Khadafy Family: The pictures of a life

Posted: 10/11/2011 in World

Khadafi’s wife, Safiya, daughter Aisha and two of his sons, Mohammed and Hannibal, all crossed into Algeria.

The spouses of Khadafi’s children and their children arrived as well. This post gives us a glimpse of how those family members lived while in power in Libya. The value of these images isn’t in their artistry or aesthetic, but in their storytelling information as we seek to uncover more behind the scenes of the Khadafi regime that spanned forty-two years

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi

(June 1942 – 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi  or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the unofficial «Brother Leader» of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.

He seized power in a bloodless military coup in 1969 and served as the country’s head of state until 1977, when he stepped down from his official executive role as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya, and claimed subsequently to be merely a symbolic figurehead.  Critics have long described him as Libya’s autocrat or demagogue,  despite the Libyan state’s denial of him holding any power. In 2011, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya state he established was overthrown in a civil war which consisted of an uprising aided by a NATO intervention. His 41-year leadership prior to the uprising made him the fourth longest-serving non-royal leader since 1900, as well as the longest-serving Arab leader. He variously styled himself as «the Brother Leader» and «Guide of the Revolution»; in 2008 a meeting of traditional African rulers bestowed on him the title «King of Kings».

After seizing power in 1969, he abolished the Libyan Constitution of 1951. He established laws based on the political ideology he had formulated, called the Third International Theory and published in The Green Book.  After establishing the jamahiriya («state of the masses») system in 1977, he officially stepped down from power and had since then held a largely symbolic role within the country’s officialgovernance structure. Rising oil prices and extraction in Libya led to increasing revenues. By exporting as much oil per capita as Saudi Arabia and through various welfare programs, Libya achieved the highest living standards in Africa; though not as high as several similarly oil-rich Gulf countries, Libya remained debt-free.  In the 1980s, he started several wars and acquired chemical weapons, leading to the United Nations calling Libya under Gaddafi a pariah state and countries around the world imposing sanctions.  Six days after the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 by United States troops,  Gaddafi renounced Tripoli’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and welcomed international inspections to verify that he would follow through on the commitment.  A leading advocate for a United States of Africa, he served as Chairperson of the African Union (AU) from 2 February 2009 to 31 January 2010.

In February 2011, following revolutions in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia, protests against Gaddafi’s rule began. These escalated into an uprising that spread across the country, with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing a government based in Benghazi named the National Transitional Council (NTC). This led to the 2011 Libyan civil war, which included a military intervention by a NATO-led coalition to enforce a UN Security Council Resolution 1973 calling for a no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya. The assets of Gaddafi and his family were frozen, and both Interpol and the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants on 27 June for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi, concerning crimes against humanity.  Gaddafi and his forces lost the Battle of Tripoli in August and on 16 September 2011 the NTC took Libya’s seat at the UN, replacing Gaddafi.  He retained control over parts of Libya, most notably the city of Sirte, to which it was presumed that he had fled.

Although Gaddafi’s forces initially held out in the battle for Sirte against NATO’s bombing attacks and the NTC’s advances, Gaddafi was captured alive in Sirte by members of the Libyan National Liberation Army after his convoy was attacked by NATO warplanes as Sirte fell on 20 October 2011.  Gaddafi was then killed in controversial circumstances by NLA fighters.

Early life and military academy

Muammar Gaddafi was born in Qasr Abu Hadi, a rural farming area located just outside Sirte. He was raised in a Bedouin tent in the desert near Sirte. According to many biographies, his family belongs to a small tribe of Arabs, the Qadhadhfa. They are mostly herders that live in the Hun Oasis. According to Gaddafi, his paternal grandfather, Abdessalam Bouminyar, fought against the Italian occupation of Libyaand died as the «first martyr in Khoms, in the first battle of 1911». Gaddafi attended a Muslim elementary school far from home in Sabha, during which time he was profoundly influenced by major events in the Arab world. He admired Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and looked to him as a hero during his rise to power in 1952. In 1956 Gaddafi took part in anti-Israeli protests during the Suez Crisis. In Sabha he was briefly a member of Scouting. He finished his secondary school studies under a private tutor in Misrata, concentrating on the study of history.

Gaddafi entered the Royal Libyan Military Academy at Benghazi in 1961, and graduated in 1966. Both towards the end of his course and after graduation, Gaddafi pursued further studies in Europe. False rumours have been propagated with regards to this part of his life, for example, that he attended the United Kingdom’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He did in fact receive four months’ further military training in the United Kingdom, and spent some time in London. After this, as a commissioned officer he joined the Engineers Corps. Although often referred to as «Colonel Gaddafi», he was in fact only a Lieutenant when he seized power in 1969. He was, nonetheless, a holder of the honorary rank of Major General, conferred upon him in 1976 by his own Arab Socialist Union’s National Congress. Gaddafi accepted the honorary rank, but stated that he would continue to be known as «Colonel» and to wear the rank insignia of a Colonel when in uniform.

Libyan revolution of 1969

In Libya, as in a number of other Arab countries, admission to a military academy and a career as an army officer only became available to members of the lower economic strata after independence. A military career offered an opportunity for higher education, for upward economic and social mobility, and was for many the only available means of political action. For Gaddafi and many of his fellow officers, who were inspired by Nasser’s brand of Arab nationalism, a military career was a revolutionary vocation.

As a cadet, Gaddafi associated with the Free Officers Movement. Most of his future colleagues on the Revolutionary Command Council(RCC) were fellow members of his graduating class at the military academy. The frustration and shame felt by Libyan officers by Israel’s massive defeat of the Arab armies on three fronts in 1967 fuelled their determination to contribute to Arab unity by overthrowing the Libyan monarchy. An early conspirator, Gaddafi first started planning the overthrow of the monarchy while a cadet.

On 1 September 1969 a small group of junior military officers led by Gaddafi staged a bloodless coup d’état against King Idris of Libya while the king was in Turkey for medical treatment. Idris’s nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, was formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and put under house arrest; they abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the Libyan Arab Republic.

Internal affairs

Gaddafi (left) with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1969

On gaining power he immediately ordered the shutdown of American and British military bases, including Wheelus Air Base. He told Western officials that he would expel their companies from Libya’s oil fields unless they shared more revenue. In his warning, he alluded to consultation with Nasser. The oil companies complied with the demand, increasing Libya’s share from 50 to 79 percent. In December 1969, Egyptian intelligence thwarted a planned coup against Gaddafi from high-ranking members of his leadership. Many of the dissenters had grown uneasy with his growing relationship to Egypt.

Gaddafi expelled Italian settlers in Libya in 1970. Despising the Christian calendar, he replaced it as the country’s official with an Islamic calendar. He renamed the months of the calendar. August, named for Augustus Caesar, was renamed Hannibal, and July, after Julius Caesar, was renamed Nasser, for Gamal Abdel Nasser. From 1971 to 1977, Gaddafi approved the Arab Socialist Union, modeled on Egypt’s Arab Socialist Union (Egypt), to function as a political party in Libya.

Gaddafi increasingly devoted himself to «contemplative exile» over the next months, writing a manifesto, The Green Book (an allusion to Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book) in which he denounced capitalism and communism as variations on “slavery” and spurned all political parties as forms of “dictatorship.” In the manifesto he advocated direct rule by People’s Committees according to Islamic law. At this time, routine administrative tasks fell to Major Jallud who became prime minister in place of Gaddafi in 1972. Two years later Jallud assumed Gaddafi’s remaining administrative and protocol duties to allow Gaddafi to devote his time to revolutionary theorizing. Gaddafi remained the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the effective head of state. The foreign press speculated about an eclipse of his authority within the RCC, but Gaddafi soon dispelled such theories by imposing measures to restructure Libyan society.

From 1977 onward, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya officially declared itself to be a direct democracy state in which the people ruled themselves through local popular councils and communes, named Basic People’s Congresses, where all adult Libyans were allowed to participate and vote on national decisions. These people’s congresses were, in principle, the country’s highest authority, with major decisions proposed by government officials or Gaddafi himself requiring the consent of the people’s congresses. Despite officially stepping down from power in 1977 and no longer holding any governmental position, Gaddafi continued to exert considerable influence over the country’s affairs, with many of his critics insisting that the structure of Libya’s direct democracy gave him «the freedom to manipulate outcomes,» comparing him to a demagogue. The other surviving members of the Libyan Revolutionary Command Council remained with positions in office by virtue of leading the revolution and were thus not subject to election.


Libya enjoys large natural resources, which Gaddafi utilized to help develop the country. Under Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya «direct democracy» state, the country’s literacy rate rose from 10% to 90%, life expectancy rose from 57 to 77 years, equal rights were established for women and black people, employment opportunities were established for migrant workers, and welfare systems were introduced that allowed access to free education, free healthcare, and financial assistance for housing. In addition, financial support was provided for university scholarships and employment programs. Gaddafi also initiated development of the Great Manmade River, in order to allow free access to fresh water across large parts of the country. The country was developed without taking any foreign loans, and, as a result, Libya was debt-free.

Despite his role in developing the country, critics have accused Gaddafi of concentrating a large part of the country’s high gross domestic product on his family and his elites, who allegedly amassed vast fortunes. Many of the business enterprises were allegedly controlled by Gaddafi and his family. Despite the regime providing financial assistance for housing, segments of the population continued to live in poverty, particularly in the eastern parts of the country.

When the rising international oil prices began to raise Gaddafi’s revenues in the 1970s, Gaddafi spent much of the revenues on arms purchases and on sponsoring his political projects abroad. Gaddafi’s relatives adopted lavish lifestyles, including luxurious homes, Hollywood film investments and private parties with American pop stars.

The Economy of Libya was centrally planned and followed Gaddafi’s socialist ideals. It benefited greatly from revenues from the petroleum sector, which contributed most export earnings and 30% of its GDP. These oil revenues, combined with a small population and by far Africa’s highest Education Index gave Libya the highest nominal GDP per capita in Africa. Between 2000 and 2011, Libya recorded favourable growth rates with an estimated 10.6 percent growth of GDP in 2010, the highest of any state in Africa. Gaddafi had promised «a home for all Libyans» and during his rule, new residential areas rose in empty Saharan regions. Entire populations living in mud-brick caravan towns were moved into modern homes with running water, electricity, and satellite TV.

