Greed, jealousy and ambition poisoned relations inside Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's family and often destroyed the careers of officials who got in the way, according to US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
The five Gaddafi children used threats and occasional violence to try to ensure their business and political interests won out in the major oil exporting country.
"While internecine strife is nothing new for the famously fractious . . . family, the recent escalation of tension comes during a particularly momentous period," said a diplomatic report dated March 2009, shortly before Libya celebrated the 40th anniversary of the revolution that brought Col Gaddafi to power.
The family is now operating as a tight unit against unrest which threatens to end Col Gaddafi's rule, but the US reports document a family split between Col Gaddafi's second eldest son and supposed heir Saif al-Islam and four of his siblings.
It lists several officials who were forced to resign, sent abroad or sacked for refusing the children's requests, failing to keep them in order or simply for becoming too close to one or other of the factions.
The chairman of the National Oil Corporation quickly resigned after he declined a request for $1.2bn (€870m) from Gaddafi's security adviser, his fourth eldest son Mutassim, to create his own security unit.
The cables offer little hope for the family. One child, Saif al-Arab who lives in Germany, is referred to only briefly and is guilty only of spending "much time partying".