Newsweek: Interview With Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi|
Qadhafi Aiding The United States
By Lally Weymouth
NEWSWEEK: A Libyan official was convicted for the bombing of Pan Am 103. In order for U.N. sanctions to be lifted, Libya must take responsibility for the bombing. Will you accept responsibility?
KADDAFI: The whole world bears witness to this manís innocence. It was not possible for the court to prove that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi put the bomb in the baggage.
NEWSWEEK: You agreed to have the two Libyan suspects tried in a Scottish court in the Netherlands. One was acquitted; one convicted. Donít you accept the courtís finding?
KADDAFI: The court came to its finding without evidence.
NEWSWEEK: There are five conditions Libya must fulfill to get U.N. sanctions lifted. The outstanding problem is assumption of responsibility.
KADDAFI: Is there any state that would take responsibility for the bombing of a civilian aircraft and the killing of 270 people?
NEWSWEEK: France took responsibility for bombing the [Greenpeace ship] Rainbow Warrior.
KADDAFI: Maybe they said they felt sorry for the incident and paid compensation.
NEWSWEEK: Would Libya do that?
KADDAFI: I donít think there is any problem for Libya to do that.
We feel sorry irrespective of who did it. Libya also may contribute to the compensation.
NEWSWEEK: Your officially designated lawyers signed an offer for $2.7 billion in compensation for the victims on Oct. 23 of last year.
KADDAFI: There is nothing official so far. Libya cannot pay such a fine.
NEWSWEEK: Havenít there been negotiations for compensation?
KADDAFI: There have been official negotiations that cover compensation and closing the file once and for all.
NEWSWEEK: Are you referring to the ongoing talks between U.S., British and Libyan officials?
KADDAFI: Yes. We hope an agreement can be reached to solve the Lockerbie problem and provide suitable compensation which Libya alone will not pay. Perhaps Libya and the óU.S. will contribute to a compensation fund.
NEWSWEEK: Why would the U.S. contribute?
KADDAFI: To compensate for the Libyans who were killed in 1986óas well as for the victims of Lockerbie. How much do you think the compensation should be for Kaddafiís daughter who was killed in 1986? If a normal American needs $10 million, then a daughter of Kaddafi who was killed should be worth billions.
NEWSWEEK: In the í80s, you heavily backed terrorist groups. Since then, you expelled Abu Nidal and reportedly have backed off terrorism. Is this so?
KADDAFI: I supported liberationónot terrorist movements: I supported [Nelson] Mandela and Sam Nujoma, who became president of Namibia. I also supported the liberation movements of Palestine.
NEWSWEEK: If you backed away from terror, was it because of the U.S. 1986 bombing or the subsequent U.N. and U.S. sanctions?
KADDAFI: Our support was given to liberation movements. Now they are in power, go to the White House and are given red-carpet treatment. But I am still considered a terrorist.
NEWSWEEK: One U.S. concern is that Libya is stockpiling chemical weapons and manufacturing other weapons of mass destruction. Are you?
KADDAFI: Libya has signed all the conventions that prohibit the manufacture of such weapons. And the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] has routine inspections in Libya.
NEWSWEEK: But you have Rabta and other plants said to be making chemical weapons.
KADDAFI: The issue of Rabta is over. Now foreign companies are working there and it is just a pharmaceutical plant.
NEWSWEEK: So you are not developing chemical or biological weapons?
KADDAFI: We donít need them. They are of no use to us.
NEWSWEEK: Israelís Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Libya with the help of Iraq would be the first Arab country to develop a nuclear weapon. What is your response?
KADDAFI: He is crazy. He is just dragging America behind him everywhere he goes. We regret that Sharon has become the president of America.
NEWSWEEK: Would you like to have nuclear weapons?
KADDAFI: They are of no use to us, and we donít have enough money to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.
NEWSWEEK: What do you think of the U.S. approach to Iraq?
KADDAFI: The issue of Iraq is a strange story. What is the danger Saddam poses? What threat does he constitute?