At the time Gaddafi died, some of the worst economic conditions were in the eastern parts of the state. The sewage facilities in Banghazi were over forty years old, and untreated sewage flowed into ground and coast. 97% of urban dwellers have access to «improved sanitation facilities» in Libya, this was 2% points lower than the OECD average, or 21% points above the world average. In the first fifteen years of Gaddafi rule, the number of doctors per capita increased by seven times, with the number of hospital beds increasing by three times. During Gaddafi’s rule, infant mortality rates went from 125 per 1000 live births, about average for Africa at the time, to 15 per 1000, the best rate in Africa. Libyans who could afford it often had to seek medical care in neighboring countries such as Tunisia and Egypt because of lack of decent medical care in Libya.

Libyans have described the Great Manmade River, a project initiated by Gaddafi, as the «Eighth Wonder of the World». The Great Manmade River also holds the record as the world’s largest irrigation project. Gaddafi also initiated the Libyan National Telescope Project, costing about 10 million euros.

On 4 March 2008, Gaddafi announced his proposal to dissolve the country’s existing administrative structure and disburse oil revenue directly to the people. The plan included abolishing all ministries; except those of defence, internal security, and foreign affairs, and departments implementing strategic projects. His reason for this plan was because he believed that the ministries were failing to manage the country’s oil revenues. Gaddafi claimed he was planning to combat corruption in the state by proposing reforms where oil profits are handed out directly to the country’s five million people  rather than to government bodies, stating that «as long as money is administered by a government body, there would be theft and corruption.» Gaddafi urged a sweeping reform of the government bureaucracy, suggesting that most of the cabinet system should be dismantled to «free Libyans from red tape» and «protect the state’s budget from corruption.» According to Western diplomats, this move appeared to be aimed at putting pressure on the government to speed up reforms. Gaddafi claimed that the ministries were failing to manage the country’s oil revenues, and that his «dream during all these years was to give power and wealth directly to the people.»

A national vote on Gaddafi’s plan to disband the government and give oil money directly to the people was held in 2009, where Libya’s people’s congresses, the country’s highest authority, voted to delay implementation. The General People’s Congress announced that, out of 468 Basic People’s Congresses, 64 chose immediate implementation while 251 endorsed implementation «but asked for (it) to be delayed until appropriate measures were put in place.» This plan led to dissent from top government officials, who claimed it would «wreak havoc» in the economy by «fanning inflation and spurring capital flight.» Gaddafi acknowledged that the scheme, which promised up to 30,000 Libyan dinars ($23,000) annually to about a million of Libya’s poorest, may «cause chaos before it brought about prosperity,» but claimed that «Do not be afraid to experiment with a new form of government» and that «This plan is to offer a better future for Libya’s children.» Mahmoud Jibril, a former Jamahiriya member who later formed the National Transitional Council, was opposed to Gaddafi’s Wealth Redistribution Project where oil revenues would be distributed directly to the Libyan people, an idea that Jibril described as “crazy” in 2010.

In December 2009, Gaddafi personally told government officials that Libya would soon experience a «new political period» and would have elections for important positions such as minister-level roles and the National Security Advisor position (a Prime Minister equivalent). He also promised to include international monitors to ensure fair elections. His speech was said to have caused quite a stir. These elections were planned to coincide with the Jamahiriya’s usual periodic elections for members of the Popular Committees, Basic People’s Committees, Basic People’s Congresses, and General People’s Congress, in 2010.

Dissent and Revolutionary Committees

In the early 1970s, Gaddafi created the Revolutionary Committees as conduits for raising political consciousness, with the aim of direct political participation by all Libyans rather than a traditional party-based representative system. In 1979, however, some of these committees had eventually evolved into self-appointed, sometimes zealous, enforcers of revolutionary orthodoxy. During the early 1980s, these committees had considerable power and became a growing source of tension within the Jamihiriya, to the extent that Gaddafi sometimes criticized their effectiveness and excessive repression, until the power of the Revolutionary Committees were eventually restricted in the late 1980s.

The Revolutionary Committees occasionally kept tight control over internal dissent; reportedly, ten to twenty percent of Libyans worked as informants for these committees, with surveillance taking place in the government, in factories, and in the education sector. During the 1970s, Libya executed members of the Islamist fundamentalist Hizb-ut Tahrir faction, and Gaddafi often personally presided over the executions. Libya faced internal opposition during the 1980s because of the highly unpopular war with Chad. Numerous young men cut off a fingertip to avoid conscription at the time. A mutiny by the Libyan Army in Tobruk was violently suppressed in August 1980. In 1981, Gaddafi expressed doubts over the effectiveness of the Revolutionary Committees, due to the growing tension they were causing within the Jamahiriya.

In 1982, there were cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, which led some Libyans to be hesitant when speaking with foreigners. The government conducted executions and mutilations of political opponents in public and broadcast recordings of the proceedings on public television. Dissent was illegal under Law 75 of 1973, which limited freedom of expression at the time. From time to time, opposition was met with violence. Between 1980 and 1987, a network of diplomats and recruits were employed to assassinate at least 25 critics living abroad. The Revolutionary Committees called for the assassination of Libyan dissidents living abroad in April 1980, sending Libyan hit squads abroad to murder them. On 26 April 1980, Gaddafi stated that a deadline was set for 11 June 1980, for dissidents to return home or be «in the hands of the revolutionary committees». In 1982, Gaddafi stated that they should «repent» and return to the Jamahiriya, that «Such people are charged with high treason because of their collaboration with the Israelis and Americans,» and that «It is the Libyan people’s responsibility to liquidate such scums who are distorting Libya’s image.» Libyan agents assassinated dissidents in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

In 1988, Gaddafi criticized the excessive measures taken by the Revolutionary Councils, stating that «they deviated, harmed, tortured» and that «the true revolutionary does not practise repression.» That same year, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya issued the Great Green Document on Human Rights, in which Article 5 established laws that allowed greater freedom of expression. Article 8 of The Code on the Promotion of Freedom stated that «each citizen has the right to express his opinions and ideas openly in People’s Congresses and in all mass media.»A number of restrictions were also placed on the power of the Revolutionary Committees, leading to a resurgence in the Libyan state’s popularity by the early 1990s.

Following an abortive 1986 attempt to replace English with Russian as the primary foreign language in education, English has been taught in recent years in Libyan schools from primary level, and students have access to English-language media. In 2004, Libya posted a $1 million bounty for journalist Ashur Shamis, under the allegation that he was linked toAl-Qaeda and terror suspect Abu Qatada. During the 2005 civil unrest in France, Gaddafi called Chirac and offered him his help in quelling the resistors, who were largely North African. There were indications that Libya’s Gaddafi-era intelligence service had a relationship with intelligence organizations such as the CIA, who voluntarily provided information on Libyan dissidents to the regime in exchange for using Libya as a base for extraordinary renditions. In 2010, Libya’s press was rated as 160th out of 178 nations in the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders. In January 2011, the state’s policies on human rights, including freedom of expression, were generally well received by the United Nations Human Rights Council, where most countries largely praised the country’s human rights record.

Campaign against Berber culture

Gaddafi often expressed an overt contempt for the culture of the Berbers, a non-Arab people of North Africa, and for their language, maintaining that the very existence of Berbers in North Africa is a myth created by colonialists. He adopted new names for Berber towns, and on official Libyan maps, referred to the Nafusa Mountains as the «Western mountains». In a 1985 speech, he said of the Berber language, «If your mother transmits you this language, she nourishes you with the milk of the colonialist, she feeds you their poison» (1985). The Berber language was banned from schools and up until 2009, it was illegal for parents to name their children with Berber names. Berbers living in ancient mud-brick caravan towns such as Ghadames were forced out and moved into modern government-constructed apartments in the 1980s. During the 2011 civil war, Berber towns rebelled against Gaddafi’s rule and sought to reaffirm their ancient identity as Berbers. Gaddafi’s government strengthened anti-Berber sentiment among Libyan Arabs, weakening their opposition.

Foreign affairs

Activities in Sudan and Chad

Gaddafi, Algerian President Houari Boumediene, and Syrian President Assad attending the Summit in Libya in December 1977.

After Nasser’s death, Gaddafi attempted to become the leader of Arab nationalism. He wanted to create a «Great Islamic State of the Sahel», unifying the Arab states of North Africa into one. As early as 1969, Gaddafi contributed to the Islamization of Sudan and Chad, granting military bases and support to the FROLINAT revolutionary forces. In 1971, when Muslims took power in Sudan, he offered to merge Libya with Sudan.Gaafar Nimeiry, the President of Sudan, turned him down and angered Gaddafi by signing a peace settlement with the Sudanese Christians. Gaddafi took matters into his own hands in 1972, organizing the Islamic Legion, a paramilitary group, to arabize the region.He dispatched The Islamic Legion to Lebanon, Syria, Uganda, and Palestine to take active measures to ensure Islamic control. The Islamic Legion was highly active in Sudan and Chad, and nearly removed the Toubou population of southern Libya through violence.

Through the 1970s and 1980s, Gaddafi led an armed conflict against Chad, and occupied the Aouzou strip. During the 1970s, two Muslim leaders, Goukouni Oueddei and Habre, were fighting against the Christian southerners for control of Chad. Gaddafi supported them, and when they seized control in 1979, he offered to merge with Chad. Goukouni turned him down, and Gaddafi withdrew Libyan troops in 1981 because of growing opposition from France and neighboring African nations. Gaddafi’s withdrawal left Goukouni vulnerable in Chad, and in 1982, his former partner, Habre, led a coup to remove him from Chad. Gaddafi helped Goukouni regain territory in Chad, and fought with Habre’s forces. As a side note, Gaddafi’s occupation of Chad led to the liberation of French archeologist Françoise Claustre in 1977.  In 1987, Gaddafi engaged in a full-out war with Chad, suffering a humiliating loss in 1987 during the Toyota War. Libya took heavy casualties, losing one tenth of its army (7,500 troops) and 1.5 billion dollars worth of military equipment. 

