For someone whose core vocabulary in public speeches and broadcasts often consists of nouns like "rats, vermin, snakes and cockroaches", all of whom hide in dark places or burrow underground, it is not surprising that Muammar Gaddafi and his regime have had a propensity for doing the same during his 42-year reign, both literally and figuratively. In recent days, revolutionary victories in Tripoli have led to the discovery of just how extensively Gaddafi has burrowed some of his own residences, offices and institutions underground, indeed, much of his entire power structure, he himself roaming, like the Minotaur of ancient Greek mythology, through vast labyrinths apparently extending for miles beneath Tripoli and perhaps beyond, often absurdly, it also seems, in a golf cart.
The associations do not stop there even, this propensity for secrecy and hidden things, such as his internationally feared secret services abroad and at home, his secret wealth, the hidden prisons, the hidden intelligence files, hidden weapons, hidden bunkers and on and on. These are all manifestations of institutions, personalities and a philosophy/quasi-theology based on fear, militarism and the acquisition of unbridled political and financial power.
Indeed Gaddafi was, until misfortune struck his vanity, purported to be one of the richest men in the world, thanks to the large reservoirs of black Libyan gold found underground, in a word, oil, which liquid glitter conjures up even more connotations with the underworld in visages, also from Greek myth, of the Greek God Hades, Pluto to the Romans, God of not only the Underworld, but of the immense riches of the Underworld, whose gloomy abode included the River Styx, beyond which lay such realms as dark Tartarus, where the living souls of those who had died yet could never be redeemed where held in suffering and torment, perpetually.
And to extend the associations about hidden things even farther, it would appear that Gaddafi has even turned to the Occult, which itself means "Hidden", if this article entitled "LIBYA: GADDAFI CALLS UP SHAMANS AGAINST REBELS" is to be believed, not really a stretch though for a man who styles himself the King of Kings of Africa. Indeed, kings always have their magicians, sorcerers, soothsayers and shamans. Yet the Dark Powers often have their own way. Witness MacBeth and even the myths of Sir Frazer's Golden Bough. To quote from the article though:
(ANSAmed) - ROME - Black magic and African shamans are the latest weapon that Gaddafi has made recourse to in order to extend the life of his regime. Shamans and witches from Mali, Mauritania, Gambia, Morocco and Nigeria have the main task of repelling the rebels, who are moving in ever closer to his stronghold in Tripoli. Gaddafi has urged the most famous shamans to help him defeat the rebels, according to the colonel and pilot Saleh Al Ubaidi, who has recently gone over to the side of the rebels and who was quoted by the daily paper Asharq Al Awsat. The pilot said that the shamans send their ''priests'' onto the battle field with magic talismans in the hope of preserving soldiers' loyalty. ''After the February 17 revolution, shamans - claims Saleh Al Ubaidi - have been used by Colonel Gaddafi as a parallel intelligence agency.'' Quoting a source very close to Gaddafi, the pilot said that the leader had requested help from a Gambian shaman, and the latter recited the text of a talisman over Gaddafi's mantle to protect him from NATO and rebel attacks. Al Ubaidi added that Gaddafi always wears this mantle, even when in high temperatures. He went on to say that the leader also never takes off a silver ring made with the brains and bones of a hyena, which shamans believe has special powers. The ring was a gift to the Colonel from a Mauritanian shaman to instill fear and terror with whoever speaks to him. At the beginning of the February revolution, Libyan state TV had as a guest a Libyan witch doctor who threatened NATO, telling the leader that the righteous and jinns (supernatural creatures often of an evil nature) are fighting along his side. (ANSAmed). (source)But enough exposition on the hidden things of Gaddafi and all the related associations, concrete or obscure. Let us now take a tour of what has been so recently been brought to light as rebels fighters, like a battalion dedicated to the Greek hero Theseus, have breached the labyrinthian seals of Colonel Gaddafi, commencing with the capture of, to quote from Al Jazeera, his Intelligence Headquarters:
The headquarters of Libya's intelligence services - a notorious symbol of Muammar Gaddafis 42-year rule - is now firmly in rebel hands.
Detailed reports on anyone opposing him would come directly to this building. Parts of the compound also served as a prison, with secret cells housing many Libyans that the regime would make disappear.
The building is full of confidential documents that could provide a valuable insight into what was one of the world's most secretive regimes.- Advertisement -
But it will take weeks to sift through.
Jamal Elshayyal reports from Tripoli in this Al Jazeera Exclusive:
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And then there is the REAL LABYRINTH discovered underneath Gaddafi's huge Tripoli compound near the district of Bab al-Azizia after rebels stormed it earlier this week of August 22nd, 2011, which investigators, search teams and news crews have only now have begun to explore. Here is film footage from both Richard Engel and Stephanie Gosk as they climbed into Gaddafi's underworld.
Al Jazeera has gained access to part of an underground tunnel network beneath Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli.
Fighting for overall control of the area around Bab al-Aziziyah is still going on.