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Saif al-Islam redirects here. For others with this given name, see Saiful Islam (disambiguation).

Saif al-Islam Muammar al-Gaddafi
سيف الإسلام معمر القذافي
Personal details
Born 25 June 1972(1972-06-25) (age 50)
Tripoli, Libya
Alma mater Al Fateh University
International Management Development Consulting University
London School of Economics[1]
Profession Engineer
Religion Islam
Website Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations
Military service
Allegiance Libya Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Service/branch Libyan Army
Years of service 2011
Battles/wars 2011 Libyan civil war
* Battle of Tripoli
* Battle of Bani Walid

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (Arabic language: سيف الإسلام معمر القذافي‎, translated as "Sword of Islam"; born 25 June 1972) is a former Libyan political figure. He is the second son of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his second wife Safia Farkash. Gaddafi was awarded a PhD from London School of Economics.

He was a part of his father's inner circle, performing public relations and diplomatic roles on behalf of his father.[2] He publicly turned down his father's offer of the country's second highest post and held no official government position. According to American State Department officials in Tripoli, during his father's reign, he was the second most-widely recognized person in Libya and was at times the "de facto" Prime Minister,[3] and was mentioned as a possible successor, though he rejected this.[4] An arrest warrant was issued for him by the International Criminal Court for charges of crimes against humanity against the Libyan people, for torturing and killing civilians,[5] a charge that he has denied.[6] Gaddafi was arrested on 19 November 2011, after the end of the Libyan Civil War, in southern Libya and flown by plane to Zintan, where he remains detained.

Education and career

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi graduated with a bachelor of science degree in engineering science from Tripoli's Al Fateh University in 1994. However, there is another report stating that he is an architect.[7] He earned an Master from Vienna's IMADEC University in 2000. His paintings made up the bulk of the international Libyan art exhibit, "The Desert is Not Silent" (2002–2005),[8] a show which was supported by a host of international corporations with direct ties to his father's regime, among them the ABB Group and Siemens.[9]

Gaddafi was awarded a PhD degree in 2008 from the London School of Economics, where he attended amid a series of contacts between the school and the Libyan political establishment. He presented a thesis on "The role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions: from 'soft power' to collective decision-making?"[10][11] Examined by Meghnad Desai (London School of Economics) and Anthony McGrew (University of Southampton), among the LSE academics acknowledged in the thesis as directly assisting with it were Nancy Cartwright, David Held and Alex Voorhoeve (the son of former Dutch minister Joris Voorhoeve). Professor Joseph Nye of Harvard University is also thanked for having read portions of the manuscript and providing advice and direction.[12][13] Furthermore, allegations abound that Saif's thesis was in many parts ghost-written by consultants from Monitor Group, which pocketed $3 million per year in fees from Muammar Gaddafi.[14] Speaking in Sabha on 20 August 2008, Gaddafi said that he would no longer involve himself in state affairs. He noted that he had previously "intervene[d] due to the absence of institutions",[15] but said that he would no longer do so. He dismissed any potential suggestion that this decision was due to disagreement with his father, saying that they were on good terms. He also called for political reforms within the context of the Jamahiriya system and rejected the notion that he could succeed his father, saying that "this is not a farm to inherit".[15]

Charity and Social Affairs

Gaddafi was the president of the Libyan National Association for Drugs and Narcotics Control (DNAG). In 1998,[16] he founded the official charity, the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, which intervened in various hostage situations involving Islamic militants and the crisis of the HIV trial in Libya and the resulting European Union-Libyan rapprochement.

In 2009, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were allowed entry to Libya, via Gaddafi's non-profit organization in order to gather facts about the human rights situation in Libya.[17][18] While AI and HRW reported that there were concerns about the "repressive atmosphere," both felt there were signs of "improvement" and HRW said that one should not "underestimate the importance of the efforts made so far" by Gaddafi in the realm of human rights in Libya.[19]

In December 2010, Gaddafi announced that his charity foundation "will no longer be involved in promoting human rights and political change in the north African country," and that instead, it "will focus on its 'core charitable mission' of delivering aid and relief to sub-Saharan Africa."[20]

International diplomacy

Gaddafi was instrumental in negotiations that led to Libya's abandoning a weapons of mass destruction programme in 2002–2003. He arranged several important business deals on behalf of the Libyan regime in the period of rapprochement that followed. He was viewed as a reformer, and openly criticised the regime:[21]

[a] congressional aide asked him what Libya needed most. His one-word answer: democracy.

"You mean Libya needs more democracy?" the aide asked. "No. 'More democracy’ would imply that we had some," Gaddafi said.

In 2003, he published a report critical of Libya's record on human rights.

