Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi,  who is finding himself increasingly isolated as his officials and soldiers withdraw support in the wake of the violent crackdown against the anti-government movement, has yet again reiterated the claim that the protesters are acting under the influence of 'hallucinogenic drugs'.

Repeating the claim he made in his first speech after the outbreak of the protests on Feb. 20, the dictator blamed drugs -- besides al Qaeda -- in a speech delivered via telephone and aired on state television on Thursday.

In his latest speech, Gaddafi said that the protesters were young people manipulated by al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, and claimed that they were acting under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.

No one above the age of 20 would actually take part in these events, which are run by al Qaeda.

Their ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe, he said.

In an attempt to defend his idiosyncratic rule, Gaddafi called himself a symbolic leader with no real political power. He also asserted that the citizens had no reason to complain whatsoever.

Those (in Egypt and Tunisia) are people needing their governments and they have demands; our power is in the hands of the people, Gaddafi, who assumed power in a 1969 military coup, said.

Even as he delivered his speech, anti-government protesters in two cities near the capital, Tripoli, were facing fire from the troops. Troops opened fire with automatic weapons and an anti-aircraft gun on a mosque where protesters had been taking shelter in town of Al Zawiyah, about 50km west of Tripoli, reported Al Jazeera.

Gadaffi's latest speech blaming drugs and a terror group for the protests is reminiscent of the speech he delivered on February 20. Addressing the country on state television to dispel rumors that he had fled the country, Gaddafi had justified the deaths of the protesters with the rationale that they were drunk and under the influence of drugs.

Of course there were many deaths, which angered many people in Benghazi, but why were there people killed? The army was under stress, it is not used to crowd control so they shot, but I called them. The army said that some protesters were drunk, others were on hallucinogens or drugs. The army has to defend its weapons. And the people were angry. So there were deaths, but in the end Libyans were killed, he had said.

Listing three factors behind the violence, Gaddafi had added, The third part are these children who took the drugs and were used. These are facts like it or not.

The repeat of arguments justifying the violence against the dissidents come at a time when the dictator continues to lose support of officials as well as the army. After Libyan diplomats in several countries severed ties with Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi's closest aides announced on Thursday that he was renouncing Gaddafi's leadership. Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, a cousin, cited grave violations to human rights and human and international laws as the reason behind his move.