WikiLeaks cables detail Qaddafi clan’s extravagant exploits

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WASHINGTON - As the Qaddafi clan conducts a bloody struggle to hold onto power in Libya, cables obtained by the whistleblowing web site WikiLeaks offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called “Qadhafi Incorporated.”

The clan’s antics have added to the public anger that is now boiling over. Simultaneously, tensions between siblings are contributing to the chaos in the oil-rich African country, the New York Times reports.

The Qaddafi children are described as jockeying for position as their father Colonel Muammar Qaddafi ages.

“All of the Qaddafi children and favorites are supposed to have income streams from the National Oil Company and oil service subsidiaries,” one cable from 2006 says.

A year ago, a cable reported that proliferating scandals had sent the clan into a “tailspin” and “provided local observers with enough dirt for a Libyan soap opera.”

After New Year’s Day 2009, Western media reported that Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, one of Muammar Qaddafi’s sons, had paid Mariah Carey a million dollars to sing just four songs at a bash on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.

In the newspaper he controlled, Seif indignantly denied the report. He said the big spender was his brother, Muatassim, Libya’s national security adviser.

It was Muatassim, too, the cable said, who had demanded 1.2 billion dollars in 2008 from the chairman of Libya’s national oil corporation, reportedly to establish his own militia. That would let him keep up with yet another brother, Khamis, commander of a special-forces group that “effectively serves as a regime protection unit.”

Muatassim had repeated his St. Barts New Year’s fest, this time hiring the pop singers Beyonc� and Usher.

An unnamed “local political observer” in Tripoli told American diplomats that Muatassim’s “carousing and extravagance angered some locals, who viewed his activities as impious and embarrassing to the nation.”

Another brother, Hannibal, meanwhile, had fled London after being accused of physically abusing his wife, Aline, and after the intervention of a Qaddafi daughter, Ayesha, who traveled to London despite being “many months pregnant,” the cable reported.

Ayesha, along with Col. Qaddafi’s second wife, Safiya, the mother of six of his eight children, “advised Aline to report to the police that she had been hurt in an ‘accident,’ and not to mention anything about abuse,” the cable said.

Amid his siblings’ shenanigans, Seif, the president’s second-eldest son, had been “opportunely disengaged from local affairs,” spending the holidays hunting in New Zealand.

His philanthropy, the Qaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, had sent hundreds of tons of aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and he was seen as a reasonable prospect to succeed his father.

The same 2010 cable said young Libyan contacts had reported that Seif al-Islam is the ‘hope’ of ‘Libya al-Ghad’ (Libya of tomorrow), with men in their twenties saying that they aspire to be like Seif and think he is the right person to run the country.

They describe him as educated, cultured, and someone who wants a better future for Libya,” by contrast with his brothers, the cable said.

That was then. Today the young protesters on the streets are demanding the ouster of the entire family, and it was Seif el-Qaddafi who declared on television at 1 a.m. Monday that Libya faced civil war and “rivers of blood” if the people did not rally around his father. (ANI)

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