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CNN Special Report: Unrest in Libya

Aired February 20, 2011 - 22:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you so much for joining us. This is a CNN Special Report, Unrest in Libya. I'm Don Lemon.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CO-ANCHOR: And I'm John Vause from CNN International. Let's get right to it.

LEMON: That's right, John.

A violent crackdown tonight on Libyan protesters demanding democracy.




VAUSE: At least 200 people are dead as security forces try to quiet the streets. Libya has banned journalists in the region, but information and video is leaking out from social media sites. These shots from Tripoli were uploaded today on YouTube. Scenes of chaos in the streets, people setting fires. CNN can confirm the uprising in the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. Although CNN scrutinizes videos posted on social media, we cannot authenticate individual videos.

LEMON: And John, leader Moammar Gadhafi hasn't spoken since these protests erupted, he did appear today on state TV, but we don't know when this was taped. Again, we don't know when this was taped. A few hours ago, his son hit the airwaves to defend his father's government. He accused outside forces of interfering with Libya's affairs.

I want you to play a part of that now and take a listen.


SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, MOAMMAR GADHAFI'S SON (through translator): Many people living abroad have decided to use this to start a campaign in order for the country to reach the state that happened in Tunisia and Egypt. This is all over the Internet and Facebook, and media campaigns.

So the government here and security apparatus were aware of all this, so they did preemptive action before the 17th of February and they arrested a few people who were involved. This developed into small demonstrations. Then there were conflicts between different citizens. And then there was shooting, a few people died. There was violence against the police. The police became targets and police units as well as military campus in Benghazi. This developed further. So angry people tried to attack and invade these places. The army and the police tried to defend themselves. This caused deaths. There were funerals. People attacked. There was more. So, this is in brief what happened in Benghazi and developed.


LEMON: And as was the case with the Moammar Gadhafi video, we don't know when that was taken as well.

VAUSE: Exactly. It was pre-recorded anytime the last days, so we imagine. But we're now quoting U.S. officials as saying that the .U.S. is weighing all appropriate actions in response to all of this. And the U.S. State Department sent out a statement which read in part, "We have raised to a number of Libyan officials our strong objections to the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators. But officials have stated their commitment to protecting and safeguarding the right of peaceful protest. "We call upon the Libyan government to uphold that commitment."

LEMON: And John, as we mentioned, so far, strongman Moammar Gadhafi himself has been silent on this issue, but his son is calling to enforce security at any price and warning of a fierce civil war if the uprising doesn't end.

VAUSE: Yes. Let's get more on this now -- what he told the Libyan people in that national address. CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney joins me now from Cairo. She's been monitoring the situation there.

And Fionnuala, if you look at that -- listen to that speech by Saif Gadhafi, it's straight out of the playbook of dictators clinging to power, blaming foreign forces, blaming journalists. It wasn't very reassuring if this was meant to calm the nation.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was essentially holding out the specter of civil war. And one kept wondering what he was going to offer in terms of a carrot as opposed to the stick as the speech went on for nearly 40 minutes.

And perhaps about a third of the way through, he began to talk about the need to come around the table. He spoke of the country, John, being at a national crossroads. It was a crisis and he said the country needed to be reformed in the next 48 hours. He did speak of injecting money into the system. He did talk about restructuring the municipalities.

But essentially what he was saying is that the structure remains in place from the ground up, these various revolutionary committees going all the way up to the leadership. No mention at all about his father's position except to say that his father would fight to the end.

Therefore what I am seeing and reading from here in Cairo is that essentially the structure remains the same. Will it answer the questions of the people out demonstrating? Those who will negotiate with them, who are they? They have to be members of the revolutionary committee. But as we saw in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, tens of thousands of people took to the streets. There were the people that he was calling as essentially who were involved in the clashes as drugs -- as drug addicts, as children, as extremists.

