Saadi Gaddafi is the third son of Libya’s late dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The international playboy and failed soccer player never shared his father’s penchant for a phalanx of female bodyguards. Instead, he trusted his personal safety to a diminutive Australian ex-soldier named Gary Peters. While not as glamorous as the "Amazonian Guard," that took oaths of virginity and vowed to lay down their lives if the situation arose (and it did), Peters was a loyal protector.
Peters is a resident of Cambridge, Ontario where he runs his business Can/Aust Security and Investigations International. For a year, he has been under investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency for his involvement with the former Libyan dictatorship. On January 29, the Immigration and Refugee Board ordered his deportation, after finding Peters complicit in crimes against humanity carried out by the Gaddafi regime. The immigration body said Peters committed a transnational crime when he helped Saadi flee Libya.
Peters’ case of hero worship could only be called severe. He received a gunshot wound (but no paycheck) when he helped spirit Saadi into exile in Niger during the 2011 Libyan revolution. An unflinching apologist for the Gaddafi regime, it appears his fortunes faded with those of his boss.
But, Peters says he went to Libya for reasons of the heart. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like love or money is in his immediate future: Saadi’s bank accounts are frozen, and he has cooled communication with Peters while they are both under scrutiny for involvement in crimes against humanity.
VICE: How did you come to work for Saadi Gaddafi?
Peters: In 2000, I provided him with security at the Olympics in Australia, and then again in 2008 at the film festival in Toronto. I recognized him, obviously, because he kind of stands out.
Would you say you and Saadi are friends?
Yeah, we’re friends. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that. After a period of time you get to know somebody. You just don’t talk business all the time, especially late at night, at nightclubs, whatever the case may be, or in the back of the limo.
What kind of stuff did he talk to you about?
Things that had happened that bothered him. Like his adopted sister Hana who was killed years and years ago by Ronald Reagan [ed. note: there are reports that she is still alive.] He remembers that. He still has feelings about that. Sometimes he needed someone to talk to and I was there.
How was she killed?
When Ronald Reagan bombed the people’s palace in Tripoli in 1986.
The Canada Border Services Agency found you were complicit in crimes against humanity. Those are pretty serious charges. What do you have to say to that?
Since I’ve known Saadi and the Gaddafis for so long the CBSA thinks I must be complicit in their activities, which is incorrect. One thing that was brought up in the hearing was, I mean I’m not racist at all, but when was the last time you heard an Arab gentleman take advice from a westerner? I love the people over there, and I’ve got respect for them, but they don’t do that. So, how could I be complicit in their activities?
Where did the CBSA get their accusations against you?
This is guilt by association, since I know Saadi Gaddafi and his father, and a few of his family. They said I must have known about these atrocities. My answer to that was I’ve heard of them, as has the rest of the world, but I didn’t witness it. I don’t know what they’ve done, that’s the government’s work—not mine. My main objective was Saadi Gaddafi, nobody else. Do I believe Saadi Gaddafi was involved? No. It’s ridiculous. It’s crazy.
What was Saadi’s role during the revolution?
His father sent him to Benghazi to try to calm people down. He would visit hospitals and orphanages; all that kind of stuff because that’s what he thought was the right thing. He’s very much a people’s person, always has been.
What about the allegations he ordered troops to shoot into a group of unarmed protesters?
Incorrect. 100%. He wasn’t the one who gave that order. The soldier that said that is lying. Saadi is anti-violence. He didn’t like us carrying guns.
So what did happen?
He was in the barracks and the rebels couldn’t get in. After he left, they put a suicide bomber into the front of the barracks. What you have to realize is the Gaddafi government didn’t start that; they just retaliated. People are blaming the government for instigating fights but it didn’t happen like that. The military reacted. Same as what we would do. There’s no crime in that.
Is it true, members of your team shot five people when your convoy was ambushed on the mission to assist Saadi to flee Libya for Niger?
Yes, we were coming out and it was just inside the Libyan border from Tunisia.
Were those five people were killed?
Yes. But everything was legal. We were in a warzone, we were permitted to carry weapons, and we just defended ourselves. I got shot, and somebody else on my team, but we came out the better side of it.
Have you been paid for the mission?
Do you know when you will get paid?
No I don’t. It’ll come sooner or later, hopefully. Saadi’s got to watch what he’s got. I understand that. I’m not going to ever push that issue with him, because I understand.
When you spoke a few weeks ago, did you advise Saadi to stay in Niger?
That was my suggestion. The only time I would advise him is if I was there with him. You have to put your foot where your mouth is. My suggestion is to stay where he is and ride this out. Let things settle down and then think about moving.
Ultimately, does he want to go back to Libya?
He’ll say that one day, and the next day he doesn’t. I don’t think that’s going to happen.
Why does he want to leave Niger?
Have you ever been to Niger? He would take the chance to go to a more civilized country, a country that’s more established, for his comfort and for a long-term stay, until this all settles down.
Is Saadi Gaddafi a playboy?
He likes to party, spend a lot of money, live large?
Yes. He is a fun guy to be around. Not just for the money. He is very humorous. He can show you a good time—a very good time.