Until uprising, Gadhafi’s son was on U.S. internshiphttp://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110329/ts_yblog_thelookout/until-uprising-gadhafis-son-was-on-u-s-internshipWhen unrest exploded in Libya last month, Khamis Gadhafi--the youngest son of the country's embattled leader Muammar Gadhafi--wasn't around. He was on an internship program in the United States.
Khamis, who runs Libya's special forces, quickly returned to his home country, where he has led a military unit that has brutally suppressed rebel forces.
The internship, which lasted a month, was sponsored by AECOM, a Los Angeles-based global engineering and design company that has been working with the Libyan regime to modernize the country's infrastructure. Khadis made stops in San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Washington, and New York City, meeting with high-tech companies (including Google, Apple, and Intel), universities, and defense contractors like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. While in the Big Apple, Khamis even took in the Broadway show "Mamma Mia."
News of Khamis's internship, which was approved by the State Department, was first reported by ABC News.
Since coming home, Khamis appears to have played a key role in helping his father's regime in its violent campaign to quell the uprising. He has led the elite 32nd Reinforced Brigade, known at the Khamis Brigade, which reportedly has been involved in brutally suppressing rebel forces.
Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described the Khamis Brigade, whose headquarters were the target of U.S. Tomahawk missiles, as "one of the most active in terms of attacking innocent people."
On Monday night, Libyan television showed Khamis dressed in his military uniform and greeting people at his father's Tripoli compound.
A spokesman for AECOM told CNN that the company was "shocked and outraged" to learn of Khamis' military role.
AECOM added in a statement: "The educational internship, which consisted of publicly available information, was aligned with our efforts to improve quality of life, specifically in Libya, where we were advancing public infrastructure such as access to clean water; quality housing; safe and efficient roads and bridges; reliable and affordable energy; and related projects that create jobs and opportunity."
This isn't the first time that Gadhafi's sons--and their ties to the west -- have hit the headlines. As we've written, the regime was embarrassed after Wikileaks cables shed light on the lavish New Year's parties that another son, Muatassim, has held on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, at which Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyonce have all been paid to perform. And the current crisis also has spotlighted the Libyan leader's own personal eccentricities.
(Soldiers and dozens of tanks from the Libyan military's elite Khamis Brigade, led by Khamis Gadhafi. take positions and check vehicles in Harshan, Libya, Feb. 28, 2011.: Ben Curtis/AP)