So, it really is back to the demonstrators to see how they will react to this. And as we've been reporting and it's very difficult to report with any degree of clarity or confirmation of what's happening in Libya, this unrest has now spread to Tripoli. People we spoke to on the phone and managed to reach telling us that they're dismissing what Saif Gadhafi had to say as lies, that the people of Libya are united. They are unified. They will not go into civil war if they continue these clashes.

But we're talking about here demonstrators on one side. Saif Gadhafi -- the Gadhafi regime, which he claims is fully supported by the army. Several times he referred to Libya not being like Tunisia, not being like Egypt, where as he sees it, the army stood by. So we have to see what plays out in the next 48 hours and just see how susceptible or otherwise this regime is to international pressure.

VAUSE: OK. Fionnuala Sweeney live for us there. She's been monitoring that speech in neighboring Cairo. Of course, just recovering from the fall of Hosni Mubarak there and, once again, celebrations in Cairo, unrest in Libya. The situation has been extremely chaotic in the capital city of Tripoli. CNN can confirm that the uprising has spread to the capital. That is significant.

LEMON: Yes. And we've been hearing reports of gunfire in the streets and buildings burning. We're joined now by -- on the phone -- by a protester in Tripoli. We are not going to identify him further for his own safety.

So, I want to ask you, what is the situation like right now? We know that you have been to the protest yesterday. It's early morning there. What's it like now?

PROTESTER, TRIPOLI RESIDENT (via telephone): Kind of quiet but once in a while, you can hear some fire shooting. You can hear them clearly because it's too quiet now, 5:00 a.m. Hello.

VAUSE: Yes, we're still here. We're listening. Keep going.

PROTESTER: Yes. The situation was too bloody this night. A lot of people wounded. A lot of people being killed. And a lot of people trying to invade and occupy the Green Square. The last thing I heard about an hour ago was all protests they were coming from many neighborhoods, many cities around Tripoli are trying to invade the Green Square.

LEMON: Is there any indication that you're getting that there is a call for more protests to come, if not today, there where you are, later on in the week?

PROTESTER: Again, please, sorry. LEMON: Are there any calls for more protest, even after Saif Gadhafi spoke today? Are you going to continue the protests?

PROTESTER: Yes, there were. And they were all angry and they didn't believe in him. What's going on is kind of bloody because a lot of African troops are here now. They are killing people everywhere. There are talks about 30,000 comes here.

VAUSE: Are you saying there are 30,000 protesters in Tripoli or 30,000 soldiers in Tripoli?

PROTESTER: 30,000 African solders in Tripoli now.

VAUSE: So, 30,000 soldiers from outside the country?

PROTESTER: Yes. They do that.

VAUSE: And they are loyal to the regime of Gadhafi?


VAUSE: And they are loyal to the regime and they are firing on the protesters?

PROTESTER: Yes, they are paid by the regime.

LEMON: What are you doing to protect yourself? Are you setting up some sort of watch?

PROTESTER: A lot of people are walking on the streets, trying to protect the houses here. People feel that -- people feel that they are responsible for their own safety and there's no any police now trying to protect them.

LEMON: All right, sir, thank you. And please get back in touch with us and please be safe.

VAUSE: Yes. A long night there in Tripoli for many people.

LEMON: Certainly. It would be -- 30,000, he said soldiers.

VAUSE: Soldiers. Essentially mercenaries is what he's saying. From outside the country.

LEMON: All right, John, so here's the question. How is the U.S. reacting to the situation, the unrest in Libya? A live report from Washington, coming up next.

VAUSE: Later, we'll talk to Prince Idris, a member of the former ruling family of Libya. He's already saying that Gadhafi's time as Libya's leader is over.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI (through translator): There was a mistake by the army because the citizens were trying to fight the military and the police, so they felt very nervous and stressed. Particularly the army are not trained to restrain people and oppressed people, so they ended up shooting. And I heard in Libya, they say to us, many people who attacked us were drinking, some of them were on drugs.


LEMON: John, Moammar Gadhafi's son speaking out today. At least it ran today. We don't know when it was shot.


LEMON: And, of course, he's on television today and his dad on state- run television as well.