On 10 December 2004, shortly before a trip by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to Tripoli, in an interview with The Globe and Mail Gaddafi requested a formal apology from the Canadian government, for joining U.S.-led sanctions against Libya after the Lockerbie bombing, and for denying him a student visa to study in Canada in 1997. His request was met with incredulity in Canada, and the Canadian government announced that no apology would be forthcoming.

HIV trial

Gaddafi admitted in interviews that the Bulgarian nurses charged with conspiring to deliberately infect over 400 children with HIV in 1998 had been tortured and that the government had denied them a fair trial. His admissions were said to have badly damaged his reputation in Libya.[3]

Isratine proposal

Saif introduced the Isratine proposal to permanently resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a secular, federalist, republican one-state solution.[22] The first ever opinion poll survey to be undertaken in both Pakistani and Indian-controlled Kashmir, conducted by King's College, London, and the polling organisation IPSOS-MORI, was also Gaddafi's brainchild,[23] having arisen out of discussions he had with British academic Robert Bradnock, the author of the 2010 Chatham House report on the survey.[24]

Philippine peace process

Gaddafi served as Chairman of the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charitable Associations. In this role, he was involved in a number of humanitarian initiatives. Notably, he hosted peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Tripoli.[25] In the resulting peace agreement concluded on 22 June 2001, Gaddafi was expressly thanked for his involvement.[25] He was also the witness to the signing of the peace agreement.[25] The peace agreement forms a part of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro concluded in 2014.[26]

2008 agreement with Italy

Gaddafi was involved in negotiating compensation from Libya's former colonial power, Italy, and on 30 August 2008 a Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed in Benghazi by his father and Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.[27] However, the treaty was unilaterally suspended by Italy at the beginning of 2011, after Italy refused to consider Gaddafi government as their interlocutor.[28]

Compensation for American terror victims

He was also negotiating with the United States in order to conclude a comprehensive agreement making any further payments for American victims of terror attacks that have been blamed on Libya – such as the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing – conditional upon U.S. payment of compensation for the 40 Libyans killed and 220 injured in the 1986 United States bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi. On 14 August 2008, the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement was signed in Tripoli. Former British Ambassador to Libya Oliver Miles described the agreement as "a bold step, with political cost for both parties" and wrote an article in the online edition of The Guardian querying whether the agreement is likely to work.[29]

In an August 2008 BBC TV interview, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said that Libya had admitted responsibility (but not "guilt") for the Lockerbie bombing simply to get trade sanctions removed. He further admitted that Libya was being "hypocritical" and was "playing on words", but Libya had no other choice on the matter. According to Gaddafi, a letter admitting "responsibility" was the only way to end the economic sanctions imposed on Libya. When asked about the $10m (£5.3m) compensation that Libya was paying to each victims' family, he again repeated that Libya was doing so because it had no other choice. He went on to describe the families of the Lockerbie victims as "trading with the blood of their sons and daughters" and being very "greedy": "They were asking for more money and more money and more money".[30]

Diplomacy for extraditing Libyans

Interviewed by French newspaper Le Figaro on 7 December 2007, Gaddafi said that the seven Libyans convicted for the Pan Am Flight 103 and the UTA Flight 772 bombings "are innocent".[31] When asked if Libya would therefore seek reimbursement of the compensation paid to the families of the victims (US$2.33 billion), Gaddafi replied: "I don't know."[31] Gaddafi led negotiations with Britain for the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the convicted Pan Am 103 conspirator.[21]

In 2007, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Tripoli, with whom it is alleged he helped broker an arms deal, including missiles.[32][33][34]

In November 2008, Gaddafi made a high-profile visit to the United States where he met with US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. During the meeting, Rice raised the case of Libya's jailed political dissident and democracy activist, Fathi El-Jahmi.[35] Writing in Forbes in 2009, Fathi's brother writes that "for nearly a year, both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch hesitated to advocate publicly for Fathi's case, because they feared their case workers might lose access to Libyan visas."[36]

Stand-off with US officials

In 2009, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi claimed that Libya's opinion of him was shaped largely by his role in Libya's engagement with the West, saying "If something goes wrong, people will blame me, whether I am in a certain official position or not." He expressed frustration with the US, saying Libya's decision to give up its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs was contingent upon "compensation" from the US, including the signing of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, economic cooperation, and cooperation in purchasing conventional weapons and military equipment. He stated, "We share rich natural resources – oil and gas – along the borders, yet we have no capacity to defend that wealth." Because of a US legal embargo, Libya cannot purchase weapons from the United States, Sweden, or Germany, and has been disallowed from buying "Tiger" vehicles with American-manufactured engines from Jordan. He asked for greater military assistance, as Libya had committed itself to destroying chemical stockpiles, but would require at least $25 million to do so. Gaddafi said the United States had "humiliated" his father during his visit to New York in 2009, and said that his father's tent and residence issues were disappointing and his UN speech had been misinterpreted. Gaddafi said that his father was barred from visiting Ground Zero, which also frustrated him. Gaddafi held a standoff with US officials in November 2009, refusing to send a shipment of Highly Enriched Uranium back to Russia unless the United States renewed its commitment to cooperation with Libya.[37]

