Saif al-Islam says he may return to political stage, suggests run for President in December

In this November 19, 2011 file photo, Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, is seen held in the custody of revolutionary fighters in Zintan. [Photo:AP]

Saif al-Islam, the son of Muammar Gaddafi wants to “restore the lost unity” of Libya after a decade of chaos and does not exclude standing for the presidency.

He spoke in a rare interview, given to the New York Times at an opulent two-storey villa inside a gated compound at Zintan in the west of Libya.

“It is time for a return to the past. The country — it’s on its knees… There’s no money, no security. There’s no life here,” Saif al-Islam said in his first appearance in years.

After four decades in power, Muammar Gaddafi and his relatives were the target of a popular uprising in 2011.

Three of the dictator’s seven sons were killed, but the fate of Saif al-Islam, whose name means “sword of Islam” was unknown.

He was captured in November 2011, days after his father was killed.

Four years later, a Tripoli court sentenced him in absentia to death for crimes committed during the revolt.

The ICC has repeatedly asked for him to be handed over for trial.

Saif al-Islam said in the interview that he was a free man organising a political return, and that his former captors “are now my friends”.

He told the paper the militiamen eventually realised he could be a powerful ally.

Saif al-Islam said “he was confident that these legal issues could be negotiated away if a majority of the Libyan people choose him as their leader”.

The paper quoted him as saying: “I’ve been away from the Libyan people for 10 years. You need to come back slowly, slowly. Like a striptease. You need to play with their minds a little.”

Asked if it felt strange to seek shelter in Libyan homes when he was on the run in 2011, he was as enigmatic as some of the opinions expressed in his late father’s ‘Green Book’.

“We’re like fish, and the Libyan people are like a sea for us,” Saif al-Islam replied.

“Without them, we die. That’s where we get support. We hide here. We fight here. We get support from there. The Libyan people are our ocean.”

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