VAUSE: Interesting contrast, the father being hailed and being applauded by all those supporters while the son was giving the speech.

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about what happens here in the U.S. U.S. State Department said today it is gravely concerned about the disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya.

VAUSE: Yes. The question to be asked, though, is how much leverage does the U.S. really have over Moammar Gadhafi.

CNN's Jill Dougherty is now in Washington. She joins us live.

And Jill, I guess the answer has got to be, practically none.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You said it, John. Actually that really is what U.S. officials are telling us, they have very little leverage, they have very little influence. Relations with Libya -- between the United States and Libya have been very tense.

And you also have, you know, Moammar Gadhafi himself, who has cultivated this image of being kind of outlier and essentially, he doesn't seem to care what anybody in the outside world thinks about him.

And a U.S. official that we spoke with this evening said Gadhafi has been in power, as you know, for 42 years, he is still in power, at least that is what they believe and that he is not losing his grip on power at all. So the United States, at this point, about all it can do is to make very strong urgings to the government of Libya to stop violence.

And there's grave concern, because as that statement by the State Department points out, they really don't even know -- there's very little information. The media are not allowed in there. Human rights organizations are not allowed in. So they believe that there are hundreds killed and injured but they don't even know.

And one other thing, just a few minutes ago, a senior administration official saying that the White House, of course, is watching this very carefully and that they are analyzing that speech by the son of Moammar Gadhafi to look for any possibility for meaningful reform.

And then they also say that the U.S. is considering any appropriate action and is also trying to clarify from the Libyan government what exactly and precisely is going on. But the overall message you'd have to say is stop the violence.

LEMON: And, Jill, we saw several reports come out. Let's talk about Americans living and working in Libya. There is a warning, a travel warning from the State Department.

DOUGHERTY: Right. Obviously. And, boy, we've been seeing these travel warnings almost daily as violence is spreading throughout that entire region and this is another one to Americans to avoid Libya. As you can imagine, things are very unpredictable, and because of the lack of clarity on what is going on inside, it can be quite dangerous.

LEMON: Jill Dougherty, thank you.

VAUSE: There's also a growing spat between the U.S. and Britain because Britain was seen as bringing Libya out of the sort of the realms of the rogue nations. Remember, they made a deal seven years ago. Some accusations of British weapons may even be being used right now in this bloodbath in Libya.

But even before the fall of Egypt's president, protests were hitting Libya because of low quality housing and high unemployment.

LEMON: Yes. But, you know, it was Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 11th that lit the fuse for Libya's demonstrators, who seemed to grow more intense and determined as each day has passed.


LEMON: February 14th - peaceful demonstrations fueled thru Facebook are planned against Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, who supported Mubarak before his exit.

February 16th - about 200 demonstrators hit the streets in the coastal city of Benghazi to rally for human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. Police make few arrests.

February 17th - state-run media outlets report 110 political prisoners are released. But the mood doesn't stop calls for a day of rage, meant for the fifth anniversary of a bloody protest that left 12 dead. Medical sources say seven die on this day after clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

February 18th - Gadhafi's supporters rally back in Tripoli. But on the coast in Benghazi, security forces reportedly attack anti- government backers, numbering in tens of thousands. Medical sources report 20 die and 200 are hurt.

February 19th - Benghazi gets worse. Reports leak out of tear gas and bullets. A doctor says his hospital has seen at least 30 bodies, and human rights watch tallies 84 dead over the last five days. February 20th - Benghazi boils over. Violence surges and protesters strike, demanding change. Eyewitnesses say demonstrators have taken the city and much of Tripoli. A ban on foreign reporters makes the claim difficult to confirm. But Gadhafi's son, Saif Al-Islam, warns the protesters to stop or, quote, "blood will flow, rivers of blood in all the cities of Libya."


LEMON: It's very interesting. We haven't seen anything like this, you know, in the Middle East and North Africa. We were sitting here two weeks ago when it was Egypt and now happening, you know, it's happening in Libya.

