Last Updated: Thu Feb 24, 2011 22:08 pm (KSA) 19:08 pm (GMT)

Gaddafi accuses Qaeda of being behind Libya revolt

 

Muammar Gaddafi blamed a revolt against his rule on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Thursday and said that as Libyan leader he only had "moral authority", as Switzerland decided to freeze the assets of the Libyan leader.

Gaddafi, speaking by telephone to Libyan television, offered his condolences for those who were killed in the bloodshed and called for calm amongst people he said were fighting amongst themselves and taking hallucinogenic drugs. Saying bin Laden was "the real criminal", Gaddafi urged Libyans not be swayed by the al-Qaeda leader.

"Bin Laden ... this is the enemy who is manipulating people," Gaddafi said, adding: "Do not be swayed by bin Laden."

The Swiss foreign ministry meanwhile said in a statement that "the Federal Council strongly condemns the use of violence of the Libyan leader against the people." "Given the developments, the Federal Council has decided to freeze any possible assets of Muammar Gaddafi."

Gaddafi also accused the protesters of being on drugs.

"You in Zawiyah turn to bin Laden," he said. "They give you drugs."

This was the embattled leader's second television appearance since protests broke out against his 41-year-old rule on Feb. 15.

"Those armed youngsters, our children, are incited by people who are wanted by America and the Western world."

The "situation is different from Egypt or Tunisia ... Here the authority is in your hands, the people's hands. You can change authority any way you wish. It's your call. You are the elderly, the head of the tribes, the professors."

"I only have moral authority," he said, who has long sought to present himself as a leader of a revolution that is led by the people, rather than a traditional executive head of state.

"No sane person" would join the protests against his rule, Gaddafi said and called on citizens to take weapons from those who were protesting.

On Tuesday, in a defiant, sometimes rambling speech on television, Gaddafi vowed to remain in Libya as head of its revolution, saying he would die as a martyr in the land of his ancestors and fight to the "last drop" of his blood.

He ordered the army and police to crush the popular uprising against his iron-fisted four-decade rule that has left hundreds dead.

Referring to violent clashes taking place in the town of Zawiyah, about 50 km (30 miles) from the capital Tripoli, Gaddafi said, "What is happening in Zawiyah is a farce. ... Sane men don't enter such a farce."

"Leave the country calm," he told Libyans.

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