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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 Chris RichardsonStaff / September 1, 2011

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.

Obed Zilwa/AP/File

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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.

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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.

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.'"

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