TRIPOLI — Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi on Thursday accused residents of Az-Zawiyah, a town west of the capital hit by fierce fighting between his forces and rebels, of being linked to Osama bin Laden. In what was said to be a live audio feed on state television, Gadhafi also accused the protesters of being on drugs. “You in Zawiyah turn to Bin Laden,” he said. “They give you drugs.” This was the embattled leader’s second television appearance since protests broke out against his 41-year-old rule on Feb. 15. Addressing the older generation, Gadhafi said al-Qaida was behind the problem’s facing Libya, while the youth were on drugs and misbehaving.
“It is obvious now that this issue is run by al-Qaida,” he said. “Those armed youngsters, our children, are incited by people who are wanted by America and the Western world. “Those inciting are very few in numbers and we have to capture them. Others have to stay at home. They have guns, they feel trigger happy and they shoot especially when they are stoned with drugs.” The “situation is different from Egypt or Tunisia … Here the authority is in your hands, the people’s hands. You can change authority any way your wish. It’s your call. You are the elderly, the head of the tribes, the professors,” he continued. “They have been brainwashing the kids in this area and telling them to misbehave. These are the ones who are under Bin Laden’s influence and authority, under the influence of drugs.” Residents of Libya’s dissident-held east vowed on Thursday to march on Tripoli to oust the veteran leader. State news agency Jana said three “terrorists” attacked a security forces post in Az-Zawiyah and slit the throats of three policemen on Thursday, amid reports of heavy fighting in the town.