Mauritania arrests Gathafi intelligence chief in Nouakchott
NOUAKCHOTT - Abdullah al-Senussi, the spymaster of slain Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi and wanted by the International Criminal Court, has been arrested in the Mauritanian capital, a security source said Saturday.
The former Libyan intelligence chief was arrested overnight at Nouakchott airport after arriving on a regular flight from Casablanca in Morocco, the source said, adding that Senussi was travelling "with a fake Malian passport."
He was taken to the national intelligence agency's office in Nouakchott but it was unclear at this stage what the Mauritanian government planned to do with him, the source said.
In Tripoli, spokesman for Libya's ruling National Transitional Council Mohammed al-Harizi said it had confirmed Senussi's arrest with the Nouakchott authorities.
"We've confirmed the arrest of Abdullah Senussi with the Mauritanian foreign ministry," he said.
Senussi, a brother-in-law of Gathafi, is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for what it alleges was his "crucial" role in crushing the country's popular revolt.
The ICC, which issued an arrest warrant for him on June 27 last year, says Senussi was an "indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity of murder and persecution based on political grounds" committed in Benghazi.
The court had not officially received information of his arrest, an ICC spokesman said on Saturday.
The capture of the 62-year-old spy chief, a heavy-set man with a thick jawline and bushy black eyebrows, comes after he spent several months on the run.
Security sources in Niger and Mali said in October that Senussi and several of his men passed through their territory. A month later, Libya's new government announced his arrest but no pictures of Senussi have been released since then.
Long considered Gathafi's right-hand man, Senussi remained faithful to the end to the man who ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years.
On August 21, the day rebels stormed Tripoli, Senussi made a rare appearance at the Rixos Hotel, headquarters of the foreign media in the Libyan capital, to denounce NATO's bombing campaign.
He said the military alliance, which bombed his Tripoli home a few days earlier, worked with Western intelligence and Al-Qaeda "to destroy Libya."
"Libya will not be ruled by bands of terrorists," Senussi said at the time.
In 1999, a Paris court sentenced Senussi in absentia to life for his alleged involvement in an attack on a French UTA airliner a decade earlier that killed 170 people.
Senussi could also be held accountable for the Abu Salim prison massacre of 1996 when more than 1,000 detainees were gunned down.