Gadhafi fears flying over water; likes flamenco dancing, Ukrainian nurses

Monday, January 10, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

LONDON The State Department has been monitoring the behavior of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

A U.S. embassy cable identified key aides of Gadhafi, including his nurse. The September 2009 cable by the U.S. embassy in Tripoli provided what was termed "rare insights into Gadhafi's inner circle and personal proclivities."

"He also appears to have an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, reportedly prefers not to fly over water, and seems to enjoy horse racing and flamenco dancing," the cable, released by WikiLeaks, said.

The cable said Gadhafi has been relying heavily on an unidentified aide. The Libyan leader was also believed to take his senior Ukrainian nurse, identified only as Galyna, a "voluptuous blonde," on all foreign travel.

"His recent travel may also suggest a diminished dependence on his legendary female guard force, as only one woman bodyguard accompanied him to New York," the cable said. "Observers in Tripoli speculate that the female guard force is beginning to play a diminished role among the leader's personal security staff."

Gadhafi was described as mercurial and eccentric. The cable, quoting unidentified informers, said Gadhafi could not climb more than 35 steps and suffers from headaches from long flights.

"Gadhafi's dislike of long flights and apparent fear of flying over water also caused logistical headaches," the cable said. "Gadhafi does not like to fly over water."

Gadhafi was said to retain four Ukrainian nurses. The Libyan leader was also said to have engaged one of the nurses in a "romantic relationship."

"Gadhafi appears to be almost obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel," the cable said. "Continued engagement with Gadhafi and his inner circle is important not only to learn the motives and interests that drive the world's longest serving dictator, but also to help overcome the misperceptions that inevitably accumulated during Gadhafi's decades of isolation."

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