Glimpse of Moammar Khadafi- III

THERE was something noticeable in the celebration. All the numbers of the program were held simultaneously in that wide space fronting a huge makeshift grandstand, an open elevated desert tent where we were seated with other journalists, foreign envoys, and dignitaries led by President Mohammad Said Berri of Somalia, a good friend of Khadafi.

Above us jets of Libyan Arab Air Force performed various feats, shared by the Morrocan Green March Squadrons, and Tunisian aircraft.

On the ground, Arab stallions, stuntmen of Khadafi, brass bands, boy and girl scouts, and old men and women paraded in front of the guests. While everybody was watching the show, there was a commotion in front of us.

A dignified-looking man surrounded by men wearing green headdresses that covered their faces, except their eyes, appeared from nowhere. The men pushed the crowd on-stage to clear the way for him to his seat. It happened so fast that only a few noticed it. With them was a pretty woman in khaki uniform with a pistol tucked in her waist.

We were informed that the men and women around Khadafi were members of his International Security group, most of them non-Libyans. Among them were Filipinos who are members of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

We learned later that Khadafi’s enemies, mostly Muslim fundamentalists who were members  of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda have gone underground and are determined to kill him.

Khadafi did not look like a mad man or terrorist to us. With a handsome and radiant face, he moved like a movie actor. Slim, about 6 feet in height, and 47 years old then, he looked 10 years younger his age. He was smiling most of the time as he watched the show.

Khadafi stayed for only 30 minutes. He suddenly stood up and left with his security men, again unannounced and without delivering any speech.

We thought that he had already left the base, but 10 minutes later, his group reappeared this time in a speeding open weapons carrier. The crowd cheered him as he waved to the people, smiling as usual.

It was dusk when we returned to our hotel passing through streets without signs or names. Our guide said those streets used to have names, but after US  warplanes staged a bombing raid on the Libyan capital on April 15, 1986., Khadafi ordered the removal of all street signs for security reasons.

It will be recalled that the US bombing killed many children and civilians and wounded hundreds of citizens, including adopted son of Khadafi. (To be concluded)- Cornelio de Guzman

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