VAUSE: Two weeks ago, we were saying Hosni Mubarak probably won't fall, he's a strong man. And now we're saying Gadhafi, he's a strong man probably won't fall. But we just don't know. The question here is, why should anyone actually care about what's taking place in Libya? I guess the other big question is, what might be the next move in all of this?

LEMON: And former Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend was in Libya recently and she's going to join us next to answer a lot of the questions that we have ourselves here, after the break.


VAUSE: And welcome back, everyone, to our continuing coverage of the unrest in Libya. Let's take a look now at some of the inner workings of the Libyan regime.

LEMON: I want to bring in someone who knows a lot about the Libyan government, including Moammar Gadhafi. Fran Townsend joins us now from Washington. She served as Homeland Security Advisor for President George W. Bush and she is a CNN contributor. She is a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's External Advisory Committee. And we should also note that she visited Libya last year at the government's invitation.

Fran, good evening to you. You met a lot of high ranking Libyan officials. What can you tell us about how the Libyan government operates?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, FMR. BUSH HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: The reason, you heard Jill Dougherty say that the State Department is carefully scrutinizing Saif Al-Islam Al Gadhafi's statement is because he's very, very close to his father and he -- the leader, Moammar Gadhafi, and he speaks with the authority of his father.

After all, Saif Al-Gadhafi, when I was there, was very clear to me that he was the person his father used to negotiate the release of Al- Megrahi from Scottish custody for the Pan Am 103 bombing. He's incredibly influential, incredibly powerful. And, as I say, if he's saying the streets will run with blood, he's saying it because it's in his power to make that happen. VAUSE: Yes, Fran, it's John here. You just said that, you know, Saif Gadhafi, he speaks with authority, he is very close to his father, but he is not his father. So the question is, where is his Moammar Gadhafi tonight? Why did he not give that speech to the nation?

TOWNSEND: You know, it's interesting. I suspect what's going on here is, you know, Gadhafi understands very well the battle for public opinion and public relations. While they have not -- while they've not permitted journalists to report from there, they know very well the influence of journalists around the world in reporting this story.

Saif Al-Gadhafi was wearing a Western suit. He speaks perfectly good English. He was educated. He spent time in the UK. And so, he was going to make -- if there was anyone in the senior ranks of the Libyan government who could most persuasively make the Libyan case, if you will, to the world, it's Saif and I suspect that's why they had him speak.

LEMON: And, Fran, I would imagine, you know, you're once Homeland Security advisor, but in this situation, what we're seeing going on in these nations now, even with all the experience that you had, you have to admit that this is interesting and maybe beyond the scope of what we've seen before.

TOWNSEND: You know, Don, absolutely. You know, as you were both talking earlier, it's almost impossible to predict how this will turn out. The one thing I would say that I think is key here, we saw in both Tunisia and Egypt the militaries, the security forces in those countries abandoned their regimes and ultimately the regimes fell. In cases where the military and security forces support these oppressive regimes, think Algeria, think Libya, think Bahrain, the regimes seem to be able to withstand the opposition.

VAUSE: And, Fran, I'm just curious. If we look at Libya, I mean, what we're hearing from the son of Gadhafi is that this could actually fall into some kind of civil war, because you have Benghazi in the east, Tripoli in the west. Benghazi, as we understand, is now in control of the anti-government protesters and the military isn't abandoning the government in Tripoli. So there could really be this very real prospect of a bloodbath here, of a real civil war.

TOWNSEND: I do think that you could see a very -- a string of real violence between the protesters and security forces. I question whether or not you're really talking about a civil war. I mean, what we're seeing is wide scale protests on the part of the Libyan people seeking freedoms and democracy, frankly, and new constitution.

It's not clear to me that you will see sort of Libyan on Libyan violence, that is, you know, among the people. I don't think we've seen evidence of that yet, although, as we've noted here on CNN, it's very difficult to get accurate reporting and the facts on the ground there.

VAUSE: Yes. Indeed it is. Fran Townsend, thanks so much for joining us from Washington. It's a great insight there about, you know, what's going on. We're just trying to piece all of this together. We're just not allowed in there. No one's allowed in.

