In a bizarre and rambling speech lasting over an hour on Libyan state TV, Moammar Gaddafi repeatedly warned Libyans, “Beware, America will come and rule you, like Afghanistan and Iraq.” He blamed “greasy rats” and “foreign agents” for the protests, and said that he would not leave Libya but would “die a martyr.” Gaddafi spoke from a podium in front of what appeared to be a bombed-out building — possibly his residence, which he says was bombed by the U.S. and British.
In his speech, he read from a green notebook, enumerating the consequences for those who go against him: “Any Libyan who undermines the sovereign state will be punished with death. . . . The people do not want a revolution. The people of turbans and long beards want revolution.” Gaddafi said that he would not step down because “I am bigger than any job. I am a revolutionary. . . . I will remain at the top and lead Africa and South America.”
Before ending his speech and driving away in a vehicle resembling a golf cart, Gaddafi vowed to “cleanse” anyone challenging him, house by house.
As Gaddafi was speaking live on TV, a member of the leading jihadi forum Shumukh Al-Islam asked people in Libya to kill Gaddafi tonight. The member asked his “brothers” to prepare a martyr with a car bomb or a suicide vest to punish Gaddafi for killing people, bombing houses, and insulting Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders.
This call followed an address delivered by the influential Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars; he led Friday prayers at Cairo’s Tahrir Square on February 18. In his address, aired on al-Jazeera TV yesterday, Qaradawi declared: “I hereby issue a fatwa to the officers and soldiers who can kill Mu’ammar Al-Gaddafi: Whoever among them can fire a bullet at him, thus relieving the country and the people of him, should do so.”
The truth is that I do not want to say anything to Al-Gaddafi, because one should only address people who are reasonable. People who are not reasonable should not be addressed. That man is no longer reasonable. He has been crazy for a long time.
Among the signs of his madness, as we have seen, he wanted to be a philosopher, and come up with theories, like Marx and Mao Tsetung. . . .
We have seen his peculiar behavior. He has become the laughing stock of every Arab summit. He’s the joker. He travels all over the world in his colorful clothes, carrying his tent with him all over the globe, no matter the cost, in which he hosts his visitors. …
Therefore, I address the Libyan army, which is definitely endowed with faith, manliness, and honor. They must not attack their own people. Who would kill their own people?! Would you sacrifice an entire people for the sake of a madman?! . . .
I hereby issue a fatwa to the officers and soldiers who can kill Mu’ammar Al-Gaddafi: Whoever among them can fire a bullet at him, thus relieving the country and the people of him, should do so. This man wants to annihilate the people, so I am protecting the people.
I rule that whoever can fire a bullet, and relieve us, as well as Libya and its great people, of this man’s evil and danger, should do so.
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— Steven Stalinsky is executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.