Washington: One of Muammar Gaddafi's sons paid a visit to the US Air Force academy last month, less than 10 days before the start of an uprising in Libya, a US Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.
Khamis Gaddafi, 27, who leads the 32nd brigade -- one of the best-equipped units in the Libyan regime's military -- got a one-day tour of the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado on February 07, spokesman John Van Winkle said.
Only weeks later, Gaddafi's son was commanding troops waging war against opposition forces that have threatened his father's decades-long rule.
The visit was part of an internship that Gaddafi had with AECOM, a global engineering firm, during his studies for a master's degree in business, Van Winkle said.
"It was under the auspices of his internship experience with AECOM. It's a company he was interning with as part of his MBA experience," he said.
It was a "standard" visit similar to those organised for "hundreds of dignitaries" that visit the academy every year, he said.
Van Winkle said the tour revealed no military secrets from the American air force, which is now carrying out bombing raids against the Libyan regime along with other nations in a NATO-led coalition.
"His visit was totally unclassified," the spokesman said.
"It's our duty to support the diplomatic process and if an individual is cleared by the State Department to visit the US and come, then it's our duty to support them as long as we do not compromise our security or our mission capability," he added.
Upon arrival in the United States, Gaddafi's son was greeted by a US diplomatic representative as part of regular protocol, said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
"That was truly the extent of our involvement," Toner said.
First Published: Thursday, March 31, 2011, 13:52