Chad lost 1,000 troops, and was supported by both the United States and France.  During the war, Gaddafi lost his long-time ally, Goukouni Oueddei, who repaired his relationship with Habre in 1987. Gaddafi gave Habre an offer to make complete peace, and promised to return all Chadian prisoners in Libya. He also promised to pay reparations for the damage done to Chad, and promised financial support to fight poverty. He also announced that he would push to end the death penalty in Libya, end «revolutionary» courts, free hundreds of political prisoners, and warmed relations with African leaders concerned about his «Green revolution.» Former Libyan soldiers and rebel groups supported by Libya continued to fight the Chadian government independent of Gaddafi. Their organization, the Arab Gathering, was an Arab supremacist group that also contributing to violence in Sudan. Members of this group later developed into leaders of the Janjaweed.

War against Egypt

The disappointment and failure Nasser faced for his lost Six-Day War motivated Gaddafi to better coordinate Arab attacks on Israel. Beginning in 1972, Gaddafi granted financial support and military training to Palestinian militant groups against Israel. He also strengthened his unity with Egypt, and in 1972, convinced Anwar Sadat to share the same flag and join a partial union with Libya. Gaddafi had offered a fully unified state where Sadat would be president and he would be defense minister. Sadat distrusted Gaddafi and refused. Gaddafi was further disappointed with Egypt’s political system, as he spoke to Egypt’s Arab Socialist Union and was suggested «a partial merger, in order to allow time for thorough and careful study». Gaddafi quipped back, saying «There’s no such thing as a partial merger».  In 1973, Gaddafi secretly sent Libyan military planes to join the Egyptian Air Force. The outbreak of the Yom Kippur War surprised Gaddafi, as Egypt and Syria planned it without his knowledge.  Gaddafi felt that the war wasted resources and manpower to chase limited objectives, and accused Sadat of trying to weaken the FAR by launching the War.

According to Gaddafi, Assad and Sadat were foolish to fight for small areas of Israeli-occupied territory when the entire land could be returned to the Palestinians outright. He said, «I will participate only in a war if the aim is to oust the usurpers and send the Jews back to Europe from where they have come since 1948 to colonize an Arab land.»  Gaddafi’s relationship with Egypt further weakened because he opposed a cease-fire with Israel and called Sadat a coward for giving up after one Israeli counteroffensive. Gaddafi also believed that the Soviet Union and the United States would join forces with Israel, and would deploy troops on the demarcation lines to invade and «colonize» the Arab nations.  Anwar Sadat was equally angry with Gaddafi and revealed that he was responsible for foiling a 1973 submarine attack Libya planned for sinking the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 during an Israeli cruise. Gaddafi fired back, saying the Arabs could have destroyed Israel within 12 hours if they had adopted a sound strategy.

Gaddafi charged Egyptian reporters with the breakdown of Libyan-Egyptian relations in 1973, and said Sadat was partly to blame because he had «no control» of Egyptian information media.  Egypt’s peace talks in 1977 led to the Steadfastness and Confrontation Front, a group Gaddafi formed to reject the recognition of the Israeli state. Libya’s relations with Egypt broke down entirely that year, leading to the short-lived Libyan–Egyptian War. During the war, Libya sent its military across the border, but Egyptian forces fought back and forced them to retreat. Gaddafi’s animosity with Sadat was so high that in 1981, Gaddafi declared his death a national holiday.  He called it a just «punishment» for his role in the Camp David Accords.

Maghreb countries

Gaddafi signed an agreement with Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba to merge nations in 1974. The pact came as a surprise because Bouguiba had rebuked similar offers for over two years previously.  Weeks after the agreement, he postponed a referendum on the issue, effectively ending it weeks later. The idea of merging states was highly unpopular in Tunisia, and cost Bourguiba much of his people’s respect. The agreement was said to allow Bourguiba the presidency while Gaddafi would be defense minister. A later treaty withMorocco’s Hassan II in 1984 broke down in two years when Hassan II met with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.  Gaddafi said recognition of Israel was «an act of treason».  In 1989, Gaddafi was overjoyed by the Maghreb Pact between Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. Gaddafi saw the Pact as a first step towards the formation of «one invincible Arab nation» and shouted for a state «from Marrakesh to Bahrain», pumping his fists in the air.


Gaddafi’s image in the Arab world was damaged severely in 1978 when Shia imam Musa al-Sadr disappeared en route to Libya. The Libyan government consistently denied responsibility, but Lebanon held Gaddafi responsible, and continues to do so. Allegedly, Yasser Arafat asked Gaddafi to eliminate al-Sadr because of his opposition to Palestinians in the Lebanese Civil War. In 1981, Shia Lebanese vigilantes hijacked two Libyan aircraft, demanding information on al-Sadr’s whereabouts. Shia Muslims across the Arab world continue to view Gaddafi negatively since this incident. His relations with Shia-populated Lebanon and Iran soured as a result.  Lebanon formally indicted Gaddafi in 2008 for al-Sadr’s disappearance.  Some reports claim that al-Sadr still lives and secretly remains in jail in Libya.

In 1995 Gaddafi expelled some 30,000 Palestinians living in Libya, a response to the peace negotiations that had commenced between Israel and the PLO.

Weapons of mass destruction programs

Gaddafi’s attempts to procure weapons of mass destruction began in 1972, when Gaddafi tried to persuade the People’s Republic of China to sell him a nuclear bomb.

In 1977, he tried to obtain a bomb from Pakistan, but Pakistan severed ties before Libya succeeded in building a weapon.  After ties were restored, Gaddafi attempted to buy a nuclear weapon from India, but instead, India and Libya agreed for a peaceful use of nuclear energy, in line with India’s «atoms for peace» policy.

Several people around the world were indicted for assisting Gaddafi in his chemical weapons programs. Thailand reported its citizens had helped build a storage facility for nerve gas. Germany sentenced a businessman, Jürgen Hippenstiel-Imhausen, to five years in prison for involvement in Libyan chemical weapons.

Inspectors from the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) verified in 2004 that Libya owned a stockpile of 23 metric tons of mustard gas and more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals. Disposing of such large quantities of chemical weapons was expected to be expensive. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by US forces in 2003, Gaddafi announced that his nation had an active weapons of mass destruction program, but was willing to allow international inspectors into his country to observe and dismantle them. US President George W. Bush and other supporters of the Iraq War portrayed Gaddafi’s announcement as a direct consequence of the Iraq War. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a supporter of the Iraq War, was quoted as saying that Gaddafi had privately phoned him, admitting as much. Many foreign policy experts, however, contend that Gaddafi’s announcement was merely a continuation of his prior attempts at normalizing relations with the West and getting the sanctions removed. To support this, they point to the fact that Libya had already made similar offers starting four years before one was finally accepted. International inspectors turned up several tons of chemical weaponry in Libya, as well as an active nuclear weapons program.


From the beginning of his leadership, Gaddafi confronted foreign oil companies for increases in revenues. Immediately after assuming office, he demanded that oil companies pay 10 percent more taxes and an increased royalty of 44 cents per barrel.

Gaddafi argued that Libyan oil was closer to Europe, and was cheaper to ship than oil from the Persian Gulf. Western companies refused his demands, and Gaddafi asserted himself by cutting the production of Occidental Petroleum, an American company in Libya, from 800,000 to 500,000 that year. Occidental Petroleum’s President, Armand Hammer, met with Gaddafi in Tripoli and had difficulty understanding exactly what he wanted at first. He said at one meeting, Prime MinisterAbdessalam Jalloud finally took out his gun belt and left the loaded revolver in full view. Later, Hammer recalled that moment and said he felt then «that Gaddafi was ready to negotiate». In The Age of Oil, historians considered Gaddafi’s success in 1970 to be the «decisive spark that set off an unprecedented chain reaction» in oil-producing nations. Libya continued a winning streak against the oil companies throughout the 1970s energy crisis; Later that year, the Shah of Iran raised his demands to match those of Gaddafi. OPEC nations began a game of «leap frogging» to win further concessions from the oil companies after following Gaddafi’s lead.

Gaddafi and the Shah of Iran both argued for quadrupling the cost of oil in 1975. In 1975, Gaddafi allegedly organized the hostage incident at OPEC in Vienna, Austria.

Alliances with authoritarian national leaders

Gaddafi had a close relationship with Idi Amin, whom he sponsored and gave some of the key ideas, such as expulsions of Indian-Ugandans. When Amin’s government began to crumble, Gaddafi sent troops to fight against Tanzania on behalf of Amin and 600 Libyan soldiers lost their lives. Gaddafi also financed Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military junta in Ethiopia, which was later convicted of one of the deadliest genocides in modern history.

Gaddafi ran a school near Benghazi called the World Revolutionary Center (WRC). A notable number of its graduates have seized power in African countries. Blaise Compaoré ofBurkina Faso and Idriss Déby of Chad were graduates of this school, and are currently in power in their respective countries. Gaddafi trained and supported Charles Taylor of Liberia,Foday Sankoh, the founder of Revolutionary United Front, and Jean-Bédel Bokassa, the Emperor of the Central African Empire.

Jakaya Kikwete, the president of Tanzania, embraces Gaddafi during theAfrican Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2 Feb. 2009.

In Europe, Gaddafi had close ties with Slobodan Milošević and Jörg Haider. According to the Daily Mail, Jörg Haider received tens of millions of dollars from both Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Gaddafi also aligned himself with the Orthodox Serbs against Muslims in Bosnia andKosovo, supporting Milošević even when he was charged with large-scale ethnic cleansing against Albanians in Kosovo.

Gaddafi developed a friendship with Hugo Chávez and in March 2009 a stadium was named after the Venezuelan leader. Documents seized during a 2008 raid on FARC showed that both Chavez and Gaddafi backed the group. Gaddafi developed an ongoing relationship with FARC, becoming acquainted with its leaders at meetings of revolutionary groups which were regularly hosted in Libya. In September 2009, at the Second Africa-South America Summit on Isla Margarita, Venezuela, Gaddafi joined Chávez in calling for an «anti-imperialist» front across Africa and Latin America. Gaddafi proposed the establishment of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rivalNATO, saying: «The world’s powers want to continue to hold on to their power. Now we have to fight to build our own power.»

