In what looks an awfully lot like an assassination attempt and quite possibly a violation of the United Nations resolution authorizing the no-fly zone over much of Libya, a NATO air strike hit the home of Muammar Gaddafi’s son. At least three missiles struck the home, located in a residential area of Tripoli, killing the son as well as three of the Libyan leader’s grandchildren.
According to the Independent, 29-year-old Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, the dictator’s youngest son who lived in Germany, was killed in the attack.
In separate NATO strikes, the headquarters of the Libyan Down’s Syndrome Society and a pre-school for children with Down’s Syndrome were heavily damaged. An orphanage was also damaged in the attack. There were no reports of casualties. “I felt really sad,” Ismail Seddigh, who started the school himself 17 years ago after his daughter was born with Down’s Syndrome, told the Independent. “I kept thinking, what are we going to do with these children?”
These strikes seem to be a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized the use of military force “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas.” Nowhere in the resolution does it approve of assassination attempts against Gaddafi. As a matter of fact, the resolution does not mention regime change at all.
This isn’t the first time Western powers have killed members of Gaddafi’s family. In a 1986 strike that was billed as retaliation for a Libyan-sponsored bombing of a German nightclub frequented by American troops, then-President Ronald Reagan ordered an attack on Gaddafi’s compound. His two-year old adopted daughter was killed along with scores of other innocent children; then, like now, Gaddafi himself escaped unscathed.
Despite the killing of four of his children and grandchildren and the apparent desire of NATO planners to assassinate him, Gaddafi declared that “the door to peace is open.” “You are the aggressors,” he said, directing comments at the NATO powers during an hour-long, defiant televised address. “We will negotiate with you. Come, France, Italy, UK, America, come, we will negotiate with you. Why are you attacking us? Why are you destroying our infrastructure?” Gaddafi told the rebels fighting to oust him from power that they were children “tricked” by NATO; he promised them cars and money if they laid down their weapons.
But events in Misrata, the long-besieged rebel-held coastal city, highlighted part of the reason why NATO forces have stepped up attacks against Gaddafi and his forces. Those forces continued shelling the city of 300,000 people. They have also mined the city’s port and threatened to attack humanitarian aid ships trying to deliver desperately needed supplies.