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Hunting A Dictator; The Libyan Refugee Crisis; Steve Jobs Steps Down; Rebels Storm Notorious Tripoli Prison; Rumors Flying About Gadhafi Whereabouts; Life Beginning to Return to Normal in Tripoli; Situation Desperate in Libyan Hospitals; NATO's Role in Hunt for Gadhafi; UN to Release Libyan Assets; Where in the World is Moammar Gadhafi? Concerns About Transitional Council; Hurricane Irene Slams Bahamas; US Braces for Irene; Airport Cancellations Expected in Many Major US Coastal Cities

Aired August 25, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Hunting a dictator -- rebel forces clash with loyalists in Tripoli. But as the fierce fight continues, the Libyan leader is still on the run.

Surveying the carnage -- CNN finds evidence of brutal violence inside Gadhafi's compound.

Tonight, as the rebels defend one of their most valuable positions, the head of NATO tells me how his forces are helping hunt Gadhafi down.

These stories and more tonight, as we connect the world.

Well, we keep hearing that Moammar Gadhafi's days are numbered. But this hour, the Libyan leader is nowhere to be found. With gunmen combing the streets of Tripoli for signs of the former leader, a rebel commander has told CNN that they believe he's holed up in buildings close to his compound.

Well, as the search continued, this...


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator):

Do not leave Tripoli for the rats. Do not leave them. Fight them. Destroy them. You are the overwhelming majority. You have marched in millions. March with the same millions, but fight this time. Fill the streets and the fields.


ANDERSON: We don't know where or when that audio message was recorded. What is clear, though, is that some loyalists are refusing to give up, leading to pitched battles on the streets of the Libyan capital. And to the south of the city, forces loyal to Colonel Gadhafi have shelled the airport, destroying an empty passenger plane.

Arwa Damon is the only Western correspondent at the airport, in the heart of what is, Arwa, still a pretty fierce firefight, I believe.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Becky. I mean this location has been pounded for hours. Artillery, Grad rockets, that plane on fire on the tarmac. On the tarmac we just heard a series of explosions, as well. And a lot of that is coming from the east. The rebels who are here believe that Gadhafi loyalists are trying to keep them pinned down in the defense of this airport while simultaneously destroying as much infrastructure as they possibly can.

That being said, the rebel fighters did manage to reach Gadhafi's farm. That's located around 15 minutes away. There was a fierce firefight there, as well. One rebel was killed. They're still trying to go through and clear that area. But they have brought back some trophies. These two golf carts that they say belonged to Gadhafi. One of the rebel commanders remembering an instance where he saw on television Gadhafi stepping out of one of them, opening an umbrella and delivering one of his infamous speeches. And the mobile home parked in the back.

And here's a look at what we found inside when we were filming earlier.


DAMON: Well, the airport got pounded well into the night yesterday. It's calmed down a bit, although there's still sporadic increasing rounds. And the rebels just showed up with this mobile home that they say they got off of Gadhafi's farm, that is located around 15 minutes away. They have managed to push up into these areas. So they're gaining a little bit of ground there.

They say that they're pretty confident that this is his because they recognize it. They're all very happy about this. They've managed to push into around a quarter of this massive sprawling farm, they're telling us. You can see they're now here enjoying it for all -- for all they can.

They say that it gave them a glimpse into the life of luxury that Gadhafi was living while they, they say, were all continuing to suffer. And what we see moving through here is that appears as if it's -- some of the kitchen items have been packed away and also there's a bed in back here that is made up, ready. There's some bathroom products, toothpaste, feminine creams. And then there is a very nice luxurious seating area to the back.

Now, the rebels were telling us that they did encounter some resistance as they entered the farmland. They say that they detained some individuals. A number of them got away.

And so they're combing through this very slowly. And as they were cycling through here, they had actually just earlier pulled out a gas mask that they say they found in the back of -- of this caravan.


DAMON: And they're still trying to comb through that compound to be able to fully secure it. But we're still continuing to hear the sounds of explosions here at this location. The Gadhafi loyalists most definitely still out there, still controlling the east and still forcing the rebels to focus a lot of their efforts on defending this critical location -- Becky.

ANDERSON: And Arwa -- Arwa, do you think that is still because there are certainly rumors still that Gadhafi could be in the area of the airport. A lot of this, of course, is rumor and conjecture.

But is the sense still, from the rebels, that he could be in or around the airport area?

DAMON: Yes, Becky, it is, because they say that they're still surprised at the ferocity of the attacks. And these are not attacks that are just coming from a single direction. Oftentimes, we see simultaneous attacks launched from multiple directions.

And they say that they believe that the loyalists were out there trying to protect something or someone. And they do believe that it possibly could be Gadhafi. But they're to make sure that these areas to the east of -- of the airport continue to remain in loyalist hands so that that potential escape route still remains open.

ANDERSON: Arwa, thank you for that.

More of Arwa's reporting as we move through this hour.

You're going to get a sense during this hour of just where these pockets of resistance, as it were, still are in and across Tripoli.

But today, the human toll from that battle at the compound was all too apparent.

