That's Mahmoud Jibril who is the prime minister of the transitional national council's government. He spoke to us...

JIBRIL: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: ...from Tripoli. Thank you, sir.

JIBRIL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.