Propelling a yellow kayak across the swimming pool, the young rebel soldier grins as he brandishes his AK47 rifle.
Four of his comrades, men in their early twenties from Misrata, play like children, dive-bombing each other in the water.
One soldier lounges in a plastic chair, laughing as he says: ‘This is my Libya now.’ Another adds: ‘Everything here belonged to Gaddafi. But he is not here now and he will never come back. It belongs to us all
Play time: A rebel with an AK47 sits triumphant in a canoe in one of the pools in Gaddafi’s exclusive coastal resort on the outskirts of Tripoli
Luxury: A triumphant rebel holds an AK47 aloft as he swims in the pool after the Gaddafi family fled
The setting for this extraordinary behaviour is the exclusive coastal resort on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli, where the rebels yesterday discovered a vast complex of houses belonging to Gaddafi’s children and his closest advisers.
As they moved from one house to another, they were shocked to find that each was more opulent and luxurious than the last
The extravagance of white baby grand pianos, infinity pools and jet-skis was set against the poverty seen everywhere in Tripoli, where families queue for basic foodstuffs and hospitals go without vital medical supplies.
Each of the houses was equipped with a hot-tub, and the complex also boasted several swimming pools, a scuba diving school and a horse-riding stable complete with a show-jumping circuit.
In one beach house, the private playground of Mutassim Gaddafi – the Libyan leader’s fifth (of seven) son and feared security adviser – smashed bottles of Dom Perignon and Moet were strewn amid the minimalist decor.
Remarkable extravagance: A rebel fighter dives into the swimming pool. The luxury homes the regime enjoyed are a far cry from the lives of ordinary Libyans
Expensive: The weekend party house on the outskirts of Tripoli belonging to Mutassim Gaddafi, military commander and son of Gaddafi who led government forces in a brutal campaign against rebels
Mutassim, the sadistic 34-year-old commander of the regime’s forces in Brega, was yesterday thought to be leading the brutal fighting in his father’s birthplace, Sirte.
The Malibu-style beach-house, erected on stilts above the Mediterranean coastline, bears all the hallmarks of a weekend bachelor pad, from its stark monochrome colour scheme to the huge white leather circular bed, scattered with designer Fendi cushions and bedspreads.
A massive Technogym sits in one corner, mirrored so its owner could admire himself as he worked out, and still see the ocean view.
Looters had already stripped out the state-of-the-art Harmon/Kardon stereo system worth thousands of pounds, and taken the 65-inch plasma Panasonic television screen.
Plush: Mutassim’s party house has sea views, an expensive television, rugs and white furniture
Luxury: The house even has a cliff top hot tub overlooking the sea. The house is one of three properties belonging to Gaddafi in the exclusive complex
Top security: A five-bolt lock at the weekend party home that belonged to Mutassim Gaddafi, the military commander and Gaddafi’s son. He is said now to be leading the defence of Sirte
Only their user manuals were left behind, alongside remote controls for the white curtains across the wall-to-ceiling windows.
Across the Mediterranean in Italy, such a house would cost millions, but money was clearly no object to this family, who controlled Libya’s vast oilfields.
The house was littered with smashed bottles of Absolut vodka, Havana rum, Martini and Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky – anathema to the devout Islamic population.
‘What a good Muslim he has been,’ a rebel exclaimed as he kicked an empty vodka bottle across the black and white marble floor, sending it spinning into a chrome designer bar stool.
Nearby, at the weekend retreat of Gaddafi’s fourth son, Hannibal, one of his security team lounging on bamboo garden furniture claimed he had led the rebels to his former employer’s home.
The man, who refused to give his name, said the family allowed only their personal bodyguards inside the complex and left their vast security detail to roam outside.
Snipers were also posted in the grounds to protect against assassination attempts, he said, while each house had three-inch reinforced steel doors to protect against intruders.
Music: Rebels play on a baby grand piano inside the weekend party house of Abdullah Senussi, Gaddafi’s spy chief and brother-in-law
Hannibal, 35, ran Libya’s oil export business for his father, and was renowned for his violent temper.
He was accused of beating his pregnant girlfriend in Paris and in 2005 was arrested for assaulting two of his personal servants in a Geneva hotel. He fled back to Libya after he was released on bail and has never faced justice.
His house has been ransacked, either by looters or by the family themselves when they fled, and ten marble statues of classical Roman women in togas lie in his back garden, smashed and beheaded on the ground.
Drinks: Alcohol was also found in Mustassim’s house – here are some of the discarded alcohol boxes and bottles
It was here that yesterday the young rebel soldiers were enjoying themselves in his swimming pool.
In a third house in the complex, hastily scrawled battle plans lie on a coffee table – apparently discarded as the occupant fled – alongside pairs of Dolce and Gabbana designer jeans.
They detailed rows of soldiers in squadrons equipped with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, anti-aircraft guns and rockets.
At the bottom was written in Arabic: ‘The more sound we make, the more battles we win.’
The huge bungalow was home to Abdullah Senussi, Gadaffi’s spy chief, brother-in-law and feared right-hand man.
Remarkable: The home in the exclusive Regatta complex on the outskirts of Tripoli is one of three properties belonging to Gaddafi sons
Luxurious: Mutassim’s dining room with black, silver and white furniture – it even has a bar at the end
The 62-year-old is wanted on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court and was responsible for the massacre of 1,200 prisoners in 1996.
Rebel soldiers laughed as they played his Pearl River white baby grand piano, and one couldn’t resist a mock salute to a cockroach he saw crawling inside the spy chief’s huge sunken bath.
‘Hello Mr Abdullah,’ he said. ‘I hoped we would find you here.’
Tripoli paradise: The weekend party houses of Gaddafi sons of Mutassim Gaddafi (far right), Hannibal (top of hill) and Hamed (front)
Discrete luxuries: A set of speakers which have been designed to look like rocks in Mutassim Gaddafi’s party house. The sheer extravagance is a world away from the lives of ordinary Libyans
Rebels take over: A statue is felled at the opulent property on the outskirts of Tripoli
Even the silk-like tissues are labelled five star in Mutassim Gaddafi’s party house
Back in Tripoli itself, teddy bears pushed in trolleys and garish pink carpets carried over shoulders were probably the only items left as looters yesterday carried on raiding Gaddafi’s compound in the city.
One man, perhaps with a little daughter in mind, managed to secure a little pink bike with stabilisers.
In the other hand he took a grey contraption that looked an exercise bike or cross-trainer, though it was proving slightly more difficult to carry.
Another looter found something far more interesting among the mess and wreckage – a white military drone.
A great spoil of war, no doubt, but what on earth would he do with it once he had taken it back home?
Striking: One of the expensive modern light fittings in the property. Meanwhile, Tripoli has been suffering from power shortages