Dan Rivers took a tour of Gadhafi's former compound.

What he found there is disturbing, and, I've got to tell you, difficult to watch -- bodies of what appear to be prisoners tied up and executed.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So this is the House of Resistance, a potent symbol of Gadhafi's stand against the West, that has now been completely overrun by his enemies.

It's difficult to tell what has been destroyed recently and what was left as a monument to -- to the (INAUDIBLE). But you can see everywhere here, there are these huge rounds, which we think are coming from the anti- aircraft guns that they've mounted on the back of pickup trucks. And .34 mil, maybe, so -- that's what we're being told. But you can imagine how much damage these do.

So we've been brought here to an intersection where there are just lots of rotting bodies, which is -- is awful to see and -- and smell. Their hands have been bound. I counted 12 bodies here. I can't (INAUDIBLE) much beyond just this small area, because it's a really grim scene and -- and just redolent of how fierce the fighting was here. We don't know what happened to these people, whether they were killed by the rebels or -- or what.

But you can see, it looks like their -- some of their hands are bound anyway, because they were -- they were prisoners or something.



ANDERSON: That's pretty bad stuff, isn't it?

Well, with little food and water and no electricity, life is, at times, difficult, as you can imagine, in Tripoli, at other times simply terrifying.

Lindsey Hilsum visited a neighborhood to the north of Gadhafi's compound and she filed this report for you.


LINDSEY HILSUM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The war is still within sight of Tripoli's Mansoura District. And what happened here will never be forgotten. A local computer engineer, Abdul Hamid (ph), showed me where Colonel Gadhafi's neighborhood thugs had their headquarters.

(on camera): There's a big picture of Gadhafi here...


HILSUM: It's now gone.

(voice-over): It was a place everyone feared.


HILSUM: Decorated in the "Brother Leader's" favorite green, it's a monument to his eccentricity and to the brutality of his rule.

Just outside, we found a group of young men who had watched in horror last Saturday, as three people carrying the new Libyan flag had approached the Gadhafi checkpoint.

ANAS MOHAMMED BANI(through translator): The militiamen stopped them and kicked them to the ground. The people in the flats opposite called out, "Why are you doing that to Libyans?"

They said: "If you don't like Gadhafi, we'll do the same to you. Watch us."

HILSUM: The bus shelter bears the marks of what happened next. All three were shot in the head and left to die on the street.

Next door was another Gadhafi stronghold where his followers would gather -- a place to avoid in normal times and even more so recently.

(on camera): This was supposed to be a sports center, but it seems that Gadhafi's people used it for something much more sinister. There's a patch of blood on the ground here and a terrible smell. The local men say there was a refrigerated truck here and they found more than 10 bodies inside.

(voice-over): We went to the flat of the El Goula family. Two sons are still missing. Two have returned from a horrific ordeal. Arrested last Saturday night, they were interrogated for three days, but then released by Gadhafi's soldiers.

Munir's story is almost too raw to relate.

MUNIR EL GOULA, MANSOURA RESIDENT (through translator): When they opened the gate, mercenaries came and pushed the soldiers back into the jail. They shot an old man in the leg. I didn't think they would kill us, but the mercenaries entered the jail and shot the prisoners in the legs. One took a grenade and threw it in. Five times they opened the door, shot inside and threw a grenade. A lot of people died. My brother Abdullah was behind me.

HILSUM: He says somehow he escaped, but believes 20 soldiers and more than 100 prisoners were killed.

The local mosque has become the center for a new kind of neighborhood rule. They're trying to establish law and order. The computer engineer, Abdul Hamid, showed us stolen goods they've taken from looters and the weapons licenses the mosque committee issues to men on roadblocks.

It won't take too long to clear up the physical scars in Mansoura. The mental scars will take much longer.

Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News, Tripoli.


ANDERSON: A sense of just how difficult things are in the Libyan capital.

Let me just tell you this. According to a Reuters report, rebels in Tripoli have uncovered a stash of food and medicine that was hoarded by the Gadhafi regime. Do remember that the hospitals have got absolutely nothing. They are dying for things at the moment.

The National Transitional Council says they found enough food to feed a city twice the size of the Libyan and enough medicine for the entire country for a year.

Well, Abdel Bari Atwan is the editor of the London-based "Al-Quds" newspaper.

And he's met Colonel Gadhafi twice.

With that sort of stash, this isn't a man who thought his time was up.

ABDEL BARI ATWAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "AL-QUDS," AL-ARABIA: No. He was planning that he would last forever. This man will never give up and he believes he is the king of the kings and he is eternal. So I'm not surprised that he, you know, store all these foods and things.

ANDERSON: He's on the run tonight. You've met him a couple of times and you've heard yet another audio message purportedly being from him tonight.

Let's get inside his head.

What's the thinking at this point?

ATWAN: He's thinking of being another Osama bin Laden. This man is brutal. He is full of revenge. He wouldn't give up easily. If he survives, he will be more dangerous than, you know, come two months ago or two weeks ago.

Yes, now he -- he feels he's defeated and he wants to take revenge.

ANDERSON: Where will he get his support in the future, if he were to escape at this point?

