Saif al-Islam Qadhafi
On 19 November 2011, it was reported that Saif al-Islam Qadhafi had been arrested by the authorities in the south of Libya. Saif and several bodyguards were said to have been detained in Zintan, south of Tripoli. Saif al-Islam Qaddafi was suspected of crimes against humanity, for which Interpol issued a "red notice" for his arrest in early September 2011. Saif al-Islam was last of Moammar Qadhafi's eight surviving children unaccounted for following the collapse of their father's rule. He was not reported to have been injured in the arrest and was said to be in good health, but later images and video showed him with bandages on his hand. It was unclear when he sustained those injuries.
The Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations (GIFCA) was headed by engineer Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi, the elder son of Colonel Moammar Gaddafi. The charity played a significant and beneficial role overseas and conducted negotiations and ransom payments for the release of numerous western hostages in Africa and in South East Asia, notably in the Philippines and Algeria. However, GIFCA had not specified how many deaths there had been in Libyan prisons nor what had been done to ensure that such deaths did not occur in the future. GIFCA was the agency that had funded the US millions of dollars compensation money for the families of the Lockerbie and UTA bombing victims, money which, it was claimed, did not originate from the coffers of the Libyan public or government.
For several years there had been speculation that Gaddafi might have been preparing his eldest son, Seif al-Islam, to succeed him as "Guide of the Revolution." The rumours grew after reports Gaddafi had charged his son with some diplomatic missions to Arab countries on his behalf. Seif al-Islam (Sword of Islam), born in 1971, graduated in 1993 from Tripoli's al-Fateh University where he studied urban engineering. He was officially head of the National Consultancy in charge of drawing out plans for state projects. He also chaired the National Anti-drug Association of Libya.
On 19 December 2003, Libya agreed to destroy all of its chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. The surprise announcement followed 9 months of secret talks between Libyan, American, and British officials. Libya agreed to allow for immediate inspections and monitoring, and to eliminate ballistic missiles traveling more than 300 kilometers with a 500 kilogram payload.
Shahram Chubin, director of studies at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, believed Moammar Gaddafi was paving the way for a secure succession for his son. "I think that Libya -- and in particular its leadership -- are getting ready for succession. They must have recognized that it makes sense to bring Libya back into the fold of the international community, and to do that they'd have to dispense with these [weapons] programs that they've been having for many, many years, which clearly serve no rational purpose. And I think it's a recognition by Gadhafi that he wants to let his son succeed him and to leave Libya in a slightly better position if he gets rid of these useless weapons, which have created unnecessary distrust and suspicion on the part of its neighbors and, of course, the international community as a whole, including Britain and the United States," Chubin said (Source).
State media took over the quasi-independent al-Libiyya satellite television channel on 24 April 2009 in the middle of an interview program featuring Revolutionary Committee (RevComm) member Mustafa Zaidi. The state-run al-Jamahiriya channel immediately began to simulcast its programming on al-Libiyya's signal. Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, chaired the al-Ghad Media Group, which included al-Libiyya TV, as well as 2 daily newspapers and a second satellite TV channel aimed at a young adult demographic. Al-Ghad newspapers covered al-Mishri's arrest and announced that al-Libiyya would relocate overseas with the help of an unnamed investor.
Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi had launched al-Libiyya in 2007 as part of his al-Ghad Media Group venture. While the group's assets featured more diverse programming and news coverage than the circumspect state-run outlets, they were rarely openly critical of the regime and adhered to the "red lines" delineated by Saif al-Islam. Al-Ghad retained one other satellite channel, al-Shabibiyya, and 2 daily newspapers, Oea (oealibya.com), and Quryna (quryna.com). Oea ran an interview with Ain Qurb host Hala al-Misrati on 29 April 2009 describing her interrupted interview with state officials. Al-Misrati downplayed the interruption of her program, saying the individuals who questioned her were not security officers and characterizing their questions as benign. She blamed differences of opinion between her guest, RevComm member Zaidi, and other RevComm members for the crisis and criticized the strictures placed on journalists in Libya by reactionary regime figures.
The reasons for the government's aggressive move against al-Libiyya were unclear. One theory was that program content provoked the ire of Leader Muammar al-Qadhafi (by being too critical of his regime, and/or by angering Egypt). Another theory was that the leader wanted to further reduce the power-base of his popular son Saif al-Islam in the lead-up to the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought al-Qadhafi to power. After years as the heir apparent and champion of reform, Saif al-Islam had suffered a year of setbacks: government restructuring had been twice postponed; Libya's first constitution in 40 years remained in secret, draft form; his attempts to negotiate an end to the Swiss-Libyan contretemps failed; and an 2 March 2009 government reshuffle seemed to have increased the influence of some who had complained about his calls for reform. His brother and chief rival for leadership, National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi, on the other hand, recently completed a highly-publicized visit to Washington and appeared to be taking on a larger role in Libya's security, intelligence, and foreign policy spheres.
Saif al-Islam had a reputation for making sensational public announcements about new initiatives and then not following through as well. In February 2009 Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi established a new human rights organization, the Arab Alliance for Democracy, Development and Human Rights, whose mandate would consist of tracking human rights abuses in the Middle East, to include identifying specific individuals who perpetrated abuses and targeting them for sanctions. An initial meeting of NGO representatives from the region subsequently took place in Tripoli. Saif al-Islam was elected honorary chair at the meeting, and the organization was then "up and running." The organization had been in touch with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch about how to be an effective human rights organization, and had invited Human Rights Watch, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republic Institute to visit Libya. Saif al-Islam also announced that he intended to open a democracy research institute in Europe (London and Vienna, 2 cities he knew well, had been mentioned), which could have afforded a more removed platform from which to pursue issues still deemed neuralgic by some in Libya.
Reform-minded Libyans were "cautiously hopeful" regarding the 6 October 2009 appointment of Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi as "General Coordinator." While Saif al-Islam was widely seen as a reformer, he faced continued resistance from the Libyan old guard. Some observers believed that the appointment was meant to give the regime a "new lease on life" and counter subtle yet growing voices of opposition, particularly with respect to corruption. Given that Saif al-Islam was out of the country when the appointment was made, the meaning of his new position would only start to become clear when he returned to Tripoli. Some fear that the official role would constrain Saif, who had been relatively free to act and speak out in favor of reform in his nominally "non-governmental" position as Chairman of the Qadhafi Development Foundation.
Saif was widely known to be a reformer within Libya, but had often encountered resistance from the old guard Revolutionary Committee (RevComm) leaders when proposing drastic changes to the government structure, such as the drafting of a constitution or calls to scale back RevComm influence on government administration. He was expected to encounter the same resistance in his new role. He had a lot of good ideas, but some believed he had been too outspoken about them in the past. Saif's position was seen as only being effective if empowered with the authority to make decisions and act on them.
Although critics believed him to be too anxious to appease western countries and too glib, many express support for Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi and his proposed political and economic reforms.
Despite all of his attempts at reform and his public overtures in support of increasing liberalization of Libya, Saif al-Islam Qadhafi remained firmly in the government camp during the uprising that began in early 2011. Saif al-Islam Qaddafi was suspected of being party to crimes against humanity during the rule of his father and during the uprising in 2011, leading Interpol to issue a "red notice" for his arrest in early September 2011.
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