Focus on activities in Africa

In the early 1980s, Gaddafi played a key role in the Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa. His image as a revolutionary inspired many South Africans to fight for their liberation, and he was largely responsible for funding and arming the Anti-Apartheid Movement as it fought the Apartheid regime and white minority rule. As a result, Gaddafi began gaining considerable popularity in South Africa and other African countries. He was also responsible for supporting and funding Nelson Mandela’s election campaign. He continued to maintain a close friendship with Mandela, who named his grandson after Gaddafi. In turn, Mandela later played a key role in helping Gaddafi gain mainstream acceptance in the Western world later in the 1990s. Over the years, Gaddafi would be seen as a «hero» in much of Africa.

In 1998, Gaddafi turned his attention away from Arab nationalism. He eliminated a government office in charge of promoting pan-Arab ideas and told reporters «I had been crying slogans of Arab Unity and brandishing standard of Arab nationalism for 40 years, but it was not realised. That means that I was talking in the desert. I have no more time to lose talking with Arabs…I am returning back to realism…I now talk about Pan-Africanism and African Unity. The Arab world is finished…Africa is a paradise…and it is full of natural resources like water, uranium, cobalt, iron, manganese.» Public television networks switched from Middle-Eastern soap operas to African themes involving slavery. The background of a unified Arab League that had been a staple of Libyan television for over two decades was replaced by a map of Africa. Gaddafi sported a map of Africa on his outfits from then forward. He also stated that, «I would like Libya to become a black country. Hence, I recommend to Libyan men to marry only black women and to Libyan women to marry black men.»

In addition to supporting popular African movements, such as the African National Congress in South Africa, Liberian rebels during the First Liberian Civil War, and popular factions in theSierra Leone Civil War, his support also sometimes went to leaders described by the United Nations as dictators and warlords. Gaddafi used anti-Western rhetoric against the UN, and complained that the International Criminal Court was a «new form of world terrorism» that wanted to recolonize developing countries. Gaddafi opposed the ICC’s arrest warrant for Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir and personally gave refuge to Idi Amin in Libya after his fall from rule in 1979.

According to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor’s orders for «The amputation of the arms and legs of men, women, and children as part of a scorched-earth campaign was designed to take over the region’s rich diamond fields and was backed by Gaddafi, who routinely reviewed their progress and supplied weapons». Gaddafi intervened militarily in the Central African Republic in 2001 to protect his ally Ange-Félix Patassé from overthrow. Patassé signed a deal giving Libya a 99-year lease to exploit all of that country’s natural resources, including uranium, copper, diamonds, and oil. Gaddafi acquired at least 20 luxurious properties after he went to rescue Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

Gaddafi’s strong military support and finances gained him allies across the continent. He was bestowed with the title «King of Kings of Africa» in 2008, as he had remained in power longer than any African king. Gaddafi was celebrated in the presence of over 200 African traditional rulers and kings, although his views on African political and military unification received a lukewarm response from their governments. His 2009 forum for African kings was canceled by the Ugandan hosts, who believed that traditional rulers discussing politics would lead to instability. On 1 February 2009, a ‘coronation ceremony’ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was held to coincide with the 53rd African Union Summit, at which he was elected head of the African Union for the year. When his election was opposed by an African leader, Gaddafi arranged with Silvio Berlusconi to have two escorts sent to that leader to have him change his mind. It worked, and he was elected Chairman of the African Union from 2009 to 2010. Gaddafi told the assembled African leaders: «I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa.»

In 1986, 2000, and the months prior to the 2011 civil war, Gaddafi announced plans for a unified African gold dinar currency, to challenge the dominance of the US dollar and Eurocurrencies. The African dinar would have been measured directly in terms of gold, which would mean a country’s wealth would depend on how much gold it had rather than how many dollars it traded, allowing a greater sharing of the wealth and self-determination in Africa. This has led some Africans to believe that, because it may have disrupted the dollar-dominatedworld economy, this may have been a reason for NATO’s 2011 military intervention in Libya against Gaddafi.

State-sponsored terrorism

Gaddafi supported militant organizations that held anti-Western sympathies around the world. The Foreign Minister of Libya called the massacres «heroic acts». Gaddafi fueled a number of Islamist and communist militant groups in the Philippines, including the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The country still struggles with their murders and kidnappings. In Indonesia, the Organisasi Papua Merdeka was a Libyan backed militant group. Vanuatu’s ruling party also enjoyed Libyan support. In Australia he attempted to radicalize Australian Aborigines, left-wing unions, Arab Australians, against the «imperialist» government of Australia.In New Zealand he financed the Workers Revolutionary Party  and attempted to radicalize Maoris.

In 1979, Gaddafi said he supported the Iranian Revolution, and hoped that «…he (the Shah) ends up in the hands of the Iranian people, where he deserves.» Gaddafi also financed and supported Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress party, who had for a long time been wrongly designated as terrorists by the United States up until 2008.

Gaddafi explicitly stated that it «is the Libyan people’s responsibility to liquidate» Libyan dissidents that had escaped from Libya, unless they «repent» and return to the Libyan Jamahiriya, raising tensions with refugee countries and European governments. In 1985, he stated that he would continue to support the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), as long as European countries supported anti-Gaddafi Libyans. In 1976, after a series of attacks by the IRA, Gaddafi announced that «the bombs which are convulsing Britain and breaking its spirit are the bombs of Libyan people. We have sent them to the Irish revolutionaries so that the British will pay the price for their past deeds». In April 1984 some Libyan refugees in London protested the execution of two dissidents. Libyan diplomats shot at 11 people and killed Yvonne Fletcher, a British policewoman. The incident led to the cessation of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Libya for over a decade. In June 1984 Gaddafi asserted that he wanted his agents to assassinate dissident refugees even when they were on pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca and, in August that year, a Libyan plot in Mecca was thwarted by Saudi Arabian police.

On 5 April 1986 Libyan agents bombed «La Belle» nightclub in West Berlin, killing three and injuring 229. Gaddafi’s plan was intercepted by Western intelligence and more detailed information was retrieved some years later from Stasi archives. Libyan agents who had carried out the operation, from the Libyan embassy in East Germany, were prosecuted by the reunited Germany in the 1990s.

Following the 1986 bombing of Libya, Gaddafi intensified his support for anti-American government organizations. He financed the Nation of Islam, which emerged as one of the leading organizations receiving assistance from Libya; and Al-Rukn, in their emergence as an indigenous anti-American armed revolutionary movement. Members of Al-Rukn were arrested in 1986 for preparing to conduct strikes on behalf of Libya, including blowing up U.S. government buildings and bringing down an airplane; the Al-Rukn defendants were convicted in 1987 of «offering to commit bombings and assassinations on U.S. soil for Libyan payment.» In 1986, Libyan state television announced that Libya was training suicide squads to attack American and European interests. He began financing the IRA again in 1986, to retaliate against the British for harboring American fighter planes.

Gaddafi also sought close relations with the Soviet Union and purchased arms from the Soviet bloc.

Western acceptance

Gaddafi with then-President of RussiaVladimir Putin in 2008

Gaddafi (at far right) attending the G-8 Summit in 2009. Barack Obama is visible just below the globe-emblem. Most web-circulated photos captioned as «Obama / Gaddafi meeting» actually just show the handshake from this event.

Gaddafi with Spanish President of the Government José Luis Rodríguez Zapateroat the third EU-Africa Summit in Tripoli in November 2010.

As early as 1981, Gaddafi feared that the Reagan Administration would combat his leadership and sought to reduce his maverick image. He and his cabinet talked frequently about the pullout of American citizens from Libya. Gaddafi feared that the United States would be plotting economic sanctions or military action against his government. In 1981, he publicly announced that he would not send any more hit teams to kill citizens in Europe, and quickly obeyed a 1981 armistice with Chad. In 1987, Gaddafi proposed an easing of relations between the United States and Libya. Speaking of the 1986 bombing of Libya, he said, «They trained people to assassinate me and they failed. They tried all the secret action against us and they failed. They have not succeeded in defeating us. They should look for other alternatives to have some kind of rapprochement.»

After the fall of Soviet client states in eastern Europe, Libya appeared to reassess its position in world affairs and began a long process of improving its image in the West.

In 1994, Gaddafi eased his relationship with the Western world, beginning with his atonement for the Lockerbie bombings. For three years, he had refused to extradite two Libyan intelligence agents indicted for planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103. South African president Nelson Mandela, who took special interest in the issue, negotiated with the United States on Gaddafi’s behalf. Mandela and Gaddafi had forged a close friendship starting with his release from prison in 1990. Mandela persuaded Gaddafi to hand over the defendants to the Scottish Court in the Netherlands, where they faced trial in 1999. One was found not guilty and the other, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, was given a life sentence. For Gaddafi’s cooperation, the UN suspended its sanctions against Libya in 2001. Two years later, Libya wrote to the UN Security Council formally accepting «responsibility for the actions of its officials» in respect to the Lockerbie bombing. It was later claimed by Libyan Prime MinisterShukri Ghanem and his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi that they did not believe they were responsible and that they simply wrote the letter to remove UN sanctions. Gaddafi agreed to pay up to US$2.7 billion to the victims’ families, and completed most of the payout in 2003. Later that year, Britain and Bulgaria co-sponsored a UN resolution to remove the UN sanctions entirely. In 2004, Shukri Ghanem, then-Libyan Prime Minister, openly told a Western reporter that Gaddafi was «paying for peace» with the West, and that there was never any evidence or guilt for the Lockerbie bombing. Indeed, many legal experts as well as the United Nations observer at the Lockerbie trial, Hans Koechler, voiced strong reservations about the Lockerbie trial, and in 2007 the sworn affidavit of a key witness indicated that the decisive physical evidence used to convict al-Megrahi had been planted.

Gaddafi’s government faced growing opposition from Islamic extremists during the 1990s, particularly the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which nearly assassinated him in 1996. Gaddafi began giving counter-terrorism intelligence to MI6 and the CIA in the 1990s, and issued the first arrest warrant for Osama bin Laden in 1998, after he was linked to the killing of German anti-terrorism agents in Libya. Gaddafi also accused the United States of training and supporting bin Laden for war against the Soviet Union. He said the United States was bombing al-Qaeda camps that they had supported and built for him in the past. Gaddafi also claimed that the bombing attempts by Bill Clinton were done to divert attention from his sex scandal.

