|Moammar Khadafy likened 1986 US strikes to terrorism.|
Khadafy attacks US in speech in Italy
ROME - Libya's leader, Moammar Khadafy, urged the world yesterday to understand what motivates terrorists, and likened the 1986 US strikes on Libya to Osama bin Laden's terror attacks.
Khadafy, who was long been accused of sponsoring terrorism, struck a provocative tone as he addressed lawmakers on the second day of a trip to Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler. He said there should be no interference from the West over the governments chosen by other countries.
The speech got tepid applause and was likely to add to the controversy that has surrounded this rare visit by Libya's strongman to a Western democracy.
"It is not very intelligent to chase terrorists down the Afghan mountains or central Asia," Khadafy said in the hour-long speech. "That's impossible. We must look at their reasons."
Khadafy said he condemned terrorism, Al Qaeda, and bin Laden. But he said he was being intentionally provocative "to try and understand acts of terrorism."
He said that terrorists, in explaining their motives, might argue they are defending themselves from humiliations suffered at the hands of the West and from the depletion of their riches. He called for dialogue with terrorists, saying, "One must talk to the devil, if it brings about a solution."
"What's the difference between the US air strikes on our homes and bin Laden's actions?" he asked. If anything, he said, bin Laden is an outlaw, while the United States should abide by international law.
President Reagan ordered air strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1986 after an attack on a disco in Germany killed three people, including two US servicemen. Libya says the retaliatory attacks killed 41 people, including Khadafy adopted daughter, and injured 226 others.
Khadafy had long been ostracized for sponsoring terrorism, but renounced it in 2003.