Society | Politics | Human rights
Khamis Ghaddafi: The agent of fear
At a first sight, Khamis al-Ghaddafi is a handsome, young gentleman; well educated and not involved in the sex and party affairs that have tarnished the image of his elder brothers.
No wonder. Yesterday, Khamis was seen on live Libyan state TV. He was the first to salute and hug his father after last evening's dramatic speech, where Colonel Ghaddafi promised to spare no efforts in suppressing the protest movement. Khamis was to be his main weapon.
Since yesterday evening, there have been repeated reports by eyewitnesses in Tripoli - where the Ghaddafi speech was held - of movements by the Khamis Brigade. Today, several reports from the city Misrata, east of Tripoli, claim the Khamis Brigade is involved in heavy clashes against civilians, killing every protester getting in their way.
There are few ways to verify these reports from Libya. But, true or not, they illustrate the genuine fear the name Khamis is creating among Libyans.
According to US Embassy sources, there are indeed reasons to fear the Khamis Brigade. The Embassy already in 2009 said it was a "fact that the 'Khamis Brigade' is considered the best-equipped and most capable of defending the regime." Khamis's "elite 32nd Brigade force" is the "most important military and security elements of the regime," another US Embassy report says.
The same sources insist the Khamis Brigade has the most advance
Indeed, Captain Khamis in December 2009 tried to purchase even more lethal arms from the US. His agents tried to prepare "purchases of helicopters and 'Tiger' vehicle components, and M113 refurbishment," according to the US Embassy in Tripoli. The US refused to sell Khamis 'Little Bird' helicopters, but informed him that "the Libyan military was free to purchase a number of other helicopter systems."
There are no confirmed reports about a possible US sale of helicopters to the Khamis Brigade after the 2009 request, but it is known that South Africa has sold military helicopters to the Libyan army. Helicopters have been used to shoot at the protesting crowds in Benghazi and Tripoli.
Meanwhile in Libya, today's reports from the capital indicate massive use of violence against the protesters. Non-confirmed reports from Tripoli however speak about "African mercenaries" shooting at civilians in the streets of the capital.
The latest unconfirmed reports about the whereabouts of the Khamis Brigade come from Misrata; a western Libyan city that yesterday was close to fall into the hands of protesters. But the scarce reports of Khamis heading the battle over Misrata cannot be confirmed.
By staff writers
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