Intelligence links from Gaddafi’s regime to the U.S. and the U.K. deepened during the George W. Bush administration; the CIA began bringing alleged terrorists to Libya for torture under the «extraordinary rendition» program. Some of those renditioned were Gaddafi’s political enemies, including one current rebel leader in the 2011 NATO-backed war in Libya. The relationship was so close that the CIA provided «talking points for Gaddafi, logistical details for [rendition] flights, and what seems to have been the bartering of Gaddafi’s opponents, some of whom had ties to Islamist groups, for his cooperation.»

He offered to dismantle his active weapons of mass destruction program in 1999. In 2002, Saddam Hussein paid Gaddafi $3.5 billion to save him should he have an internal coup or war with America. In 2003, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by U.S. forces, Gaddafi again admitted to having an active weapons of mass destruction program, and was willing to dismantle it. His announcement was well-publicized and during interviews, Gaddafi confessed that the Iraq War «may have influenced him», but he would rather «focus on the positive», and hoped that other nations would follow his example. Gaddafi’s commitment to the War against Terror attracted support from the United States and Britain. Prime minister Tony Blair publicly met with Gaddafi in 2004, commending him as a new ally in the War on Terror. During his visit, Blair lobbied for the Royal Dutch Shell oil company, which secured a deal in Libya worth $500 million. The United States restored its diplomatic relations with Libya during the Bush administration, removing Libya from its list of nations supporting terrorism.

President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney portrayed Gaddafi’s announcement as a direct consequence of the Iraq War. Hans Blix, then UN chief weapons inspector, speculated that Gaddafi feared being removed like Saddam Hussein: «I can only speculate, but I would imagine that Gaddafi could have been scared by what he saw happen in Iraq. While the Americans would have difficulty in doing the same in Iran and in North Korea as they have done in Iraq, Libya would be more exposed, so maybe he will have reasons to be worried.» Historians have speculated that Gaddafi was merely continuing his attempts at normalizing relations with the West to get oil sanctions removed. There is also evidence that his government was weakened by falling gas prices during the 1990s and 2000s,and his rule was facing significant challenges from its high unemployment rate. The offer was accepted and international inspectors in Libya were led to chemical weaponry as well as an active nuclear weapons program. In 2004, inspectors from the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) verified that Libya had owned a stockpile of 23 metric tons of mustard gasand more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals. By 2006, Libya had nearly finished construction of its Rabta Chemical Destruction facility, which cost $25 million, and Libyan officials were angered by the fact that their nuclear centrifuges were given to the United States rather than the United Nations. British officials were allowed to tour the site in 2006.

In 2007, the Bulgarian medics were returned to Bulgaria, where they were released. Representatives of the European Union made it clear that their release was key to normalizing relations between Libya and the EU. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, visited Libya in 2007 and signed a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements with Gaddafi, including a deal to build a nuclear-powered facility in Libya to desalinate ocean water for drinking. Gaddafi and Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed establishing a Russian military base in Libya.In August 2008, Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a landmark cooperation treaty in Benghazi.

Gaddafi met with then U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice in September 2008, where she pressed him to complete his payout for the Lockerbie bombings. Libya and the United States finalized their 20-year standoff over the Lockerbie bombings in 2008 when Libya paid into a compensation fund for victims of the Lockerbie bombing, 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing, and to American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing. In exchange, President Bush signed Executive Order 13477 restoring the Libyan government’s immunity from terrorism-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases in the United States.

In June 2009, Gaddafi made his first visit to Rome, where he again met Berlusconi, president Giorgio Napolitano and senate president Renato Schifani. Chamber president Gianfranco Finicancelled the meeting because of Gaddafi’s delay. The Democratic Party and Italy of Values opposed the visit and many protests were staged throughout Italy by human rights non-governmental organizations and Italian Radicals. Gaddafi also took part in the G8 summit in L’Aquila in July as Chairman of the African Union. During the summit a handshake between U.S. President Barack Obama and Muammar Gaddafi marked the first time the Libyan leader had been greeted by a serving U.S. President. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano hosted a dinner where Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and G8 host, overturned protocol at the last moment by having Gaddafi sit next to him, just two places away from president Obama who was seated on Berlusconi’s right-hand side.

He also met Senator John McCain in 2009. In August 2009, convicted bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was released to Libya on compassionate grounds and was received with a large celebration. Gaddafi and his government were criticized by Western leaders for his participation in this celebration. On 23 September 2009, Muammar Gaddafi addressed theUnited Nations General Assembly in New York. In 2010, Gaddafi agreed to pay US$3.5 billion to the victims of IRA attacks he assisted during the 1980s.

2011 Libyan civil war

People protesting against Gaddafi in Dublin, March 2011.

On 17 February 2011, major political protests began in Libya against Gaddafi’s government. During the following week these protests gained significant momentum and size, despite stiff resistance from the Gaddafi government. By late February the country appeared to be rapidly descending into chaos, and the government lost control of most of Eastern Libya. Gaddafi fought back, accusing the rebels of being «drugged» and linked to al-Qaeda. His military forces killed rebelling civilians, and relied heavily on the Khamis Brigade, led by one of his sons Khamis Gaddafi, and on tribal leaders loyal to him. He allegedly imported foreign mercenaries to defend his government,reportedly paying Ghanaian mercenaries as much as US$2,500 per day for their services. Reports from Libya also confirmed involvement with Belarus, and the presence of Ukrainian and Serbian mercenaries.

The violent response to the protesters prompted defections from his government. Gaddafi’s «number two» man, Abdul Fatah Younis, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and several key ambassadors and diplomats resigned from their posts in protest.Other government officials refused to follow orders from Gaddafi, and were jailed for insubordination.

At the beginning of March 2011, Gaddafi returned from a hideout, relying on considerable amounts of Libyan and US cash that had apparently been stored in the capital. Gaddafi’s forces had retaken momentum and were in shooting range of Benghazi by March 2011 when the UN declared a no fly zone to protect the civilian population of Libya. On 30 April the Libyan government claimed that a NATO airstrike killed Gaddafi’s sixth son and three of his grandsons at his son’s home in Tripoli. Government officials said that Muammar Gaddafi and his wife were visiting the home when it was struck, but both were unharmed.

Gaddafi son’s death came one day after the Libyan leader appeared on state television calling for talks with NATO to end the airstrikes which had been hitting Tripoli and other Gaddafi strongholds since the previous month. Gaddafi suggested there was room for negotiation, but he vowed to stay in Libya. Western officials remained divided over whether Gaddafi was a legitimate military target under the United Nations Security Council resolution that authorized the air campaign. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that NATO was «not targeting Gaddafi specifically» but that his command-and-control facilities were legitimate targets—including a facility inside his sprawling Tripoli compound that was hit with airstrikes 25 April.

In June 2011, an investigation carried out by Amnesty International found that many of the allegations against Gaddafi and the Libyan state turned out to either be false or lack any credible evidence, noting that rebels appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence. According to the Amnesty investigation, the number of casualties was heavily exaggerated, some of the protesters may have been armed, «there is no proof of mass killing of civilians on the scale of Syria or Yemen,» there is no evidence that aircraft or heavy anti-aircraft machine guns were used against crowds, and there is no evidence of African mercenaries being used, which it described as a «myth» that led to lynchings and executions ofblack people by rebel forces.

It criticized the «Western media coverage» which «has from the outset presented a very one-sided view of the logic of events, portraying the protest movement as entirely peaceful and repeatedly suggesting that the regime’s security forces were unaccountably massacring unarmed demonstrators who presented no security challenge.»

Crimes against humanity arrest warrant

The UN referred the massacres of unarmed civilians to the International Criminal Court. Among the crimes being investigated by the prosecution was whether Gaddafi purchased and authorized the use of Viagra-like drugs among soldiers for the purpose of raping women and instilling fear. His government’s heavy-handed approach to quelling the protests was characterized by the International Federation for Human Rights as a strategy of scorched earth. The acts of «indiscriminate killings of civilians» was charged as crimes against humanity, as defined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The validity of the rape allegations and claims of other abuses have been doubted by Amnesty International, which has not found evidence to back up the claims and notes that there are indications that on several occasions the rebels appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants on 27 June 2011 for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his brother-in-law Abdullah Senussi, head of state security for charges, concerning crimes against humanity. According to Matt Steinglass of The Financial Times the charges call for Gaddafi, and his two co-conspirators, to «stand trial for the murder and persecution of demonstrators by Libyan security forces since the uprising based in the country’s east that began in February.»

Libyan officials rejected the ICC’s authority, saying that the ICC has «no legitimacy whatsoever» and that «all of its activities are directed at African leaders». A Libyan government representative, justice minister Mohammed al-Qamoodi, responded by saying, «The leader of the revolution and his son do not hold any official position in the Libyan government and therefore they have no connection to the claims of the ICC against them …» This makes Gaddafi the second still-serving state-leader to have warrants issued against them, the first being Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

Russia and other countries, including China and Germany, abstained from voting in the UN and have not joined the NATO coalition, which has taken action in Libya by bombing the government’s forces. Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin special representative for Africa, speaking in an interview for Russian newspaper Izvestia, said that the «Kremlin accepted that Col Gaddafi  had no political future and that his family would have to relinquish its vice-like grip on the Libyan economy.» He also said that «It is quite possible to solve the situation without the colonel.»

Loss of international recognition

In connection with the Libyan uprising, Gaddafi’s attempts to influence public opinion in Europe and the United States came under increased scrutiny. Since the beginning of the 2011 conflict a number of countries pushed for the international isolation of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. On 15 July 2011, at a meeting in Istanbul, more than 30 governments recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate government of Libya.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, «The United States views the Gaddafi regime as no longer having any legitimate authority in Libya … And so I am announcing today that, until an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognize the TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis.» Gaddafi responded to the announcement with a speech on Libyan national television, in which he said «Trample on those recognitions, trample on them under your feet … They are worthless».

On 25 August 2011, with most of Tripoli having fallen out of Gaddafi’s control, the Arab League proclaimed the anti-Gaddafi National Transitional Council to be «the legitimate representative of the Libyan state», on which basis Libya would resume its membership of the League.

Battle of Tripoli

During the Battle of Tripoli, Gaddafi lost effective political and military control of Tripoli after his compound was captured by rebel forces. Rebel forces entered Green Square in the city center, tearing down posters of Gaddafi and flying flags of the rebellion. He continued to give addresses through radio, calling upon his supporters to crush the rebels.

