Saif Kaddafi insists he's not in line to run Libya. But no one is better positioned than the second son of Muammar Kaddafi. The London School of Economics student is fluent in English, speaks French and German, and is leading Libya's effort to charm the West. His highest official post is chief of the Kaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations. "They claim this is an NGO, but not by our standards," says a Western diplomat in Tripoli. "It may as well be a ministry." Saif, 32, is now the go-to guy for Westerners who want to do business with Libya.
He was the public face of Libya's surprise offer in 2003 to give up weapons of mass destruction in return for normalizing diplomatic and trade ties to the West. One U.S. official says Saif Kaddafi brokers back-room deals on everything from Libya's decision to compensate victims of the Lockerbie bombing to hostage crises in Iraq. "He does what the Libyan government doesn't want to admit to doing officially," says one diplomat. He supports Bush's campaign to reform the Middle East, yet somehow has not lost his street cred at home. "He comes closest to having that Hollywood sense of what is trendy; he knows how to sell a new Libya to the West," says one U.S. official. "Just watch it become Monte Carlo South on the Mediterranean."