Libya's Islamists deny alliance with Gaddafi family

AFP , Thursday 4 Aug 2011

'Seif al-Islam's statement is baseless,' states Libyan Islamist leader over an alliance formed between them

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On a government-organized tour, a supporter of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi rides in a car in Tripoli, Libya (AP)

A top Islamist leader in Libya's rebel-held east denied on Thursday that Islamist rebels have forged an alliance with Muammar Gaddafi’s family.

Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam told The New York Times that his family had forged an alliance with Islamist rebels among the insurgents to drive out the secular opposition to his father's 40-year rule.

"Seif al-Islam's statement is baseless. It's a lie that seeks to create a crack in the national accord," Ali Sallabi told AFP over the telephone.

Sallabi acknowledged making conversations with Seif.

"Our dialogue with them is always based on three points: Gaddafi and his sons must leave Libya, the capital (Tripoli) must be protected from destruction and the blood of Libyans must be spared. There is no doubt about these constants," he said.

"We support pluralism and justice. Libyans have the right to build a democratic state and political parties."

Sallabi said relations between the Islamists and seculars are "strong."

"We fight with them in the same trenches and Gaddafi and his sons cannot change that," he added.

The rebels include some Islamists, but insist they are united in wanting to overthrow Gaddafi and establish a democratic government.

In the Times interview, Seif said the Islamists were "the real force on the ground" and that Western powers would have to come to terms with them.

He repeated the government's contention that Islamists were behind last week's killing of General Abdel Fatah Yunis, who was Moamer Kadhafi's right-hand man for decades prior to his defection earlier this year.

"They decided to get rid of those people -- the ex-military people like Abdel Fatah and the liberals -- to take control of the whole operation," Seif told the Times. "In other words, to take off the mask."

But Sallabi denied that.

"We condemn the criminal act against the martyr Abdel Fatah. We support probing the murder to put the killers on trial, regardless of their identity," he said.

"It is impossible that Islamists did such heinous crime. We condemn extremism and radicalism ... Islamist or secular."

Sallabi said "there are strong signs that the fifth column of Gaddafi’s regime was behind the murder."

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