ATWAN: Yes. Actually, definitely, he was in power for 42 years. He has a tribal base. Definitely, people who were deposed with him will rally around him. We don't know what will happen, how Libya will look, you know, the post-Gadhafi era.

Also, personally, I would not be surprised if he struck a deal with al Qaeda.


ATWAN: Really. I -- I wouldn't be surprised at all. His son, actually, when he gave an interview to "The New York Times," he said, you know, I am talking to the radical Islamists. I'm talking...

ANDERSON: So it's Saif you're talking about?

ATWAN: Right. Yes. To -- to fight together the West, the need to.

So maybe -- maybe, you know, he will try to do that, if he can. If he survives. There's a big if here. He's very, very dangerous.

You remember that he want -- he maintained very good relations with a network of violent terrorist organizations all over the world. And also, he is sitting on a pile of cash -- billions of dollars and euros. And if we found all this food and medicine, definitely, we have -- he managed to store a lot of cash.

So he will use this cash in a way or another to finance certain terrorist organizations, whether inside Libya or outside Libya. Just a few -- a few days ago, the Tunisians unfold a plot to blow up the Qatar embassy in Tunis.

So the man is -- is really lethal and -- and dangerous.

ANDERSON: That's Moammar Gadhafi, who is, as we said, on the run tonight.

We've just shown two reports subsequent to Arwa's there, which was about the fierce battle still at the airport.

Dan Rivers reporting from the compound. And what we saw is pretty disturbing stuff.

ATWAN: Oh, yes. Definitely. But, you know, what amazed me, how he managed to deceive everybody, giving indications that he was with his family in the compound. And suddenly, you know, when the rebels entered the compound, they found nothing. None of his family, not -- none of his sons.

How he managed to disappear. This is a very big question. And this is really a security bad tactic from -- from the rebels, from -- from even the NATO. This man should be actually monitored, monitored very well.

So, but, you know, I found that -- I found the compound was very modest, to be honest, very humble, you know, in comparison with other leaders' palaces, Saddam Hussein's places. You know, the -- the compound was -- was really very, very basic.

ANDERSON: Well, there was the bodies that you saw in Dan's report, which really -- I mean it blows your mind.


ANDERSON: We're going to come back to you, so stay with us. You're with us through the hour.

You are, of course, watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

As Gadhafi remains on the run, what's NATO doing to help track him down?

Well, earlier today, I put that to the man in charge of the alliance, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Hear what he had to say in just 20 minutes from now. It might surprise you.

Stay with us for the latest as the battle continues for full control, of course, of Tripoli.

Ahead on the show, there's a promise of a new beginning for Libya.

But what does the future hold for those displaced in the months of unrest?

We're going to speak to the U.N. high commissioner for refugees for you. That is, of course, Antonio Gutteres.

That next here on CNN.


ANDERSON: All right. Welcome back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

Eighteen minutes past 9:00 now.

In a show of defiance, Moammar Gadhafi tells his supporters to keep fighting -- a message said to be by the Libyan leader has been aired on a radio station in Libya hours ago. There's no proof that it is him or that it was recorded recently.

Well, on the streets of Tripoli, the rebels still searching for Gadhafi. Earlier, they said he may be holed up near his compound. But nothing as of yet has come of that.

Well, Libya is preparing, of course, for a new government, a new beginning. But many Libyans are still concerned for their own and their families' safety.

Over a million people have fled the country over the last six months. More than half of those crossing into Tunisia, refugees, migrant workers and asylum seekers, as well as Libyans themselves.

From the east, around 300,000 people have sought safety in Egypt.

And then there are those who have risked their lives fleeing by sea to the island -- the Italian island of Lampedusa.

More than 200,000 people are displaced within Libya itself.

Joining me now is Antonio Gutteres, a regular on this show.

In a way, I'm sorry to say, I said to you earlier on, the other day, if you've got nothing to do, it would be a great day, sir. Of course, the high commissioner for refugees. His office working to help those displaced in the recent uprisings, of course.

At this point, what are your greatest concerns?

ANTONIO GUTTERES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: Our greatest concern now in Tripoli is with the refugees and other foreigners trapped inside Tripoli, namely the Africans. Yesterday, our team was on the phone with several refugees in Tripoli. I myself spoke with a few of them. And the message that was conveyed was a message of -- of great, great, great despair. They were trapped. They couldn't leave. Some of them were harassed. Some of them was threatened because there was this confusion about mercenaries.

And it's important to say that there are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Africans in Libya that have nothing to do with mercenaries. They were innocent people, workers. And they feel now in a desperate situation, with a lack of water, a lack of access to services in very dramatic conditions.

ANDERSON: You and I talked on the border between Libya and Tunisia, what was it, in the middle of March, toward the end of March. We were talking about this story then. And that was when people, of course, were flooding over the border. You say there are still migrant workers left -- often undocumented, of course -- in Tripoli.

How many people are we talking about at this stage, because this -- we have to remind our viewers, you know, Tripoli and Libya were sort of kept alive, to a certain extent, by these migrant populations. There were an enormous amount of people, non-Libyans working in Libya before the start of this.

