In what is described as “an extraordinary betrayal” - even for the Middle East - the Daily Telegraph Monday quotes a former Libyan intelligence official Rami El Obeidi as revealing that French spies operating in Sirte, Gaddafi's last refuge, were able to trap him by tracking his Iridium satellite telephone whose number they received from the Syrian ruler. In return, Assad obtained a promise of a grace period from the French and less political pressure on his regime.
This version refutes the official account that after NATO warplanes bombed his convoy, Qaddafi hid in a drainpipe where Libyan militias found him and let him be beaten to death on Oct. 20, 2011.
According to El Obeidi, French intelligence monitoring the Libyan ruler’s phone had a breakthrough when he rang a senior loyalist Yusuf Shaki and the Palestinian leader Ahmed Jibril in Damascus. After that, the French directed Libyan militiamen to the ambush site.
While no other sources confirm this account, the Italian Corriere della Sera quotes its informants as maintaining that one reason for the French lead in the operation was that then President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted Gaddafi dead after the Libyan leader openly threatened to reveal details of the large amounts of money he had donated to Sarkozy for his 2007 election campaign. The French foreign ministry has refused to comment on either report.