The Associated Press reports Moammar Gadhafi’s intelligence chief who is wanted by the International Criminal Court has slipped into the desert nation of Niger and is hiding in the expanse of dunes at the Niger-Algeria border, a Niger presidential adviser said late Wednesday.
The adviser, who could not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, told The Associated Press by telephone from Niger that Abdullah al-Senoussi entered Niger several days ago in a convoy piloted by Tuaregs, the traditional desert dwellers who remained fiercely loyal to Gadhafi until the end.
Both Reuters and the Arab network al-Arabiya are reporting that Muammar Qaddafi’s fugitive son Saif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi are proposing to hand themselves into the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
However, the International Criminal Court could not immediately confirm those reports Wednesday.
“We don’t have confirmation about this now. We are trying to contact the NTC for more information,” ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told Reuters.
Saif al-Islam is one of two surviving regime figures that is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity committed during Libya’s protracted battle for power. Former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussiare is the second man sought for trial.
The move comes as the fugitive Saif appears to be running out of options. He is believed to be in hiding near the Libyan border, negotiating possible exits to Niger or Algeria.
A senior Libyan military official with the National Transitional Council, Libya’s interim government, said that Saif and the intelligence chief, al-Sensussi, have made the overture to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“They are proposing a way to hand themselves over to TheHague,” Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters from Libya.
Saif al-Islam is wanted by the war crimes court, as was his late father. There is also a warrant out for Senussi. Saif al-Islam has been on the run since Libyan forces over ran his father’s home town of Sirte last weekend.
The last report on Saif was that he was heading toward Niger, a desert nation just south of Libya where his brother and dozens of Qaddafi loyalists already have sought refuge, a government official said Tuesday.
Rissa ag Boula, an adviser to Niger’s president and an elected member of the regional council of the northern Nigerien town of Agadez, spoke to The Associated Press by telephone Tuesday. He said he was in touch with the ethnic Tuaregs who are helping guide Saif al-Islam Qaddafi across the ocean of dunes that mark the path from Libya to next-door Algeria and finally to Niger.
The ethnic Tuaregs were among Qaddafi’s strongest supporters that fought to keep him in power and one of his other sons as well as several of his generals relied on Tuareg guides to reach Niger in September.
“If he comes here, the government will accept him, but the government will also need to respect its international obligations. It’s up to him to decide (whether to stay on the run or come to Niger),” Boula said on Tuesday, referring to the fact that Saif al-Islam is wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Niger’s government has said that members of the Qaddafi regime wanted by the International Criminal will be turned over to the world body.
Another son, Al-Saadi Qaddafi, who is not wanted by the the world court but is the subject of a United Nations sanction, and several others considered key regime figures have been placed under house arrest in Niger’s capital in a gated compound. The others are also under surveillance but are allowed to leave their villas, Niger’s government said.