Video: Celebrations begin as fighting continues in Tripoli

  1. Closed captioning of: Celebrations begin as fighting continues in Tripoli

    >>> bloody stalemates and setbacks in the fight to reclaim their country, libyan rebels tonight have fought their way into tripoli and are waging an all-out assault on the quickly disent grating regime of moammar gadhafi . we first reported here last night the battle for tripoli happen begun. there are reports they have captured a son of gadhafi . tonight spontaneous celebrations are under way in typically in an anticipation the end is near. there is late word gadhafi himself is now urgently seeking to negotiate with the opposition. nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel has made his way into tripoli and joins us tonight from around a very jubilant crowd. richard?

    >> reporter: good evening, lester. that post- gadhafi era seems to be beginning right now. tripoli is falling. we are in the center of tripoli . people have come out of their homes to celebrate. we've seen fireworks in the sky after a battle today unlike any other in this conflict. it is a march on tripoli . rebels hope it is a walk to freedom. from 42 years of moammar gadhafi 's dictatorship. on the highway to tripoli from the west, some rebels carried flags. others drive in cars and trucks. all armed. all excited. with shouts of "god is greatest." they firmly believe after six months of war, victory is close. thousands of rebels who used to fight in small, disconnected groups are now united. some are driving. but most are just walking to tripoli . on this front line in motion, we find 29-year-old lab technician. he's already walked 15 miles today and won't stop, he says, until he reaches gadhafi 's compound in tripoli .

    >> i'm one of the people that's going to -- to keep our country free.

    >> reporter: but there are dangers fighting along an exposed highway. there's little cover. as we film, shots ring out. close. right now it stopped. it seems we're caught in the cross fire of at least two snipers. the rebels fan out, looking for the snipers in a nearby orchard and buildings. they don't find them. with a frontline this fluid, this uncertain, the wounded are just patched up by the roadside. or rushed back to hospitals miles away . but today we also saw victory. as the rebels capture new territory, they rescue some of their own. these men were prisoners taken by gadhafi 's troops. disoriented and bedraggled, freed moments ago, after days in dark cells.

    >> the gadhafi army take me out of my house and they take me to prison!

    >> reporter: conquering tripoli will take more than just will and bravery, both in ample supply here. in a new audio statement broadcast today, gadhafi says he's still in tripoli and urgently calls on his supporters to defend him. and a libyan state tv anchor pulls a gun as she vows never to give up her station to the rebels . but rebels have already taken a military base on the edge of tripoli . it's a different fight now as gadhafi faces a wave of revolution. what we are hearing from people here over and over is that this is a historic day. he said today we live in freedom. that is something we are hearing over and over again. people are saying god is great. they are just thankful. they are thankful that this day has come and now a new future may be beginning for libya.

    >> richard engel , a scene there

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 8/22/2011 5:38:04 AM ET 2011-08-22T09:38:04

Heavy fighting was reported near Moammar Gadhafi's compound Monday as government forces launched a fightback after rebels swept into the heart of the Libyan capital and crowds took to the streets to celebrate what they saw as the end of the dictator's four decades in power.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Rahman said tanks emerged from the complex, known as Bab al-Aziziya, and began firing shortly after dawn.

Nouri Echtiwi, another rebel spokesman in Tripoli, told Reuters: "Four hours of calm followed the street celebrations. Then tanks and pick-up trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on the back came out of Bab al-Aziziya ... and started firing and shelling. They fired randomly in all directions whenever they heard gunfire."

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Tripoli resident Moammar al-Warfali, whose family home is next to Bab al-Aziziya, said tanks rolled out from the compound after a group of rebels tried to get in. He said there appeared to be only a few tanks belonging to the remaining Gadhafi forces that have not fled or surrendered.

Bab al-Aziziya, a sprawling compound that long served as the command center for the regime, has been heavily damaged by repeated NATO airstrikes over the past five months.

A rebel spokesman also told Al-Jazeera that some pro-Gadhafi forces were still fighting and controlled 15 to 20 percent of Tripoli.

Story: With Gadhafi out of power, oil prices should fall

Two of Gadhafi's sons were captured by the rebels but the whereabouts of Gadhafi himself, one of the world's longest ruling leaders, were unknown.

