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With the events in the Middle East — the nightmare of dictators — unfolding before our eyes, one may wonder how despots like Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi manage to stay alive, let alone in power.  Dedicated security details are the norm, but for Qaddafi’s contingent, there’s nothing normal.  His security consists of roughly three-dozen women — all allegedly, virgins — hand-picked by Qaddafi himself to serve as his guards.

Called the “Amazonian Guard,” Qaddafi’s soldiers are, unlike typical Libyan women, afforded the right to wear Western hair styles, high heels, and makeup.  (While this sounds trivial to Western ears, bear in mind that Libyan women are not treated equally to men — far from it.)  They’re required to take a vow of chastity and devote their lives to protecting Qaddafi, which they’re well-equipped to do: each Guardslady is an expert with firearms and schooled in martial arts.  Indeed, do not let their gender and makeup fool you — they are trained to kill.

Certainly unique, especially in the Muslim world, not much else is known about the Amazonian Guard.  Even photos are strikingly rare, but a dozen or so can be found here.

Bonus fact: In 2009, the eccentric Qaddafi — in Rome for a UN food summit – threw a party, anonymously, for roughly 200 women, covertly geared toward encouraging his guests to convert to Islam.  The attendees were selected based on their attractiveness — in part, each had to be at least 5’7″, no younger than 18, and no older than 35 — and were not told the nature of the event (nor the identity of its host) beforehand.  While none converted (at least not that evening), each received roughly $75 and a copy of the Quran.

From the Archives: Abraham Lincoln Created the Secret Service the Day He Was Shot: The history behind another set of bodyguards.

Related: “In the Country of Men” by Hisham Matar.  A well-received Kindle book (4 stars on 43 reviews) recounting the life of a child whose father was a dissident of Qaddafi’s regime.

Originally published

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