On Monday Gaddafi’s wife Safia, his sons Hannibal and Mohammed, and his daughter Aisha fled the raging civil war in their own country in an armed convoy, and are now thought to be in the capital city, Algiers.
This was despite the fact that just three days before 36 people were killed by al-Qaeda suicide bombers protesting against Algeria’s support for Gaddafi’s crumbling regime.
The attack on the Chechell military academy, some 80 miles west of Algiers, was one of the worst terrorist atrocities ever in the North African country, and everything is now being done to try and avoid a repeat.
Security has been stepped up significantly because of the possibility of a massive terrorist attack,’ said an Interior Ministry source, who said that the Gaddafis had been accepted on â humanitarian grounds.’ Libya’snew government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), wants to try them for crimes against humanity and has accused Algeria of an â act of aggression’ by harbouring them.
The Algerian government source said al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an offshoot of the worldwide terrorist group which responsible for the massacre in Chechell, had pledged further atrocities.
We have responded by putting 30,000 men on the streets of Algiers alone, including an extra 20,000 police. They will be guarding everything from government installations to mosques,’ said the source.
The land borders between neighbouring countries, and especially Libya itself, will be closed and secured.
A top priority will be the protection of the Gaddafi family, especially as Libyan rebels may try and pursue them here. For this reason they are in a top security area of Algiers.’ Twelve soldiers were among those who died in Cherchell, with the suicide bombers detonating themselves not long after ‘Iftar’, the time of day when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
The first device went off on a table in an officers’ mess highlighting the relatively weak security measures in place.
Algeria has not yet recognised the NTC, and none of its extradition treaties apply to Libya.
This means that the Gaddafis could technically remain in Algeria for as long as they like, with the Colonel himself eventually joining them there.