Earlier, rebels waving opposition flags and firing into the air drove into Green Square, a symbolic showcase of the government until it was recently used for mass demonstrations in support of Gadhafi. Rebels immediately began calling it Martyrs' Square.

Image: Men celebrate in Misrata, Libya
Reuters TV
Men celebrate the arrival of rebel fighters in Tripoli in the streets of Misrata, Libya, on Monday.

Hundreds of people remained in the streets of the capital Monday morning. Many of them were armed, and they fired repeatedly at propaganda posters of Gadhafi.

The startling rebel breakthrough, after a long deadlock in Libya's 6-month-old civil war, was the culmination of a closely coordinated plan by rebels, NATO and anti-Gadhafi residents inside Tripoli, rebel leaders said.

Story: 'Libya will go down in history as the anti-Iraq'

Rebel fighters from the west swept over 20 miles in a matter of hours Sunday, taking town after town and overwhelming a major military base as residents poured out to cheer them. At the same time, Tripoli residents secretly armed by rebels rose up.

President Barack Obama said in a statement late Sunday from vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Mass., that "Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant" and that Gadhafi's regime "is showing signs of collapsing."

"The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people," the president said.

'Traitors'
Gadhafi delivered a series of defiant audio messages on state television Sunday night. He acknowledged that the opposition forces were moving into Tripoli and warned that the city would be turned into another Baghdad.

"The traitors are paving the way for the occupation forces to be deployed in Tripoli," he said, calling on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and "purify it" from "the rats."

Libya's Internet flickers back to life

Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language service reported that officers who had defected to the rebels found Gadhafi overnight near Tajoraa Hospital east of Tripoli. Gadhafi resisted, and two of the officers who tried to arrest him were killed, said the news agency, quoting a military source.

Another major Arabic news agency, Al Arabiya, reported that indications were that Gadhafi may be in Tajoraa Hospital.

Video: Libyan transition group: Gadhafi must be captured alive (on this page)

NBC News was not able to independently confirm the reports. Other top officials were reported to be fleeing, led by Prime Minister Al Baghdadi AlMahmoudi, who was spotted Monday morning in Jaraba, Tunisia, Al-Jazeera reported.

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As international news agencies broadcast video of huge crowds celebrating in Benghazi, the rebels' eastern headquarters, a U.S. official told NBC News that "the battle for Tripoli is clearly under way, and what has often seemed impossible — the fall of Gadhafi — may now be attainable."

Referring to news that Gadhafi's sons Seif al-Islam, his onetime heir apparent, and Mohammed had been arrested and were in rebel custody, the U.S. official said, "We could be watching the game changer unfolding."

"Whether or not Gadhafi reads the tea leaves the same way is the big question," the official said.

'Time for justice, not revenge'
Citing a source close to Gadhafi's inner circle, NBC News reported that Seif al-Islam had tried to flee Tripoli while disguised as a women.

Video: Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam arrested (on this page)

In the Netherlands, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said his office would talk to the rebels on Monday about Seif al-Islam's transfer for trial. "It is time for justice, not revenge," Moreno-Ocampo told the AP.

Seif al-Islam, his father and Libya's intelligence chief were indicted earlier this year for allegedly ordering, planning and participating in illegal attacks on civilians in the early days of the violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.

P.J. Crowley, former chief spokesman for the State Department, said in an interview with msnbc TV that the swift takeover of the capital was "simply remarkable."

Crowley cautioned that the world community would need to act just as swiftly to ensure stability. The National Transitional Council, a committee formed in March by anti-Gadhafi forces, has been "preparing for this day," but it would have been surprised by the overnight takeover, he said.

Video: US to Libya's transition council: Get ready (on this page)

"They will have to move swiftly," Crowley said, asking: "What will happen to their security services? ... What kind of justice system will we have?"

Obama keeps full vacation day after Libya briefing

Earlier Sunday, the rebels overran a major military base defending the capital, carted away truckloads of weapons and raced to Tripoli with virtually no resistance.

The rebels' surprising and speedy leap forward was packed into just a few dramatic hours. By nightfall, they had advanced more than 20 miles to Gadhafi's stronghold.

Story: Can anyone unite Libya if Gadhafi falls?

Thousands of jubilant civilians rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with rebel fighters shooting into the air. Some were hoarse, shouting, "We are coming for you, frizz-head," a mocking nickname for Gadhafi. In villages along the way that fell to the rebels one after another, mosque loudspeakers blared, "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."

