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LIBYA: Kadafi son, described as a reformer and intellectual, brandishes gun in video

March 1, 2011 |  5:24 am


Seif Islam, 39-year-old son of besieged Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi, was praised in some Western circles as a leading reformer in his country until recently. For the last decade, he has served as Libya's main interlocutor with the West. But he has been -- to put it mildly -- at odds with his image since the start of the popular uprising against his father.

After warning of mass violence and civil war if citizens sided with anti-government demonstrators in a chilling speech about 10 days ago, the London School of Economics-educated Islam has now apparently been caught on video swinging a weapon while promising to arm a crowd of whistling and cheering supporters.

"You will receive all the support ... and the arms,” says the figure in the video clip, said to be Islam, posted on YouTube. "Everything will be OK."

The amateur footage is said to have been filmed this month and apparently shows Islam dressed in a dark bomber jacket and addressing a group of excited men from atop a truck.

Toward the end of the address, Islam calls on the crowd to "fight until the last minute," and refers to anti-government demonstrators as something along the lines of lowlifes.

On Friday -- at the end of a week of reported violence, killings and chaos in Libya -- Islam told a group of foreign journalists in Tripoli that the situation was calming down, and he tried to lighten the atmosphere by making odd jokes. 

 "Everything is calm," he reportedly told them. "If you hear fireworks, don't mistake it for shooting."

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Video: YouTube