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Government Reaction to Gadhafi News; Libyan Prime Minister: Moammar Gadhahi Is Dead

Aired October 20, 2011 - 10:00   ET



KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome back to our special coverage. I'm Kyra Phillips.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Hala Gorani. This morning breaking news out of Libya. Reports that deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

PHILLIPS: When the word was out Tripoli erupted in celebration to what appears to be the end of the brutal era, 42 years of terror seemingly ended just hours ago.

And you're about to see a video now that's said to be Moammar Gadhafi badly wounded in custody and we warn you, it's pretty gruesome.

GORANI: Let's take a look. This looks like cell phone video and there rebels tell us is either the badly injured or the dead body of Moammar Gadhafi. Let's just let this play out.

All right, so they're where seeing shaky cell phone video, Kyra. We're seeing the face of a man that looks a lot like Moammar Gadhafi, bloodied after his capture.

One of the NTC sources we spoke with earlier, Kyra, said he didn't die right away. So it's difficult to tell if this is Moammar Gadhafi dying or a Moammar Gadhafi who's lost his life.

PHILLIPS: There were reports that a NATO air strike came in, struck the convoy. Moammar Gadhafi was taken out of the vehicle. There was talk that he was shot directly in the head. There were also reports that he was shot in the legs.

This was the screen grab that we got from that video earlier this morning that was the first image that we received. We got the OK to go with it. Now we're getting video from a cell phone of the -- the situation that came to us about two hours ago and we are still not hearing from the United States on this, Hala.

We're hearing just out of Libya at this point. Now getting this video and who knows? Maybe this will be the link now to the reports that we've been getting. Maybe we will hear from the White House, the State Department. We were we are standing by for that whether indeed this is Moammar Gadhafi.

This is when the air strike hit the convoy. If we are getting correct reports out of Libya, this is the moment where he was shot and killed.

GORANI: And it looks as though he is -- well he's shirtless there at least part of his torso is visible. We can see blood pouring from what looks like a wound to his head. This would square away with reports we've received that he was shot in the head.

It certainly looks like Moammar Gadhafi. No official confirmation yet. We're not hearing from the U.S. officially that Moammar Gadhafi is indeed dead today.

Dan Rivers joins us live from Tripoli. There is celebration in the Libyan capital today. Tell us what you know. What's the latest, Dan?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, again, just more confirmation of those pictures that Moammar Gadhafi is dead. Another source telling us with the prime minister confirming that Gadhafi is dead.

We're expecting to hear from the prime minister of the NTC in the next few minutes. He is expected to give more detail around the circumstances in which Colonel Gadhafi was killed. As you say there's speculation that a NATO air strike may have proceeded his death.

He was then according to some reports bundled out of the car on a road to the west of the city as his convoy tried to punch through the rebel lines and there are some suggestions that it was in a drainage ditch under that road where he was finally cornered and shot.

Some reports notably from the information minister suggesting when the NTC soldiers got him, he was still alive and then he died before they could move him. But we are waiting more details in a press conference that's happening in this hotel we're told right now.

These things normally are delayed, I'm afraid. But we'll hopefully get that to you as soon as we can in that we should learn much more about exactly how he died and who was involved in terms of NATO and the NTC and some more details.

But you can hear behind me, you know, there are all sorts of celebratory gunfire. You can ruffling around the city. People riding on the tops of their cars, I've noticed, at about 80 miles per hour below me on the highway throwing all cautious to the wind.

They don't care anymore. They are going to have one hell of a party here in Tripoli tonight because they realize the massive historical significance of this moment. Not only that Sirte has fallen and the war is over, but the man who has ruled this country so viciously and cruelly and inhumanely for 42 years is dead.

GORANI: Dan Rivers is the senior international corrrespondent. He is live in Tripoli. As Dan mentioned, Kyra, we are awaiting a National Transitional Council news conference.

Perhaps during that news conference, they will provide us with more proof, either visual proof or they will tell us certainly give us more details about what led to the reported death of Moammar Gadhafi. So that's something we're eagerly awaiting for.

PHILLIPS: We're also waiting for response from the White House and also the State Department. But I can tell you now our Kate Baldwin sending me this statement from Senator John McCain's camp.