LEMON: Yes. And, you know, again, when we talk about the pictures, right, we talk about the son and the dad. We see them on television today but we don't know if actually that video was taken today. So, where is the person who is in charge? He's known for his connection to the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland that killed 273 people, but how much do we know about Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi? We'll examine his background next, John.

VAUSE: We'll also try to talk to a member of the former ruling family, a family of Libya, Sayyid Idris. He'll tell us why he thinks Moammar Gadhafi's time as Libya's leader is over.


LEMON: Welcome back to our special coverage, "Unrest in Libya." And say what you want, John, about Moammar Gadhafi. He is a survivor and few leaders have been in power longer.

VAUSE: Yes. Colonel Gadhafi seized control of Libya in a bloodless coup in 1969. He established himself as a revolutionary leader of Arab nationalism and wrote long essays about his political philosophy. After years of being perceived in the West as a noisy and erratic troublemaker, he became a major thorn in Washington's side. The Reagan White House saw Libyan's hand behind terrorist acts around the world. In 1986, the bombing of the West Berlin nightclub provoked a military response from the U.S.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On April 5th in West Berlin, a terrorist bomb exploded in a nightclub frequented by American servicemen. Sergeant Kenneth Ford and a young Turkish woman were killed and 230 others were wounded, among them some 50 American military personnel.

This monstrous brutality is but the latest act in Colonel Gadhafi's reign of terror.


VAUSE: Much to President Reagan's disappointment, Gadhafi survived that attack and then Libya pulled off one of the most daring and spectacular terrorist attacks of the 20th century. It was blowing up a jumbo jet over Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988.

It appeared Gadhafi's place as public enemy number one was secure for eternity, but eternity proved to be a very short time. Before the century was out, Gadhafi gave up the two Libyan suspects behind the bombing of Pan Am 103. In 2003, Libya agreed to compensate the Lockerbie victims and announced it would abandon developments of weapons of mass destruction. Within a few years, the U.S. had restored full diplomatic relations, just 22 years after Ronald Reagan tried to kill Gadhafi.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Tripoli and sat down face to face with the man who'd once been one of the most hated and reviled men in America.

LEMON: As we said, he is a survivor. He has been around for a long time.

VAUSE: Forty-one years.

LEMON: And tonight, we're speaking to a member of the former ruling family of Libya called the Senussi. Gadhafi overthrew the family when he took over in 1969.

VAUSE: Yes. Sayyid Idris Sayyid Abdullah al-Senussi joins us now live from Washington.

Your highness, you've already been saying that Moammar Gadhafi's rule has ended? Why do you think that?

SAYYID IDRIS ABDULLAH L AL-SENUSSI, MEMBER, LIBYA'S FORMER RULING FAMILY: Well, first of all, I want to praise the Libyan people for their courage. And the Libyan people have never showed their great desire for freedom, freedom from fear and oppression and tyranny. I have never been more proud.

Gadhafi is the former leader of Libya. It was his goal. He has not controlled the country. Three-quarters of the country are flying the old constitution flag. So, I -- though I don't think the menace of anybody from the regime who was doing for the Libyan people will stop them from seeking their freedom.

LEMON: So, Sayyid, Saif Gadhafi today mentioned -- he mentioned Egypt, he mentioned Tunisia and he said Libya is unlike those two because it is a tribal nation. And you're saying, I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, you've never seen all the tribes unified like this before but he's saying that the tribes would separate and that it would cause chaos and civil war.

AL-SENUSSI: I don't think -- what he's saying is not true because I don't think even his tribe, his own tribesmen will follow him because his tribe is part of Libya and they want to be part of Libya and be part of the family, the big family of Libya. The only problem we have in Libya is him and his family. They have been oppressing people. They have been abusing power. They have been raping. They have no accountability whatsoever. So I think the Libyan people have had enough.

At this juncture...

VAUSE: Excuse me, Your Highness, but I'm assuming that you still have sources inside Libya. There are still people there who are telling you what's going on. And if that's the case, what are they telling you about the number of people who have been killed and, possibly, where do those protests go next?

