WikiLeaks cables detail Gadhafi family's exploits

In the newspaper he controlled, Seif indignantly denied the report — the big spender,  he said, was his brother and Libya’s national security adviser Muatassim,  according to an American diplomatic cable from the capital, Tripoli.

It was Muatassim, too, the cable said, who had demanded $1.2 billion in 2008 from the chairman of Libya’s national oil corporation 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.”

As the Gadhafi clan conducts a bloody struggle to hold onto power in Libya, cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called “Gadhafi Incorporated,” using the State Department’s preference from the multiple spellings for Libya’s troubled first family.

The glimpses of the clan’s antics in recent years that have reached Libyans despite Gadhafi’s tight control of the media have added to the public anger now boiling over. And the tensions between siblings could emerge as a factor in the chaos in the oil-rich African country.

Though the Gadhafi children are described as jockeying for position as their father ages — three sons fought to profit from a new Coca-Cola franchise — they have been well taken care of, cables say.

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.”

Muatassim had repeated his St Barts New Year’s fest, this time hiring the pop singers Beyonce 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. Ayesha, who travelled to London despite being “many months pregnant.”

Charity

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 Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation, had sent hundreds of tonne of aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

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 20s saying that they aspire to be like Seif and think he is the right person to run the country.

That was then. Today the young protesters on the streets are demanding the ouster of the entire family, and it was Seif el-Gadhafi who declared on television on Monday that Libya faced civil war and “rivers of blood” if the people did not rally around his father.
‘Hypochondriac’

As for the 68-year-old Gadhafi, the cables provide an arresting portrait, describing him as a hypochondriac who fears flying over water and often fasts on Mondays and Thursdays.

The cables said he was an avid fan of horse racing and flamenco dancing who once added “King of Culture” to the long list of titles he had awarded himself. The memos also said he was accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde,” the senior member of his posse of Ukrainian nurses.

After Gadhafi abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, many American officials praised his cooperation. Before Condoleezza Rice visited Libya in 2008 — the first secretary of state to do so since 1953 — the embassy in Tripoli sought to accentuate the positive.

True,  Gadhafi was “notoriously mercurial” and “avoids making eye contact,” the cable warned Rice. But he was “a voracious consumer of news,” the cable added, who had such distinctive ideas as resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a single new state called “Isratine.”

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