Senator John McCain according to a spokesman saying that the senator is confident that Gadhafi is dead. In the statement just briefly, I won't read the entire thing, but John McCain saying the death of Moammar Gadhafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution.

While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country. So, we are hearing from Senator John McCain, the first individual in our country saying that he is confident that Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

We are still waiting to hear from the White House. We're still waiting to hear from the State Department. Meanwhile let's get to the Pentagon and our Barbara Starr, she is at her post.

Barbara, what are you getting from your sources? We've talked a lot about NATO being involved in this -- in this strike. Possibly leading to what we just saw in the cell phone video that's been released of a possible dead Moammar Gadhafi.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kyra, NATO officials struck this convoy earlier today near the town of Sirte where the heavy fighting was going on where it was believed Gadhafi maybe hiding out. They're still trying to figure out from Libyan authorities whether Gadhafi was really in that convoy, that is how this all unfolded.

But when NATO officials are rapidly moving towards now is not even so much the confirmation that Gadhafi is dead, but working towards ending the NATO military operations over Libya that have been going on since March that the U.S. has been very central in.

What a NATO official has told me is this now may in fact speed up plans that were already in place to look at terminating that military operation. The chief military officer of NATO, if you will, U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis is now looking at key pieces of intelligence about all of this.

Is the town of Sirte really under rebel control? They now do believe that it is. Can loyalist forces effectively mount a counter strike to the rebel forces, to the National Transitional Council? The indications are now that they cannot.

There still will be some pockets of fighting, but the belief now is that the NTC does control Libya to the maximum extent that it can. These are the key pieces of intelligence that NATO is now looking at.

What you can expect to see in the next several days, maybe even a couple of days is a recommendation to end the military operation. Admiral Stavridis will take that to NATO. There will be a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the military arm of NATO and NATO will vote.

It is expected to vote to terminate the operation. That doesn't end the concern. The security concerns about all the weapons that are uncontrolled in Libya it will not end. The U.S. military involvement, if you will, expect to see a very much more normalized relationship with the emerging Libyan government.

But it is expected now that the bombing campaign by NATO will end and that these very aggressive military operations that the U.S. has been part of will come to a close -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thanks. -- Hala.

GORANI: Well, Gadhafi ruled Libya for 42 years. He was then deposed and today reportedly killed. Let's bring in Ben Wedeman. He is in New York right now. So Ben, what next? Is this now smooth sailing for Libya going forward?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, smooth sailing. I mean, we have to realize that this has been a complete change of regime. Many of these people have no experience running a country. So yes, it's an important step along the way.

But the killing of Moammar Gadhafi certainly doesn't mean that it's going to be smooth sailing. I mean, all you have to do is look around you. Egypt, the revolution, only 18 days and months and months later it's still a very unstable, uncertain place.

Libya has certain elements working in its favor, a smaller population, a better educated population. Lots in the way of natural resources, but no, just because Moammar Gadhafi is now gone, we believe, does not mean that things are going to be rosy from here on in.

GORANI: All right, so what are the biggest challenges for the country? And also the revolutionaries, the National Transitional Council, what could go wrong? What are the biggest risks for Libya?

WEDEMAN: Well, on the one hand, there's a very strong impulse among those who led this revolution, the political leaders, but more importantly the men with the guns, the fighters to get revenge, to get rid of the elements of the old regime.

That could be a very destabilizing element and I saw it firsthand. What happens is that a lot of the resistance that we've seen to the new regime in Tripoli is not necessarily from people who still actually believe in Moammar Gadhafi and his somewhat unique ideology.

It's a worry that there will be a spate of revenge killings, of looting, of instability, of revenge against all of those --

GORANI: Let me ask you this. I'm sorry to jump in. This is something that was predicted by people after Moammar Gadhafi was deposed. Libya would descend into some Iraq-style sectarian or tribal in the case of Libya conflict. But that hasn't really happened, has it?

WEDEMAN: No, it hasn't. Let's not forget even in Iraq and of course, there are huge differences between Iraq and Libya, but even in Iraq, the first few months after the fall of Saddam Hussein were relatively quiet.

It's when the new people in power start to exercise that power at every level of society when things can get very complicate complicated. There's been a lot of talk about tribal differences. We haven't really seen that played out. There are however important local differences.

