Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declares his assets

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Coverage of a Crisis: Questions and Criticism

Read more

FOCUS

Patriots, ultra-nationalists, revolutionaries or fascists: The many faces of Ukraine's radical 'Right Sector'

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Xi’s Show of Force; Labour’s Left Turn (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

How to Help? Europe divided over migrant crisis (part 1)

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Alongside migrants near Hungary’s razor wire fence

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The Elysée palace backstage

Read more

#TECH 24

The latest in fitness trackers and TaxiJet’s arrival in Abidjan

Read more

FASHION

The use of 'mapping-tracking' in fashion

Read more

Africa

My last encounter with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

Text by Catherine NORRIS TRENT

Latest update : 2013-06-17

Faced with a roaring crowd of around 2,000 young men, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was grinning, and giving two thumbs up. Beaming and laughing, he had to wait around 10 minutes for the frenzied audience to become quiet enough for him to speak. And then he spat out an address filled with fury, shouting: “this is not a revolution, these are traitors!” Warning of the threat from both Al Qaeda and “western colonisers”, Saif whipped the crowd into a frenzy. It was a highly orchestrated, high-security rally under heavy guard in his father’s compound, Bab al-Azizya.

FRANCE 24 reporters Catherine Norris-Trent and Khalil Bechir in the lobby of the Rixos hotel, Tripoli in March 2011. © Catherine Norris-Trent

But when we came across him in the lobby of Tripoli’s Rixos hotel, Saif was barely recognisable. Gaddafi’s chosen heir was quietly spoken, dressed down in jeans, a T-shirt and a casual jacket, and accompanied at a small distance only by his head of security. His tone was meek and polite, and he was eager to shake hands with the few journalists still awake after 1am. In those days Saif had the habit of popping over to the Rixos late at night to grant interviews to journalists, scheduling two or three in quick succession.

Saif-al-Islam Gaddafi couldn’t have been a more different man than the furious figure at the rally earlier. In an impeccable British accent, he asked me where I was from in the UK – he of course being a notorious alumnus of the London School of Economics. We were anxious to pin him down for a more serious interview, to try and get some answers or some insight into one of the regime’s most skilled purveyors of double-speak. He accepted our request with a smile and posed for a quick photograph. A few days later, NATO began its military campaign in Libya, and Saif-al-Islam cut off his contact with western journalists.

FRANCE 24 reporter Catherine Norris-Trent has extensively covered the Libyan uprising.

Date created : 2011-11-21

COMMENT(S)