|Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland talks to Younes, once head of Libya's special forces and now leader of a growing rebel army.
Abdel Fattah Younes, the former interior minister and head of Special Forces in Libya, renounced his post last week. In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Younes explains why he chose to step down and defend the revolution.
I joined the revolution on the second day of demonstrations in Benghazi - I take pride in that.
When I found the victims were too many for no justification - the mass killings of unarmed youth - I handed down instructions to the police and special task forces, which were operating under me not to fire on any civilian for any reason whatsoever, only in the case of self-defence, and in this case to shoot at the limbs, not to kill.
When I declared to side with the people's revolution, and this was broadcast on television, all the officers from the eastern provinces and a large portion of the west had joined the revolution. All military and air bases also joined along with many security units in Tobruk, Al Baida and Darna together with all the brigades in the Green Mountain area.
Gaddafi was very cautious and therefore he transformed the whole army into security units, including the special task forces, which is part of the army. The units present in the perimeters of al-Azizya area and command headquarters are intense and heavy. There is the Presidential Guard Brigade, the 9th Armoured regimen; and also the Deterrence Force, in addition to the security brigades and the 32nd reinforced Khamis Gaddafi battalion.
They have all types of modern weaponry including tanks, armoured personnel carriers, air missiles that are tactical not strategic and capable of defending a position, but not an entire city for example. Also there is heavy artillery that can be used for air or land strikes against personnel.
Currently, Gaddafi is surrounded by two types of officers. Some of them are frightened; others are partners in crime on a domestic or international level. They’re aware that they have run out of options, even if they wish to leave.
An example is Brigadier Abdulla al-Senosi, who was sentenced for a life term under the UTA bombing; he is wanted all over the world. He was also implicated as being part of the massacre in Abu Sleem where many were killed. As I said, some fear Gaddafi, they feel they could get killed if they attempt to leave. Others don’t have anywhere else to go; and there are also those who will fight till their last breath just like Muammar Gaddafi.
Gaddafi brought in mercenaries to defend his regime. Only the security units I told you about are present there. They have grown weary as they have been fighting for ten days. I am certain once Bab Al Zaizya falls, all these forces will lay down their arms.
Our mission in Benghzai is to defend the city, it is a very important city, the second in Libya and it is the birthplace of the revolution and therefore hated by the regime. Today, Gaddafi dispatched helicopters to bombard Misurata, namely the weapon depots of the Air Force college for fear of the revolting people.
There are many from the youth that are volunteering; they are organising their lines now in order to be fully prepared; even those who never used firearms had gone to training over the past days. They will march to Tripoli.
Poor and oppressed
I also called on other cities surrounding Tripoli which are densely populated and suffered a great deal of poverty and oppression - they will join forces with them. Then, an armed force will be marching towards Tripoli; and we hope they will be able to do something.
We have sufficient forces, capable of protecting Benghazi. Of these forces, we may use tanks in the march towards Tripoli, passing through Sirte, which is still under the regime's control. We have sufficient force, sufficient ration and logistics, including ammunition and fuels. We have no problem at all.
Sabha is more than 1,300km from Tripoli; it is a totally desert area with asphalt roads. Other surrounding cities, such as Az Zawiyah, is free but cordoned by Gaddafi's forces. It is a very important city, whose residents are cultured and enlightened. Misurata, Libya's third city with more than 1.5 million residents, is a complete industrial zone. It is also free and its fall represents a big blow to the regime. Gaddafi's circle is shrinking and freedom has a high price.
I served with Muammar Gaddafi, and before the revolution we were friends, even comrades in the same camp in Benghazi. I know him very well. I worked with him 42 years. He is stubborn, very stubborn. He loves a challenge. Challenge for him is above everything.
So, and as I mentioned earlier, the end will be tragic, tragic to the full sense of the word. Now he has nowhere to go; the whole world is preparing for his war crime trial. It is not an easy matter, and he is a very self-centred person so he will not accept to stand trial, or be interrogated by judges before the international media.
Gaddafi will either commit suicide, which is unlikely as suicide is a sin in Islam; or he may go out for others to kill him - he and his rifle in a bloody and fatal confrontation against a huge force. However under such difficult situations, human behaviour cannot be predicted. The second scenario is 90% likely to happen.
Mercenaries are available in all African countries; they are ready for anyone who can afford to pay them simply due to famines and utter poverty. We suffer from the huge influx of African migrants heading to Europe across the Mediterranean, about 1.5 or 2 million Africans are in Libya. They can also retain organised gangs over the internet.
When the revolution erupted, I was asked for reinforcement and I said I will deploy only in vital positions not inside the city, or it will be a catastrophe. Then the regime called in the al-Asmar Battalion which is stationed in the South. Most of them are black, some are from Libya, Niger and other tribes. When I learnt of it, I refused and requested the command not to take them back to Tripoli; instead the Battalion was to be deployed in Al Baida where the massacres were.
And it is out of question to receive any foreign troops or accept military bases to be set up on Libyan soil. When push comes to shove, launching airstrikes could be an alternative solution. If we found that no solution was reached on Gaddafi's part or his aides to put an end to these massacres, then all our fellows here in Darna, Al Baida, Ghuba and Benghazi are firm and certain that air strikes must be launched, provided that no jetfighter will land on Libyan territories.
They may land in the Italian Anderosa base or the aircraft carrier. Touching down in Libya is acceptable only in the case of an emergency, that’s only natural. For example if any pilot was forced to eject, he will be hosted and protected by us.