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Gadhafi daughter defiant on anniversary of U.S. airstrike

TRIPOLI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi's glamorous daughter, Aisha, showed a different public face Friday, delivering a defiant and venomous speech to an adoring crowd from the ruins of a building in her father's Tripoli compound, 25 years to the day after it was hit by U.S. warplanes.

"When I was a child, when I was 9 years old, in this house, a rain of missiles and bombs came down. They tried to kill me," she said, speaking from a second-floor balcony pockmarked by shrapnel. "After 25 years, the same missiles, the same bombs are raining on our children's heads."

Shortly after that raid on April 15, 1986, the young Aisha was photographed holding her fist in the air. Since then, the woman known as "Libya's Claudia Schiffer" for her supermodel looks has trained as a lawyer, served as a U.N. goodwill ambassador and courted controversy by joining Saddam Hussein's defense team and speaking out in support of the Irish Republican Army.

On Friday, she appeared in her element, decrying Italy for killing her grandfather when it invaded Libya 100 years ago and the West for wanting to kill her father. "God damn their hands," she said.

As the crowd whipped itself into a frenzy with cries of "The people want Moammar Gadhafi," and "Allah, Moammar, Libya, that's all we need," Aisha, 34, paused for effect every few minutes, adjusting her green-and-black head scarf, pumping her fist or motioning to the crowd to chant louder.

"We are asking the West … these civilians you are protecting, are you talking about the people who are holding machine guns, RPGs and bombs?" she said. "Are these civilians, the ones who are killing people and eating dead people's hearts?" she asked, echoing government statements about al-Qaida operatives supposedly running the Libyan rebellion.

New attack: Gadhafi's government rained more than 100 rockets into the besieged rebel-held port city of Misrata, in what Western allies denounced as a "medieval siege."

The New York Times reported that Gadhafi's forces have been firing into residential areas of the western city with heavy weapons, including cluster bombs that have been banned by much of the world and ground-to-ground rockets.

Protesters, police clash in Syria

Syrian riot police clashed with protesters in the capital, Damascus, on Friday, firing tear gas and beating people with batons, while other demonstrations erupted across the country in a marked expansion of a monthlong wave of unrest, witnesses said. Activists said as many as 100,000 people joined the Damascus march, which began in Douma, outside the city, and picked up more participants as it passed through Harasta, Irbin, Zamalka and Jobar, en route to the capital. On Thursday, the Obama administration accused Iran of helping Syria attempt to stamp out the recent protests, a charge Syrian officials denied.

Gadhafi daughter defiant on anniversary of U.S. airstrike 04/15/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 15, 2011 9:20pm]
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