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All the colonel's children: following the fate of Gaddafi's progeny

Gaddafi's progeny are paying a very dear price for their father's megalomania

Gamal Nkrumah, Monday 29 Aug 2011
Khamis Gaddafi (R) is seen alongside his father and brother Saif al-Islam (L) in a picture held by a student near a building at Fatih University in Tripoli in this June 18, (Reuters).

The will-he-will-he-not question on everybody's mind is whether Gaddafi will give himself up or flee to a neighbouring African nation, Algeria or south of the Sahara. The other most pertinent question is whether any of his seven sons and one daughter will survive the storming of Tripoli by the Liberation Army of the National Transitional Council (NTC) and the demise of their father's regime.

At least one of Gaddafi's sons is officially considered dead: Seif Al-Arab. The whereabouts of the others is unknown. Seif Al-Islam, Gaddafi's second son and the most high-profile of his offspring is presumed still in Libya, perhaps not in Tripoli itself. Once the champion of political reform and democratisation, he had an about face and was parroting his father's rhetoric. He aroused the wrath of many Libyans when he arrogantly and pointedly accused them of treachery warning dissenters and wagging his index finder - much to the consternation of his own people.

But more of Seif Al-Islam later. Now let us turn to Aisha, Gaddafi's only daughter and a political animal in her own right. She was once tipped to lead Libya and as heir apparent that caused a sensation in a patriarchal and tribal country where strong men hold sway. Aisha is reported to have lost a son and her husband, who was a general in Gaddafi's army. As a widow on the run with two other orphaned children of her own and probably some of her brothers' sons and daughters she is rumoured to be suffering a nervous breakdown and health problems related to depression.

Aisha is reported to be in neighbouring Tunisia temporarily and is trying to find a safe haven for herself, her children and her nieces and nephews. Her mother Safiya is also in hiding in Tunisia temporarily. As she never held political office it is not likely that the NTC will demand her prosecution. Aisha is a lawyer by profession and she was a United Nations goodwill ambassador and was popular as a leader in Libya.

In sharp contrast to his sister, who speaks in measured tones and with the calculated deliberations of a seasoned lawyer, Seif Al-Islam probably does not write his own speeches long in advance. He is an engineering and as moody as a typical Cancerian man, born on 25 June. He obtained his MBA from Vienna's IMADEC University in 2000 and a BSc in Engineering Science from Tripoli's Al-Fateh University. He is also artistic and exhibited his The Desert Is Not Silent 2002-2005. Not a Picasso, he nevertheless displayed some talent. One would have wished that he had stuck to art rather than dabbling in politics.

The most controversial aspect of his educational credentials is his dubious PhD. His thesis revolved around the role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions: from "soft power" to collective decision-making. How on earth he reconciled his thesis to his political ramblings towards the end of his father's rule is inexplicable. He will go down in history as a hypocrite and a liar.

Khamis is perhaps the most controversial of all of Gaddafi's spoiled brats. He graduated from Frunze Military Academy in Moscow and has a degree in military arts and science. He has never been interested in anything civilian; only military matters. Unlike Aisha's Wa Attassimou Charity Foundation and Seif Al-Islam's Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Association, Khamis headed no such NGO and was not interested in anything that is not bellicose and warlike.

Khamis hated the West ever since he was injured in the April 1986 US bombings of Gaddafi's residence and was reported injured in the head. The incident obviously affected him and determined the course of his career. He was never academically-inclined and was perhaps the most blood-thirsty of Gaddafi's progeny.

His militaristic talents were displayed in full force during the Libyan civil war earlier this year. His ruthlessness and bloodymindedness was proverbial. He and the regiment he headed were feared and loathed by his adversaries. However, he failed at the Battle of Misrata and the Zleiten. Though he managed to hold the NTC's Liberation Army at bay he ultimately failed to enter either Misrata or to hold on to Zleiten.

Khamis was also reportedly involved in the bombing of a Berlin discotheque in 1986. He was thought to have been killed in the NATO airstrike that destroyed the house of his aunt's husband and Gaddafi's intelligence chief Abdalla Al-Senoussi. Both Khamis and his uncle were later reported to be alive and kicking. However, he has never been seen since and it is not known if he is in Libya or has fled the country.

Seif Al-Islam and Aisha are the most politically prominent of Gaddafi's offspring. Aisha was applauded in many Arab circles for defending Muntadar Al-Zaidi after the infamous shoe-hurling incident aimed at former US president George W Bush. She was also a victim of sexism when her father forcibly married her off to Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator. She divorced the latter to pursue her legal studies.

Seif Al-Islam, too, exhibited some independence and single-mindedness when he defied his father and conceded that Bulgarian nurses were tortured during the HIV/AIDs scandal involving hundreds of Libyan children.

Seif Al-Islam, like his brother Hannibal, who is married to a model Aline Skaf, are notorious for their disgraceful fits at the Hotel in London and other European destinations. Seif Al-Islam, too, partied at St Tropez and Monaco and was hosted at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle by the British royal family. It obviously all got to his head and he became too big for his boots.

Of all Gaddafi's sons, the most gentle is his firstborn Mohamed who eschewed the dirty politics of his brethren. He remained aloof and humble and he was derided by his siblings as weak and apolitical.

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