On 24 August 2011, after the capture of his stronghold of Bab al-Azizia by loyalist forces, a photo album filled with pages of pictures of Condoleezza Rice was discovered inside the compound; the discovery was confirmed by an AP reporter, though it could not be confirmed that the album had belonged to Gaddafi. In a 2007 television interview, Gaddafi had previously praised Rice, saying «I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders… Leezza, Leezza, Leezza… I love her very much.» During Rice’s visit to Libya as Secretary of State, the wealthy Gaddafi showered her with gifts, including a diamond ring in a wood box, a locket with his photograph and a DVD with a musical instrument, with a total value of $212,225 (2008 value). During the visit, Gaddafi also showed the photo album to Rice, dubbed by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack as «not standard diplomatic practice.»

In September, an underground chamber was discovered beneath Tripoli’s Al Fatah University, the largest university in the city, containing (among other things) a bedroom, a Jacuzzi, and a fully equipped gynecological operating chamber. Only Gaddafi and his top associates had been allowed access to it in the past. In the 1980s, several students were hanged in public on the university campus premises. On at least one of these occasions, young high school students as well as other university students were brought by the bus loads to witness the hangings. The victims were typically accused of pursuing activities against the Al Fatah Revolution and the Libyan People.


Parts 1 (English edition) and 3 (Russian edition) of Gaddafi’s Green Book

On the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s birthday in 1973, Gaddafi delivered his famous «Five-Point Address» which officially implementedSharia. Gaddafi’s ideology was largely based on Nasserism, blending Arab nationalism, aspects of the welfare state, and what Gaddafi termed «popular democracy», or more commonly «direct, popular democracy». He called this system «Islamic socialism», as he disfavored the atheistic quality of communism. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones. Welfare, «liberation» (or «emancipation» depending on the translation), and education was emphasized. He also imposed a system of Islamic morals  and outlawed alcohol and gambling. School vacations were canceled to allow the teaching of Gaddafi’s ideology in the summer of 1973.

Gaddafi was known for erratic statements, and commentators often expressed uncertainty about what was sarcasm and what was simply incoherent. Over the course of his four-decade rule, he accumulated a wide variety of eccentric and often contradictory statements. He once said that HIV was «a peace virus, not an aggressive virus» and assured attendees at the African Union that «if you are straight you have nothing to fear from AIDS». He also said that the H1N1 virus was a biological weapon manufactured by a foreign military, and assured Africans that the tsetse fly and mosquito were «God’s armies which will protect us against colonialists». Should these ‘enemies’ come to Africa, «they will get malaria and sleeping sickness».

Gaddafi was an unabashed proponent of Islam, often with blatant disregard for religious tolerance. He said that Islam is the one true faith and that those who do not follow Islam are «losers». On another instance, he said that the Christian Bible was a «forgery» and that Jesus of Nazareth was a messenger for the sons of Israel only. In 2006, he predicted Europe would become a Muslim continent within a few decades as a result of its growing Arab population. He endorsed the concept of a peaceful Muslim nation-state. Gaddafi expressed violent hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people throughout his career. At first, he expelled Jews from Libya and sided with Arab states for the elimination of the state of Israel. He funded and supported governments and paramilitary organizations that fought Israel. He said Arab nations that negotiate with Israel are «cowardly», and on multiple occasions, he encouraged Palestinians to rise up against Israel. He believed in conspiracy theories that Israeli agents had assassinated John F. Kennedy and that Barack Obama’s foreign policy was influenced by fears of being assassinated by Israel. In 2007, he suggested a single-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, at first saying «This is the fundamental solution, or else the Jews will be annihilated in the future, because the Palestinians have [strategic] depth». In 2009, he moderated his proposal in a New York Times commentary, saying a single-state solution would «move beyond old conflicts and look to a unified future based on shared culture and respect.»

During Gaddafi’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2009, he blamed the United Nations for failing to prevent 65 wars and claimed that theSecurity Council had too much power and should be abolished. He demanded that Europe pay its former colonies $7.77 trillion dollars to pay for past imperialism or face «mass immigration».

Despite his ongoing hostility to Jews, rumors arose that he had Jewish heritage. Two Israeli women came forth on Israel’s Channel 2 News to claim that they were close blood relations with Gaddafi. Guita Brown claimed that she was Gaddafi’s second cousin. Brown’s daughter, Rachel Saada, elaborated that Gaddafi’s grandmother was Jewish, and that she left her first husband and married a Muslim man in her second marriage. The older woman also spoke with Israel National News (which identified her as Gita Boaron), and repeated the same claim.

Assassination attempts and plots

  • In 1969, the British Special Air Service (S.A.S.) was contacted by the Libyan Royal Family and planned an assassination attempt to restore the Libyan monarchy. The plan was dubbed the «Hilton Assignment», named after a Libyan jail. The plan was to release 150 political prisoners from a jail in Tripoli as a catalyst for a general uprising. The prisoners would be recruited for a coup attempt, and the British agents would leave them to take over the nation. The plan was called off at a late stage by the British Secret Intelligence Servicebecause the United States government decided that Gaddafi was anti-Marxist and therefore acceptable.
  • In 1976, Tunisia’s state television reported that Gaddafi had been fired at by a lone assailant. None of the shots hit him.
  • In 1981, French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing plotted an assassination attempt with Egypt. His administration spoke with the Reagan administration for approval, but the United States did not support the measure. The plot was abandoned after Giscard’s term in office.
  • In 1986, the United States bombed Libya, including Gaddafi’s family compound in the vast Bab al-Azizia Barracks in southern Tripoli. The U.S. Government consistently said that the bombings were «surgical strikes» and were not intended to kill Gaddafi. However, Oliver North did devise a plot at the time to lure Gaddafi into his compound using Terry Waite. The plot violated US law, which prohibited assassinations, and was never put into action. On 15 April, Gaddafi and his family had fled his compound in the Bab al-Azizia Barracks moments before it was bombed. He received a phone call the night of 15 April, warning him about an attack. The origin of the phone call remains under speculation, but Maltese Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and Italian politician Bettino Craxi have been primary suspects.
  • In 1993, over 2,000 Libyan soldiers plotted to assassinate Gaddafi. The soldiers were members of the Warfalla tribe, which rebelled because it was not well-represented in the upper ranks of the Libyan Army. The coup attempt was crushed by the Libyan Air Force, which was entirely made of members of the Qadhadhfa tribe, which Gaddafi belongs to. The tribal tensions that resulted with the Warfalla and the Magariha caused Gaddafi to place his second-in-command, Abdessalam Jalloud, a Magariha, under house arrest, and led to oppression of the Warfalla. The rebellion was largest in the city of Misrata. Libyan media did not cover any reports on the rebellion, but European diplomats saw large numbers of wounded and casualties in the hospitals.
  • In February 1996, Islamic extremists attacked Gaddafi’s motorcade near the city of Sirte. Allegedly, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service was involved, which was denied by future foreign secretary Robin Cook. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office later stated: «We have never denied that we knew of plots against Gaddafi.» In August 1998, former BritishMI5 officer David Shayler renewed his attacks on the secret services, claiming that MI6 had invested GB£100,000 in a plot to assassinate Gaddafi.
  • In June 1998, Islamic militants opened fire on Gaddafi’s motorcade near the town of Dirnah. One of his Amazonian Guards sacrificed herself to save his life. He was injured in the elbow according to witnesses.

Marriages and children

His sons, Moatassem (pictured) and Saif, were prominent in government politics. There was speculation about a succession struggle between the two. Moatassem withHillary Clinton, Treaty Room, Washington, DC, 21 April 2009.

Gaddafi’s first wife was Fatiha al-Nuri (1969–1970).

His second wife was Safia Farkash, née el-Brasai, a former nurse from Obeidat tribe born inBayda. He met her in 1969, following the revolt, when he was hospitalized with appendicitis; the couple remained married until his death. Gaddafi had eight biological children, seven of them sons.

  • Muhammad Gaddafi (born 1970), his eldest son, was the only child born to Gaddafi’s first wife, and ran the Libyan Olympic Committee.On 21 August 2011, during the Battle of Tripoli, rebel forces of the National Transitional Council claimed to have accepted Muhammad’s surrender as they overtook the city. This was later confirmed when he gave a phone interview to Al Jazeera, saying that he had surrendered to the rebels and had been treated well. He reportedly escaped the next day with the aid of remaining loyalist forces, fleeing to neighbouring Algeria with his mother, another brother and his sister.
  • Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (born 25 June 1972), his second son, is an architect who was long-rumoured to be Gaddafi’s successor. He was a spokesman to the Western world and he has negotiated treaties with Italy and the United States. He was viewed as politically moderate, and in 2006, after criticizing his father’s government, he briefly left Libya. In 2007, Gaddafi exchanged angry letters with his son regarding his son’s statements admitting the Bulgarian nurses had been tortured. During the Battle of Sirte on 20 October 2011, he tried to escape and it has been reported that he was captured by rebel forces and was flown to a hospital but this has not been confirmed.
  • Al-Saadi Gaddafi (born 25 May 1973), is a professional football player. On 22 August 2011, he was reported to have been arrested by theNational Liberation Army. However, this turned out to be incorrect. On 30 August, a senior NTC official claimed that Al-Saadi Gaddafi had made contact to discuss the terms of his surrender, indicating also that he would wish to remain in Libya.
  • Hannibal Muammar Gaddafi (born 20 September 1975), is a former employee of the General National Maritime Transport Company, a company that specialized in oil exports. He is best-known for his violent incidents in Europe, attacking police officers in Italy (2001), drunk driving (2004), and for assaulting a girlfriend in Paris (2005). In 2008, he was charged with assaulting two staff at a Swiss hotel and was imprisoned by Swiss police. The arrest created a strong standoff between Libya and Switzerland. He fled to neighbouring Algeria with his mother, another brother and his sister.
  • Ayesha Gaddafi (born 1976), Gaddafi’s only biological daughter, is a lawyer who joined the defense teams of executed former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Iraqi journalistMuntadhar al-Zaidi. She is married to her father’s cousin. She fled to neighbouring Algeria with her mother and two of her brothers, where she gave birth to her fourth child.
  • Moatassem Gaddafi (1977 – 20 October 2011), Gaddafi’s fifth son, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Libyan Army. He later served as Libya’s National Security Advisor. He was seen as a possible successor to his father, after Saif al-Islam. Moatassem was killed along with his father during the battle of Sirte.
  • Saif al-Arab al-Gaddafi (1982 – 30 April 2011) was appointed a military commander in the Libyan Army during the 2011 Libyan civil war. Saif al-Arab and three of Gaddafi’s grandchildren were reported killed by a NATO bombing in April 2011. This is disputed by the organizations alleged to be responsible.
  • Khamis Gaddafi (27 May 1983 – 29 August 2011), his seventh son, was serving as the commander of the Libyan Army’s elite Khamis Brigade. On 30 August 2011, a spokesman for the NTC said it was «almost certain» Khamis Gaddafi had been killed in Tarhuna two days earlier, during clashes with units of the National Liberation Army.

