London: A dictator's son who gave the impression to the world that he stood for democratic principles is now just echoing his father's intentions to crush a rebellion.
Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi completed his doctorate from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2008. His professors remember him as a man on a mission to bring reform to his country.
"I came to know a young man who was increasingly liberal in his values, committed to reform and transparent government. He was absolutely committed to constitutional reform and an introduction to a law in his country to guarantee civil society the autonomy and the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly & freedom of association," says Prof David Held, Co-director, LSE Global Governance, who supervised Saif at LSE.
However, when he made his speech on Libyan state TV earlier this week, Saif was not quite the same man it seems.
"From now on the army will play a vital role in keeping law and order and returning to normalcy at whatever cost," Saif said in his speech.
His friends who remember him as a 'charming student' say the speech shows that he has become an enemy of the ideals he once proclaimed.
Prof Held added, "I was appalled by his speech. Saif I suppose was overrun by it...the speed with which it engulfed his country but that is not to offer any excuses whatsoever. When this man came to his test, he failed and he is culpable for his failures."
Saif donated 1.5 million pounds to LSE for a research programme on North Africa. The university accepted £300,000 of that grant but released a statement distancing itself from any further association with him.
The statement said: "In current difficult circumstances across the region, the School has decided to stop new activities under that programme."
Perhaps, his alma mater isn't the only one abandoning the Libyan dictator's son. Those who knew him say Saif was faced with a crisis of choice between standing for his principles or for his father and ended up making the wrong choice.