Is Qaddafi Hiding Out with Western Journalists?

Insiders suggest the Libyan president may be staying in the same hotel to avoid bombs

This article is from the archive of our partner .

More details have emerged about Qaddafi's mysterious TV appearance yesterday. After ten days of speculation whether the Libyan president may have been killed in the same air raid that took the life of his son Saif, Libyan state TV aired this video of Qaddafi meeting with tribal leaders at the Rixos Hotel:

Despite large number of journalists staying at the Rixos, everyone failed to see Qaddafi enter for the meeting, and nobody could figure out how Qaddafi managed to sneak into the hotel undetected. That fact combined with the lack of indication that this was a new video led to some rumors that Qaddafi pre-taped the video and might be dead after all.

And then, a theory. What if Qaddafi didn't sneak into the hotel after all. What if he has been staying there all along in relative safety, since NATO would never bomb a hotel full of journalists. Sky News correspondent Mark Stone has reported previously that other government officials have used this same "human shield" method and his speculative articles Qaddafi is doing the same sounds like a mystery novel:

This place ticks over on rumour and conspiracy. I'm already getting messages from people telling me I am gullible. They claim the appearance was an elaborate set-up by the regime. Perhaps. But I don't believe it was.
Look at the screen behind the Colonel. It's showing state TV complete with the time and day: 19:52pm on May 11, 2011. He's wearing black because he's mourning the loss of his son. This hotel only opened a year ago. He's not been here much. It would have to be some set-up.
One more rumour is that he is actually staying here, say some. It's certainly seen as the safest place in Tripoli at the moment. It'd be a sensible move for him.
Of course, this isn't the first time a "human (read: journalist) shield" rumor has circulated around Libya. Qaddafi invited a group of journalists on a tour of his compound back in March in a move that some believed was an underhanded attempt to use the journalists' presence in order to avoid being bombed. One leading conspirator of this theory was Fox News, who later admitted to misrepresenting some basic details of the story. Fact-checking this story may be a bit more difficult.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.