WikiLeaks cables: A guide to Gaddafi’s ‘famously fractious’ family

Published On February 22, 2011 | By Matt Gratz | Wikileaks, Wikileaks cables

US embassy cables shed light on Gaddafi family – including son Saif al-Islam, who vowed in TV address to eradicate enemies

Muammar Gaddafi
 
Muammar Gaddafi presides over a ‘dysfunctional’ family of eight offspring, WikiLeaks cables reveal. Photograph: Sabri Elmhedwi/EPA Ian Black guardian.co.uk

The leader of the Libyan revolution presides over a “famously fractious” family that is powerful, wealthy, dysfunctional and marked by internecine struggles, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. The documents shed light on how his eight children – among whom rivalries have sharpened in recent years – his wife and Gaddafi himself lead their lives.


Muammar Gaddafi

The patriarch, now 68, was described by US ambassador to Tripoli, Gene Cretz, in 2009 as a “mercurial and eccentric figure who suffers from severe phobias, enjoys flamenco dancing and horseracing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike.” Gaddafi has an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, and prefers not to fly over water, the cables add.

Safiya (nee Farkash)

Gaddafi’s second wife travels by chartered jet in Libya, with a motorcade of Mercedes vehicles waiting to pick her up at the airport to take her to her destination, but her movements are limited and discreet. Hosted a banquet in the Bab al-Azizia compound on the occasion of the anniversary of the revolution that was festive but not extravagant. Hails from Benghazi, the centre of the rebellion in eastern Libya.

Saif al-Islam

Second-eldest son. Presumed heir-apparent in recent years who warned of civil war when he addressed the nation on Sunday night. A trained engineer who promotes political and economic reform and backed NGOs under the aegis of the International Charitable Gaddafi Foundation. Has PhD from the London School of Economics.

“Saif al-Islam’s high-profile role as the public face of the regime to the west has been a mixed blessing for him. Has bolstered his image but many Libyans view him as self-aggrandising and too eager to please foreigners,” the US embassy said.

Escorted the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to die in August 2009 “and persisted in his hard-partying, womanising ways, a source of concern in a socially conservative country like Libya”. Cables claim at odds with siblings Muatassim, Aisha, Hannibal, and Sa’adi.

Sa’adi

Third-eldest son. “Notoriously ill-behaved Sa’adi has a troubled past, including scuffles with police in Europe (especially Italy), abuse of drugs and alcohol, excessive partying, travel abroad in contravention of his father’s wishes Former professional footballer (a single season with Perugia in Italy’s Serie A league, he owns a significant share of al-Ahli, one of the two biggest soccer teams in Libya, and has run Libya’s football federation). An engineer by training, Sa’adi was briefly an officer in a special forces unit.

Used troops under his control to affect the outcome of business deals. Owns a film production company. Reported to have been involved in crushing the protests in Benghazi.

Muatassim

Fourth-eldest son. Father’s national security adviser and until recently a rising star. In 2008 he asked for $1.2bn (£739m) to establish a military or security unit akin to that of his younger brother, Khamis. Lost control of many of his personal business interests between 2001 and 2005 when his brothers took advantage of his absence to put in place their own partnerships. Described as “not very bright” by Serbian ambassador. Gets on badly with Saif al-Islam.

Hannibal

Chequered history of unseemly behavior and public scuffles with authorities in Europe and elsewhere. Arrest in Geneva over alleged beating his servants led to bilateral spat with Switzerland, in which Swiss were forced to back down under threat of withdrawal of Libyan investments.

In December 2009, police were called to Claridge’s hotel in London after staff heard a scream from Hannibal’s room. Aline Skaf, now his wife, was found to have suffered facial injuries but charges were not brought after she maintained she had sustained the injuries in a fall. Fifth eldest son.

Khamis

Gaddafi’s sixth son and the “well-respected” commander of a special forces unit – 32nd battalion or Khamis brigade that effectively serves as a regime protection unit and was reportedly involved in suppressing unrest in Benghazi. Trained in Russia.

Aisha

Daughter who mediates in family disputes ands runs NGO. Reported to have financial interests in a private clinic in Tripoli, one of two trustworthy facilities that supplement the unreliable healthcare available through public facilities. Lionel Richie was flown to Libya several years ago to sing at her birthday celebration. A younger adopted daughter, Hanna, was killed in the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986.

Muhammad

The eldest son, but by Gaddafi’s first wife. Heads the Libyan Olympic committee that now owns 40% of the Libyan Beverage Company, currently the Libyan joint venture Coca-Cola franchisee. Also runs general post and telecommunications committee.

Saif al-Arab

Least publicly known of the eight children. Reportedly lives in Munich, where it is claimed he pursues ill-defined business interests and spends much time partying.

Like all the Gaddafi children and favourites is supposed to have income streams from the national oil company and oil services subsidiaries. A seventh son, Milad Abuztaia, is an adopted nephew.

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Matt Gratz
Matt Gratz founded Political Fail Blog in December of 2010. As a human rights activist, Matt has spent years in the bay area fighting for social justice in the streets. Follow PFB to keep up to date with his photos, videos & blogs! Follow me on twitter!

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