Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's son Saif Al Islam claiming a prominent role in the current crisis, making the rounds of the media to promote the regime position.
This cable from the US Embassy in Tripoli in December 2009 offers a glance at Saif's move to expand his political influence, with his staff lobbying American diplomats for sales of military equipment: "he concerted attention that xxxxxxxxxxxx devoted to military and security issues during recent meetings with Emboffs suggests that Saif is beginning to insert himself into the political-military and security spheres."
THE ORIGINAL CABLE
O P 140905Z DEC 09 br>
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI br>
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5539 br>
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE br>
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1195 br>
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE br>
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC br>
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC br>
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6089
STATE FOR NEA/MAG br>
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2019 br>
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KACT MCAP MASS LY br>
SUBJECT: SAIF AL-ISLAM'S STAFF REACHES OUT ON POL-MIL ISSUES br>
REF: A) TRIPOLI 941; B) TRIPOLI 924; c) TRIPOLI 208
¶1. (S/NF) Summary: During recent meetings, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi's staff has shown an increased interest in bilateral military and security issues, particularly requests linked to Captain Khamis al-Qadhafi, including purchases of helicopters and "Tiger" vehicle components, and M113 refurbishment. Saif's staff also indicated Libya was interested in purchasing French SCALP cruise missiles to replace its SCUD Bs. This increased attention may be reflective of Saif's broader plans to consolidate military and security issues within his expanding "General Coordinator" portfolio. Saif's staff declined to comment on any future division of responsibility between Saif al-Islam and [his brother] Mutassim al-Qadhafi in these areas. The clear interest in military sales represented by Saif's staff on behalf of Khamis al-Qadhafi may be indicative of Saif's attempts to curry his youngest brother's favor. End Summary.
Saif's aide advocates on behalf of Khamis
¶2. (S/NF) xxxxxxxxxxxx meetings with Pol/Econ Chief and DATT, xxxxxxxxxxxx Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, expressed interest in military equipment sales, particularly purchase requests from Khamis al-Qadhafi's 32nd Brigade. xxxxxxxxxxxx labeled "strange" the "broad" list of equipment requests made by National Security Advisor Mutassim al-Qadhafi to the Department of Defense earlier this year, and focused discussion on Libyan military requests for helicopters and vehicles -- requests that likely derived from the "Khamis Brigade." xxxxxxxxxxxx sought an explanation on the USG refusal of the sale of Little Bird helicopters to the Libyan military, and designated for the "Khamis Brigade." Stating that the Libyan military was still very interested in purchasing the aircraft, he suggested the helicopters have all armament removed so they could be categorized as "non-lethal equipment." DATT informed him that the Libyan military was free to purchase a number of other helicopter systems that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency had already cleared for Libyan military purchase. xxxxxxxxxxxx insisted that the Libyan military wanted to purchase the Little Bird helicopters.
¶3. (S/NF) Additionally, xxxxxxxxxxxx requested an update on the status of the license request by a jointly owned U.S. and Turkish company to refurbish Libya's fleet of M113 vehicles, in which Khamis al-Qadhafi had expressed a personal interest. He asked emboffs to provide him with a written update on the status of the request, which he would then pass to Khamis. xxxxxxxxxxxx then reiterated a GOL complaint (which Saif had raised with the Ambassador on November 27, ref A) that a UAE company could not meet the requirements for the sale of a fleet of Jordanian "Tiger" 4x4 vehicles to the Libyan military, as the U.S. manufacturer of the vehicles' engines would not approve the sale. DATT informed xxxxxxxxxxxx that, per discussions with the manufacturer, it was that company's policy, not U.S. law, that prohibited the sale of equipment to the Government of Libya. "We have a long way to go," retorted xxxxxxxxxxxx. He stated that if the UAE could not outfit the Tiger vehicles with American engines, then the Libyans would purchase engines from Mercedes-Benz. "But we want American engines," he added. DATT extended the possibility that Libyan military procurement provide a Letter of Request to purchase the engines via the Foreign Military Sales process, which xxxxxxxxxxxx said he would discuss with the appropriate officials.
xxxxxxxxxxxx to follow up on military engagement offers
¶4. (S/NF) In addition to the three issues raised, DATT educated xxxxxxxxxxxx on the five pending Letters of Offer and Assistance (LOA) that have been held up in Libya's military procurement office for several months, all of which focus on C-130 related purchases and refurbishment requests, as well as the full range of military exchange and training opportunities that have been offered to the Libyans over the last year. While xxxxxxxxxxxx did not show interest in the C-130 LOAs, he seemed surprised by the number of military exchange and training opportunities on offer and was particularly shocked that most of them had gone unanswered. "Who did you make these offers to?" he asked. He took particular interest in an offer made for Khamis to travel around the United States to tour U.S. military installations and pledged to follow-up directly with Khamis on that program.
Libya potentially identifies scud b replacement system
¶5. (S/NF) Separating the topic as one that was "political" as well as "military," xxxxxxxxxxxx emboffs that the Libyans may have found an MTCR-compliant "replacement system" for its stock of SCUD B missiles. He explained that the GOL had discussed, during a recent high-level French visit, the purchase of the French SCALP Missile (a.k.a. "Storm Shadow") to replace the SCUD ¶B. xxxxxxxxxxxx asked whether the USG would consider the equipment MTCR-compliant, and if so, whether the USG would bless the sale. Emboffs offered to pass the information to Washington for guidance. "How soon do you think you will know?" he asked. We told him we would follow-up as soon as we had more information for him. (Note: The SCALP Missile is an air launched cruise-launched missile, fired from Rafale as well as other combat aircraft. From a separate source, DATT learned December 10 that although France is keen to sell Rafale jets to Libya, it is not interested in selling the Libyans the SCALP Missile, which is deemed "too sensitive." End note.)
Security role for Saif?
¶6. (S/NF) When asked whether Saif would be the point person for military and security issues if and when he takes on his new position as "General Coordinator," xxxxxxxxxxxx -- that the Embassy should continue to track military-related issues through Mutassim's office xxxxxxxxxxxx from now on.
¶7. (S/NF) Comment: The concerted attention that xxxxxxxxxxxx devoted to military and security issues during recent meetings with Emboffs suggests that Saif is beginning to insert himself into the political-military and security spheres. The discussion of Khamis' requests in particular may indicate that Saif is trying to curry favor with his little brother. Given the fact that the "Khamis Brigade" is considered the best-equipped and most capable of defending the regime, it seems only natural that anyone intent on assuming power would try to align himself with Khamis. xxxxxxxxxxxx cautious advice to continue to track military and security issues through Mutassim's office seems to indicate that Saif's interest in these issues is still informal and perhaps not fully vetted within the Libyan government. End Comment.