Tripoli: Featuring armour-plated doors, secret passages and a state-of-the-art control room, the
underground bunker of Mutassim Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader on the run, seems an impregnable citadel.
The sprawling facility is made up of 50 rooms buried
under J'Raba Street in eastern Tripoli, protected by a double
"It was rumoured that it concealed a nuclear facility and
others said it was the house of Muammar Gaddafi himself," said
Adel Tarbu, one of the rebel fighters who opened the big gate
of the residence up to a group of AFP journalists.
At first glance, it is a posh villa and its outbuilding
is equipped with a swimming pool, gymnasium, sauna and bar.
But its secret bunker is buried underground.
"Look at the thickness of the door," said the rebel
fighter, pointing down a corridor to a room worthy of a bank
vault and hooked up to its own ventilation system.
"Gaddafi described us as rats, but we see how his people
lived underground as rodents," quipped Tarbu.
"We know the home of the British prime minister and the
White House, and they are normal compared with the Gaddafi
But he is adamant about the identity of the former
occupant of the secret hideout. "We found papers and military
documents of Mutassim and a photograph of one of his friends
who was a model, a French woman," he added.
Born in 1975, Mutassim Gaddafi was trained by Egyptian
officers and is a career soldier and doctor.
In 2007, his father promoted him to head of the National
Security Council and in April 2009 he met US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton in Washington.
Suspected of attempting a coup, he was exiled to Egypt
but was later pardoned and returned home. Before the conflict,
he was seen as a rival to his older brother Seif al-Islam for
the succession to his father.
The rebel fighter mocks the Gaddafi family's obsession
with security, saying the facility "looks like a James Bond
movie" as he pointed out yet more sophisticated surveillance
"We're right in Hollywood and yet this is Libya."
The bunker can be accessed by walkways to the garden
Such passages are also found at the home of another
Gaddafi son, Saadi, at a seaside cottage with bullet-proof
glass over a tunnel that leads directly to a nearby avenue.
At their father's farm near Tripoli, the safety
installations are as impressive with electrified fences,
surveillance cameras and an electronic alarm system.
The farm is located behind a number of security walls.
First Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 09:36