SAIF AL-ISLAM AL-QADDAFI
It wasn't so long ago that Muammar al-Qaddafi's favorite son, Saif al-Islam, hobnobbed with British barons, raised pet tigers at his villa in Tripoli, and even paid Mariah Carey a cool $1 million for a four-song cameo at a party he threw on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.
Then came the Arab Spring. With his father's grip on power less and less secure, Saif -- the London School of Economics-educated scion long regarded as his benighted country's best hope for a liberal future -- announced on Aug. 3 that he is angling to team up with radical Islamists among the rebel fighters to drive out their liberal compadres. He showed up to a bizarre interview with the New York Times toting a string of Islamic prayer beads. "Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran," he says. "So what?"
This is something of an about-face, considering that Saif and his father have spent six months smearing the rebellion as … an Islamist conspiracy. Making matters weirder, the Islamist rebel with whom Saif claims to have spoken has reiterated his call for democracy, minus the Qaddafis. Most likely, Saif is clumsily trying to sow division and discord in the rebel camp by pitting Islamists and liberals against one other -- but the speed of his "conversion" is jarring.
MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images