The New York Times (thanks to Ali Dashti) is puzzled by Seif el-Islam Qaddafi:
TRIPOLI, Libya, Dec. 13 – Seif el-Islam el-Qaddafi, the son of this country’s idiosyncratic leader, was just 14 in 1986 when American bombs destroyed his home and killed his 4-year-old sister. Despite that harsh experience he has emerged in the past few years as the new, Western-friendly face of this former pariah state.
His fingerprints are on almost every major international move the country has made since it began its recent rehabilitation, from compensating the families of victims of past terrorist attacks to abandoning the program to produce unconventional weapons. Most recently he has been preaching democracy in a part of the world where strongmen have long been the norm.
“Democracy is the future,” Mr. Qaddafi, 32, said at his Moroccan-style villa outside Tripoli, where he keeps a white tiger, Freddo, among other exotic pets. “We have to be ahead of the world in our region, the Middle East, and not to be lagging behind, because the whole world is heading toward democracy.”…
Seif al-Islam, whose name means sword of Islam, took a guest on a tour of the manicured grounds of the estate. He had arrived at the hilltop home, built as a gift to his father by King Hassan II of Morocco, behind the wheel of a dark gray B.M.W. It is not a new car. It is expensive, because of its armored body and bulletproof glass, but still surprisingly modest for the man who many people whisper is being groomed as his father’s political heir.
In March, he told the Arab satellite news channel Al Jazeera that “you have to bring democracy to your countries,” adding that “the Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside.”
Those were surprising words coming from a man whose father has ruled for 35 years largely by decree.
It’s too bad that nobody has asked him about his refusal to condemn suicide bombing when given the opportunity by Amir Taheri. When Taheri asked him if he approved of suicide bombings by Palestinians, he replied: “It is not a question of approval or disapproval. They have a philosophy behind what they do. They are acting in accordance with the holy Koran and the law of retribution.” When Taheri challenged this, invoking the Qur’an’s prohibitions of suicide and the killing of non-combatants, Qaddafi replied: “We obviously have different readings of the Koran.” He also echoed bin Laden’s justification for attacks on American civilians: “There are no civilians in Israel. All Israelis are either in the army or have been or shall one day be soldiers.”
Yeah, a real moderate, democratic kind of guy.