When the rebels stormed into Muammar Qaddafi’s fortress of Bab al-Aziziya they expected to find more people than just the stalwart leader and his family. But it appears that Qaddafi’s famed bodyguards too have vanished into thin air.
There is no trace of Qaddafi’s female bodyguards, once estimated to be around 400 beautiful women.
The Libyan leader first began to appear with his female guards in the 1990s; his previous guards were from the former East Germany.
According to media reports, in the past 20 years Qaddafi employed as many as 400 “Revolutionary Nuns,” as the female guards came to be known. They were also referred to as “The Amazonians.”
The guards were reported to have taken a vow of chastity before beginning the job of guarding the Libyan leader; in addition, they took a pledge to sacrifice their lives to protect him. The guards also underwent extensive firearm and martial arts training in the Women’s Police Academy in Tripoli.
Qaddafi required that his guards be virgins; he renamed them all after his only daughter, Aisha.
Qaddafi’s female guards always appeared by his side immaculately groomed and dressed in high heels their long hair left loose.
During Qaddafi’s visit to Italy in 2009, photographs appeared of one of his guards, an elegantly dressed woman, who seemed to catch Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s eye – so much so that he breached protocol and went to shake hands with the guard.
Berlusconi’s handshake was met with a rather harsh glare from the guard, a fact not lost on the media.
The loyalty that Qaddafi’s guards showed the leader is well known. In 1988, the head of Qaddafi’s guards was killed and seven others wounded when a convoy was attacked, allegedly by Islamic fundamentalists. Then, a female guard threw herself on Qaddafi to save him and died from bullet wounds.
In 2003, during an Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian security prevented Qaddafi’s guards from entering the hotel with the Libyan leader, which resulted in a scuffle between the ladies and security officials.
In 1984, Ethiopian security guards also clashed with Qaddafi’s guards when they tried to enter, fully armed, the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa, where a summit was being held. Officials were able to take away their weapons, but not without an altercation.
A similar scene was witnessed at another summit in Nigeria during which organizers refused to grant Qaddafi’s guards access unless they disarmed. It was only when the Nigerian president personally intervened that the matter was resolved.
An Arab writer said once that Qaddafi was the luckiest of all Arab leaders because he was surrounded by gorgeous guards. However, the guards and the secrets they keep have vanished from Qaddafi’s Bab al-Azizia compound.
Since the guards are believed to never leave Qaddafi’s side, one wonders whether they have accompanied him to his hideout. Does he still consider them to be the most competent and trustworthy guards to protect his life?
(This article was translated from Arabic by Sarah Sfeir)