He is also said to have adopted two children, Hanna and Milad.

  • Hana Moammar Gadafi (claimed by Gaddafi to be his adopted daughter, but most facts surrounding this claim are disputed) was apparently killed at the age of four, during the retaliatory US bombing raids in 1986. She may not have died; the adoption may have been posthumous; or he may have adopted a second daughter and given her the same name after the first one died. Following the taking by rebels of the family residence in the Bab al-Azizia compound in Tripoli, The New York Times reported evidence (complete with photographs) of Hana’s life after her declared death, when she became a doctor and worked in a Tripoli hospital. Her passport was reported as showing a birth date of 11 November 1985, making her six months old at the time of the US raid. In August 2011 the Daily Telegraph reported on the finding of dental records relating to a Hana Gaddaffi by NLC staff taking over the London embassy. This report, which also cites her 1999 spotting by Chinese officials, cites an unnamed Libyan government spokesman as stating that Gaddafi had adopted a second daughter, and named her Hana in honor of the first one who had been killed in the 1986 raid.

Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, Abdullah Senussi, is believed to head military intelligence.

Flight to Algeria

As the Battle for Tripoli reached a climax in mid-August 2011, the family was forced to abandon their fortified compound. With the National Transitional Council in almost complete control of the country, on 27 August it was reported by the Egyptian news agency Mena that Libyan rebel fighters had seen six armoured Mercedes-Benz sedans, possibly carrying top Gaddafi regime figures, cross the border at the south-western Libyan town of Ghadames towards Algeria,  which at the time was denied by the Algerian authorities.

On 29 August, the Algerian government officially announced that Safia together with daughter Ayesha and sons Muhammad and Hannibal, had crossed into Algeria early on Monday 29 August. An Algerian Foreign Ministry official said all the people in the convoy were now in Algiers, and that none of them had been named in warrants issued by the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes charges. Mourad Benmehidi, the Algerian permanent representative to the United Nations, later confirmed the details of the statement. The family had arrived at a Sahara desert entry point, in a Mercedes and a bus at 8:45 am local time. The exact number of people in the party was unconfirmed, but there were “many children” and they did not include Colonel Gaddafi. Resultantly the group was allowed in on humanitarian grounds, and the Algerian government had since informed the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council, who had made no official request for their return.

Honorary qualifications

Gaddafi held an honorary degree from Megatrend University in Belgrade, conferred on him by former Yugoslavian president Zoran Lilić.

Personal wealth

Italian companies had a strong foothold in Libya. Italy buys a quarter of Libya’s oil and 15% of its natural gas. The LIA owned significant shares in Italy’s Eni oil corporation, Fiat, UniCreditbank, and Finmeccanica. In January 2002 Gaddafi purchased a 7.5% share of Italian football club Juventus for US$21 million, through the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company. This followed a long-standing association with Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli and car manufacturer Fiat.

On 25 February 2011 Britain’s Treasury set up a specialised unit to trace Gaddafi’s assets in Britain. Gaddafi allegedly worked for years with Swiss banks to launder international banking transactions.

Gaddafi had an Airbus A340 private jet, which he bought from Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia for $120 million in 2003. Operated by Tripoli based Afriqiyah Airways, and decorated externally in their colours, it was used in 2009 to repatriate Lockerbie bomber Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, on his licensed release from prison in Scotland. The plane was captured at Tripoli airport in August 2011 as a result of the Libyan civil war, and found by BBC News reporter John Simpson to contain various luxuries including a jacuzzi.


A Revolutionary Command Council was formed to rule the country, with Gaddafi as chairman. He added the title of prime minister in 1970, but gave up this title in 1972. Unlike some other military revolutionaries, Gaddafi did not promote himself  to the rank of general upon seizing power, but rather accepted a ceremonial promotion from lieutenant to colonel and remained at this rank. While at odds with Western military ranking, where a colonel would not rule a country or serve as commander-in-chief of its military, in Gaddafi’s own words Libya’s society is «ruled by the people», so he did not need a more grandiose title or supreme military rank.

Public image

Shown in Damascus in 2009, Gaddafi traveled with hisAmazonian Guards, an armed all-female military troupe

In the 1970s, the Western media initially portrayed Gaddafi in a positive manner as a freedom fighter. A Readers Digest article at the time, for example, compared his freedom-fighting ideals to Che Guevara and noted his popularity among Libyans. This changed in the 1980s, when Gaddafi began being frequently portrayed as erratic, conceited, and mercurial in nature. During the Reagan administration, the United States regarded him as «public enemy number one» and Reagan dubbed him the «mad dog of the Middle East».

Western media have since speculated that Gaddafi suffered from manic depression, schizophrenia, and megalomania. Among those who worked with Gaddafi, Anwar Sadat called him «unbalanced and immature» and «a vicious criminal.» Gaafar Nimeiry called him an «evil» person, however Yasser Arafat, who aligned himself with Gaddafi for much of his career, said Gaddafi was the «knight of revolutionary phrases». On Gaddafi’s resistance to the 2011 uprising, Cuba’s Fidel Castro commented that, «If he resists and does not yield to their demands, he will enter history as one of the great figures of the Arab nations.»During a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, he was said to be highly curious, asking a lot of questions and being especially interested in Malaysia’s economic success. The attacks on Gaddafi’s image became less common as his relations with the West improved. He modeled many of his political ideals from the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Gamal Abdul Nasser and Mao Zedong.

In contrast to his often negative image in the West, Gaddafi’s image has mostly been positive in much of Africa, where he is often seen as a «hero». Nelson Mandela, whose Anti-Apartheid Movement was supported and funded by Gaddafi, remained a close friend, named his grandson after Gaddafi, and helped him gain mainstream Western acceptance in the 1990s.

In his own estimation, Gaddafi considered himself an intellectual and philosopher. His former aides said he was «obsessive» about his image. He gave gold watches with images of his face to his staff as gifts. In 2011, a Brazilian plastic surgeon told the Associated Press that Gaddafi had been his patient in 1995 to avoid appearing old to the Libyan people. He was known for a flamboyant dress sense, ranging from safari suits and sunglasses to more outlandish outfits apparently influenced by Liberace or Hollywood film characters. He changed his clothing several times each day, and according to his former nurses, «enjoy[ed] surrounding himself with beautiful things and people.»

He hired several Ukrainian nurses to care for his and his family’s health. Beginning in the 1980s he traveled with his Amazonian Guard, which was all-female, and reportedly was sworn to a life of celibacy. (However, Dr Seham Sergheva claimed in 2011 that some of them were subjected to rape and sexual abuse by Gaddafi, his sons, and senior officials.  In 2009, it was revealed that he did not travel without his trusted Ukrainian nurse Halyna Kolotnytska, noted as a «voluptuous blonde». Kolotnytska’s daughter denied the suggestion that the relationship was anything but professional.Gaddafi allegedly made sexual advances on female journalists, and successfully bedded a few in exchange for interviews.

Gaddafi made very particular requests when traveling to foreign nations. During his trips to Rome, Paris, Moscow, and New York, he resided in a tent, following his Bedouin traditions. While in Italy, he paid a modeling agency to find 200 young Italian women for a lecture he gave urging them to convert to Islam. According to a 2009 document release by WikiLeaks, Gaddafi disliked flying over waters and refused to take airplane trips longer than 8 hours. His inner circle stated that he could only stay on the ground floor of buildings, and that he could not climb more than 35 steps.

The Libyan postal service, General Posts and Telecommunications Company (GPTC), has issued numerous stamps, souvenir sheets, postal stationery, booklets, etc. relating to Gaddafi.

Transliteration of his Arabic name

Because of the lack of standardization of transliterating written and regionally pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi’s name has been romanized in many different ways. Even though the Arabic spelling of a word does not change, the pronunciation may vary in different varieties of Arabic, which may suggest a different romanization. In Literary Arabic, the name مُعَمَّر القَذَّافِي can be pronounced /muˈʕammaru lqaðˈðaːfiː/. Geminated consonants can be simplified. In Libyan Arabic, /q/ (ق) is replaced with [ɡ]; and /ð/ (ذ), as «th» in «this», is replaced with [d]. Vowel[u] often alternates with [o] in pronunciation in other regions. Thus, /muˈʕammar alqaðˈðaːfiː/ is normally pronounced in Libyan Arabic [muˈʕæmmɑrˤ əlɡædˈdæːfi]. The definite article al- (ال) is often omitted.

«Muammar Gaddafi» is the spelling used by TimeNewsweek, Reuters, BBC News, the majority of the British press, and the English service of Al-Jazeera. The Associated Press,MSNBC, CNN, NPR, PBS, and the majority of the Canadian press use «Moammar Gadhafi». The Library of Congress uses «Qaddafi, Muammar» as the primary name. The Edinburgh Middle East Report uses «Mu’ammar Qaddafi» and the U.S. Department of State uses «Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi», although the White House chooses to use «Muammar el-Qaddafi». The Xinhua News Agency uses «Muammar Khaddafi» in its English reports.The New York Times uses «Muammar el-Qaddafi». The Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times of theTribune Company, and Agence France-Presse use «Moammar Kadafi».

In 1986, Gaddafi reportedly responded to a Minnesota school’s letter in English using the spelling «Moammar El-Gadhafi». Until that point, his name had been pronounced with an initial ‘k’ in English.

The title of the homepage of reads «Welcome to the official site of Muammar Al Gathafi». A 2007 interview with Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi confirms that he uses the spelling «Qadhafi», and Muhammad Gaddafi’s official passport uses the spelling «Al-Gathafi».

