A paradise island getaway, private performances from A-list American celebrities like Beyonce and Usher, and "copious" amounts of alcohol -- this is what it's like to party with the Gadhafi family, according to leaked U.S. documents.
In U.S. State Department cables, posted on the website Wikileaks, U.S. officials say Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's son Mutassim threw two major New Years bashes at St. Barts island in the Caribbean, one in 2009 and the next the following year, with price tags reportedly over a $1 million each.
As Moammar Gadhafi struggles to maintain control over the North African nation -- and amid reports that his own daughter was attempting to flee the country -- the leaked documents offer a glimpse into not only the lavish, "hard-partying, womanizing" ways of some of the Gadhafi sons, but also the intense in-fighting and rivalry between all the Gadhafi offspring.
"The family has been in a tailspin lately, trying to put a stop to one rumor or another, in the name of defending the family's honor," a leaked 2010 cable from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli said, citing a "local political observer."
After the 2009 party, international media reported the lavish affair -- which included a purported $1 million private performance by Mariah Carey -- had been thrown by one of Mutassim's brothers, Saif al-Islam. Saif al-Islam quickly denied the report in a Libyan media outlet he owned, and just as quickly pointed the finger at Mutassim.
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The 2010 party featured performances by Beyonce and Usher along with other performers that were not named in the cable.
"Mutassim seemed to be surprised by the fact that his party was photographed and the focus of international media attention," the cable said. "His carousing and extravagance angered some [Libyan] locals, who viewed his activities as impious and embarrassing to the nation."
Just days before the 2010 party, another of Mutassim's seven brothers, Hannibal, popped up in the media for allegedly physically abusing his wife, who was later told to tell investigators she had been injured in an "accident," a U.S. official said in one cable.
Hannibal and another brother, Saadi, have "checkered histories of unseemly behavior and public scuffles with authorities in Europe and elsewhere," the official said.
Some of Gadhafi's sons brought so much negative attention to the family that the Libyan dictator assigned a high government official to play the role of a "minder of the more troublesome [Gadhafi] offspring," according to the documents. After an incident in which Saadi disobeyed his father's orders and traveled to Rome, Italy, that minder was removed and Gadhafi's daughter, Aisha, reportedly filled the void.
Today military officials in Malta, an island between Libya and Italy, said Aisha was on a plane that attempted to land in Malta but was turned away, Italian and Maltan news outlets reported.
Beyond the Parties, Reaching for Power
Behind the tabloid escapades, however, other leaked cables show an intense game of political maneuvering between the brothers -- especially Mutassim and Saif al-Islam -- over who would succeed 62-year-old Moammar Gadhafi.
It was Mutassim that requested $1.2 billion directly from the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation so he could "establish a military/security unit" to rival the one run by his younger brother, Khamis, a 2009 cable said.
Mutassim was also the one greeted warmly the same year by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. With Mutassim at her side, Clinton told reporters at the time she was "very much looking forward" to broadening and strengthening the relationship between the two nations.
But Saif al-Islam had managed to win over many Libyans, one cable noted, by staying relatively clear of the public debauchery and publicly calling for reform -- even by occasionally sharply criticizing his father.
In 2007, Saif al-Islam publicly confirmed for the first time the torture of six Bulgarians who were held in Libya for several years which had been reported by several international news organizations.
In a speech the next year, Saif al-Islam criticized the "forest of dictatorships" in the Middle East and called for a "more robust civil society, judicial reforms, greater respect for human rights and more press freedoms," one cable said.
Representatives for Beyonce, Usher and Mariah Carey did not respond to requests for comment on this story.