Is Colonel Gaddafi's Biological Father a Frenchman Preziosi and Grand--mother a Jew?
If Colonel Gaddafi was so eager to linger in Paris when he came last December, it was perhaps because the Libyan leader is half French. His father was an air force pilot from Corsica. That's him in the picture on the left.
This extraordinary claim has surfaced over the past few days after a report by Bakchich, a French investigative news site. They looked into a legend which has long circulated in Vezzani, a village of 600 people in eastern Corsica. According to this, a Vezzani gendarme's son called Albert Preziosi was stationed in the Libyan desert with the Free French air force in 1941-42. He is said to have had an affair with a local woman at about the time that young Muammar would have been conceived.
Preziosi was killed when his aeroplane was shot down over Russia in 1943. As a member of the famous Normandy-Niemen squadron, he has been celebrated as a hero in his home village ever since. An air force base near the town of Solenzara, is named after him. Not a shred of evidence exists to stand up the Gaddafi legend but the physical resemblance is so strong that it has persisted.
Officially, the father of the Supreme Guide of the Revolution was Abu Meniar Al Gaddafi, a Bedouin goat breeder in the region of Syrte. His mother, a local tribeswoman, was named Aisha. The Italian occupation and the war destroyed all records of the couple, according the French investigators.
Preziosi is remembered by surviving comrades as a charmer. According to some, he talked about having a child in Libya. Pierre Lorillon, a Major who joined the squadron in Russia after Preziosi's death told Bakchich that his wartime comrades had no doubt about Gaddafi's paternity. "We all knew that Albert had had a girlfriend from the 'big Libyan tent', in other words a noble woman from the high bourgeoisie...We only knew that he had a child with this woman and that an uncle had taken care of her and sent her to study abroad".
Members of Preziosi's family were reluctant to talk or said they knew nothing about a child, according to the site and French newspapers which picked up the story this weekend. Jacques-Antoine Preziosi, a nephew who is a Marseille lawyer, said that the family had nothing to confirm the legend and had never thought of investigating it.
Jean-Pierre Pagni, the Mayor of Vezzani, told le Journal du Dimanche that Preziosi was the village hero. "We have no proof of this paternal link but nothing contradicts it either," he said.
Bakchich dug up an exchange of letters between senior officers which showed that the air force History Service tried to investigate the story in 1999. A general concluded that the paternity was not possible because the Preziosi was based 600 kilometres away from Gaddafi's reported birth place. The news site quotes other squadron pilots who contradict this.
Perhaps someone will end the mystery with a DNA check. In the meantime, some in Corsica are remembering that Gaddafi gave strong support to FNLC separatist guerrillas there in the 1970s. That is hardly evidence of filial attachment, since the colonel was handing out weapons and training to just about every terrorist outfit in those days.
The well-respected British magazine reports that Gita Boaron, an Israeli of Libyan decent, claimed on Israeli television that she is related to the just-about-deposed Libyan strongman.
“Gaddafi’s grandmother is my grandmother’s sister,” Boaron told Israeli television. “His grandmother is my father’s grandmother. She was Jewish, became Muslim and married the town sheik. She had children and he’s her grandson, so he’s considered Jewish because his mother was born to a Jewish mother. So it means he’s Jewish.”
Evidently, Boaron thinks Gaddafi should seek refuge in Israel and make aliyah. But Boaron isn’t the only Israeli that believes Gaddafi is part of the Tribe. As the Economist reports:
“In Netanya, a resort north of Tel Aviv, where many of the 100,000-odd Israeli Jews of Libyan origin have settled, a square has been called Qaddafi Plaza in anticipation of his arrival. ‘Whatever he’s done, Israel’s his home,’ says Rachel, a widow sipping her macchiato, Libya’s beverage of choice, and nibbling abambara, a Libyan-Jewish pastry in one of the square’s Libyan-owned cafés. ‘After all, he’s a Jew.’ With his curls, she says, he would fit into many a Libyan synagogue.”
The head of a Libyan Jewish cultural organization in Israel further buttressed the rumor to the magazine.
“Jews from Tripoli remember he [Gaddafi] attended a Jewish wedding in the 1960s, long before he became leader,” Pedazur Benattia said.