Libya News: Rebels Put Bounty on Gaddafi's Head

Igor Kossov on how the rebels’ $1.6 million bounty could be the final straw for the regime.

Sergey Ponomarev / AP Photos

The rebel National Transitional Council in Libya sees the death or capture of Muammar Gaddafi as the only true victory and has upped the stakes to bring it closer.

Speaking from headquarters in Benghazi, the head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, said that whoever captures Gaddafi will receive a 2 million dinar reward (about $1.6 million) raised by Benghazi businessmen. He also said that anyone in Gaddafi’s inner circle who kills or captures the boss for the rebels will be granted full amnesty. The rebels’ access to the cash has not been verified.

“Sometimes a lesser evil must prevent a larger evil,” Jalil said to a room full of journalists.

In Libya, where average year income is about $14,000 according to the CIA World Factbook, the bounty is a large sum of money. By offering amnesty, Jalil also sought to underscore that many of Gaddafi’s loyalists may be sticking with the colonel out of fear. “Their destiny and future are entwined with his. Our heroes are ready to face them and hunt them down,” he said.

This decision answered Gaddafi’s earlier radio statement that called for Libyans to cleanse Tripoli of “rats” and claimed that his retreat from the Bab al-Aziziya complex in the south of the capital was a “tactical retreat.”

“With God’s will and the help of those tactics, we have reached the liberation of Libya,” a wry Ahmed Bani, the NTC’s military spokesman said. “The same tactics were used in Misrata…the Western Mountains. Even Gaddafi’s exit from Libya will also be ‘tactical.’”

Jalil said that Libya would accept Gaddafi’s withdrawal from the country only if Gaddafi publicly and formally renounces his power. However, he also said that “the end is only when [Gaddafi] is captured, dead or alive.”

Bani also said that the NTC may be amenable to having the former chief tried abroad but said that the decision will remain in the hands of the council. Based on the premature negotiations with the ICC over the trial of Saif al-Islam, one of Gaddafi’s sons, the council would prefer the trial to be held in his own country.

Pockets of fighting continue in Tripoli despite Bani’s assertion that Tripoli is “fully liberated.”

“We will meet in a few days in Tripoli around the Rixos Hotel, Inshallah (god willing),” he said.