London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Libyan rebels fired into the air in celebration and took pictures of themselves standing proudly in Colonel Gaddafi’s former stronghold, the Bab al-Aziziyah compound in the heart of Tripoli. However in the midst of the chaos and destruction, one Libyan rebel made a startling discovery.
According to Agence-France Presse [AFP], one Libyan rebel, “amused and horrified” proclaimed Gaddafi “a pig” and “a donkey” as he brandished “photo albums…found in the bedroom of Gaddafi” full of pictures of former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
However, Gaddafi’s admiration for former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – who he reportedly called “Leeza” – is no secret. When then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice historically visited Tripoli in 2008, the Libya leader showered her with gifts. Gaddafi reportedly gave Rice a diamond ring, a locket with his photograph, and a DVD with a musical instrument. According to the 2008 annual report of gifts given to members of the US administration published by the Federal Register, the value of the gifts given to then-US Secretary of State Rice by Gaddafi amounted to $212,225. Although the Federal Register did not specify what instrument she received, the official Libyan JANA news agency reported that Colonel Gaddafi had presented her with a lute. Gaddafi also gave Rice’s spokesman, Sean McCormack – then-US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs – a Swiss watch bearing a portrait of himself.
The Libyan rebels descended on Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziyah compound – and other Gaddafi family homes and offices – across Tripoli, and were shocked and bemused by the riches they discovered. They tore down symbols and images of Gaddafi and his regime, scrawled graffiti lauding the Libyan revolution, and raised the red, black, and green flag – of the Kingdom of Libya – that the rebels have made their own.
One Libyan rebel emerged from Baba al-Aziziyah, wearing one of Gaddafi’s military hats, whilst a golf buggy that the Libyan leader often used was also paraded around the compound.
The Libyan rebels also discovered the remnants of a bizarre Michael Jackson-style Neverland park, which included a fairground and a Zoo, in the heart of the Bab al-Aziziyah compound. The fairground featured an old-fashioned carousel and a “Teacups” ride, which a number of rebels posed for pictures in.
In Aisha Gaddafi’s home within the Baba al-Aziziyah compound, Libyan rebels posed for pictures on a gaudy two-seater sofa made in the likeness of a mermaid.
The Libyan rebels also posed for pictures inside Gaddafi’s famous “Bedouin tent”, which the Libyan leader took with him on many foreign trips and where he met many important foreign leaders, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Rebel fighters were seen taking away a variety of different items from the Bab al-Aziziyah compound, from clothes and jewellery belonging to the Gaddafi family, to more outlandish items, including a gold-plated pistol and a 12-inch silver-plated revolver. The Libyan rebels also seized more useful items, including a cache of weapons – including a number of high-powered sniper rifles – and ammunition which will aid them in their continuing search for Gaddafi.