PARIS (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said in a French newspaper interview released on Sunday that he was embroiled in a fight against terrorism and expressed dismay at the absence of support from abroad.
“I am surprised that nobody understands that this is a fight against terrorism,” the longtime autocrat of the North African oil-producing state told the Journal du Dimanche in excerpts of an interview due to be published later on Sunday.
“Our security services cooperate. We have helped you a lot these past few years. So why is it that when we are in a fight against terrorism here in Libya no one helps us in return?”
Gaddafi, who has ruled Africa’s fourth largest country since a 1969 coup, faces an unprecedented popular uprising that has seen rebel forces assert control over Libya’s east and loosen his grip in the west near the capital Tripoli.
Western leaders have denounced what they say has been Gaddafi’s brutal, bloody response to the uprising, and the International Criminal Court said he and his inner circle could be investigated for alleged crimes committed against civilians by his security forces.
Gaddafi, who spoke to journalists from his headquarters in Tripoli, said Islamic holy war would engulf the Mediterranean if the insurrection in Libya, inspired by successful pro-democracy uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, succeeded.
“There would be Islamic jihad in front of you, in the Mediterranean,” he said. “Bin Laden’s people would come to impose ransoms on land and sea. We will go back to the time of Red Beard, of pirates, of Ottomans imposing ransoms on boats.”
Gaddafi added that his government was “doing well” despite the armed turmoil and warned Europe against an influx of Libyan migrants to its shores if his foes drove him from power.
Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Mark Heinrich