Libya: Al-Qaeda chief 'heading for besieged city of Misrata'

The head of Al-Qaeda in Libya is heading for the stricken city of Misrata from the rebel stronghold of Bengasi, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim announced, cited on Monday by pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi's website

"We have learned that a prominent Al-Qaeda leader, Abdelhakim al-Hasari, is heading towards Misurata aboard a ship," said Ibrahim.

"There are 25 well-trained fighters on board the ship with him," Ibrahim added.

The humanitarian situation was reported to be dire in Misrata on Monday, which has been the scene of intense fighting between anti-government rebels and forces loyal to longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. A chartered Greek ferry arrived off the port as part of an international refugee rescue operation to help an estimated 10,000 non-Libyans waiting to leave.

The refugees are camping out around Misrata without adequate shelter, clean water or food and no medical care, according to the IOM.

Ibrahim said Misratat was still in rebel hands. "It's possible that terrorists will gain the upper hand in Libya and this represents a threat for the region and for Europe," he stated.

He reitereated Gaddafi's repeated claims that Al-Qaeda is playing a role the uprising against his 40-year-long autocratic rule.

"The evidence that Al-Qaeda is involved in the war in Libya is increasing day by day," Ibrahim said.

Al-Hasadi was sailing towards Misrata aboard an Egyptian ship, the 'al-Shahid Abdelwahab', Ibrahim said. Gaddafi forces have been pounding the western bastion since mid-February when the pro-democracy revolt began.

[Source: ADN Kronos International, Ita, 18Apr11]

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