Flying Qaddafi Air

TRIPOLI, Libya — My interpreter, Ahmed, is flooring it down an airport runway, giddy with enthusiasm. He keeps talking about how he’s always wanted to push this hard on the gas, how he never thought he’d be driving his car on this vast flat asphalt. But in Free Libya anything is possible. Including a visit to Muammar al-Qaddafi‘s personal plane.

Our car accelerates toward the Afriqiyah Airways airplane standing apart from a cluster of others like a giant white turkey in the recently secured international airport. We’ve been lucky enough to be offered a tour of the runways from Mohammed Saad, a 24-year-old engineering student now part of the Zintan Brigade, a western mountain rebel unit that has set up shop in the airport. Continue reading

Captive Soldiers Tell of Discord in Libyan Army

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A tapestry of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi serves as a washroom mat at a rebel prison in Libya.

Bryan Denton for The New York Times

By C. J. CHIVERS Published: May 13, 2011

MISURATA, Libya — The army and militias of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, who for more than two months have fought rebels seeking to overthrow the Libyan leader, are undermined by self-serving officers, strained logistics and units hastily reinforced with untrained cadets, according to captured soldiers from their ranks.

Several of the prisoners were wounded or beaten when captured by rebel forces, but the warden has pushed for better treatment.

In interviews this week in a rebel-run detention center where more than 100 prisoners from the Libyan military are housed, the prisoners consistently described hardships in the field and officers who deceived or failed them. They spoke bitterly of their lot. Continue reading