"We are going to sacrifice our lives for freedom," Nabil al-Ghowail, 30, a dentist, said as he held a rifle in the streets of Janzour, a suburb just 6 miles west of Tripoli. Heavy gunfire erupted nearby.

As town after town fell and Gadhafi forces melted away, the mood turned euphoric. Some shouted: "We are getting to Tripoli tonight." Others were shooting into the air, honking horns and yelling "Allahu Akbar."

Once the rebels reached Tripoli, a convoy of more than 10 trucks entered the neighborhood of Ghot Shaal on the western edge of the city and set up checkpoints.

The rebels moved on to the neighborhood of Girgash, about a mile and a half from Martyrs Square. They said they came under fire from a sniper on a rooftop in the neighborhood.

Sunday's first breakthrough came when hundreds of rebels fought their way into a major symbol of the Gadhafi regime — the base of the elite 32nd Brigade, commanded by Gadhafi's son Khamis. Fighters said they met little resistance.

Hundreds of rebels cheered wildly and danced as they took over the compound filled with eucalyptus trees, raising their tricolor from the front gate and tearing down a large billboard of Gadhafi.

Slideshow: Moammar Gadhafi through the years (on this page)

Inside, they cracked open wooden crates labeled "Libyan Armed Forces" and loaded their trucks with huge quantities of munitions. One of the rebels carried off a tube of grenades, while another carted off two mortars.

Across the street, rebels raided a huge warehouse, making off with hundreds of crates of rockets, artillery shells and large-caliber ammunition. The warehouse had once been used to store packaged foods, and in the back, cans of beans were still stacked toward the ceiling.

The prisoners had been held in the walled compound, and when the rebels rushed in, they freed more than 300 of them.

"We were sitting in our cells when, all of a sudden, we heard lots of gunfire and people yelling 'Allahu Akbar.' We didn't know what was happening, and then we saw rebels running in and saying, 'We're on your side.' And they let us out," said Majid al-Hodeiri, 23, of Zawiya. He said he was captured four months ago by Gadhafi's forces and taken to the base, where he said he was beaten and tortured.

Many of the prisoners looked disoriented as they stopped at a gathering place for fighters several miles away from the base. Some had signs of severe beatings. Others were dressed in tattered T-shirts or were barefoot.

Crackdown fuels rebellion
The uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, and anti-regime protests quickly spread across the vast desert nation of 6 million people. A brutal regime crackdown quickly transformed the protests into an armed rebellion. Rebels seized Libya's east, setting up an internationally recognized transitional government there, and two pockets in the west, the port city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountain range.

Gadhafi clung to the remaining territory, and his forces failed to subdue the rebellion in Misrata, Libya's third-largest city, and in the Nafusa mountains. Since the start of August, thousands of rebel fighters, including many who had fled Gadhafi-held cities, joined an offensive that was launched from the mountains toward the coast.

The fighters who had set out from the mountains three weeks ago rushed toward Tripoli on Sunday, starting out at dawn from a village just east of the coastal city of Zawiya. Only a day earlier, the rebels had claimed full control of Zawiya, an anti-regime stronghold of 200,000 people and home to Libya's last functioning oil refinery.

Rebels said Saturday that they had launched their first attack on Tripoli in coordination with NATO, and gunbattles and mortar rounds rocked the city. NATO aircraft also made heavier-than-usual bombing runs after nightfall, with loud explosions booming across the city.

NATO has conducted airstrikes in Libya since the end of March to fulfill a U.N. mandate calling for military action to protect civilians. Oana Lungescu, a NATO spokeswoman, said the Western alliance would continue to enforce its mandate.

NBC News' Richard Engel, Andrea Mitchell, Courtney Kube, Jim Maceda, Kristen Welker, msnbc TV's Chris Jansing, The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

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  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: A photo said to show people gathering during recent days' unrest in Benghazi, Libya. The content, date and location of the image could not be independently verified.
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    Above: Slideshow (81) Conflict in Libya
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    Slideshow (34) Moammar Gadhafi through the years

Interactive: Libya uprising: The latest

Explainer: Gadhafi's offspring

  • What is known and suspected about the children of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

  • Seif al-Islam Gadhafi

    Image: Seif al-Islam Gadhafi
    Ben Curtis  /  AP file
    Seif al-Islam Gadhafi in March 2011.

