Enjoli Liston is Deputy World News Editor of The Independent

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

Share
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The infrastructure, support services and const...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Pristina, Kosovo after American NATO forces arrived in the town and the Serb army left the province  

I helped bring down Slobodan Milosevic. Now there is the hope of justice for our citizens

Hashim Thaci
 

My cousin drowned on a migrant boat – would he have been saved if a photo of him had gone viral?

Zena Agha
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border