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The Good Bad Son


Father and son arriving in Vienna in 1982.  

In May, Monitor co-founder and director Mark Fuller resigned. A former dean of Harvard College said that Porter had disgraced the university, and the director of the LSE, Howard Davies, stepped down in March. The school is now investigating allegations that Saif plagiarized portions of his dissertation. Barber, who has taken to comparing Saif to Michael Corleone and who resigned from the board of Saif’s foundation soon after the fighting began, has been called to testify before the House of Lords in the matter.

Only one person I spoke with has remained in touch with Saif since the revolt began. During the first weeks of the uprising, he says, Saif tried in vain to counsel Muammar and his brothers to negotiate and find a way out. Now they shuttle secretly between safe houses. Saif laments that his work was for naught and that reformers he recruited have turned on him and are leading the uprising. His brothers accuse him of having given their enemies an opening with his insistence on reform.

Any possibility of negotiation between the Qaddafi government and Western forces likely ended on April 30, when a NATO airstrike killed Saif’s younger brother, Saif Al-Arab, almost 25 years to the day after his sister was allegedly killed. “The Qaddafis all believe that NATO only wants their deaths now,” says Barber. Last week, the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Muammar and Saif—but none of his brothers—for masterminding the murderous crackdown.

“I don’t think there’s any way he’ll leave. He’d only leave with his father and brothers, or he’ll go down with them,” Jack Richards says. He adds, “He really could have been the savior.”

Others believe that a savior can only be found elsewhere and that Saif’s true nature has finally emerged. “His father told him this is a tough country, and once in a while, you have to kill some people,” Ali Errishi says. “Saif didn’t have that in him. But now that it’s been taken away from him, he wants to show his father that he’s tough enough to win a war—against their own people.”

In the original version of this article, it should have been noted that C&O Resources was brought on to advise Saif Qaddafi and Libyan officials about Bush-administration policy; while Sandra Charles visited Libya in June 2004, she did not attend an economic conference Saif hosted.


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