Libyan civil war


On 19 February, several days after the conflict began, Saif al-Islam announced the creation of a commission of inquiry into the violence, chaired by a Libyan judge, as reported on state television. He stated that the commission was intended to be "for members of Libyan and foreign organizations of human rights" and that it will "investigate the circumstances and events that have caused many victims."[38] Later in the month, he went on state television to deny allegations that the government had launched airstrikes against Libyan cities and stated that the number of protesters killed had been exaggerated.[39]

On 20 February, he made an extemporaneous speech on Libyan state TV, where he blamed the civil war on tribal factions and Islamists acting on their own agendas, drunken and drugged. He promised reforms, and said the alternative would be civil war causing no trade, no oil money, and the country taken over by foreigners.[40] He closed by saying, "We will not let Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC trick us." Many analysts disagreed with his assessment, including Oliver Miles, a former British Ambassador to Libya.[41][42] In an interview with ABC News reporter Christiane Amanpour, Saif al-Islam denied that his father's regime is killing civilians.[43] On 28 February, a video became available online in which Saif al-Islam appears to spur on a crowd of followers to fight the opposition, and promises weapons to them, while brandishing a G36 assault rifle.[44] In June 2011, Saif al-Islam and his father, Muammar, announced that they were willing to hold elections and that Muammar Gaddafi would step aside if he lost. Saif al-Islam stated that the elections could be held within three months and transparency would be guaranteed through international observers. NATO and the rebels rejected the offer, and NATO soon resumed their bombardment of Tripoli.[45] On 27 June, an arrest warrant was issued by the ICC.[46] On 1 July, Saif al-Islam had an interview with Russia Today, where he denied the ICC's allegations that he, or his father, ordered the killing of civilian protesters. He pointed out that he is not a member of the government or the military, and therefore has no authority to give such orders. According to Saif al-Islam, he made recorded calls to General Abdul Fatah Younis, who later defected to the rebel forces, in order to request not to use force against protesters, to which Younis responded that they are attacking a military site, where surprised guards fired in self-defence. Saif al-Islam also condemned NATO for bombing Libyan civilians, including his family members and their children, under the false pretence that their homes were military bases. He also stated that NATO offered to drop the ICC charges against him and his father if they accept a secret deal, an offer they rejected. He thus criticised the ICC as "a fake court" that is controlled by the NATO nations.[6][47] In August, Saif al-Islam gave an interview to the New York Times stating that Libya was becoming more closely aligned to Islamists and would likely resemble Iran or Saudi Arabia. Saif al-Islam said that his father was working closely with Islamists within the rebellion to splinter the resistance.[48]

On 21 August, the National Transitional Council claimed that Saif al-Islam was arrested by the National Liberation Army, pursuant to an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.[49] However, on the early morning of 23 August, Saif al-Islam was seen by Western journalists apparently moving around under his own free will outside the Rixos Hotel.[50][51]

After the fall of Tripoli, Saif al-Islam went to Bani Walid.{بني وليد} His brother, Al-Saadi contacted CNN, stating that he had the authority to negotiate on behalf of loyalist forces, and wished to discuss a ceasefire.[52] On 5 September, Al-Saadi said in an interview with CNN that an "aggressive" speech by his brother Saif al-Islam had led to the breakdown of the negotiations between NTC forces and Gaddafi loyalists in Bani Walid. Saif al-Islam stayed in Bani Walid until the town was captured by NTC forces.[53] On 17 October, after leaving Bani Walid, his convoy was hit by a NATO air attack at Wadi Zamzam where he lost 26 of his supporters and 9 military vehicles.[54] His right hand was wounded and according to his own explanation it happened during the NATO air strike. According to the Libyan Al Mashhad Al Leebi program, the fingers of his right hand were cut off.[55]


With the death of Muammar and Mutassim Gaddafi in Sirte on 20 October, Saif al-Islam was the only member of the Gaddafi family left in Libya. He appeared on Syrian pro-Gaddafi television on 22 October claiming "I am in Libya, I am alive and free and willing to fight to the end and take revenge",[56] but his whereabouts were unknown and subject to many rumours.

