TRIPOLI, Libya – A defiant Moammar Gadhafi threatened Friday to carry out attacks in Europe against “homes, offices, families,” unless NATO halts its campaign of airstrikes against his regime in Libya.
The Libyan leader, sought by the International Criminal Court for a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters, delivered the warning in a telephone message played to thousands of supporters gathered in the main square of the capital Tripoli.
It was one of the largest pro-government rallies in recent months, signaling that Gadhafi can still muster significant support.
A series of powerful explosions later rattled the heart of the capital, apparently new NATO airstrikes, as Gadhafi supporters cheered, honked horns and fired into the air in the street. Black smoke could be seen rising from the area near Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound.
Gadhafi spoke from an unknown location in a likely sign of concern over his safety. Addressing the West, Gadhafi warned that Libyans might take revenge for NATO bombings.
“These people (the Libyans) are able to one day take this battle … to Europe, to target your homes, offices, families, which would become legitimate military targets, like you have targeted our homes,” he said.
Friday’s rally came just four days after the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi for crimes against humanity. International prosecutors allege government troops fired on civilian protesters during anti-Gadhafi street demonstrations earlier this year.