There are tensions between, for instance, the people of Misrata and people from other parts of Libya. There are tensions between the men in the western part of the country and the people of Tripoli.

We've seen internal conflicts within the TNC itself so it's so good. But I would not in any sense bet my bottom dollar that Libya's going to be smooth sailing now that Gadhafi's dead.

GORANI: All right, Ben Wedeman knows the country well. He's reported from Libya over the last several months. And just sort of a note of caution today that today might be the end of the chapter for Libya, but difficult times might still be -- very much difficult times ahead for the country.

PHILLIPS: We're going to talk more about that (inaudible). He used to work for Moammar Gadhafi. He was his aide for nine years. He's now a professor in the U.S. We're going to get his reactions, his thoughts about Libya moving forward coming up right after the break.


PHILLIPS: We continue to follow our breaking news that Moammar Gadhafi after 42 years of ruling Libya has been captured and killed.

GORANI: We've seen new cell phone video of a man who really appears to be Moammar Gadhafi. We heard from National Transitional Council sources that Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

Television is reporting that his body has been taken to Misrata, on the Mediterranean Coast in Libya. There you're seeing this new video shot on a cell phone, we understand, of a man who appears to be Moammar Gadhafi.

According to one source we spoke with, Kyra, he was not killed right away. He was injured and died en route in an ambulance.

PHILLIPS: It happened according to our sources there in Libya after a NATO air strike hit his convoy where he was headed to we still don't know. We saw that his body was brought out of the car that was struck and that video was taken.

GORANI: What's interesting is this all reportedly happened in Sirte. This is the hometown of Moammar Gadhafi. And some said that it was surprising that the entire time it seems as though he was hiding there.

Abubaker Saad used to work for Moammar Gadhafi as an aide for nine years. Abubaker Saad, are you surprised that it appears as though Moammar Gadhafi who's reportedly dead today was in Sirte the whole time?

ABUBAKER SAAD, FORMER GADHAFI AIDE: That was my assertion since back in February. That was my statement when everybody was talking that he was in other places. I said, no, he's not in Tripoli. He had left Libya. I was guessing either Sirte or somewhere in the south. I'm not surprised at all. Actually, I feel vindicated in this instance in my prediction.

GORANI: Well, you know him well. You worked as his aide for nine years. You spoke to us a little bit earlier about the man, about how he never slept two nights in a row in the same bed in the same room.

Didn't even sleep at the same time of day so his movements wouldn't be tracked by someone who might want to do him harm. But now that he's gone, what happens with Libya?

We've heard from some that say there will be some sort of civil conflict in that country, not as bad as Iraq, but it will be. Do you agree with that or do you think the country will move forward?

SAAD: Hala, most of these people really do not understand the Libyan culture. The Libyan people are diverse. We have so many tribal groups. We have so many regions that sometimes they do have their own internal conflicts and things like that.

But you have to realize that new leadership of Libya, the NTC and the ones who are really backing them up. Most of them are western educated. People don't realize that. And most of them are really thirsty just to get going on with democracy.

Of course, they don't have the experience. Of course, they're going to have bumps in the road. Of course, they're going to have hiccups. That's natural. But in a country that has been ruled by a dictator for 42 years that would be foolish to think that it is going to be smooth sailing.

But you have to realize here, even the current NTC has tried very hard to have a representative from every major city in Libya even before they liberated the country, even before they took over Tripoli and all of these areas they still had representatives from Tripoli before even Tripoli was liberated.

So this is the thinking that it's a new line of thinking. These predictions of gloom and doom have no presence whatsoever. These people are very thirsty. Of course, they don't have experience and they really don't know how to run government.

They don't know how to control the flow of information. You have witnessed it dealing with them all along. So, they are learning as they go along. But the intentions are to avoid revenge. The intentions are to rally the Libyan --

GORANI: Abubaker, please stand by. We're going to get back to you. Abubaker not as pessimistic as far as the future of Libya is concerned as others. Abubaker was an aide to Moammar Gadhafi reportedly killed today for nine years. We'll get back to you throughout the morning with more reaction. Thanks so much. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Fran Townsend is our national security contributor and the former Homeland Security adviser. She's a member of the External Advisory Board for both the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA.

