Khamis Brigade

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32nd Reinforced Brigade of the Armed People
Khamis Brigade SSI.svg
Brigade SSI
Country Libya
AllegianceMilitary of Libya
TypeMechanized infantry
RoleHeavy Mechanized (Elite Unit)
Nickname(s)Khamis Brigade
Engagements2011 Libyan civil war
Khamis Gaddafi

The Khamis Brigade, formally the 32nd Reinforced Brigade of the Armed People,[2] was a regime security brigade of the Libyan Armed Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi,[3] the official leader of Libya from 1969 until 2011. The 32nd Brigade was commanded by Gaddafi's youngest son, Khamis Gaddafi and was called "the most well-trained and well-equipped force in the Libyan military" and "the most important military and security elements of the regime" in leaked U.S. memos.[4]

In 2009, according to news reports, Belgian arms manufacturers delivered 11.5 million € worth of small arms and ammunition to the 32nd Brigade. The aim according to the Walloon government was to protect humanitarian convoys heading for Darfur in the Sudan.[5]

Role in 2011 uprising and civil war[edit]

The Khamis Brigade was described as the most elite of three "regime protection units" which together comprise 10,000 men. According to U.S. and European officials, these units were directly loyal to Gaddafi, whereas regular army units made up of conscripts were subject to widespread desertion.[6] It engaged anti-government forces[3] and was reported by eyewitnesses to be moving into Benghazi, Bayda and several other cities that were centers of anti-government protests on 19 February 2011 in the company of militias, possibly including foreign mercenaries.[7][8] Al Arabiya, citing sources in Benghazi, reported that Khamis Gaddafi had recruited French-speaking mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa.[9]

On 24 February, armored units commanded by Khamis Gaddafi were reported to be moving toward Misrata, Libya's third-largest city and a major port, said to be in the hands of rebels with heavy weapons.[10] Meanwhile, multi-national mercenaries commanded by the group killed scores and injured dozens in Zawiya, a city symbolic for its resistance to Italian colonization. Local witnesses and speeches by Gaddafi described a chaotic situation with people in civilian clothes fighting one another in the streets. According to former justice minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Khamis Gaddafi and two of his brothers were stationed in security centers to the east, west, and south of Tripoli.[11]

The Aruba School in the rebel held coastal town of Shahhat became the prison for almost 200 suspected mercenaries of the Gaddafi regime from countries such as Niger and Chad.[12] They were reported to be part of Libya's "Khamees' battalion".[12]

On 27 February, residents reported heavy fighting around the Khamis Brigade's headquarters complex in Misrata. An air force school within the complex had been besieged by protesters with light weapons. Despite possessing heavier weaponry, those within had run out of food and water, and a commander surrendered himself for trial.[13] Another report stated that officers at the air force school had mutinied and the adjacent air force base had been overwhelmed.[14]

On 18 April, the headquarters of the Khamis Brigade near Tripoli was bombed and destroyed by NATO planes that took part in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.[15] According to NATO sources, the headquarters had been used to coordinate and lead attacks on civilians.[16]

On 21 August, the Khamis Brigade headquarters 26 kilometres (16 mi) west of Tripoli was overrun by rebel forces as they made a major push towards the capital, allowing rebels to capture large stores of weapons.[17] At this date, the Khamis Brigade were reported to have killed 17 prisoners in a makeshift prison near Gragur in Tripoli.[18] On 23 August 2011, the Khamis Brigade killed around 50 prisoners in a Tripoli warehouse and then set fire to the warehouse.[19]

On 29 August 2011, Khamis Gaddafi was killed in fighting in Tarhuna.[20] On 9 September, the NTC health minister said that the Khamis Brigade had lost around 9,000 soldiers during the war.[citation needed] It is unknown who may have commanded remnants of the Khamis Brigade in the closing days of the 2011 Libyan civil war.


  1. ^ "Coalition Watching Qaddafi Son's Elite Unit, U.S. Commander Says". Business Week. 23 March 2011. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011.
  2. ^ Hamilton, John (23 February 2011). "Libya protests: The tangled web keeping Gaddafi in power". The Daily Telegraph.
  3. ^ a b "Pressure mounts on Libya's Gaddafi". Al Jazeera. 26 February 2011.
  4. ^ U.S. diplomatic cables leak, 09TRIPOLI924, 19 November 2009
  5. ^ Amnesty International, 'Arms Transfers to the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons for an Effective Arms Trade Treaty,' ACT 2011, p.41
  6. ^ Hosenball, Mark (24 February 2011). "Son's unit may be one of Gaddafi's last lines of defense". Reuters.
  7. ^ Michael, Maggie (18 February 2011). "Libyan forces storm protest camp in Benghazi". News Observer. Associated Press.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Khamis Ghaddafi: The agent of fear". Afrol News. 23 February 2011.
  9. ^ "Khamis Gaddafi Recruits Mercenaries to Shoot Protestors". International Business Times. 21 February 2011.
  10. ^ Black, Ian (24 February 2011). "Heavy fighting in former stronghold as Gaddafi's forces stage counterattacks". Guardian.
  11. ^ Al Baik, Duraid (25 February 2011). "Gaddafi hiding in Azizyeh". Gulf News.
  12. ^ a b "Libya's Alleged Foreign Mercenaries: More Gaddafi Victims?". Time. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2011.
  13. ^ "Gadhafi tightens hold on capital; Obama calls for ouster". McClatchy. 26 February 2011.
  14. ^ Mitchell, Gary (25 February 2011). "Gaddafi: 'Follow Me Or I Will Burn Libya'". Sky News. Archived from the original on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  15. ^ "Operational Media Update for 18 April" (PDF). NATO. 19 April 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  16. ^ "Libya: NATO Jets Bomb Capital". Eurasia Review. 19 April 2011. Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Libyan Rebels Reportedly Capture Major Military Base Defending Tripoli". Fox News. 21 August 2011.
  18. ^ Muhkerjee, Sangeeta (29 August 2011). "Khamis Brigade Turns Manslaughters, Kills 50 Detainees". International Business Times. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  19. ^ Spencer, Richard (29 August 2011). "Libya: last act of bloody vengeance by Khamis Brigade". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2011.
  20. ^ "TV confirms death of Kadhafi son Khamis in Libya". My Sinchew. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 19 December 2012.

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