NEWSWEEK: You must know Saddam?
KADDAFI: I know him well.
NEWSWEEK: Is he rational?
KADDAFI: I donít think so.
NEWSWEEK: Will he stay and wait to be killed by American weapons?
KADDAFI: Even if he is not rational or wise, he does not constitute a threat.
NEWSWEEK: But President Bush thinks he does.
KADDAFI: We donít know who poses a greater threatóthe American president or Saddam Hussein. I have never been in agreement with Saddam. But he doesnít deserve this.
NEWSWEEK: On what do you disagree with Saddam?
KADDAFI: Over the war he waged against Iran, over his invasion of Kuwait and on the Kurdish issue. I have supported the Kurds.
NEWSWEEK: There have been reports that you will grant Saddamís family shelter in Libya.
KADDAFI: Donít think of such a thing. Neither he nor his family will leave Iraq.
NEWSWEEK: Would you agree to shelter him?
KADDAFI: America has the military capability, so there is no safe haven if he goes anywhere.
NEWSWEEK: Is fundamentalism a threat to your regime?
KADDAFI: It is a threat to all the regimes in the region. But, unfortunately, America has given the fundamentalists a strong pretext to carry on their work.
NEWSWEEK: Whatís your opinion of bin Laden?
KADDAFI: In the Islamic world, he has become a prophet, and all the young people like him.
NEWSWEEK: Is that a threat to you?
KADDAFI: Of course.
NEWSWEEK: There have been assassination attempts on you in the past, isnít that so?
KADDAFI: Yes. These were made by Qaeda members.
NEWSWEEK: Do you believe that Saudi Arabia is doing all it can to fight terrorism?
KADDAFI: Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist state itself.
NEWSWEEK: Are you providing the U.S. and other intelligence agencies with information on Al Qaeda?
KADDAFI: Intelligence agencies in Libya and the U.S. are exchanging information. There are Libyan terrorists in America and in Britain. The Libyan intelligence service exchanges information [with Britain and the United States] so that they will be wiped out.
NEWSWEEK: Your son said recently that Libya should reconsider its cooperation with the West on Al Qaeda. Do you agree?
KADDAFI: No, our cooperation in fighting terrorism is irrevocable.
NEWSWEEK: Will there be another attack on the U.S.?
KADDAFI: If they can, they will not hesitate. Bin Laden has convinced his followers that America is attacking the whole Arab and Islamic world. He told them in the beginning that Americaís objective was not only Afghanistan. Now that there is a move against Iraq, it has proven bin Laden right. When the U.S. talks about Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria, he says, ďYou see, I was correct.Ē It is not a battle between America and bin Laden anymore. Everybody is with bin Laden.
NEWSWEEK: What advice do you have for Saddam?
KADDAFI: He opened his country for full inspections. What more can he do? Now it is a fight to the finish. He must stand against the wall and fight.
NEWSWEEK: Are you worried that America may strike Libya?
KADDAFI: In this case, it would mean America wants to colonize the world, and the world will resist.
NEWSWEEK: How do you see the future of Israel and the Palestinians?
KADDAFI: There should be one state to solve the problem. It is impossible to have two states in that part of the world.
NEWSWEEK: Does that mean the end of Israel?
KADDAFI: What is Israel? Are you talking about Jews or the country? If you mean the Jews, their security [is guaranteed by] having one state with the Palestinians. If you are talking about a state called Israel and you are concerned about the name, it means sacrificing the safety of the Jews. Whatís the use of talking about Israel? Where is Israel? These two people, the Palestinians and the Israelis, will live togetheróone people, one state.
NEWSWEEK: What is your hope for future Libyan-U.S. relations?
KADDAFI: I am optimistic. There are so many American companies eager to come hereówhether in oil or other sectors. During the time of wars of liberation, we waged war. Now it is time for peace, and I want to be part of world peace.
© 2003 NEWSWEEK, Inc.