AL-SENUSSI: We have just yesterday a member of the family, he's counted 130 people have been killed in front of the base, which called Berka (ph). They were trying to attack, to conquer the base and they were getting shot by live bullets. One hundred fifty people were counted. And I think it's even more now.

LEMON: Why do you think this is happening now? As I understand, you predicted two weeks ago that this unrest would occur.

AL-SENUSSI: Yes, I have predicted it because history have showed Libyan people, if you go through history, they always -- they are very patient and they tolerate, tolerate, but when it gets so much they cannot tolerate so much and when they saw that what happened in Tunis, and what happened in Egypt, it worked, I think they got the courage, and the courage was there, especially the women> I praise women, the Libyan women, who have been in the frontline them with the men. That's what's -- that's happened exactly in Libya.

LEMON: Sayyid Idris, we appreciate you joining us here on CNN. Thank you.

AL-SENUSSI: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, you probably know Libya, it's an oil-rich country, one of the richest in Africa, but did you know it also has one of the highest per capita incomes of an African country.

LEMON: Interesting. Back with more of our special coverage right after our break.


LEMON: This is CNN's special coverage of "Unrest in Libya." And the question is, what do you know about Libya?

The country is about the size of Alaska and has population of about 6.5 million people.

VAUSE: Yes, it's pretty small actually, the population. More than 90 percent of the country, though, is desert or semi desert. Oil exports make up 80 percent of the government's revenue. And the median age of Libyans, young country, 24 years old.

Libya shares borders with Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tunisia. And I want to continue more with our special report here, the "Unrest in Libya." Let's bring in Khalil Matar, an author and journalist. He's been covering Libya extensively.

LEMON: And, John, he wrote "Lockerbie and Libya," a study in international relations about the lasting impact on the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

So, Khalil, thank you for joining us. When was the last time Libya dealt with anything like this -- an uprising of this magnitude?

KHALIL MATAR, AUTHOR, "LOCKERBIE AND LIBYA": There hasn't been any uprisings of this magnitude. There has been certain uprisings here and there, most notably when the Libyan Islamic Front fighters, actually LIFG group, Libyan Islamic Front Group, were revolting against the government. That was in the same areas where we are witnessing today the same uprisings, the most of it in the eastern part of the country, Benghazi, the green mountain area as they call it. The eastern part. At the time, the government had to use force and they were able to practically defeat the fighters and they arrested a few hundreds of them.

Funny enough, only a few months ago, Saif Gadhafi was part of a dialogue with that group and they had issued a revision of their philosophy and their policies and over 200 of them were released from jail, including the main leader of that group. And nowadays, it's looking like some of those that were released are going back into using violence against the government, especially, as I said in the eastern part.

VAUSE: Khalil, on that issue, all the eastern province of Libya, the fact that there was an uprising there, it's always been unrest in that part of the country, no great surprises. But the fact now that it has spread to the capital of Tripoli and we have not really seen Moammar Gadhafi, apart from what may have been a pre-recorded appearance on state-run television, how significant is that?

MATAR: It is very significant if it is to the same magnitude as it has been reported out of Tripoli. In the eastern part, it is much stronger and much fiercer revolt that is taking place.

Colonel Gadhafi, according to my understanding, I just spoke to Tripoli a couple hours ago to some friends who are very close to him. He is still in Tripoli and he is fighting the whole thing. His son is there after a long absence and he is dealing with these reforms and leading towards them.

It is very interesting to note here the couple elements that have not been widely reported and not fully 100 percent confirmed, but there is a lot of vibes about them. That they established the so-called Islamic emirates in Biba and in Berna (ph), two medium-sized towns out in the eastern part, and the LIIG group people are leading those.

Today, as a matter of fact, also, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is a prominent scholar who lived in Qatar, appeared so much on Al Jazeera, is considered one of the fundamentalists and prohibited from traveling to the United States and to England, appeared today on Al Jazeera practically reading a revolt lecture, asking the Libyans to revolt.