GUTTERES: I think nobody knows exactly how many they are. As you rightly said, more than 100,000 to one -- 1,200,000 left the country. And -- and we hope, together with the organization of International Migration to move many of them back home.

But I just recently saw that only Egyptians, there might be 200,000 in -- in Tripoli. So the number of foreigners still in Tripoli is, by sure, in the hundreds of thousands.

ANDERSON: We've seen the numbers of refugees and IVPs across the Middle East caused by this turmoil in the spring, increasing at this alarming rate.

What are the implications of that?

GUTTERES: Well, I think for Libya, looking for Libya, I think there are two implications. First of all, the suffering of the people. But, second, these people will be necessary for the reconstruction of Libya. So I think it's very important -- and this is -- I draw the attention of the - - of the the Transitional Council to make sure that these people now, that the opposition is taking power in the country, that these people is taken care of, that these people is respected, because they will be essential for the reconstruction of the country.

ANDERSON: And you're talking about those who are still in place in Libya.

Antonio, those that you've spoken to and your organization has spoken to who have fled, how many of those do you think would be prepared to go back?

How many are desperate to go back?

I mean many of those I met on the border in Tunisia who had just moved out of the country, they didn't want to go home. Many of the Bangladeshis didn't want to go home. They were, you know, they were supporting their families through the work that they had in Libya.

Are you confident that people will be prepared to go back into Libya as migrant workers to help with this reconstruction?

GUTTERES: Well, if there's peace, if there's stability, if there is - - if they can feel confident that they will be able to live well in Libya, I think many will be ready to go back. They went into unemployment in their countries. You see the levels of unemployment in Tunisia, in Egypt, I'm sure in Bangladesh or in many of the countries where these people went back home, in Chad, in Mali. And the -- many of these countries are either very poor countries or in very difficult economic situations.

So I do believe that a free Libya, a democratic Libya and a stable Libya will be able to attract back many, many of these people. And I think they will be necessary for the reconstruction of the country.

ANDERSON: It's always a pleasure.

Thank you very much, indeed, for coming in.

GUTTERES: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Antonio Gutteres, the head of the UNHCR for you.

Well, You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

We're going to return to our coverage of Libya shortly.

First, though, the end of an era -- Apple chief, Steve Jobs, steps aside.

What does that mean for the future of this iconic company?

That story in just about two minutes for you.

And then the hunt for Gadhafi and how NATO is involved. That coming up.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry to hear it because he was so great for the company. He's so creative, so innovative. He did fantastic, revolutionary things. I'm so sad to hear it. I hope his health is good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My immediate reaction is that I -- I'm glad I'm not owning Apple stock tonight.


ANDERSON: Some shocked reaction on the streets there.

But Apple's share prices actually held relatively firm following that news that Steve Jobs is standing down as the company's chief exec, staying, of course, as chairman.

The stock initially fell 5 percent or so. It's largely recovered and was down around .6 of 1 percent at the close today in New York, an indication, perhaps, that investors are confident that Jobs, who, as I say, is staying on as chairman, has steered Apple onto a fruitful path.

Dan Simon traces his ground-breaking steps for you.


STEVE JOBS, FORMER CEO OF APPLE: Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been called a modern- day Thomas Edison.

JOBS: You can do multi-finger gestures on it and boy have we patented it.


SIMON: Others have tried to emulate his style...

JOBS: Amazing.

SIMON: But rarely with the same success. The Apple story is well known -- two kids in the garage, Jobs and Steve Wozniak, launch a company that would change the world.

JOBS: We worked hard. And in 10 years, Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees.

SIMON: In 1984, Jobs introduced the Macintosh, the first mainstream computer with a mouse and the first with multiple fonts. But sales were sluggish and there were internal divisions in the company. Jobs was forced out.

His second act, a decade later, is considered one of the greatest CEO tenures of all time.

JOBS: It's called the iPod Touch.

SIMON: Jobs brought us the iconic iPod and, of course, a string of other life-changing technologies, like the iPhone and iPad.

For a few years now, Jobs has looked thin and frail. His health problems, including a bout with pancreatic cancer, are well known. And two years ago, he had a liver transplant.

In his letter to the Apple board, Jobs writes, "I have always said if there is ever a time when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple's CEO, I would be the first you know. Unfortunately, that day has come."

TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: And we have computers like the iMac.

SIMON: As new CEO, Tim Cook, takes the reigns, he inherits a company that has never been stronger, more influential or profitable. Jobs will become chairman of the board while the company he started enters a new phase.


ANDERSON: Yes it does, with a new face in charge, as you just heard.

Tim Cook is his name. He's a familiar face at Apple, having been with the company for more than 13 years, employed initially to oversee the manufacture of Apple's computers.

Since 2005, Cook has been the company's chief financial officer. And he's been at the helm of Apple before stepping into the role each time that Steve Jobs has taken medical leave.

Well, you're bang up to date on that story.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from London.

I'm Becky Anderson.

Just before half past 9:00.

Are we entering the final hours of the Libya conflict?

