Libya 1980


I had the authority to get what I want. I made that clear as I showed the woman and the bearded stranger, her colleague, around my house. I had had the fitted cabinets flown in from France; the bathroom was Italian; the gazelles in the garden had been captured for me by my troops in the Sahara; girls came in from Bangkok occasionally. I made sure they noticed the photographs of me with the Boss.

The Boss. After I returned from my military training in Sandhurst (UK) in 1966 I was his boss in the army - but then he overthrew the government in 1968 and promoted himself to Colonel Gaddhafi. Publicly I now had a role in the Ministry of Justice but privately I was in charge of the mukhabarat, the country’s internal security. This gave me some worries of course. A senior bureaucrat defected to join the exiled old King in Cairo last week; a minister absconded to London with state funds; there had been an attempt on the Boss’ life in Benghazi recently.  And I also kept an eye on the expatriates and their illegal alcohol production. My people ignored the low-level producers but we demanded a cut from those who produced alcohol for wider distribution – or we kicked them out of the country. I could help my partners by arranging the import of what they needed for their stills and breweries. I had the authority.

I liked the woman – and her colleagues were OK. They asked, and I agreed to use my authority to import two turkeys from Malta for them, for their Christmas meal.