|US risks quagmire in Afghanistan - Gaddafi
By Gilles Trequesser
SOLLOUG, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has warned the
United States that it could fall into a Soviet-style quagmire in Afghanistan
if it retaliates there for devastating terror attacks on New York and
Gaddafi, who has often assailed Washington for its policies in the Middle
East and elsewhere, said the United States had the right to respond
militarily to the unprecedented attacks in which thousands are feared to
But he urged restraint in the fight against terrorism.
"The United States has the right to seek revenge," Gaddafi said at a public
rally in the small town of Solloug, 30 miles south of the country's second
city of Benghazi in eastern Libya.
"The United States is a strong and powerful country, but would it be bravery
to attack Afghanistan, a country already destroyed, without roads or
factories and where people move around on donkeys or in horse-drawn carts.
Would that solve the problem?" he asked
President George W. Bush, declaring the United States was "at war", said on
Saturday Saudi-born Islamic militant Osama bin Laden, long accused of waging
an anti-American campaign from Afghanistan, was "a prime suspect" in
Libya itself has long been on a U.S. State Department list of countries it
accuses of sponsoring terrorism.
Gaddafi. recalling that 20,000 Soviet soldiers died in Afghanistan following
the 1979 Soviet invasion and 10-year occupation of the rugged country, urged
the United States to be patient in its hunt for the perpetrators and "show
BIN LADEN WILL HEAD FOR MOUNTAINS
"Bin Laden and his men will disperse in the mountains and this could cause
another 20,000 deaths," he said at the open-air rally attended by several
The event marked the 70th anniversary of the death of nationalist hero Omar
Mukhtar, who was captured by Italian occupying forces in 1931 and hanged in
Gaddafi said any attack on Afghanistan would have immediate consequences in
other Islamic countries.
"Afghanistan is a Muslim country. The U.S. could ensure it gets the support
of Islamic governments, but (their) people could well not adopt the same
stand," he said.
Saying "mankind has gone mad", Gaddafi called for an international
conference on terrorism, saying past calls to that effect from Libya and
Egypt had remained unheeded,
"We must convene an international conference to study the roots of
terrorism...and reach a consensus on the definition of terrorism, because,
for instance, Israelis accuse Palestinians of terrorism and vice versa. So
what is terrorism?"
"Today, New York is destroyed, the World Trade Centre which was at the
centre of world trade, not only of American trade, is completely destroyed,"
"But Jericho and Gaza are also destroyed. What's happening?"
"We are now in a phase of anger, of hysteria, which is understandable
because the (world´s) biggest country has been hit. But we must think ahead.
A small child has attacked a giant. It would be a disaster if the giant were
to behave like the small child," Gaddafi added.
He said no one so far had found an effective way of combating the new form
of terrorism such as struck the United States with deadly precision.
TERRORISTS COULD BE ANYWHERE
"Terrorists are like booby-trapped (explosive) devices. They could be in
Libya, in Egypt. It's a disaster because we don't know where they are and
what destruction they will cause next."
The veteran Libyan leader, in power for 32 years, reiterated his condolences
to the American people "because America suffered from this aggression".
But he added that Americans now suffered "like other people in Africa and
elsewhere (have suffered). Terrorism is evil but so is colonialism".
Ordinary Libyans have expressed sympathy with the victims of Tuesday's
attacks and strident anti-Americanism seems no longer the norm in the North
A person at Sunday's rally who started to shout anti-American slogans was
immediately booed and shouted down by the crowd.