- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2018

It’s the latest installment in a grim Libyan soap opera that might be called “All the Strongman’s Children.”

Hannibal Gadhafi made headlines across the Arabic media this month when Lebanese authorities blocked him from leaving jail there, reviving a long-running debate over the “mysterious fate” of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s many descendants and the family’s legendary fortune.

The Libyan strongman, who dominated the North African nation for more than four decades, had eight children. Three were killed by rebels during the 2011 revolution that ultimately cost Gadhafi his own life. The remaining five live scattered across the region in varying degrees of comfort, security and seclusion.

With international officials now aggressively pushing Libya to investigate massive corruption at state institutions, rumors are again circulating about the whereabouts of hidden Gadhafi assets — including cash, diamonds and gold — and who might have access to the wealth.

Some minor successes have been made. The United Nations, the U.S. government and some European countries have frozen assets connected to the clan, and South Africa returned almost $1 billion to Libya linked to the Gadhafi clan in 2013.

But a 299-page 2017 U.N. report said much of the money is still out there, albeit stashed away in far-flung corners of Africa.

There were reports of steel chests containing $560 million in $100 bills hidden in the capital of the landlocked West African country of Burkina Faso. Four banks in South Africa are said to still hold $20 billion, and warehouses and bunkers around Pretoria and Johannesburg hold even more cash, diamonds and gold bars.

The Panama Papers, documents leaked in 2016 that detailed extensive offshore money laundering activity among the global elite and public officials, referred to another $8 billion in a Kenyan bank.

Investigators have traced attempts by Libyan rebel groups to tap the cash to buy arms, but questions linger about the Gadhafi family’s access.

Last week, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat chronicled Hannibal Gadhafi’s continued detention in Lebanon, where authorities have said he must remain until after the conclusion of an investigation into suspicions of his involvement in kidnapping and attempted murder.

Of Mr. Gadhafi’s other living children, another son, al-Saadi, who was imprisoned in Niger, is now in a Tripoli jail facing trial on charges of kidnapping and financing armed groups.

The whereabouts of the onetime heir apparent, Saif al-Islam, is unknown, but rumors suggest that he might run in Libya’s next presidential election.

Moammar Gadhafi’s widow, Safia Farkash, returned to Libya in 2016 as part of a reunification drive. But his daughter, Aisha, a lawyer who once tried to defend former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, is reportedly living a life of luxury in the Persian Gulf country of Oman with brother Muhammad.

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