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Good Reads: Qaddafi's pest fixation, Libya's missing weapons, and a former hostage returns to help Somalia

In today's papers, Muammar Qaddafi reveals in a recorded audio message that he has not fled the country. The Monitor's Scott Peterson reports that thousands of Libya's weapons have gone missing, and Geoffrey York finds a former hostage who returns to Somalia to make a difference.

By Scott BaldaufStaff writer / September 8, 2011

A former rebel fighter removes Qaddafi slogans next to a pre-Qaddafi flag at the last checkpoint between Tarhouna and Bani Walid, Thursday, Sept. 8. Libya's former rebels have surrounded the ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi, and it is only a matter of time until he is captured or killed, a spokesman for Tripoli's new military council said Wednesday.

Alexandre Meneghini/AP


Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi may be down, but he is not out of the country; or at least that is what he said in his most recent audio message, as broadcast by a Syrian television station and reprinted by a number of newspapers, including Britain’s top international newspaper, the Guardian. Shiv Malik and Lizzy Davies, now based in Tripoli, quote this rather charming example of Qaddafian prose.

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"The youths are now ready to escalate the resistance against the 'rats' [rebels] in Tripoli and to finish off the mercenaries. All of these germs, rats and scumbags, they are not Libyans, ask anyone. They have cooperated with Nato."

Germs, rats, scumbags. Sounds like a Tarantino movie.

Meanwhile, in Tripoli, the New York TimesDavid D. Kirkpatrick introduces us to one of those ger... – sorry, to a former Qaddafi propagandist and press minder who switched sides just as soon as the rebels came to town. Now he does the same kind of propaganda and press handling job for the rebels. There’s a kind of pragmatism in this behavior found in many war zones, and Kirkpatrick explains it well here.

“As the curtain falls on Colonel Qaddafi’s Tripoli, many of its supporting actors are rushing to pick up new roles with the rebels, the very same people they were obliged not long ago to refer to as 'the rats.' Many Libyans say the ease with which former Qaddafi supporters have switched sides is a testament to the pervasive cynicism of the Qaddafi era, when dissent meant jail or death, job opportunities depended on political connections, and almost everyone learned to wear two faces to survive within the system.”

Adel Sennosi, a former Qaddafi Foreign Ministry official now working with the National Transitional Council, put it this way:

“The way the system worked, everyone had to be part of it – all of us. If we say, ‘Get rid of whoever was part of the system,’ we would have to get rid of the whole population.”

The Monitor’s Scott Peterson is also in Tripoli, chronicling the worrisome disappearance of heavy weaponry from Qaddafi’s arsenal.


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