    Born 1972. Gadhafi's second-eldest son, by his second wife, Safia, has been alternately seen as a potentially more liberal successor to his father and as a staunch defender of the regime. The most educated and worldly of Gadhafi's sons, he has a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics and speaks fluent English, German, French and Arabic. He briefly left Libya in 2006 after sharply criticizing his father's regime, reportedly to take a position in banking outside the country. More recently, though, he has served in his father's government and acted as a spokesman for the regime during the uprising, warning in a nationally televised address in the early days of the revolt that it would likely lead to civil war. Before the unrest, Seif al-Islam worked as an architect and ran a charity that was involved in negotiating freedom for hostages taken by Islamic militants, especially in the Philippines. He also was involved in negotiations with the U.S. and Italian governments over compensation for survivors of the victims of the 1988 bombing of an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. The International Criminal Court confirmed to NBC News that he was in the custody of the rebels.

  • Mutasim-Billah Gadhafi

    Image: Mutasim-Billah Gadhafi
    Juan Barreto  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Mutasim-Billah Gadhafi in September 2009.

    Date of birth unknown. Gadhafi's fourth son was a lieutenant colonel in the army and later served as Libya's national security adviser. He also has spent time living in luxury in the West, including at his mansion in the London suburbs, and hobnobbing with the rich and powerful, according to published accounts. Like other members of the family, he is an accomplished shakedown artist, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. A July 2008 report from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli quoted a confidential informant as saying Mutasim put pressure on the chairman of National Oil Corp., Shukri Ghanem, to pay him $1.2 billion in cash and oil shipments. Ghanem told the confidant that he was considering resigning because he feared Mutasim could seek revenge if he wasn't paid, it said. Mutasim also made headlines after WikiLeaks published the classified U.S. diplomatic cables when it was revealed that he paid pop stars Beyonce, Usher and other musicians $1 million to play at a New Year's Eve party in 2010 on the Caribbean island of St. Barts. Guests reportedly included Lindsay Lohan, music mogul Russell Simmons, the band Bon Jovi and Beyonce's husband, multimillionaire rapper Jay-Z.

  • Saadi Gadhafi

    Image: Saadi Gadhafy
    Mahmud Turkia  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Saadi Gadhafi in January 2010.

    Born in 1973. Gadhafi's third son is a Libyan businessman and former soccer player — he served as captain of the Libyan national team and playing briefly with two Italian clubs before failing a drug test. In 2002, security officers at Singapore's airport seized a submachine gun, a pistol and a knife from a bodyguard as a group of at least 15 Libyans was headed to Seoul to watch the World Cup finals. Saadi also is said to harbor an interest in film. In 2005, he and brother Mutasim were reportedly at the Venice Film Festival, throwing after-parties that were described as the hottest ticket in town. More recently, though, Saadi has had business on his mind. He is currently the commander of Libya's Special Forces and has been involved in trying to put down the uprising against his father. On March 15, there were unconfirmed reports that a Libyan pilot attacked the Gadhafi stronghold of Baab Al Azizia in Tripoli, damaging it and injuring Saadi and his brother Khamis. He also has been accused of ordering Libyan troops to shoot unarmed protesters in Benghazi at the beginning of the uprising. Saadi acknowledged that he was at the barracks but denied giving orders to fire on the protesters.

  • Khamis Gadhafi

    Image: Khamis Gadhafi
    Balkis Press  /  Abaca
    Khamis Gadhafi in March 2008.

    Born 1983. Gadhafi's youngest son is a military officer who studied the art of war in Russia. He was touring the U.S. shortly before the uprising against his father began while serving an internship with AECOM, a global infrastructure company with business interests in Libya. Shortly after taking a VIP tour of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Feb. 7 — eight days before the Libyan revolt began — he rushed home to lead his elite Khamis Brigade — described in U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks as "the most well-trained and well-equipped force in the Libyan military" — in assaults on the rebel-held cities of Zawiya and Benghazi. Khamis was reported to have been killed early in the fighting, either by a Libyan pilot's suicide mission or a coalition airstrike, but he later appeared on TV.

  • Hannibal Moammar Gadhafi

    Image: Hannibal Moammar Gadhafi
    Mahmud Turkia  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Hannibal Moammar Gadhafi in October 2010.