So, that makes it very...

LEMON: Khalil, your information is very interesting. Unfortunately, we're out of time. That's going to be the last word. Thank you for joining us.

VAUSE: Appreciate it.

LEMON: When we come back right here on CNN, we'll talk to a Libyan- American here in Atlanta who will react to the speech given by Moammar Gadhafi's son. We're back in a moment.



SAIF AL-ISLAM GADHAFI, MOAMMAR GADHAFI'S SON (through translator): Moammar Gadhafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli and we're with him. The army is with him. There are tens of thousands who are coming, flooding to Tripoli. We will never give up Libya. We will fight to the last inch, to the last shot. We will never leave our country.


LEMON: We're in special coverage tonight of the uprising in Libya.

VAUSE: Yes. Right now, we're joined by Ali Gebril, a Libyan-American who has been living in this country for 30 years now.

And Ali, I just want to ask, first of all, you have family and friends back in Libya.


VAUSE: Have you managed to reach them? Have you spoken to them?


VAUSE: What are they telling you about the situation? And, first of all, which city are they in?

GEBRIL: They are in different cities. They are from all the way to the west. And as I was coming to the studio, there is a lot of shooting, a lot of killing in Tripoli. There's been literally a massacre in Tripoli as we speak right now, this night, tonight.

LEMON: There's a massacre?

GEBRIL: There's a massacre on the streets of the Tripoli. They say that the mercenaries have been unleashed to the streets of Tripoli.

VAUSE: This is the second time we've heard of mercenaries, soldiers from outside of Libya.

LEMON: Who's telling you this? Is it your family or...

GEBRIL: My family and my friends that we are in contact with. And many, many other reports coming to us, coming to everybody.

VAUSE: I guess my question is, how widespread is this? Is this across the entire country or is it just concentrated in certain cities?

GEBRIL: You remember it started in Benghazi.


GEBRIL: And within a few days, it was all over the east part of Libya. And the last 48 hours or 72 hours, it spread to the west. And now, literally, almost every city and town, Libya is revolting.

LEMON: Ali, we have had so many people on from Libya, and maybe some of the people you spoke to, maybe some of your family members, they are saying the same thing. They don't believe anything Moammar Gadhafi's son said today. He blamed, you know, marauders, people using drugs. He blamed media. He said it was outside forces coming in. Is there a lesson missed here by Moammar Gadhafi and his son?

GEBRIL: Obviously there is. He did a worse job than Ben-Halim, when he tried to pacify the people. What Saif to the Islamists he was saying I don't think there is a truth in it.

There is another couple of things about his speech. Number one, it doesn't seem to be alive and it seems to be a decoy thing, so that they made people to wait four or five hours that night so that nobody is leaving the house, going to the streets, waiting for the speech.

And the speech itself seems to have been recorded either earlier on the day or the day before. And it doesn't reflect any governing. It doesn't reflect any people in position to address people or to direct people.

LEMON: Now we just heard from Sayyid Idris, who is a member of the former ruling family of Libya, he's convinced that Moammar Gadhafi's days are numbered. Do you agree?

GEBRIL: The era of Moammar Gadhafi, my understanding, based on all of this, is over. The era is going to be...

VAUSE: Days? Weeks?

GEBRIL: I cannot predict.

LEMON: That's what I want to ask you, because even Fran Townsend, the former adviser, Homeland Security Adviser said, you know what, we haven't seen anything. There's no precedent for anything like this.

So, I want to know from people who are there, because I'm sure they're talking to you about this, is there a direct link between Egypt and Tunisia and people saying, you know, Moammar Gadhafi is not going anywhere, this is nothing like that. But I want you to hold that thought and we're going to get the answer to that after the break. We're back with our special coverage here in just moments.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is our special coverage tonight of the uprising in Libya.

VAUSE: And what we're looking at right now is essentially breakfast television on state-run TV in Libya. This is what they're watching right now. It's coming up to about 8 minutes before 6:00 in the morning there. So, state-run TV, of course, not covering the uprising. You see fireworks there and anything other than the unrest that the rest of the world has been watching on the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli.