File:Saif al-Islam Gaddafi2011.JPG

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in a military aircraft in Zintan after he had been captured by Libyan soldiers.

An international team of lawyers representing the interests of Saif al-Islam wrote to US leaders demanding that he be protected from assassination and holding the United States and NATO responsible for the Libyan leader's "brutal assassination" and repeated attacks on Libya's civilian population.[57]

On 19 November 2011, as Saif al-Islam was trying to flee from Libya, he and four aides were captured,[58] and detained about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of the town of Ubari near Sabha in southern Libya, 640 kilometres (400 mi) from Tripoli.[59] Sources say that it was the betrayal by a Libyan nomad, Yussef Saleh al-Hotmani, that finally led to his capture. Yussef Saleh al-Hotmani told the interviewers that he was hired to guide a man to Niger and that he was offered €1 million for the job. Being offered such a huge sum of money, he suspected foul play as Saif's agent did not tell him whom he was going to guide. He contacted the rebel fighters and told them where a two vehicle convoy would pass through southern Libya on the night of 18 November and this allowed the rebel fighters to ambush the convoy. Saif was taken to Zintan by plane and, pending trial, he was kept in detention by the Zintan-militia that captured him.[60]

Criminal charges and trials

Based on his outstanding warrant the International Criminal Court (ICC) asked the new government about Saif al-Islam Gaddafi's detention.[59] The new government was unable or unwilling to comply with the ICC's information requests regarding Saif al-Islam.[61] New deadlines for information requests from the ICC were also missed. A brief filed by the Office of Public Counsel for the Defence on behalf of Gaddafi claimed that "there is no basis for asserting that the ICC should defer the case to Libya".[62] The brief requested the court to order Libya to immediately implement Gaddafi's rights, and report Libya to the Security Council if it does not.[62] In August 2012, the Libyan government announced that Saif al-Islam would stand trial in the western Libyan town of Zintan, in September 2012.[63] However, the trial was subsequently delayed. On 17 January 2013, Saif al-Islam appeared in court in Zintan.[citation needed] However, trial was again continued, and it wasn't until April 2014 that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared in court in Tripoli, via video link for security reasons.[64]

Meanwhile. Libya appealed his extradition to the Hague Court (ICC), but the court affirmed the indictments.[65] The court held that the Libyan government failed to show that Saif al-Islam is facing the same charges in Libya as he is in the Hague.[65]

Personal life

In 2006, the German newspaper Der Spiegel and the Spanish newspaper La Voz de Galicia reported that Saif al-Islam was romantically linked to Orly Weinerman, an Israeli actress and model.[66][67] At the time, Weinerman publicly denied having any contact whatsoever with Saif al-Islam, but she has since admitted it, and in September 2012, she asked former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to intervene in his trial in order to spare his life.[68][69]

In 2009, a party in Montenegro for his 37th birthday included well-known guests such as Oleg Deripaska, Peter Munk and Prince Albert of Monaco.[70]

Also in 2009, Saif al-Islam welcomed Sarah Leah Whitson, director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division, into Libya, accompanying her in meeting with many government officials and others during her visit. She wrote of her official visit that "the real impetus for the transformation rests squarely with a quasi-governmental organization, the Qaddafi Foundation for International Charities and Development" chaired by Gaddafi. She praised Gaddafi for establishing the country's two semi-private newspapers, and said "it is impossible to underestimate the importance of the efforts made so far. Let's hope this spring will last."[71]

British society

Saif al-Islam has been hosted at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle by the British royal family. He claims that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is a personal friend who took an interest in advising Libya on oil revenues and finance. In 2009, he spent a weekend at Waddesdon Manor, home of financier Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, where he was the guest of Lord Mandelson and Nathaniel Philip Rothschild. He later stayed at the Rothschild holiday home in Corfu. Nathaniel Rothschild was a guest at Saif's 37th birthday celebration in Montenegro.[72][73][74]

Links with the London School of Economics

Saif al-Islam received his PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2008.[75] Through the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation (GICDF), Saif pledged a donation of £1.5 million to support the work of the LSE's Centre for the Study of Global Governance on civil society organisations in North Africa. Following the LSE Libya Links affair, the LSE issued a statement indicating that it will cut all financial ties with the country and will accept no further money from the GICDF, having already received and spent the first £300,000 installment of the donation.[76]

Critics have charged that Gaddafi plagiarized portions of his doctoral dissertation and pressure was put on the LSE to revoke his degree. The LSE set up a review process to evaluate the plagiarism charges[77] in early 2011.[78][79] In November 2011, the review panel concluded that the PhD should not be revoked.[80]


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