Well, we've been saying that for some hours now.

But NATO, though, thinks it's possible. We're going to speak to the secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, after this short break.

Don't go away.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: You've back with CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN, the world's news leader. Let's get you a check of the headlines this hour.

As Libyan rebels roamed the streets of Tripoli for signs of Moammar Gadhafi, a new audio message purported to be from the Libyan leader has urged his supporters not to surrender control of the city.

Rebel forces defend one of their most valuable positions, that being the international airport in Tripoli. Gadhafi supporters continue shelling the strategic site, but the rebels say at this stage, at least, they are in control.

Four Italian journalists are now free a day after they were abducted. A spokesman for Italy's foreign ministry says they were saved by two Libyans. It's not clear who carried out the kidnapping on Wednesday.

And parts of the United States are bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene as it roars towards the East Coast. You can see it there. The Category 3 storm is still battering the Bahamas, and it's expected to hit North Carolina on Saturday and make it as far as New York on Sunday.

All right. Well, some new video has emerged from Libya of rebels apparently releasing people from Tripoli's notorious Abu Salim prison. Reuters reporting that opposition fighters stormed the prison after a NATO airstrike on a building nearby.

It's not known exactly how many people were in the prison. Some reports of hundreds of people, though, were freed. CNN at this point unable to independently verify what you are seeing here on your screen.

Well, earlier this Thursday, the Libyan rebels said they had Moammar Gadhafi and his sons surrounded. Let's go to Sara Sidner in Tripoli for the very latest.

They hoped they did, but it seems they didn't at this point, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that the one thing we all have to keep in mind is that rumors are absolutely flying about where Moammar Gadhafi and his family and close allies are at this point in time, and we have to be very, very careful about the information we're getting.

Basically, what we're doing is we're keeping away from reporting every single rumor that's out there, because there are so many, and concentrating on the fact that if and when Moammar Gadhafi is captured or found by the rebels, we will know it.

There will be no question about where he is, because I'm sure that they will make it very public that they have either captured or killed Moammar Gadhafi or his close allies or family.

And so, it is one of those situations where rumors are going wild, people are speculating about where he is, exactly. There's a lot of different ideas about exactly where that family is.

We have to keep in mind that at one point, they said that Saif al- Islam, his son, had been detained. That was an official statement by the National Transitional Council. It turned out not to be true.

Saif showed up a couple of days ago at the Rixos Hotel when the journalists were still inside and spoke with our Matthew Chance who was there, and so we really need to be careful about these rumors because the truth is, right now, they're just rumors.

I think when Moammar Gadhafi is found, we will all know it. Becky?

ANDERSON: Yes, all right. Sara, you make a very good point. Let's just get you to step back for a moment. Saturday, Sunday we saw the rebels on their way into Tripoli, something I'm sure Moammar Gadhafi's family couldn't believe.

We saw your reporting at the beginning of the week from the compound as it was invaded. We've seen Dan Rivers' shots tonight, which have been quite difficult to see, dead bodies on the ground inside that compound after the firefight that you reported on earlier on this week.

When you step back, Sara, is there any sense that life in Tripoli is beginning to become anything like normal again?

SIDNER: Yes. And it's hard to say that when you know that there's really a -- this is a tale of two cities within one city, right now. Some neighborhoods, fighting still going on.

But today, Becky, was the very first day when we drove down Gargaresh, which is the main street, the main drag that goes down into Martyr Square, that road, for the first time, we saw people opening their shops.

And I have to tell you, I was actually a little surprised, because it's the first time we've seen shops that were not shuttered. We saw people selling bread in one shop, they saw a shoe store that had opened up.

You could finally see people trying to clean up a little bit, sweeping around their little neighborhoods and their little areas. But it is far and few between, I might add. I've only seen three shops open on this day.

But it is one of those things where you suddenly see people becoming more comfortable in part of the city, trying to get back to their daily routine.

And I think it's a good thing for the citizens of this capital to try to feel like, OK, wait, I don't have to stockpile things, I don't have to lock myself in my home. You're starting to see people come out more and more, Becky.

ANDERSON: Which is fantastic to hear. I do, though, want to highlight the humanitarian situation, particularly that at the hospitals, which I know is absolutely desperate. What can you tell us about what is needed at this point in Tripoli?

SIDNER: Yes, I think the difficulty is is that when you have a situation where they're already strapped, and then all of a sudden, they just have loads and loads of patients coming in. We know this has been a deadly conflict. It continues to be one.

This is -- when you see the celebratory gunfire, you -- it's very easy to forget, people are smiling, they're blasting in the air, there's a sense of excitement. But it's easy to forget the fact that are a lot of people who have been killed.

There are civilians who have been caught in the crossfire. There has been snipers who have take people out.

So, there is a desperate situation in hospitals, they have told us in hospitals not just here in Tripoli, but in other parts of the country that they are desperate for staff, they are desperate for supplies.

People are working around the clock. You have Medicins Sans Frontiers that have been volunteering in hospitals around the country, a situation that is not going to alleviate unless there is more coming into this country.