    Born 1976. Gadhafi's fifth son is said to have a near-monopoly on oil and gas transportation in Libya. Trained as a merchant mariner, he received an MBA in shipping economics and logistics from Copenhagen Business School in 2007 and was appointed as a consultant to General National Maritime Transport Co. of Libya. Internationally, his reputation is that of a fun-loving thug. He has had run-ins with the law in Italy, France and Britain, culminating with the arrest of him and his wife, former model Aline Skaf, in Geneva on July 15, 2008, on charges that they assaulted two members of their staff. All charges were dropped, but the Libyan government retaliated against Switzerland by, among other things, recalling its diplomats, boycotting Swiss products, reducing flights between the two countries and detaining two Swiss citizens in Libya. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, the issue was resolved only after Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz traveled to Tripoli and made a public apology for the "inappropriate and unnecessary" arrest of Hannibal Gadhafi.

  • Mohammed Gadhafi

    Image: Mohammed Gadhafi
    Mahmud Turkia  /  AFP - Getty Images file
    Mohammed Gadhafi in October 2008.

    Born 1970. Gadhafi's eldest son is head of the Libyan Olympic Committee and chairman of General Post and Telecom Co., which owns and operates cellphone and satellite services in Libya. He has been regarded as a possible successor to his father. Like other members of the ruling clan, Muhammad Gadhafi has been accused of extorting Western companies seeking to do business in Libya. The New York Times on March 24 quoted a U.S. business executive as saying that when an international communications company he represented attempted to enter the Libyan cellphone market in 2007, Libyan officials made it clear that the foreign company's local business partner would have to be Muhammad Gadhafi. It also quoted a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks as stating that Coca-Cola was ensnared in a dispute between Muhammad and his brother Mutasim over control of a bottling plant the soda maker had opened in 2005, forcing it to shut down the plant for months amid armed confrontations. He told Reuters on Sunday night that he had been detained and was under house arrest.

  • Seif al-Arab Gadhafi

    Date of birth unknown. Little is known about Gadhafi's sixth son, whose name translates as "sword of the Arabs." Seif al-Arab reportedly has spent most of his time in recent years in Germany. He was appointed a military commander in the Libyan army during the uprising against his father, but there were unconfirmed reports that he defected and joined the rebel Libyan People's Army. He remains on a list of regime figures whose assets have been frozen by the U.S. Treasury. There were widespread reports that he was killed in a NATO airstrike April 30, but that has never been confirmed.

  • Aisha al-Gadhafi

    Image: Aisha al-Gadhafi
    Jerome Delay  /  AP
    Aisha al-Gadhafi in March 2011

    Born 1976. Gadhafi's only daughter is a lawyer and a fashion plate, known among some in the Arab press as the "Claudia Schiffer of North Africa." Professionally, she is best known for serving on the defense teams of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, convicted of throwing his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush during a Dec. 14, 2008, press conference in Baghdad. She was once rumored to have been married to her father's longtime friend, former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, but that has never been confirmed. She is now married to a cousin, Ahmed Gadhafi al-Qahsi, who is a colonel in the Libyan army. The couple have three children. She rarely grants interviews, but she told The Telegraph newspaper in October 2010 that she is very close to her father, whom she described as "my father, my friend and my brother." She also said she was sleeping next to her adopted sister, Hana, in 1986 when she was killed by U.S. bombs. "I woke to the thunder of the bombs and the screams of my sister with blood spattered over me," she told the newspaper. Soon after, she was seen waving her fist to the camera. In the early days of the uprising against her father, she was reportedly on a Libyan Arab Airlines turbo-prop plane that was refused permission to land in Malta. The Libyan government later denied the report.

  • Milad Abuztaia Gadhafi

    Date of birth unknown. Gadhafi's adopted son is also his nephew. He is said to have saved . Gadhafi's life when U.S. warplanes bombed the family compound in the April 1986 U.S. air attack that was said to have killed Gadhafi's adopted daughter, Hana.

  • Hana al-Gadhafi

    Born 1985. Hana, an adopted daughter, was reported to have been killed as an infant in the U.S. airstrike on a family compound in April 1986. However, there have been reports based on leaked Swiss government documents and interviews with Libyan exiles that she is a doctor who is a powerful figure in Libya's health ministry.

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