7:20 a.m. EDT, October 21, 2011
LONDON (Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam is fleeing south from Sirte toward Libya’s border with Niger, a senior military commander of the interim National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Friday.
Abdul Majid Mlegta told Reuters that Islam was believed to traveling in a convoy of three armored vehicles to try to escape NTC forces that overran Sirte on Thursday and killed his father, Libya’s deposed former ruler.
The Predator drone, flown out of Sicily and controlled via satellite from a base outside Las Vegas, struck the convoy with a number of Hellfire anti-tank missiles. Moments later French jets, most likely Rafales, swept in, targeting the vehicles with 500lb Paveway bombs or highly accurate £600,000 AASM munitions. 0
Intelligence sources have suggested that in his last days Gaddafi broke his rigid rule of telephone silence and was overheard using either a mobile or satellite phone. Voice recognition technology would have instantly picked up any call that he made. As National Transition Council forces increased their stranglehold on Sirte, Gaddafi decided to make a run for it at 8.30 yesterday morning.
Defence sources referred to the move as “tantamount to suicide”.
“US Predators and French drones have been staking out the centre of Sirte for several weeks trying to monitor what’s going on on the battlefield,” said an intelligence source. “They built up a normal pattern of life picture so that when something unusual happened this morning such as a large group of vehicles gathering together, that came across as highly unusual activity and the decision was taken to follow them and prosecute an attack.”
Electronic warfare aircraft, either an American Rivet Joint or a French C160 Gabriel, also picked up Gaddafi’s movements as he attempted to escape here