Enjoli Liston is Deputy World News Editor of The Independent

Libya Sketch: Full of confidence and defiant, Saif is in no mood to surrender

Related Topics

The world had thought he was under lock and key. And so, when Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared at Tripoli's Rixos Hotel in the early hours of yesterday morning, it is fair to say the journalists he woke up were surprised to see him.

But there was no doubting it: Saif al-Islam was there and in a mood that could hardly be considered defeatist. The man who once looked poised to lead Libya towards a more liberal future was described as "brimming with confidence" and "pumped full of adrenalin" as he told reporters that pro-Gaddafi forces had led rebels into "a trap".

"I am here to refute the lies," he told reporters. "You have seen how the Libyan people rose up together, men and women, to break the backbone of the rebels, rats and gangs yesterday and today."

In stark contrast to the rebel chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil's claims that "the Gaddafi era is over", Saif al-Islam added that his father was safe, "of course".

His bold words appeared a little more fragile later yesterday, when rebels stormed his father's compound and swarmed over the statue of a fist crushing a US warplane that has stood for decades for his regime's defiance.

But, in the middle of the night, perching on the doorframe of a white 4x4 outside the Bab al-Aziziya complex after taking reporters on a drive through regime-held areas of the capital, the debonair, LSE-educated businessman cut a convincing figure. He grinned as he made victory signs and leaned down to shake the hands of scores of supporters who crowded around the armoured car to greet him.

Uncharacteristically unshaven and dressed in a green military T-shirt, the son who became his father's spokesman during the anti-regime protests in February sent a clear message through these images – the Gaddafi family and their supporters had not given up their fight for Tripoli.

It seems the Libyan leader's son has developed a penchant for surprising followers and critics.

After spending more than a decade on a charm offensive against the West, Saif al-Islam began to undo this work when he delivered a defiant speech in support of his father's regime in the wake of February's demonstrations. He later vowed that government forces would "crush" the rebellion. "We will never ever surrender," he said.

Whether he will stand by those words in the days and weeks to come remains open to question. But on his late-night tour of Tripoli, at least, Saif al-Islam was still unbowed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas