Libyan PM kidnapped, released

Consider this payback for cooperation on terrorism with a loose-lipped US.  Just hours after the Obama administration and/or the military leaked word that Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan gave “tacit” permission for a raid that netted long-sought al-Qaeda mastermind Abu Anas al-Libi, terrorists kidnapped Zeidan in an attempt to force his resignation:

Gunmen seized Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in Tripoli Thursday and held him for several hours before he was freed, in the latest sign of Libya’s lawlessness since Moamer Kadhafi was toppled in 2011.

The pre-dawn seizure of Zeidan came five days after US commandos embarrassed and angered Libya’s government by capturing senior Al-Qaeda suspect Abu Anas al-Libi off the streets of Tripoli and whisking him away to a warship.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelaziz said Zeidan had been released a number of hours after being seized at his hotel in Tripoli before dawn by former rebel militiamen.

“He has been freed but we have no details so far on the circumstances of his release,” Abdelaziz told AFP.

The Libyan government emphasized that he had been “freed” and not “released,” which sounds as though their police had to rescue him.  ABC News reports that the perpetrators are former allies of the government during the civil war, and claimed to be acting on orders from prosecutors:

A former rebel group loosely allied to the government, the Revolutionaries Operations Room, said it had arrested Zidan on the orders of the prosecutor general, according to the BBC.

But Libya’s minister of justice and the office of the prosecutor general denied the claim.

Libyan state television broadcast live video of Zeidan returning to work this morning, according to the BBC, in an obvious effort to show that no power vacuum existed in Tripoli.  It points out, however, how little control the official government has in Libya:

Mr Zeidan had been taken in a pre-dawn raid on the Corinthia Hotel by more than 100 armed men.

The LROR said it was acting on the orders of the prosecutor general and in accordance with a section of Libya’s criminal code relating to “crimes and misdemeanours harmful to state security”.

But Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said the prosecutor general had issued no arrest warrant, according to state-run National Libyan TV. …

The LROR is one of a number of militias operating in Libya which are nominally attached to government ministries but often act independently and, correspondents say, often have the upper hand over police and army forces.

The government has been struggling to contain the militias, which were heavily involved in the revolt which overthrew Col Muammar Gaddafi and, two years on, still control many parts of the country.

In fact, Zeidan had been asking the West for help in controlling the militias, warning that these networks are now exporting weapons all over the region.  Publicly “thanking” Zeidan for his approval on a capture mission was probably not the help Zeidan was requesting.