But the good thing is is that people are here and they're trying to deal with the situation. The bad thing is, they don't have everything they need to do it, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes. And to just back you up, I've seen estimates of the death toll over the last six months seesaw between some 9,000 and 15,000, of course. And as you say, the casualties continue to come in. Sara, thank you for that. Sara Sidner is in Tripoli for you this evening.

Earlier, I spoke to the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, for you, and asked him what kind of help, given that we know that the ultimate prize is still out there, that being Moammar Gadhafi, I've asked him what kind of help NATO were giving the rebels in their hunt for Gadhafi. This is what he said.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, SECRETARY GENERAL, NATO: For security reasons, we don't comment on intelligence and operational details, but I can tell you that of course we continue to monitor the situation closely and we continue to conduct intelligence and reconnaissance operations with the aim to protect civilians.

ANDERSON: But if you were specifically giving intelligence and reconnaissance information to the rebels as they try to hunt down Moammar Gadhafi, surely, Sir, that would be outside your remit.

RASMUSSEN: I can assure you that we conduct our operations in strict conformity with the UN mandate. We continue to monitor the situation, we continue our intelligence and reconnaissance operations. And of course, we do all we can to make sure that we avoid civilian casualties.

ANDERSON: So, if NATO knew where Moammar Gadhafi was, would that be a target, a legitimate target for you, or would that have to wait to become a target for the rebels?

RASMUSSEN: Individuals are not targets of our operation. But of course, command control centers can be legitimate targets if they are used to plan and organize attacks against civilians. And in that case, they will be hit by our airstrikes.

ANDERSON: So you could conceive of Moammar Gadhafi becoming a target for NATO?

RASMUSSEN: Individuals do not constitute a target within our operation, but if necessary, we will take out command and control centers to protect civilians against attack.

ANDERSON: How do you respond to concerns from South Africa over the past 24 hours that NATO could be responsible for the death of civilians on the ground? The deputy prime minister there has gone so far as to say there are clear links and coordination between NATO and Libyan rebels, the hints being that the ICC itself should be looking to investigate NATO commanders on the ground.

RASMUSSEN: I clearly denounce these allegations. I can assure you that we have conducted and we will continue to conduct our operations in strict conformity with the UN mandate, and that is to protect civilians against attacks.

And the fact is that since we took responsibility for this operation, we have carried out more than 20,000 sorties, more than 8,000 airstrikes. We have taken out more than 5,000 military units that could be used to attack civilians and, so far, we have no confirmed information that we have caused civilian casualties. And that's a great success.

ANDERSON: And just how much longer do you believe NATO will be needed in Libya?

RASMUSSEN: We will continue our operation as long as necessary to protect civilians against attacks. Hopefully we are in the very, very final phase of this operation, but we want to make sure that we fully implement the UN mandate, so we will continue our operation until no threat against the civilian population in Libya exists.

ANDERSON: And that could be days, weeks, or even months at this point, could it?

RASMUSSEN: Well, you never know. We are committed to this operation, and we will see it through to a successful end, but personally I do believe that we are in the very final hours or days of this.


ANDERSON: Not going to be any more specific with us, though, than that. That, the head of NATO.

Well, we just learned that the United Nations Security Council has actually agreed to release $1.5 billion of seized Libyan assets for emergency aid. The NTC has been absolutely dying for this money. Richard Roth monitoring the situation from the UN, and he joins us now live.

There was some confusion as to whether they would actually be able to release this money anytime soon, Richard, so what's the latest?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT: Without getting too technical, especially considering the UN, eventually, probably later tonight New York time, UN sanctions committee is going to release $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid designed to help the Libyan people get some sort of early stability back in the next few days and weeks ahead.

The nation of South Africa had put a hold on the money, concern that the National Transitional Council in Libya, the winning side, as it appears, was going to get the money. There were historic loyalties and connections between the Gadhafi regime and the ANC in South Africa.

There were also some disagreements whether the African Union should have been consulted more before the war started. And even now, the AU has a meeting.

But basically, after some last-minute drama here with the US and others threatening a Security Council vote to override the South African objections, diplomats have told us, in effect, there will be a deal made and it will involve maybe a re-writing of the language so that there's less of a stress on the NTC, and that the money will indeed go to the Libyan people.

But it'll be all worked out within the next few hours, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, but how they do that without any institutions, of course, remains to be seen at the moment.

Richard Roth at the United Nations, though, with the very latest. $1.5 billion in frozen assets being released by the UN Security Council to the Libyans in order that they might start, at least, with their plans of stabilization and a new future.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN, I'm Becky Anderson in London. When we come back, they've raised the stakes with an incredible bounty, but will it help the rebels find their elusive target? We'll take a look at where Moammar Gadhafi might be after this.


ANDERSON: Well, it's the $1.4 million question. Where is Moammar Gadhafi?





ANDERSON: Rebels in Libya name their price for his capture or death. Some opposition fighters thought they had surrounded him on Thursday in a cluster of buildings near his compound. They haven't turned him up, but that certainly doesn't stop the rumor and conjecture.

Speculation rife there are several towns that are potential hiding places if he could reach them. Let's take a quick look for you.