She met with Gadhafi in Libya in 2007. Fran, I'm just going to get right to it, all these various reports of this operation. We've seen the cell phone video now, give us the inside look, the background, if you will.

How involved do you think the CIA was with this working with NATO, working with rebels? How do you think this call came together to where they were able to locate Moammar Gadhafi in a convoy and know that they had a target?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, FORMER BUSH NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Kyra, remember President Obama going back a little ways had said we were providing sort of our special capabilities. I think we have to assume that's across the board whether it's human intelligence or signals intelligence and sort of overhead way that we collect precisely this kind of targeting data.

Also Admiral James Stavridis, Barbara Starr mentioned him. He's the four star Supreme Allied commander of NATO. He's an American admiral. So you've got it.

It was a NATO-led operation. There was tremendous American leadership and support in terms of putting together the targeting information that allowed the successful operation.

PHILLIPS: Security wise, what are you thinking about? What are you looking at moving forward now? Moammar Gadhafi is out. No longer in hiding. How does this country move forward and what's your take on what will happen with the loyalists?

TOWNSEND: Well, I think what you're going to see, we've seen from the photos just today coming out of Tripoli. You will go through a period of euphoria and celebration rightly so for the Libyan people.

This is a real success from their point of view. This is an opportunity for real democratic reform and change in Libya. There will then I suspect be a period of quiet. And the question is, during that period of quiet, will the loyalists try to regroup and re- organize?

Will someone emerge as a leader perhaps one of Gadhafi's sons perhaps or will they flee? If you see this sort of well known people flee, it's less likely that there will be real loyalist backlash towards the transitional council.

That gives them the space and opportunity to build the institutions that Gadhafi refused to have exist. There really aren't any existing civilian institutions. And so Libya faces real challenges and a real task before them.

PHILLIPS: Real quickly, Fran, because we've got to go. Your thoughts on could we see an insurgent leadership and a strong insurgency like we did or like we do in Iraq?

TOWNSEND: Libya's quite different. You run the risk that there are those in the military who are loyal to Gadhafi's son who could rise up and pose a threat in terms of an insurgency to the transitional council. I think we're going to have to wait to see if that happens.

PHILLIPS: Fran, thanks.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Kyra.

GORANI: We are going to take a short break here on CNN and CNN International. Welcome, by the way, to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. We'll have a lot more on our breaking news this morning. Reports that Moammar Gadhafi is dead today. We'll be right back.


PHILLIPS: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage. If you're just waking up, the news today is that Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

GORANI: We have new cell phone video of the -- of what appears to be Moammar Gadhafi after he was shot. We understand there are reports he was shot in the head. Let's run that video right now.

It is cell phone video I understand. This is the newest -- these are the newest images we have of people celebrating the death of the -- the reported death of Moammar Gadhafi.

There you see the body of a man dying or already dead who looks a whole lot like Moammar Gadhafi with celebratory gunfire surrounding the fighters who killed him.

PHILLIPS: This is what we can tell you so far. We have not got en confirmation from the White House, from the State Department, but we have received a number of confirmations out of Libya through sources there, through leaders there, through rebel leaders there that a NATO air strike took place above this convoy that Moammar Gadhafi was riding in.

And apparently when the convoy was struck, his body or he was taken out of the vehicle. Not sure if she was shot when taken out of that vehicle or if indeed his injuries happened while in that convoy. We're also, Hala, reporting that we cannot confirm whether right there he had been shot and killed or if he died en route to Misrata.

GORANI: Right. That is something that we've heard from NTC sources that he was not killed right away. Either way it really looks like Moammar Gadhafi at this point. We're also hearing from the NTC's prime minister according to reports that Moammar Gadhafi is dead today.

It is his bloodied body according to rebels this is the newest video we have of the reported death of Moammar Gadhafi, a chaotic cell phone video showing a man with an apparent wound to the head that looks like Moammar Gadhafi.

We also understand from sources that the former defense minister for Libya was killed. We are hearing some reports that one of the sons of Moammar Gadhafi was also killed. All these reports we are unable to confirm with 100 percent certainty.