LEMON: You certainly wouldn't know..

VAUSE: No. Unbelievable.

LEMON:...that there was unrest there by looking at those pictures.


LEMON: Let's bring back in a Libyan-American who has been living in this country, in America, for 30 years.

I asked you about a direct connection, a direct link between Egypt and Tunisia and other unrest in that area of the world. People were saying, you know, before that other leaders wouldn't go and they did. So, what do you make of this? Is there...

GEBRIL: Remember last Saturday, Don, you asked me a similar question. I said there would be an implication. There would be an effect of what happened in Egypt on the psychology of the people in Libya. There are 42 reasons for the Libyans to do what Egyptians did. There are 42 years of not living in freedom. So, they demanded their freedom and they saw the others are doing it and they told themselves, we can do it.

LEMON: Do you think Gadhafi will go?

GEBRIL: I have no doubt about that.

LEMON: And you heard it. Thank you.


LEMON: Ali Gebril, we appreciate it again.

And coming up, it's coming up on 6:00 a.m. in Libya, the dawn of a new day. Well, what might happen over these next few hours, that's the question.

VAUSE: Yes. I want to go back live to the region for our special report on the unrest in Libya. It continues. Stay with us. We're back on the other side.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Policymakers at the Fed are predicting an even bigger jump in economic growth for 2011. That's compared to expectations from just a few months ago. They project the nation's growth domestic product will be an estimated 3.4. to 3.9 percent higher this year, mainly due to strong numbers on production and spending.

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That's this week's "Getting Down to Business." Stephanie Elam, CNN, New York.


LEMON: In recent weeks, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi has seen governments topple to his east and his west, in Egypt and Tunisia.

VAUSE: And now he's trying to stop that unrest from spreading across his own country. Fionnuala Sweeney joins us now live in Cairo.

And, Fionnuala, we've been talking about a lot of the similarities between Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, but there's a lot of differences as well when it comes to the uprising there.

FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the primary one between Egypt and Libya is, of course, but here in Cairo, it was a peaceful demonstration, essentially apart from the attacks on the protesters by the military or the police earlier on in the demonstrations but essentially, it was a peaceful revolution. This is not what is taking place in Libya.

Secondly, there was a strong opposition movement that had been building and building over the last eight years. And then the revolt was led by the young. And it galvanized the whole of Egypt, so the majority of the people, even ordinary families took to the streets when they saw what the youth were doing.

In Libya, also is there the youth leading the protests to a certain degree, but it's much more spontaneous. And according to people we're talking to such as Human Rights Watch, because of preemptive arrests that were made earlier in the week by the Libyan regime, it's actually even more brave on the part of the Libyan people to take to the streets given the danger that they know they face.

LEMON: Hearing all of that, Fionnuala, there are people who will say that they believe Gadhafi will go but the question is, how many people will he take down before he decides to leave or he is pushed out?

SWEENEY: Well, this is the great imponderable and anybody I have spoken to in the last week who knows Libya well says that the army, of course, like Egypt, is a factor, what role will they play

Interestingly in his speech, Saif Gadhafi a few hours ago said everyone has his side of the story and Saif Gadhafi's side of the story, when it comes to casualties, is that only 14 people were killed in Benghazi and some 48 in total around the country. And that does not correspond at all with the figures that we have been collating over the last few days.

Remember, it's very difficult to get through. We've been trying to call Tripoli within the last half hour. The line is down there but what we have managed to ascertain at least late yesterday afternoon, of course, Sunday, where it is still in the United States, was that something like 229 people have been killed in Libya, the vast majority of them in Benghazi.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Fionnuala Sweeney reporting from Cairo, Egypt.

I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Thank you so much for watching.

VAUSE: Yes. I'm John Vause from CNN International. Stay with CNN wherever you are for the very latest developments on the unrest in Libya and other nations in the Middle East. Good night.

LEMON: Good night.