A reminder that Sirte is just under 400 kilometers southeast of Tripoli. Gadhafi was born there and tonight, a pro-Gadhafi television station reporting that NATO planes are actually bombing the town.

Look again, though, at Sirte in relation to Tripoli. Right in between is the city of Misrata, which is held by rebel forces. It would be extremely difficult for Gadhafi to both escape Tripoli and pass through Misrata. We are even hearing tribal leaders may be negotiating a surrender to the opposition.

Well now, another city, Gadhafi's former aid says could offer shelter is about 600 kilometers south of Tripoli. It's Sabha, another traditional center of support for him. A rebel spokesman has said his forces here are fighting foreign mercenaries who could be protecting him as he makes a final stand in this stronghold.

Elusive, but apparently not absent, at least if the audio recordings are to be believed. Let's bring in our special guest tonight, a friend of this show, Abdel Bari Atwan, who's met Colonel Gadhafi a couple of times.

I was alluding very briefly, let's talk about it, to the audio message that we have heard tonight. What have we learned, if anything?

ABDEL BARI ATWAN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, AL-QUDS AL-ARABI: We have learned that he's, as I said, he is imitating Osama bin Laden. In the future, we will wait for Gadhafi tapes or video tapes exactly like when we used to wait for Osama bin Laden tapes. This is one thing.

Second thing, he would like to spoil the show, the victory, the celebration, for the new regime in Libya. You have noticed that there is no celebration. Tripoli -- the fall of Tripoli is a historical moment. The Libyans should celebrate.

So, the man actually is planning his acts very, very well, and I'm not surprised by that. He managed to outfox everybody. When they stormed al- Aziziya compound, he wasn't there. None of his sons were there.

So, where is he? I'll tell you, he's not in my house in Chiswick, anyway. But definitely he -- again, he will imitate the same steps of Saddam Hussein and also Osama bin Laden. Maybe he is in a big city, maybe in Tripoli itself.

ANDERSON: Sara Sidner, one of our key reporters in Tripoli making a very good point tonight. Frankly, until he's caught, and we will know when he's caught --


ANDERSON: -- we should probably not buy into all of this rumor and conjecture, because it really probably does nobody any good. I want to move on this evening. $1.5 billion in assets going to be unfreed -- or freed up by the UN Security Council without any vote, I've got to say.

These are frozen assets, of course, that are owned by the Libyans, ultimately. There's about $189 billion of them around the world. This is a start, at least, isn't it?

ATWAN: It is a huge start, because if the new regime cannot pay the salaries, if they cannot actually make the services, hospitals, schools, roads, working, it will be a disaster for them.

Gadhafi, as I said, he threw the burden of running a country on the shoulders of the rebels. They are completely bankrupt. They don't have any money, so they need this money in order to make the country work.

ANDERSON: The concerns, though, are that you've got an interim government here who are based in Benghazi. They promised that it would get down to Tripoli in the next -- in the past 48 hours, I've seen no evidence of that actually yet.

And this is an organization that has actually bee quite divided of late.


ANDERSON: It also has no institutions at this point to run -- to funnel this money through. So there will be a concern from the international community about unfreezing much more of this money before they get their act together.

ATWAN: Becky, you're absolutely right. And on top of that, they don't have experience to run a state. That's the biggest challenge. They need, actually, to -- to depend on the expertise of, maybe, NATO, foreign countries, France, Britain.

None of them actually have been employed as a minister or as an executive before to run a huge country like Libya, a divided country like Libya.

The other thing is, there is no unity among the rebel forces, rebel factions. You have two camps here. The liberal, secular camps and the, actually, Islamic fundamentalist camp, which is huge. Which is --

ANDERSON: How big is that?

ATWAN: Well, actually, the estimates, as I know, they represent maybe 70 or maybe 80 percent of the number of the rebels, and there are extremely strong --


ANDERSON: Really, I mean that surprises --

ATWAN: -- and some of them are very -- yes.

ANDERSON: That would surprise me.


ANDERSON: Because I've heard -- I haven't heard that from --


ANDERSON: -- from any Libyan that we've had on our --

ATWAN: No, because they don't say the truth. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, that chiseled --

ANDERSON: Should that be a concern, though? Doesn't --


ANDERSON: -- just because these guys may be Muslim it doesn't necessarily mean we should be concerned about that. Or are you talking about fundamentalists?

ATWAN: Yes, there are fundamentalists, and there are Islamic radicals, and there are moderate Muslims. But you need a small minority to spoil the show.

And Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the leader of the Transitional Council, he said in public he was about to resign his job simply because he couldn't stomach what happened to General Abdel Fatah Younes when he was assassinated even then.

ANDERSON: So you've got concerns.

ATWAN: I have my concerns because, look. What united those people is the hatred of Gadhafi and his regime. Now, Gadhafi and his regime collapsed. He is not there anymore. So maybe, maybe -- I hope not -- the differences could surface now, could come to public. We don't know yet.

And also, it will be a struggle for power. Everybody would like to have a share of his cake. Now there is a lucrative cake in front of them. Everybody would like to be a minister, everybody would like to be sort of in charge of this institution or others.

