March 15, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3666

Advisor to Qadhafi's Son Saif Al-Islam: Once Saif Al-Islam's Hands Were Clean – But Now He Has Joined the Murderous Regime

March 15, 2011
Libya | Special Dispatch No. 3666

In an open letter to Saif Al-Islam, the son of Libyan ruler Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi, Libyan intellectual Dr. Muhammad 'Abd Al-Mutallib Al-Houni, who for years served as advisor to Saif Al-Islam, wrote that the latter used to fight for justice and dream of prosperity, and had been innocent of the crimes of the regime. But today, he noted, he has decided to "don his father's cloak contaminated with 40 years of his deeds." Al-Houni went on to express deep disappointment with Saif Al-Islam's decision to do this, and said that the revolution would ultimately triumph.

Following are excerpts from the letter, published in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:[1]

"Congratulations to the [Libyan] millions who have woken from their slumber and started to climb slowly upwards, paving their way with blood, pain and tears.

"[Saif Al-Islam,] I am writing you an open letter because I cannot speak to you face to face, for we are [now] on opposite sides, and my hands cannot hold yours. We are on opposite sides of the river of blood that is flowing from the womb of the homeland. The worst thing about totalitarian regimes is that as they thrash around in their last throes of death, they leave no margin of humaneness: Either you are with the homeland or you are among its enemies...

"I was at your side for over a decade, and I was proud of you, for you were always innocent of harming the Libyans' lives, property and honor. Like all Libyan youth, you dreamt of prosperity, liberty and human rights. You fought daily to redress wrongs and to free political prisoners, and succeeded in liberating hundreds of them. I know full well how you suffered from the arrogance of the regime, from the false rumors [spread by] the security apparatuses and from their brutality. You suffered and I suffered with you. I was among those who met with you and keenly urged you to move forward...

"[Then], one unfortunate night, at one frightening moment, came that speech in which you threatened the Libyan people with civil war, with the destruction of the oil [industry], and with the use of force to decide [the battle]. You chose your side in this conflict very clearly: You chose [the side of] lies, after championing the truth for so long.

"I was surprised, as were many others who know you well... [Our] shock was profound. We did not know whom to believe, the old Saif [Al-Islam] or the new one.

"Yes, until a short while ago you were clean; you had no part in this regime. Yet today you have donned the cloak of your father, contaminated with 40 years of his deeds: his massacres and [his] enterprise of oppression and violence, which you used to criticize. What a disappointment! You have sealed your own fate.

"At this difficult point in Libyan history, we are at a crossroads. Heaven is deciding the fate of each and every one of us. One of our friends used to tell me that you are too beautiful to be the son of that benighted [self-appointed] god. I used to answer that your connection to your homeland is stronger than your connection to your kin. I admit I was wrong...

"We both suffered from the brutal lies of the totalitarian [regime], its persecution and its oppression. You were our beacon, which we kept alight. We protected [your light] from the storms of hatred and arrogance. We shared our bread and our disappointments, until [the day] you decided to leave us and join the ranks of the stubborn and the arrogant, leaving no place for us but the camp of the oppressed.

"These young men who are being killed throughout the country have done no wrong. Their only [crime] was to demand their liberty and their honor, as you did [in the past]... I do not believe that you ever bought those lies, [namely] that those young men who rushed to their deaths did so under the influence of hallucinatory drugs, as your father claimed. Why do you not refrain from uttering [such] words, which murder these young men all over again after you murdered them with your bullets? Isn't it enough to kill them once?...

"[Those around you] all talk of victory. Victory over whom? Over your own people? Over the youth of your own generation? And to what end? Do you want to make a throne of skulls and parts of dead bodies? What a terrible victory! What a terrible regime!...

"[Ultimately,] the people will triumph, and I would like to see you among its ranks, celebrating its emancipation and bathing your eyes in the light of its freedom. I do not want to see you in the rear, harboring false dreams of dancing on the dead bodies of your compatriots."


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 12, 2011. In his book The Arab Dilemma in the Face of the New American Strategy (2004), Dr. Al-Houni argued that in the post-9/11 era, the Arabs must choose between Western civilization and medieval traditions. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 240, "Libyan Intellectual Dr. Muhammad Al-Houni: The Arabs Must Choose Between Western Civilization and the Legacy of the Middle Ages," September 12, 2005, Libyan Intellectual Dr. Muhammad Al-Houni: The Arabs Must Choose Between Western Civilization and the Legacy of the Middle Ages.

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