Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, announced late Thursday that Libyan forces would release the four New York Times journalists that disappeared near Ajdabiya early this week. The journalists include reporter Stephen Farrell, photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario, and Ridenhour Book Prize winner Anthony Shadid. In an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour, Qaddafi said the journalists would be freed, unharmed, on Friday. His statements implied that Libyan forces were willing to release the journalists because they are American—not European or Arab:
You know, they entered [our] country illegally and when the army, when they liberated the city of Ajdabiyah from the terrorists and they found her [Lynsey Addario] there and they arrest her because you know foreigners in this place. But then they were happy because they found out she is American, not European. And thanks to that she will be free tomorrow. But I told you that here the people are welcoming the American position and not the Europeans and the Arabs. We are very angry at the Europeans and the Arabs because they are happy with you if you are strong — they have contracts, they have deals and oil. If you are weak, everybody is against you. This time, the Americans are different.
Qaddafi's statements came shortly before the UN Security Council authorized military action and the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace at the urging of the Arab League. Britain and France had said they would begin airstrikes if necessary to enforce the resolution. The United States, which remainded mum previously on direct action in the region, announced yesterday that it would pursue military options to "prevent a slaughter" in the country. Following these announcements, Libyan officials vowed to begin an immediate cease-fire.