Egyptian security forces arrested a close aide and a cousin of Libya’s former dictator Moammar Qaddafi on Tuesday following an hours-long siege of his home in central Cairo, a security official and witnesses said.
Gadhafi’s former intelligence official Ahmed Ahmed Qaddaf al-Dam, who is among dozens wanted for their role in Libya’s 2011 civil war, surrendered to Egyptian security forces, they said.
Police had surrounded his home in the Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek before dawn. Shots were fired during the siege, but witnesses gave conflicting reports as to whether Qaddaf al-Dam opened fire in the air to drive police away or police had fired the shots as they tried to storm the building. There were no injuries reported.
The official said that Qaddaf al-Dam will be handed over to Interpol to be transferred to Libya. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
Last year, Libya’s general prosecutor had requested that Egypt hand over 40 Libyans affiliated with Gadhafi’s regime suspected of committing offenses during the eight-month war.
In addition to Qaddaf al-Dam, the list included former Foreign Minister Ali al-Treki and military intelligence chief Bouzeid al-Jabou.
During the siege, Qaddaf al-Dam said in a phone call to a private TV channel that he had been invited to Cairo by the military council that took over after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. He described security forces as “a gang.”
“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 by a 2011 Arab Spring uprising, had close ties to the Libyan dictator. Human rights groups said Cairo allowed Libyan intelligence to kidnap the anti-Gadhafi opposition, notably dissident Mansour Kikhia who disappeared in 1993. Kikhia was said to have later been killed. His remains were located 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 apparatus or investments in the country.
The move against Qaddaf al-Dam comes shortly after a visit to Cairo of Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zidan, in which he met with Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi. According to reports in the Egyptian media, Zidan demanded that Egypt hand over wanted men in return for the encouragement of Libyan investment in Egypt and easing the entrance 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 who were accused of spreading Christianity. After their release, the Christians said they were tortured while in detention. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry protested the arrests and Christians demonstrated outside Libya’s embassy in Cairo.
Cousin of Libya’s Gadhafi arrested in Egypt