This morning, a rebel military spokesman, citing spies and radio intercepts, delivered what could be devastating news for the Libyan regime to AFP: Muammar Qaddafi's youngest son, Khamis, who commands the army's elite and dreaded Khamis Brigade, had been killed by a NATO airstrike overnight in the western town of Zlitan. There's reason to doubt the claim, however. NATO tells AFP that while it did strike targets in Zlitan last night, it cannot confirm reports of Khamis's death. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim dismissed the claim, labeling the report a "dirty trick" to cover up the killing of a civilian family in Zlitan.

There's another reason to be skeptical of the assertion: This isn't the first time the 28-year-old Khamis (on the right in the picture held up by a regime supporter above) has reportedly been killed. In March, Arab and British news outlets reported that a Libyan "kamikaze" air force pilot had crashed his jet into Khamis's Tripoli compound, killing Khamis.  Libyan state television tried to refute the rumors by airing footage of a man it claimed was Khamis (in uniform) greeting supporters at his father's compound.

 

Khamis also has a history with Western bombs. Way back in 1986, a three-year-old Khamis was injured in a U.S. bombing raid after Libya was accused of orchestrating a bombing in West Berlin that killed an American soldier and woman. At the time, the AP ran a photo of the young Khamis in a hospital bed, with his head and face wrapped with bandages. Earlier this year, a NATO strike in Tripoli killed another Qaddafi son, Saif al-Arab, along with three of Qaddafi's grandchildren.