CAIRO – Egyptian security forces arrested a close aide of ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi on Tuesday following a siege at his Cairo home, a security official and witnesses said.
Ahmed Qaddaf al-Dam surrendered to Egyptian security forces after shots were fired, they said. An intelligence official under Gadhafi, Qaddaf al-Dam is among dozens wanted for their role in Libya’s 2011 civil war that ended with Gadhafi’s capture and killing.
Police surrounded his home in the Cairo neighbourhood of Zamalek before dawn Tuesday. Gunshots were heard during the siege, but it was unclear who fired at whom.
The official said three policemen were wounded. The official spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
Tens of pro-Gadhafi Libyans living in Cairo converged on the scene to denounce the arrest, chanting, “God, Moammar, Libya!”
Fares Gadhafi, an Egyptian who said he is a descendant of Gadhafi’s tribe, described Qaddaf al-Dam as a national hero and claimed he participated in Egypt’s 1973 war against Israel. Qaddaf al-Dam is a cousin of the late dictator.
“Now they’re handing him over to the dogs,” he shouted.
In Tripoli, members of the interim Libyan parliament applauded when the news of the arrest was read aloud.
Egyptian authorities issued a warrant for Qaddaf al-Dam’s arrest after Interpol issued a “red notice” to extradite him to Libya to face corruption charges.
The Egyptian prosecution ordered Qaddaf al-Dam detained for 30 days to allow charges against him to be filed by Libya, the Egyptian state news agency reported.
Officials said Qaddaf al-Dam may face further prosecution by Egyptian authorities for resisting arrest.
Also arrested Tuesday were former Libyan ambassador Ali Mahmoud Maria and former government official Mohamed Ali Ibrahim. Egyptian police detained them on Tuesday in other neighbourhoods of Cairo. They surrendered without resistance.
Last year Libya’s prosecutor general requested that Egypt hand over 40 Libyans affiliated with Gadhafi’s regime. They are suspected of committing offences during the eight-month civil war.
In addition to Qaddaf al-Dam, the list includes former Foreign Minister Ali Al-Treki and military intelligence chief Bouzeid Al-Jabou.
Egypt’s official state news agency said a Libyan judge has been posted at the embassy in Cairo for almost a year to co-ordinate with Egypt’s Justice Ministry.
During the siege before dawn Tuesday, Qaddaf al-Dam said in a telephone call to a privately-owned Egyptian satellite TV channel, Dream, that he was invited to Cairo by the military council that took power after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
“We came here with an invitation from the Foreign Ministry and the military council … We are not terrorists to be ambushed like this,” he said. “We will defend our house until the end.”
Mubarak, who like Gadhafi was ousted in a 2011 Arab Spring uprising, had close ties to the Libyan dictator. Human rights groups said Cairo allowed Libyan intelligence to kidnap members of the anti-Gadhafi opposition, notably dissident Mansour Kikhia, who disappeared in 1993. His remains were found in a house in Tripoli in September.
Even after Mubarak’s overthrow, Cairo appeared reluctant to hand over wanted Gadhafi officials, possibly because they had ties with Egypt’s intelligence and security agencies or investments in the country.
The move against Qaddaf al-Dam came shortly after Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zidan met with Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo. According to Egyptian media reports, Zidan demanded that Egypt hand over wanted men in return for greater Libyan investment in Egypt and easing the entry of Egyptian workers to Libya.
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians work in Libya. Tensions rose in past weeks after Libyan militias arrested scores of Egyptian Christians and accused them of spreading Christianity. After their release, the Christians said they were tortured while in detention. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry criticized the arrests, and Christians demonstrated outside the Libyan Embassy in Cairo after one of the detainees died in prison.