When you put it all together various sources telling us the long time dictator of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi killed today. For our viewers watching TV now and CNN now images that look like the body of Moammar Gadhafi bloodied and injured from a gunshot wound to the head.

PHILLIPS: As you saw there in military clothing possibly his last words shouting don't shoot. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


GORANI: Well, Kyra, this might be one of the important images, one of the historic images in the Arab world in this very early part of the 21st century. The images, the cell phone video of a dead Moammar Gadhafi. These are, at least, the reports coming to us from rebels. These are graphic images. I want to warn you, but you do see a man who looks like Moammar Gadhafi bloodied and either dying or dead after having been killed by rebel fighters in Sirte.

PHILLIPS: It was his hometown of Sirte that was captured, and then, it was the deposed dictator. And you get just a glimpse of his body lying there on the ground in what appears to be a military uniform.

Reports said that when he was dragged out of either a vehicle or some reports say he was hiding possibly in a sewage area, possibly a manhole much like we saw with Saddam Hussein when he was found in his hometown in Tikrit, we're finding the same thing for the deposed dictator here. Now, another angle, you can see him lying on the ground. You can see the blood in his head.

The reports say, possibly, he was struck in the head, possibly just struck in the legs. There've been mixed reports of how exactly he died and where exactly he died. Our Wolf Blitzer joining us now out of Washington, D.C. Wolf, you've got some of the best sources in the business. You have been brought in, obviously, to add context to what we're seeing now. What do you know and what have you been told about the death of Moammar Gadhafi?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Well, everybody assumes that it's official that Moammar Gadhafi is dead. They're not making the official public statements along those lines either at the White House or the state department, the Department of Defense, CIA, but everyone's working under the assumption that these reports from the Libyan authorities, the new regime in Libya are accurate, and that it's over.

Moammar Gadhafi, 69 years old, dead that according to all of the indications, although, it hasn't been officially confirmed by Washington. Forty-two years in power. So, obviously, a historic moment not only in the history of Libya, but indeed, throughout North Africa and the Middle East, someone well known to an entire generation, maybe two generations. The world has never really known at least for by and large Libya without Gadhafi, but that is changing right now.

I assume, at some point, we'll get official statements first from NATO. NATO deeply involved over these past few months in trying to A, protect civilians in Libya, but B, more directly to get rid of Gadhafi and bring some sort of stable regime in power in Libya. That NATO operation is going to wind down very, very rapidly now.

I assume the NATO allies in Europe and here in the United States and in Canada no great appetite to continue this NATO military mission. After NATO speaks, I assume, we'll hear directly from officials in Washington. I wouldn't be surprised, Kyra and Hala, at all if the president, President Obama makes a statement to the nation, at some point, probably, at some point today when all the dust settles.

Everything is clear who exactly is dead, who is alive, what about Gadhafi's sons, Saif al-Islam, Mutassim? All of the other sons who are still alive. Two of his sons, over these past few months, already have been killed in this uprising in Libya. So, it's a dramatic and very bloody experience that the people of Libya are going through.

But with all the indications now, all the reports coming in that Gadhafi himself is dead, a new chapter, obviously, about to begin.

GORANI: And Wolf, you mentioned, Mutassim, there are reports NTC being quoted as saying that Mutassim Gadhafi is dead as well. Of course, this is something that we have not confirmed. We are waiting to confirm that particular report, but it does appear as though, right now, Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is dead on this day.

A historic moment for Libya, but then, we must ask the question, Wolf. Going forward for Libya as far as the rebels are concerned, the National Transitional Council, how is this country going to be led? What will the relationship of the NTC be to countries such as the United States and other NATO allies who participated in this operation to help the rebels in Libya?

WOLF: Well, you know, in this operation, this NATO-led operation, there were Arab countries that were also involved in this operation, Hala. As you well know, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, so there were other countries involved in addition to France and Italy and Britain and the United States and the other NATO allies.

So, this was a combined Arab/NATO operation that came to the assistance of the Libyan rebels who are now in charge. There are, as you know, in Libya right now, some very talented officials who have come back. Libyans who have been living in exile for many years including here in the United States who have gone back to Libya to help in this transition, to help in this new government in Libya.

