Hana Qaddafi: dictator's daughter survived Reagan's bombs?

Hana Qaddafi, we were told, was killed by US airstrikes in 1986 when she was a baby. Evidence now suggests that Muammar Qaddafi lied keeping his daughter under wraps for 25 years.

By , Staff

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    Hana Qaddafi stands next to South African President Nelson Mandela as he introduces the Qaddafi family to reporters at his residence in Cape Town, South Africa, June 6, 1999. Since the August 2011 rebel takeover of Tripoli, evidence has been mounting that Muammar Qaddafi may have lied about the death of his adopted baby daughter Hana in a 1986 American airstrike. However, some in Libya believed that after Hana's death, Gadhafi adopted another daughter and gave her the same name in a memorial tribute.
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The story began in 1986, after the Libyan-backed bombing of a nightclub in West Berlin. The attacks were aimed at US servicemen, and ended up killing two and injuring dozens.

President Ronald Reagan's action was swift and precise. He ordered missile attacks on the home of Libya's leader, Muammar Qaddafi.

Muammar Qaddafi survived, but claimed the attacks killed his adopted baby daughter, Hana.

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For 25 years, Qaddafi has continually reminded supporters of his daughter's murder and even left the building in ruins as a reminder - and occasionally a backdrop for anti-US speeches. Every chance he could get he would insist that he was a "victim of western military aggression."

The fact that Hana Qaddafi had been killed in the bombing was presented as historical record by the media.

But as rebels stormed one of the Qaddafi family's homes they discovered a room that seemed to belong to Hana. The room contained Hana's birth certificate, photos of a girl with the name "Hana" inscribed in Arabic on the back, as well as a medical exam paper signed "Hana Muammar Qaddafi" in Arabic and medical books belonging to "Dr. Hana Qaddafi."

After contacting the Tripoli Medical Center, Gassem Baruni, head of the center, confirmed to the Associated Press that Dr. Hana Qaddafi worked in surgery but that she disappeared Friday.

"She was very tense and nervous as soon as the revolution started," Mr. Baruni told the AP. "She told me not to treat the rebels, but I told her: 'If we don't treat everyone, it would be a crime.'"

Based on their research, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag claimed "diplomatic circles in Tripoli have known about Hana's existence for several years."

Regime insiders claimed it was common knowledge that Hana's death was a hoax.

A Libyan diplomat at the UN in Geneva told the German paper, "All Libyans knew from the very beginning that it's a lie," adding that Hana is currently married with children.

When asked why the Swiss had listed Hana on a government watch list of the Qaddafi family in February, a government spokesperson knowingly said, "There are reasons why the name is on the list, which we are not revealing publicly." The name was removed without explanation on Tuesday.

Hana was even reported to have spent time in London as a teenager (neither confirmed nor denied by the MI5).

But could Qaddafi have carried through with that lie for all these years, even commemorating the 20th anniversary of Hana's murder with the "Hana Festival of Freedom and Peace?"

Some in Libya still believe baby Hana was killed. In Libyan culture it is common to name another child after one that previously died. That is exactly what many thought happened, including the country director of the British Council. It was widely believed that Qaddafi had adopted another daughter and renamed her Hana in a tribute to his murdered baby.

Given the propaganda seen in the final days of his regime, it may not be so far fetched that his claims of murder, baby Hana's elaborate funeral in 1986, and even the "Hana Festival of Freedom and Peace" in 2006, were just part of his elaborate propaganda machine.

If this anonymous Internet commentator is to be believed, it is clear the Hana alive today is the one and only Hana Muammar Qaddafi. The commentator claims to have studied with Hana at university: "When I asked who she was, I was told she was Hana Qaddafi, Qaddafi's adopted daughter who was supposedly killed in 1986."

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