Qaddafi Drops Seif al-Islam as Successor, Promotes Fourth Son

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From 2003, when Muammar Qaddafi made his peace with the United States and the West, he began touting his second eldest son Saif al-Islam as his anointed favorite and future ruler of Libya.
But a few weeks ago, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Middle East sources reveal that the capricious Libyan ruler changed his mind. Saif was dropped in favor of Son No. 4, Mutasim-Billah Qaddafi. Those sources also disclose that the Bush administration and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak supported the switch.
On Sept. 26, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice interviewed Mutasim-Billah in New York and was favorably impressed.
According to an Iraqi Sunni police official, Col. Jubair Rashid Najef, it was at just about this time that the “Seifaddin Regiment,” Seif al-Islam’s private militia crossed from Syria with 150 foreign and Iraqi fighters and arrived in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, one of al Qaeda’s last strongholds in Iraq. There, he apparently joined forces with al Qaeda and started creating mayhem.
The Sunni Sumar neighborhood exploded in attacks on US and Iraqi forces, culminating Monday, Jan. 28, in a roadside bomb-cum-small arms attack which killed five US soldiers.
On Jan. 23, a devastating explosion in an apparently empty apartment building destroyed 100 adjacent houses, killed 60 people and wounded 280. Minutes before, the Iraqi army arrived to investigate tips about an al Qaeda safe haven and bomb-making factory.
The Libyan ruler’s son, after being passed over for the succession, appears to have reverted to the old terrorist-sponsorship ways of his father.
Brother Mutasim-Billah Qaddafi’s elevation from backroom intelligence boy to the up-front position of National Security Adviser gave Seif his first inkling that his position as successor was under challenge.
For some months, the elder Qaddafi had been losing patience with Saif al-Islam, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources report, although his mostly overseas following did not suspect anything amiss. Certainly they did not foresee his fall from grace.
Muammar Qaddafi was upset with him because –
1. He did not trust the two Palestinians his son had cultivated as his closest advisers: Muhammad Rashid, the tycoon who was Yasser Arafat’s secret financial adviser, and Muhammed Dahlan, Fatah’s displaced Gaza strongman and top Palestinian Authority official.
2. He did not approve of Saif’s close friendship with the Al Thanis, the ruling family of Qatar. He disliked his son’s close alignment with the Gulf emirs at the expense of neglecting Libya’s ties on the African continent.
Mubarak, according to our Middle East sources, told his neighbor in Tripoli that the candidate to succeed him was unsuitable because of his pretensions to play the international celebrity with fashionable liberal views.
Libya is important to Cairo and its future regime is therefore of great concern.
The paychecks of the two million Egyptians working in Libya provide Egypt with one of its main sources of revenue.
Then too, the Egyptian-Libyan border region cutting through the Western Desert is populated by tribes with kin on both sides of the frontier. The Egyptian president does not trust Saif al-Islam, a Western cosmopolitan tycoon type, to have the finesse for dealing with this delicate kinship relationship.
He told Qaddafi senior frankly that he would prefer to see Mutasim-Billah as successor and that he had been favorably impressed by his performance in their bilateral intelligence interchanges.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources disclose at the bottom of the Egyptian president’s preference is concern for his own designated successor, his son Gemal “Jimmy” Muabarak. He believes Jimmy would get on better with the fourth Qaddafi son in Tripoli than with son No. 2.

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