The United States and all of the European allies, they've all recognized this transitional authority. Having said that, even though there are some pretty talented people there in charge in the economic sphere, the national security sphere and some of the other areas of Libya, I don't want to underestimate the enormous problems ahead.

There are tribal battles that almost certainly will still continue even after Gadhafi -- there's a lot of work that needs to be done. The euphoria that will certainly exist in many quarters in Libya that could be short lived depending on how the transitional authority handles this very, very delicate situation. An immediate question, Kyra and Hala, that U.S. authorities are going to have to answer those billions of dollars that have been frozen in Libyan assets here in the United States.

At one point, U.S. authorities said about $33 billion in Libyan assets. Some of that has been freed up, a lot of it hasn't been freed up. What's going to happen to that money? How do they make it available? What happens to the expenses that the U.S. and the NATO allies incurred $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer money already spent in liberating Libya from Gadhafi?

Is the Libyan authority, the new regime in Libya, are they going to reimburse the NATO allies including the United States for those expenses as many officials in Congress would like to see happen or is that money simply going to go away? U.S. tax payers won't be reimbursed. And many have pointed out, Libya is a wealthy country.

It's a major oil exporting country. So, once they get their business in order, this will be a wealthy country and presumably will have a lot of opportunities to do good for its own people.

PHILLIPS: And Wolf, I just want to -- since I've got you now, by the way, we're getting reports that the Libyan prime minister has come forward confirming that Moammar Gadhafi is dead. We've been talking a lot about the future of Libya, but how about politics here in the United States?

We're gearing up for another election. How is this going to play into President Obama's re-election campaign? We saw how his numbers went up when Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed. How do you see this playing out for the president? BLITZER: It'll help the president, but I'm not sure it'll help him a great deal. This coming election almost by all accounts, unless, something drastic happens to the U.S. internationally is going to be -- is going to be largely impacted by jobs, the U.S. economy, the domestic economic situation as much of these national security achievements killing of Bin Laden, now getting rid of Moammar Gadhafi.

Some of the other developments that have happened throughout the Arab Spring, Mubarak gone and Yemen. We're seeing what's going on. A lot is still unfolding in Syria as all of our viewers know. These will be issues that will be debated and will be discussed.

But for most American voters out there, the economy is still issue number one. The job situation and unemployment rate, that will dominate the U.S. political environment.

PHILLIPS: Our Wolf Blitzer joining us with our breaking news coverage. If you're just tuning in, Moammar Gadhafi captured and killed this morning.

GORANI: All right. We heard from the interim Libyan prime minister that Moammar Gadhafi is dead. We are hearing reports that his body is currently in Misrata and that there will be some sort of forensic examination to determine exactly how he was killed. Did he right away? Did he die on route to Misrata?

Either way, many sources now confirming Moammar Gadhafi, the long time dictator of Libya, dead. It's a region in transition and the question is how do other leaders who are facing their own uprisings in the Arab world, what is going through their minds today. A lot to discuss after a short break.

And still ahead, his father jailed by the Gadhafi regime more than 20 years ago, and to this day, the family has no idea if he's dead or alive. And just a few minutes, the son of a missing Libyan activist joins us live in the studio.


GORANI: The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is in Kabul, Afghanistan, right now. Here's her reaction to those reports that Moammar Gadhafi has been killed today. Listen.




CLINTON: Unconfirmed.


CLINTON: Unconfirmed reports about Gadhafi being captured. Unconfirmed. Yes. We've had a bunch of those before. We've had, you know, had him captured a couple of times. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: It's interesting. A bit of behind the scenes look there at Hillary Clinton being given a Blackberry with news that there are unconfirmed reports of Gadhafi's capture, not his death at that stage as she was getting ready to do an interview there in Kabul. But yes, wow was her first word.

PHILLIPS: And it's amazing that just maybe about an hour and a half ago, she was talking about the politics of our presidential race here in the United States with Hamid Karzai. And now, look at how the chain of events have turned around, and we should be hearing from the secretary of state and the White House, hopefully, within the next hour

GORANI: Right. Well, we do have more reaction there to the reports out of Libya -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: That's right. Joining us now is someone who knows a lot about the conflict in Libya. We actually had a chance to talk to him about a month ago, Ahmed Almegaryaf. He's the son of a political activist who was jailed by the Gadhafi regime in the 1990s. The family has no idea where the father is, Izat (ph), if he's dead or alive.

