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Saif al-Islam Gadhafi Fast Facts

Andrew Cuomo

Here is a look at the life of Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.


Birth date: June 25, 1972

Birth place: Tripoli, Libya

Birth name: Saif al-Islam Gadhafi

Father: Moammar Gadhafi, former leader of Libya for 42 years

Mother: Safia (Farkash) Gadhafi

Education: El-Fateh University, Libya, Degree in architectural engineering, 1994; Imadec University, Vienna, Austria, M.B.A., 2000; London School of Economics, Ph.D., 2008

Military service: Libyan military, November 1994-November 1995

Other Facts

Second son of Moammar Gadhafi and once considered his heir apparent.

Wrote his Ph.D. thesis on “The Role of Civil Society in the Democratization of Global Governance Institutions.” There are allegations that parts of the thesis were plagiarized.

Has been described as having close relationships with British politicians and aristocracy.

Prior to the 2011 Libyan civil war, he was believed to be a moderate in comparison to his father.

A NATO strike in May 2011 killed his younger brother who had a similar name, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi.

Was held in the Libyan city of Zintan by a militia group from November 2011 to June 2017.

Is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity.


August 2008 – Announces in a speech on state television that he is withdrawing from politics, stating, “I have decided not to intervene in state affairs.”

August 2009 – Gadhafi escorts released Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi on a private plane back to Libya.

February 21, 2011 – Addresses the Libyan nation about the country’s unrest in an unscripted, televised speech, and warns of civil war and poverty if citizens side with anti-Libyan government protesters.

February 27, 2011 – Tells ABC’s Christiane Amanpour that his father has no plans to step down.

June 27, 2011 – Arrest warrants are issued by the ICC for Saif al-Islam, his father, and uncle Abdullah Senussi for their roles in the crimes against humanity in suppressing the revolt of the Libyan people.

August 21, 2011 – Along with Saadi Gadhafi, another of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons, Gadhafi is reportedly detained by opposition forces.

August 23, 2011 – Gadhafi shows up at the Rixos Hotel, quashing the rebels’ claim that he and his two brothers are in their custody. In a brief interview with CNN’s Matthew Chance, he says his father and several of his sisters are safe in Tripoli.

August 31, 2011 – Gives an interview to Rai TV in Syria. He says of his father, “the leader is fine” and “we will have victory soon” and that “everyone is Moammar Gadhafi. Wherever you see the enemy, attack them. They are weak, they have suffered lots of losses and they are now licking their wounds.”

October 20, 2011 – Moammar Gadhafi dies of a gunshot wound to the head after being captured by rebel forces in his hometown of Sirte, Libya. Mutassim, another of Moammar Gadhafi’s sons, is also killed.

October 28, 2011 – Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, confirms that the ICC is having “informal conversations” about the surrender of Gadhafi.

November 19, 2011 – Gadhafi is captured after a firefight in southern Libya.

January 23, 2012 – Libyan authorities have decided that they want his trial to be held in Tripoli. The ICC has not yet decided where the trial will be held.

April 5, 2012 – The ICC announces Libya must hand over Gadhafi immediately to be tried at The Hague on an outstanding warrant for crimes against humanity. Libya appeals the ICC order on April 10, saying it should be given more time to make its own case.

June 8, 2012 – A delegation of four from the ICC is detained in Libya for attempting to get documents to Gadhafi. The ICC staff members are freed on July 2, 2012.

October 9, 2012 – The Libyan government argues that it should not have to hand over Gadhafi to the ICC because the court in The Hague, Netherlands, does not have jurisdiction in the case.

May 31, 2013 – The ICC rejects Libya’s bid to try Gadhafi and asks the nation to hand him over.

April 27, 2014 – Gadhafi appears via video link from a courtroom in the Libyan city of Zintan to his trial in a court in Tripoli. The militiamen who captured Gadhafi in Zintan in 2011 refuse to hand him over to the central government, citing security concerns. Gadhafi and dozens of former senior regime officials face charges in Tripoli of attempting to suppress the 2011 uprising, including the killing of protesters, a crime punishable by death.

May 21, 2014 – The ICC Appeals Chamber rejects all four of Libya’s appeals and upholds an earlier decision that Libya hand over Gadhafi to The Hague.

May 25, 2014 – The fourth session of Gadhafi’s trial in Tripoli, Libya, takes place despite the ICC’s recent ruling that Gadhafi should be tried by the ICC at The Hague in the Netherlands.

July 28, 2015 – A court in Tripoli sentences Gadhafi to death in absentia. Gadhafi is not at the trial; he was last known to be held by a militia group in the northwestern city of Zintan.

June 10, 2017 – The Abu Bakr al-Sideeq militia says in a statement that Gadhafi, whom they have held since 2011, was released under a “General Amnesty Law” passed by Libya’s House of Representatives. A close associate of Saif tells CNN Gadhafi was released on June 9 but does not reveal Gadhafi’s current location, citing security concerns.

April 5, 2019 – The ICC rules that the case against Gadhafi is admissible. In June 2018, Gadhafi’s defense filed an admissibility challenge, asserting that Gadhafi had been convicted by the Tripoli Criminal Court in 2015 for similar offenses, and had been released “on or around April 12, 2016,” under a law granting general amnesty.

March 9, 2020 – The Appeals Chamber of the ICC rejects Gadhafi’s appeal and unanimously confirms that the case against him is admissible.

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