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Qaddafi heir Seif al-Islam captured in Libya

Qaddafi's second son, once considered his father's likely successor, was found hiding deep in the desert.

By Rami Al-Shaheibi and Ryan LucasThe Associated Press / November 19, 2011

This image from Libyan television purports to show Seif al-Islam in custody.

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Seif al-Islam Qaddafi, considered Moammar Qaddafi's heir apparent, long drew Western favor by touting himself as a liberalizing reformer but then staunchly backed his father in his brutal crackdown on rebels in the regime's final days.

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MoammarQaddafi 's second son, 39, went underground as Tripoli fell to revolutionary forces in late August and his whereabouts remained unknown even after Gadhafi was captured and killed by revolutionary forces on Oct. 20.

But on Saturday, the National Transitional Council's justice minister, Mohammed al-Alagi, told The Associated Press that Seif al-Islam had been captured deep in Libya's desert Friday night by revolutionary forces from the western mountain town of Zintan who had been tracking him for days.

The International Criminal Court has charged Seif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi with crimes against humanity for the brutal crackdown on dissent as the uprising against the regime began in mid-February and escalated into a civil war. Qaddafi also had been charged.

The ICC has said it was in indirect negotiations with Seif al-Islam about his possible surrender for trial.

Seif al-Islam has always stood apart from his siblings, who were better known for their antics and eccentricities than their achievements.

Educated in Britain and fluent in English, Seif al-Islam found favor among prominent Western intellectuals, exhibited his paintings at galleries around the world, and won plaudits from world leaders and rights campaigners with talk of democracy and development.

He was long touted as Qaddafi's heir apparent and the man who would modernize and reform the country, but that position was always far from certain, and he faced fierce resistance from hard-liners in the regime as well as his younger brother, Muatassim, who served as national security adviser.

Muatassim was also killed on Oct. 20, according to officials of the transitional government. Killed earlier in the civil war were younger brothers Seif al-Arab and Khamis. Qaddafi's other son, al-Saadi, fled to Niger in September, where the government has said it is treating him as a refugee. Their mother, Safiya, and sister Aisha fled to neighboring Algeria.

Seif al-Islam presented a dapper image to the West, with his shaved head and fashionable glasses. He pushed for modernization in a country crippled by decades of his father's idiosyncratic regime, and advocated normalizing Libya's long-strained relations with the West. In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, he even spoke of moving Libya from one-man rule to a constitutional democracy.

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