With their father’s death confirmed Thursday, what has become of Moammar Gadhafi’s eight children?
Conflicting reports on the fates of Gadhafi’s seven sons and one daughter, Aisha, have emerged at various points over the last months of conflict. Libya’s transition forces have claimed at various points since the fall of Tripoli in August to have captured or killed some of Gadhafi’s sons only for them later to reappear.
But according to the latest information, four of Gadhafi’s children appear to be living in exile–two sons and his one daughter Aisha in Algeria, and one son in Niger. Three of Gadhafi’s sons appear to be dead.
The fate of Gadhafi’s most well-known son and onetime presumed heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, appears to be a mystery. There were unconfirmed reports from Libya’s transition forces Friday that they had captured Seif al-Islam.
U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks this year describe bitter rivalries among Gadhafi’s children, particularly between Seif al-Islam against his siblings. “A series of events since last summer suggest that tension between various children of Muammar al-Qadhafi has increased, and that heir-apparent Saif al-Islam is arrayed against Muatassim, Aisha, Hannibal, Saadi and perhaps even his own mother,” Gene Cretz, the American ambassador to Libya, wrote in a 2009 cable. “Much of the tension appears to stem from resentment of Saif al-Islam’s high-profile as the public face of the regime; however, deeper tension about contradictions between Saif al-Islam’s proposed political-economic reforms, which would hurt his siblings’ economic interests, and the old school manner by which he has tried to monopolize the most lucrative economic sectors, also play an important role. … While internecine strife is nothing new for the famously fractious al-Qadhafi family, the recent escalation of tension comes during a particularly momentous period.”
The Algerian foreign ministry confirmed in August that a convoy carrying one of Gadhafi’s wives and three of her children–sons Hannibal and Mohammad and her pregnant daughter Aisha–had entered the country. Aisha, a French-trained trained lawyer, had once served on the defense team for another Middle Eastern strongman, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who met a violent end similar to her father’s.
The African nation of Niger said in September that it had granted refuge to Gadhafi’s soccer-playing son Saadi, a playboy whose bisexual affairs were described in redacted U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks as a source of intense distress for his father.
Three of Gadhafi’s sons–Mo’tassim, Khamis and Saif al-Arab–are believed to have died in the last seven months of upheaval.
Gadhafi’s son Saif al-Arab was reportedly killed in a NATO air strike on his compound in May that also reportedly killed some of his children. He had previously worked as a businessman in Germany. “The spoilt son of an indulgent father, he studied in Germany and was reported to have been involved in a fight at a Munich nightclub with a bouncer who tried to throw out his female companion after she began to undress on the dance floor,” Reuters reported.
Gadhafi’s son Khamis was reportedly killed on Aug. 29 in “fighting southeast of Tripoli,” Reuters reported, citing confirmation from a pro-Gadhafi Syrian media outlet.
Gadhafi’s son Mo’tassim was apparently killed this week in fighting near his father’s ancestral home of Sirte, Reuters reported.
Mo’tassim’s “body, naked from the waist up, went on display in the city of Misrata,” where “local people jostled around the corpse … to take pictures on their cell phones,” Reuters reported.
And what’s become of Seif al-Islam, the London School of Economics-educated son who courted the Ivy League and Washington think tanks?
Seif al-Islam no doubt remains a top target of Libya’s transitional fighters.
“A senior official of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Friday that [Seif al-Islam] was fleeing south from the last Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte toward Libya’s border with Niger, where another son has already taken refuge,” Reuters reported. “Al Arabiya TV quoted NTC officials as saying Saif al-Islam had been captured near Misrata but this was unconfirmed.”