Ahmed, I wanted to bring you in again today, because the last time we talked, your mom was headed to Libya right there in the midst of the uprising hoping that the fall of the dictator would lead her back to your father. Since we talked, you had received word that possibly your father was being held in Sirte in an underground prison.

Now, we know Sirte has been captured. Now, we're getting reports that Moammar Gadhafi is dead. What's your first reaction and have you heard from your mom?

AHMED ALMEGARYAF, SON OF POLITICAL ACTIVIST: My first reaction was -- it's something I can't explain. It's something that I've been wanting to hear all of my life. Hopefully, it really was him that was captured. And, hopefully, he didn't get away with it that easily and killed. As far as my mother, I spoke with her a few days ago. Unfortunately, I didn't get ahold of her now.

PHILLIPS: So, just to set the scene for our viewers, Ahmed, your dad, Izat, explain to those that are watching and we are also -- we want to welcome our international viewers as well, so just so you know, Ahmed that people are watching overseas as well as here in the United States, probably, people that know your father, set the scene for what he was involved in directly.

And, what it means to you the chance now that you may actually find out whether your father is dead or alive after all these years?

ALMEGARYAF: My father was part of NFSL, National Front for the Salvation of Libya. And, he basically joined to try to bring democracy to Libya and freedom to all Libyans. And, unfortunately, he was kidnapped by the Egyptian security services and handed over to the Libyans in 1990.

And, he hasn't been able to accomplish his mission in bringing democracy to Libya, but with all that's happened with the revolution, I'm sure he's -- if he's not alive currently with us, he's smiling down happy of all the news and everything that he's seen.

PHILLIPS: Well, Ahmed, we sure hope that we will be able to get news from your mom, and that, at some point, you will be able to find out if, indeed, your father has made it through many years of fighting for exactly what's happening in Libya right now. Ahmed, thanks for coming in today.

ALMEGARYAF: Thank you so much for having me.

GORANI: Well, we are going to have a lot more of our breaking news coverage on the reported death of Moammar Gadhafi. We'll speak to Nick Christophe, the op-ed columnist for "the New York Times." He'll be joining us live.


PHILLIPS: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage. If you're just tuning in, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States as well as around the world. After 42 years of rule, after a NATO airstrike, we are getting word now that Moammar Gadhafi has been captured and killed.

GORANI: We're seeing live images there of Tripoli, the Libyan capital. We also saw cell phone video of what appears to be the body, the bloodied body of Moammar Gadhafi. Some NTC sources have been saying that he was injured to the head, a gunshot wound to the head. The interim prime minister of the national Transitional Council has confirmed that Moammar Gadhafi is killed today.

Of course, the question now is, what's next for Libya? It's the end of one chapter. Will the next chapter be easier for a country that was ruled for decades by a brutal dictator? Fawaz Gerges, author and professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics, and he joins us now live. And I can see you're in Paris not in London today, Fawaz.


GORANI: Right. What is next for Libya? Is it going to be, you know, difficult but somewhat stable with the National Transitional Council taking the lead, or, is there a real risk here of tribal conflict, of conflict as far as fighting for the resources of this country? What do you think will happen?

GERGES: Hala, let me give you an idea about today's event, to give you an idea for your viewers how difficult the situation will be for Libya. It was the Misrata council basically which first announced that Gadhafi was killed, captured alive, and died after his capture. It was the Misrata council independent from the NTC that is the government of Libya. And it took the leaders, the NTC quite a while to follow up on the Misrata council and announced that Gadhafi was killed. What does this tell you? It tells you that there is no unity government, unified government, in Libya. It tells you that the Misrata council, which is a regional council, acts independently from the NTC which is based now in Tripoli. It was first in Benghazi.

It tells you, Hala, there are some major differences, major -- a fierce political struggle taking police in Libya, but even though, even though, we should not underestimate the significance of this day. Gadhafi was the head of the state, the most important symbol of the country. He repeatedly tried to rally his supporters to fight on.

