In addition to watching the strange spectacle of Moammar Qaddafi’s sons become captured and un-captured, the world wonders what has become of the dictator himself. It’s proving strangely difficult to locate a man who dresses like a Christmas tree ornament.
He’s still out there somewhere, as Reuters reports he turned up on Tripoli radio Tuesday night, declaring his flight from the compound captured by rebels as “a tactical move” and promising “martyrdom or victory in his fight against NATO.”
Qaddafi exhorted his loyal supporters to “cleanse” Tripoli of rebels and “comb it for traitors,” which should be fairly easy to do, since they’re all over the place. He also claimed to “have been out a bit in Tripoli discreetly, without being seen by people, and I did not feel that Tripoli was in danger.”
Bloomberg News thinks Qaddafi might be playing tunnel rat:
Libyans have grown up on tales of an intricate network of air-conditioned 1970s-era secret passages, which were fortified in the aftermath of the 1986 U.S. bombing raid on Tripoli to provide an increasingly paranoid Qaddafi with a safe way out, according to Karim Mezran, a Libyan exile and a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy.
“Nobody visited these underground bunkers, but the information we got is that he has some tunnels leading from Bab Al Aziziya to some other places like the airport and even Martyrs’ Square,” the former Green Square staging ground for pro-Qaddafi demonstrations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s former deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters yesterday in New York. Dabbashi, who now represents the opposition, said the rebels “expect him to have some residences underground.”
The rebels already found a bunker under one of Qaddafi’s villas, which the UK Daily Mail describes as “a nerve centre that would do justice to any Bond villain.” Very few Bond villains had Qaddafi’s fashion sense – they seemed to favor severe body suits and Nehru jackets – but they were on the same page when it came to hideout construction:
The craven fears which must plague Gaddafi’s inner circle are obvious from the fact that the bunker has everything needed to sustain life for several months cut off from the outside world.
However even in an emergency, it is clear the 69-year-old despot had no intention of slumming it underground.
In one room is a cream-cushioned massage table where he could unwind – with the assistance, perhaps, of his Ukrainian nurse or one of his 40 female security guards.
Elsewhere, the eccentric madman even had a special button installed on the wall next to the toilet – to summon a waiter.
Quite why such a need would ever arise is far from clear, but there the button is – depicting a servant proffering a tray of drinks – perfectly positioned within reach of anyone sat on the loo in the master bedroom suite.
The UK Telegraph, meanwhile, speculates Qaddafi might have gone to ground in farm country, in a report that would be hilarious if there weren’t so many lives at stake:
This morning, the charge d’affaires at the Libyan embassy in London, Mahmud Nacua, suggested Gaddafi may have escaped to a farm on the outskirts of the capital, where he was known to have visited friends in the past.
His claim was given some credence by what sounded like chickens squawking in the background of Gaddafi’s audio message. At one point his voice is almost drowned out by what sounds like a jet plane flying overhead.
I can already envision the crucial scene in Odyssey Dawn: The Movie where the hero rips off his headset and cries, “That’s a chicken I heard in the background! We’ve got the bastard!”
If none of these leads pan out, I suggest looking for Qaddafi among the herds of snipe, wumpus, and wild geese that roam the Libyan hills, or maybe check the unobtainium mines.