Meet the Gaddafis

2011-08-30 10:10

Tunis –  earned reputations for extravagance, violence and dysfunctional behaviour that attracted almost as many hostile headlines as their eccentric and ruthless father.

In the first official word on the fate of surviving family members, Algeria said it had given refuge to Gaddafi’s wife yesterday with three children – Hannibal, Mohammed and daughter Aisha.

Two other sons, Saif al-Islam and Saadi, have vanished.

For years, jealousy and greed had poisoned relations within the family, but as rebels challenged the Libyan ruling system, Gaddafi’s seven sons and one daughter closed ranks around their father, breaking off lives that in many cases had been lived abroad, sometimes in the harsh glare of publicity.

Most prominent once the revolt began was Saif al-Islam, whose bellicose loyalist rhetoric forced Libya analysts rapidly to rethink previous views that the 39-year-old was a reformer.

Once seen as the acceptable face of the Libyan regime, Saif al-Islam, like his father, is now wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

The English-speaking Saif al-Islam, who studied at the London School of Economics, was once seen as a possible successor to his father as Libyan leader.

His brother Saif al-Arab (29) was killed in a Nato bombing raid on Tripoli.

As a four-year-old, he was wounded in an air strike on his father’s compound in the capital ordered by then US President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

In US diplomatic cables detailing Gaddafi family rivalries, Saif al-Arab is said to have spent “much time partying”.

Another brother, Khamis, was reported killed yesterday, but two earlier reports of his death have proved premature.

If he is alive, the ICC prosecutor said he may put Khamis on the wanted list after a military brigade he commanded was accused of killing dozens of detainees in Tripoli.

Hannibal, whose official position was head of the state shipping company, was involved in a series of incidents abroad.

In 2008, he and his wife were arrested in a Geneva hotel for the mistreatment of two maids.

The incident snowballed into a major diplomatic row with Switzerland during which two Swiss businessmen were detained for long periods in Libya.

His brother Saadi is chiefly known abroad for his obsession with soccer. He had a brief and undistinguished career with several Italian clubs and also captained the Libyan national team, whose coach was once fired for not selecting him.

Little has been heard of Gaddafi’s eldest son Mohammed, an engineer who was put in charge of Libya’s Olympic Committee and the General Posts and Telecommunications Committee.

Similarly, Muatassim, who served as Gaddafi’s security adviser and handled his father’s media image on trips abroad – occasions when some of the leader’s more bizarre behaviour came to light – was little heard of once the fighting started.

Gaddafi’s daughter, Aisha, studied in France and spoke out in defence of her father after the fighting started.

Her glamorous image led some to describe her as the Claudia Schiffer of North Africa.

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