I hope that this particular day will not just -- I mean, means the end of an era, but basically, represents the beginning of a new era, an era that means of unity, reconciliation and a functioning government, a functioning government without the infighting that I fear might plunge Libya in the next few weeks and next few months.

GORANI: But Fawaz, that is the hope, of course. It's the hope for the National Transitional Council for the Libyan people who suffered for decades under the rule of a brutal dictator, but you're talking about the Misrata council on one hand, the National Transitional Council on another. There is no unity among the post- Gadhafi government, but will the battles be only political or will we see civil conflict in this country? Is that a real concern, a real fear that people have right now?

GERGES: You know, Hala, you know the Middle East as well as I do, and I mean it. I'm not being patronizing at all. We have been -- I mean, kind of presented a romantic view of the Libyan uprising. For a variety of reason because Gadhafi was a thug. Gadhafi did a great deal of harm. We have hoped that the rebels will rise up to the occasion.

But at the end of the day, we're talking about politics. The politics of Libya does not differ very much from the politics of Yemen. You have regional differences. We're just talking about Benghazi, about Tripoli, about Misrata, about Sirte. In fact, the fighting in Bani Walid and the Sirte have exposed some major tribal and regional cleavages, cleavages that do not bode well for Libya.

And so far, I am not convinced with my hopes for Libya, I'm not convinced not only there's not a unity government, but I fear that the political cleavages and the regional cleavages that exist in Libya could easily escalate given the extent and the intensity of differences in Libya.

And that's why even though we hope that Libya will transition more peacefully, we should not underestimate the risks and the vulnerabilities that Libya and the Libyan people have in the next few weeks and next few months.

GORANI: Some fears for the future of Libya. Will these political differences escalate into more of a civil conflict in that country on this day, the day that Moammar Gadhafi, the long time ruler of Libya, has been reportedly killed? Fawaz Gerges is in Paris of the London School of Economics, thanks very much.

PHILLIPS: We're going to take a quick break and right back. We're going to talk to former general, Jim Jones. He was NATO commander, also national security advisor to the president. He'll be joining us with his perspective right after the break.


GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. As we continue to follow breaking news out of Libya, historic day for the Libyan people and, indeed, for the Arab world. On this day, Moammar Gadhafi, the long time dictator of Libya ruled that country for 42 years, reportedly killed. We've seen cell phone video of a bloodied body that appears to be Moammar Gadhafi, and the interim prime minister of the National Transitional Council has said that Moammar Gadhafi was killed today.

For our viewers just joining us now, very graphic images of what rebels say is the dead body of Moammar Gadhafi. Wolf Blitzer is in Washington with more reaction from the United States and from Washington, D.C.

Today, we saw a little bit earlier, Wolf, interestingly Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, being handed a Blackberry on which she read, presumably read news of the reported capture of Moammar Gadhafi and her first word was, wow.

BLITZER: Yes. She was excited. We can see that. It's only yesterday she made that unexpected visit to Libya. Now, she's in Afghanistan on her way to Pakistan. But the secretary of state was getting ready to do a series of one-on-one interviews with reporters traveling with her on this visit to North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia.

And once one of her aides handed her that little Blackberry and she started reading it, you could see the excitement in her face. Wow. And then, she calmed down and then she said, well, you know, it hasn't been confirmed yet. Let's check it out. But at that point, she was just getting word as you saw there that Gadhafi had been captured.

Now, Libyan authorities, the interim government, officially stating not only he's been captured, but he has been killed. Now, all the details of his death they're still a little bit murky what were going on, but we've shown our viewers, Hala, as you well know, some of that video that was coming in. It was pretty, pretty dramatic and pretty graphic that video we've seen, video supposedly of Moammar Gadhafi.

There you can see -- I just want to warn our viewers the video is really, really graphic. There he is. It certainly looks like Gadhafi in that shot right there. The 69-year-old Moammar Gadhafi had been in power for 42 years in Libya, but now, it is over by all accounts.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington, and this is CNN's special coverage of the dramatic situation unfolding in Libya following word from the country's acting prime minister, Moammar Gadhafi. -- Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

That's the word from Libya's acting interim Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril. We have extensive coverage for our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

GORANI: All right. Wolf Blitzer is in Washington. I'm Hala Gorani in Atlanta. And we want to welcome our international viewers around the globe.