So, we don't know yet. I hope -- I hope this -- the vision is exaggerated. But I know, and everybody knows, it does exist and it is the biggest challenge in front of the future regime in Libya.

ANDERSON: Always a pleasure to have you on this show, Abdel Bari Atwan, a man who really knows his stuff about the region. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

You are with CNN, CONNECT THE WORLD, of course. I'm Becky Anderson in London, 52 minutes past 9:00 here, 52 minutes past 10:00 in Tripoli.

We're moving on from Libya to the US East Coast, which is on high alert. Have a look at these pictures. Hurricane Irene battering the Bahamas and now eyeing parts of the Eastern seaboard that rarely have to brace for conditions like these. That coming up.


ANDERSON: Well, Hurricane Irene pummeling the Bahamas with heavy rain and winds of up to 200 kilometers an hour. Just take a look at these pictures.

The Category 3 storm has been slowly moving across the region since Wednesday. Emergency workers say dozens of homes have now been damaged, as you could imagine in these conditions, and the tower is out in some of the areas. The National Hurricane Center says Irene could strengthen to a Category 4.

Well parts of the US bracing for it as it roars towards the East Coast. States of emergency have been declared for New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and parts of North Carolina before the storm even makes landfall.

It is expected to hit New York, quite unusual, it's got to be said, for weather like this. By Sunday, dozens of navy ships have been ordered out to safer waters. Some say it could be the biggest storm to strike the US in six years.

CNN's Jim Spellman has been in the middle of it in the Bahamas, and John Zarrella is waiting for it in North Carolina.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been like this for about 12 hours, now, with no signs of letting up. You see driving winds and pouring rain.

And in some of the smaller islands in the southern part of the Bahamas, terrible damage reports coming in from the government as they're able to secure communications with them today.

Some reports of whole villages wiped out. Right now those are the islands of Cat Island and Eleuthera. They're mainly very concerned about the damage we've seen there.

Here in the capital in Nassau, so far we still don't see any major damage. We're hearing more and more reports of power outages, but none of the major structural damages that you see.

These winds here, at least what I would say are probably more like a tropical storm force winds than the Category 3 hurricane that is out at sea and that's been hitting some of the other islands.

So, they feel like they may be spared here, but I feel like people are getting a little too confident, they're coming out, they're walking on the beach, but you can just see from the spray here coming up against the seawall, it's still a really active storm and definitely not safe to be strolling around on the beach.

And you can consider this a preview of what the Carolinas and the East Coast are going to get in a day or two.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here at Wrightsville Beach, with the storm a good 36 to 48 hours away, people are still taking the opportunity to get out here to the beach, get a little bit of sun. They'll probably be able to do that again tomorrow.

The irony in all of this is that both the governors of North Carolina and Virginia have already declared states of emergency in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Irene, expected in this area sometime late on Saturday.

The reason for that is because the storm is expected to be very close if not right over this area as it moves up the Eastern seaboard of the United States. The first landfalls could very well be in the outer banks of North Carolina, then up through Virginia.


ANDERSON: Expect to see the weather moving up that coast as far New York, though?


ANDERSON: I've never heard of that before. Guillermo, have you?

ARDUINO: I remember some impact, but not as strong as this. And you know what, Becky? The reason is that it's going to go parallel to the coast, so while it's not interacting with the land, it's going to continue in full swing all the way up to New York.

Very important to our international viewers, New York is going to experience on Sunday cancellations. And then on Monday, all the backlog with these problems that we have with the rain and the winds that can be expected at 70 kilometers per hour at LaGuardia, for example.

Then, Washington DC, Philadelphia, all those big cities, Baltimore, are going to see problems over there, as well. Miami, we get word right now, canceling 140 flights. And this is it, still over the Bahamas, Category 3, it is going to strengthen. It's going to get closer to land.

But if it were a direct landfall, then all these other people in the north would be out of the woods, no problem at all. The problem is that it's going to go parallel to the coast.

So, the winds 185, gusts up to 22. We're going to see more, everybody's in agreement that this is what's going to happen, so no doubt about its path.

Boston is going to see intense winds, and also the problems all the way into Monday, again, because of those lingering winds and the cancellations, the backlog that I said before. Flooding, with the rain, winds, damage, very dangerous.

You know what, Becky? There are some kids already the coast of North Carolina trying to catch those waves with their surfboards. That's extremely dangerous. Back to you.

ANDERSON: My goodness gracious. Oh, to be a youngster. Guillermo, thank you for that.

ARDUINO: Thanks.

ANDERSON: Guillermo Arduino with what is a really fierce weather system, isn't it? Out there in the Caribbean and moving up the Eastern seaboard.

I'm Becky Anderson, thank you for watching. Your world's connected this evening. Stay with CNN, of course, for continuing coverage out of Libya. I'm going to leave you with images from the region today as rebel fighters continue their search for Moammar Gadhafi.

It's a very good evening from this team. I'll be back with the world news headlines, and then "BackStory" will follow this short break. Stay with us.