Libyan Interior Minister Appears to Have Defected
Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah arrives in Egypt with family
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2011 9:57 AM CDT
Libyan Interior Minister Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah gestures during a press conference in Rome in this Nov. 25, 2005 file photo.   (AP Photo/Stefano Massimo, file)

(Newser) – Libya's interior minister and nine of his family members flew into Cairo today on their private plane in what appeared to be the highest level defection from Moammar Gadhafi's regime in months. Egyptian airport officials said Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah entered on a tourist visa. No Libyan embassy officials greeted him at the airport and one embassy official said they were not aware of his plans to visit Egypt. The minister flew in from Tunisia, which borders Libya.

The apparent defection came just days after Libya's rebels made their most dramatic advance in months in western towns and cities close to the capital Tripoli. On Saturday, rebels pushed into the strategic city of Zawiya. Yesterday, the rebels claimed to have captured at least two other towns near Tripoli that sit on key overland supply routes for the capital, critical to supplying the regime with NATO imposing a no-fly zone over the country.