Just who is Saif Gaddafi?

Saif al-Islam ("Sword of Islam") Gaddafi has the world wondering exactly who he is.

Gaddafi was born in 1972. Besides studying in Austria and at the London School of Economics, he founded the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation in 1999, according to a report on Monsters and Critics.

The second oldest son of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, he "was widely viewed as liberal, talented, and a force for change," wrote Peter Goodspeed in Canada's National Post.

That is, until he shocked many with a speech in late February wherein he repeated the government claim that protestors were on drugs and hallucinogens, said that the country was likely to descend into civil war if the protestors did not stand down, and threatened to fight to the last man, woman, and bullet.

Since that speech, former friends and business associates in the west have been distancing themselves from Gaddafi, reported BBC News.

Others who knew Gaddafi have been trying to reconcile the liberal reformer they thought they knew with the brutal, repressive figure he seems to have become. Professor David Held (quoted in the National Post), who informally advised Gaddafi during Gaddafi's time at the London School of Economics, described the Gaddafi giving the speech as "A young man torn by a struggle between loyalty to his father and his family, and the beliefs he had come to hold for reform, democracy and the rule of law."

Adding to the bewildering picture is a recent report by Reuters that Saif Gaddafi and other members of Muammar Gaddafi's entourage have been putting out "feelers" in an attempt to establish a ceasefire with the allied forces who have been conducting U.N.-backed airstrikes in Libya, or alternatively to ascertain safe passage from Libya.

It seemed to be unclear whether this outreach was authorized or even known of by Muammar Gaddafi, who had sworn in a speech in February to die a martyr on Libyan soil.

Saif Gaddafi is also known to be a surrealist painter, whose art exhibition "The Desert Is Not Silent" has been making the rounds in the west over the past eight years, according to the New Statesman. Some, but not all, of Gaddafi's paintings are political. One featured his late pet tiger Fredo.

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This page contains a single entry by SR Miller published on March 26, 2011 3:22 PM.

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