A Decade Later, What’s Become of the Gaddafi Family in Libya?


After four decades of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya, he was ousted and killed in the 2011 uprising, but several of his family members survived. A decade on, what has happened to them?

Three of Gaddafi’s seven sons were killed in the 2011 civil war. Mutassim was killed by rebels in his home town of Sirte on 20 October 2011, the same day as his father.
Another son, Saif al-Arab, was killed in a NATO air strike in April 2011, and youngest son, Khamis died in combat four months later, at the height of the revolt.

But other members of the Gaddafi clan survived, including his wife Safiya, his eldest son Mohamed – from his first marriage — and daughter Aisha, who are known to be living in exile. After the fall of Tripoli to rebels in August 2011, Safiya, Mohamed, and Aisha escaped to neighbouring Algeria. They were later granted refuge in the Sultanate of Oman on condition they do not carry out political activities, the country’s then Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aziz told AFP in 2013.

Aisha, a lawyer by profession and a former UN goodwill ambassador, had been part of an international defence team for Saddam Hussein after the Iraqi leader was ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion.

High-rolling son Hannibal also sought refuge in Algeria after the uprising, before trying to join his wife Aline Skaf, in Lebanon. Lebanese authorities arrested and charged him in 2015 with withholding information about prominent Muslim Shiite cleric Musa Al-Sadr, who went missing in 1978 during a visit to Libya. The couple had previously sparked a diplomatic incident in Switzerland in 2008, when they were arrested in a luxury Geneva hotel for assaulting two former domestic employees.

Saadi Gaddafi – once a professional footballer in Italy – fled to Niger after the uprising but was later extradited to Libya, where he is wanted for murder and repression of the revolt. He is currently held in a Tripoli prison, and accused of crimes committed against protesters in 2011, and of the 2005 killing of Libyan football player Bashir Al-Rayani.

Mystery, however, surrounds the whereabouts of heir apparent, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He was captured by a militia in November 2011, days after his father was killed.

Four years later, a Tripoli court sentenced him in absentia to death for crimes committed during the revolt. The armed group which captured him announced in 2017 that Saif Al-Islam had been released. The claim was never confirmed independently, and in 2019, the ICC prosecutor said there was “reliable” information that he remained in the town of Zintan. Saif al-Islam has not been seen or heard from since June 2014, when he appeared via video from Zintan during his trial by the Tripoli court.

Thousands of his supporters, including from his own Gaddafi tribe, fled Libya after the regime’s fall, with many settling in Egypt and Tunisia. “Contrary to what is thought, the Gaddafi tribe suffered under the regime of Gaddafi, and several members who had opposed him landed in jail,” said Libyan law professor Amani Al-Hejrissi.

Many pined for home, and a group in Cairo later revived the Al-Jamahiriya television network, the state television channel. But could Gaddafi ‘s exiled supporters play a political role in the now divided country? “I don’t think so,” said Hejrissi. “Most Libyans see the fallen regime as the root of the corruption and destruction of the political system.”

Source: AlHurra News