An article published in the London Evening Standard in 2004 lists a total of 37 spellings of his name, while a 1986 column by The Straight Dope quotes a list of 32 spellings known from the Library of Congress. ABC and MSNBC identified 112 possible spellings. This extensive confusion of naming was used as the subject of a segment of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update on 12 December 1981. In short, the alternative spellings for each part of his name are shown in brackets:

{\color{OliveGreen}\text{M} \begin{cases}\text{u}\\\text{o}\\\text{ou}\end{cases} \begin{cases}\varnothing\\\text{'}\end{cases} \begin{cases}\varnothing\\\text{a}\end{cases} \begin{cases}\text{mm}\\\text{m}\end{cases} \text{a} \text{r}} ~~~~ {\color{MidnightBlue}\begin{cases}\text{Al}\\\text{al}\\\text{El}\\\text{el}\\\varnothing\end{cases} \begin{cases}\text{-}\\\textvisiblespace\\\varnothing\end{cases}} {\color{RedViolet}\begin{cases}\text{Q}\\\text{G}\\\text{K}\\\text{Kh}\end{cases} \text{a} \begin{cases}\text{d}\\\text{dh}\\\text{dd}\\\text{dhdh}\\\text{th}\\\text{zz}\end{cases} \text{a} \begin{cases}\text{f}\\\text{ff}\end{cases} \begin{cases}\text{i}\\\text{y}\end{cases}}

Not all are possible, as some alternatives are most probably combined with others, or even impossible with others (for example, simplification of geminated /mm/ usually implies simplification of /aː/).

The Arabic verb قَذَفَ qaðafa has various meanings centering on «he threw».



After the fall of Tripoli to forces of the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) in August 2011, Gaddafi and his family fled the Libyan capital. He was widely rumoured to have taken refuge in the south of the country and in fact Gaddafi had fled in a small convoy to Sirte on the day Tripoli fell. His son Moatassem Gaddafi followed in a second convoy.
On 19 October, Libya’s acting prime minister Mahmoud Jibril said that the former leader was believed to be in the southern desert, organising an insurgency among pro-Gaddafi tribes in the region. By that point the NTC had just taken control of the pro-Gaddafi town of Bani Walid and were close to taking control of Gaddafi’s home town, the tribal heartland of Sirte east of Tripoli.According to most accounts, Gaddafi had been with heavily armed regime loyalists in several buildings in Sirte for several months as NTC forces took the city. Mansour Dhao, a member of Gaddafi’s inner circle and leader of the regime’s People’s Guard, said that Gaddafi was very delusional and complained about the lack of electricity and water. Any attempts to persuade him to flee the country and give up power were ignored. As the last loyalist district of Sirte fell, Gaddafi and other members of the government attempted to flee.
At around 8:30 am local time on 20 October, Gaddafi, his army chief Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, his security chief Mansour Dhao, and a group of loyalists attempted to escape in a convoy of 75 vehicles.A Royal Air Force reconnaissance aircraft spotted the convoy moving at a high speed, after NATO intercepted a satellite phone call made by Gaddafi.
NATO aircraft then fired on 11 of the vehicles, destroying one. A U.S. Predator drone operated from a base near Las Vegas fired the first missiles at the convoy, hitting its target about 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of Sirte. Moments later, French Air Force fighter jets continued the bombing.The NATO bombing immobilized much of the convoy and killed dozens of loyalist fighters. Following the first strike, some 20 vehicles broke away from the main group and continued moving south. A second NATO airstrike damaged or destroyed 10 of these vehicles.According to the Financial Times, Free Libya units on the ground also struck the convoy.
According to their statement, NATO was not aware at the time of the strike that Gaddafi was in the convoy. NATO stated that in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1973, it does not target individuals but only military assets that pose a threat. NATO later learned, «from open sources and Allied intelligence,» that Gaddafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.

Capture and death
Gaddafi survived the strikes and took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. A nearby group of NTC fighters opened fire, wounding Gaddafi with gunshots to his leg and back. According to one NTC fighter, one of Gaddafi’s own men also shot him, in order to spare him from being arrested.It is unclear if NATO aircraft were involved in helping secure Gaddafi’s capture by Libyan forces on the ground.

Both Gaddafi and Jabr were killed shortly afterwards. Gaddafi reportedly shouted «Don’t shoot!» prior to being shot.In a video of his arrest he can be seen draped on the hood of a car, held by rebel fighters. A senior NTC official said that no order was given to execute Gaddafi.According to another NTC source, «They captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him». Mahmoud Jibril gave an alternative account, stating that «when the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head.»
Several videos related to the death were broadcast by news channels and circulated via the internet. The first shows footage of Gaddafi alive, his face and shirt bloodied, stumbling and being dragged toward an ambulance by armed men chanting «Allah is great» in Arabic. Another shows Gaddafi, stripped to the waist, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, and in a pool of blood, together with jubilant fighters firing automatic weapons in the air.A third video, posted on YouTube, shows fighters «hovering around his lifeless-looking body, posing for photographs and yanking his limp head up and down by the hair.»

Gaddafi’s body
Move to Misrata

Gaddafi’s body was subsequently taken to Misrata to the west of Sirte, where a doctor’s examination disclosed that the deposed leader had been shot in the head and abdomen.

Public display
The interim Libyan authorities decided to keep his body «for a few days», NTC oil minister Ali Tarhouni said, «to make sure that everybody knows he is dead.» To that end, the body was moved to an industrial freezer where members of the public were permitted to view it as confirmation.Gaddafi’s body was publicly displayed in a freezer in Misrata until the afternoon of 24 October.Some people drove hundreds of kilometres across Libya to see proof that he had died. One viewer of the bodies said about the public display of his corpse, «God made the pharaoh as an example to the others. If he had been a good man, we would have buried him. But he chose this destiny for himself.»
Gaddafi’s body was displayed alongside that of his son, Moatassem Gaddafi, who also died in the custody of Misratan fighters after his capture in Sirte on 20 October. The younger Gaddafi’s body was removed from the refrigerator for burial at the same time as his father’s on 24 October.

Demands for the body

Although an NTC spokesman said Gaddafi’s body would be returned to members of his family with a directive to keep the late strongman’s burial site a secret after Libyan coroners conducted an autopsy to determine his cause of death,the semi-autonomous military council in Misrata said it would be buried quickly instead, vetoing the idea of an autopsy. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for an independent autopsy and an investigation into how Gaddafi died in captivity, but Jibril said neither step was necessary.


On 23 October, the results of an autopsy conducted despite Misratan commanders’ earlier refusal to allow one were released. They indicated that Gaddafi was killed by a gunshot to the head.


On 25 October, NTC representatives announced that Gaddafi’s body had finally been buried in an undisclosed location in the desert early that morning, together with those of his son Moatassem Gaddafi and the regime’s defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr.According to several NTC officials the burial was attended by a few officials and relatives, including at least one prisoner of war, former Libyan security chief Mansour Dhao. A Dubai based satellite TV channel Al Aan TV showed amateur footage of the funeral taking place at undisclosed location where Islamic prayers were read. Libya’s Minister for Information Mahmoud Shammam said that a fatwa had forbidden the burial of Gaddafi on a Muslim cemetery.

Concurrent capture or death of relatives and associates

National Transitional Council officials also announced that one of Gaddafi’s sons, Moatassem Gaddafi, once the Libyan national security advisor, was killed in Sirte the same day. A video later surfaced showing Moatassem’s lifeless body lying in an ambulance. A video aired on Al Arrai television shows Moatassem alive and talking to his captors. The circumstances of his death are unclear.
The fate of his other son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, is unclear. He was reported as captured and possibly wounded or even dead by some sources,and still at large by others. On 29 October, an official of the International Criminal Court informed the BBC that they were in contact with Saif through an intermediary and that he wished to give himself up to the court.
Footage had emerged earlier on 20 October of the body of Gaddafi’s defense minister, Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr. Abdul Hakim Al Jalil, the commander of the NTC’s 11th brigade, stated that former Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim had been captured near Sirte. Reports indicate that Ahmed Ibrahim, one of Gaddafi’s cousins, was also captured.

Subsequent events

Calls for investigation

Numerous organizations including the United Nations, the U.S. and UK governments have called for an investigation of the exact circumstances of Gaddafi’s death,amid concerns that it may have been an extrajudicial killing and a war crime.
The UN human rights office spokesperson said that he expects the UN commission already investigating potential human rights abuse in Libya would look into the case.Waheed Burshan, a member of the NTC, said that an investigation should happen.
On 24 October 2011 the NTC announced that it had ordered an investigation in response to the international calls and that it would prosecute the killers if the investigation showed he died after his capture.

Changes in interim government

Libya’s de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said on 22 October 2011 that he would give up the post to make place for elections, which would be held within eight months.[47] He was succeeded as interim prime minister by Abdurrahim El-Keib after a brief period in which his deputy, Ali Tarhouni, assumed his duties.

Regional ramifications

In its immediate aftermath, the killing of Gaddafi was thought to have significant implications in the Middle East, as a critical part of the «Arab Spring». Pundits speculated that the death would intensify protesting in Syria and Yemen,and French officials stated that because of this they were «watching the Algerian situation».

Domestic reactions

Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he wished Gaddafi had remained alive so he could be tried for crimes against humanity,saying he had wanted to serve as Gaddafi’s prosecutor,but now that he was dead, Libya would need a meticulous plan for the transition to democracy.
Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the de facto head of state, said, «Our forces’ resistance to Gaddafi ended well, with the help of God.» He declared Libya to be «liberated» at a ceremony in Benghazi on 23 October, three days after Gaddafi’s death.
NTC official Ali Tarhouni said on 22 October that he had instructed the military council in Misrata to keep Gaddafi’s body preserved for several days in a commercial freezer «to make sure that everybody knows he is dead». Two days later, Tarhouni acknowledged that there had been human rights abuses in the Battle of Sirte, which he said the NTC condemned, and said the Executive Board «did not want to put an end to that tyrant’s life before bringing him to trial and making him answer questions that have always haunted Libyans».
A spokesman for the Misrata military council, Fathi Bashagha, said the council was confident Gaddafi was dead and that he had died of wounds sustained during fighting before his capture.
Saadi Gaddafi, one of Muammar Gaddafi’s surviving sons in exile in Niger, said through an attorney that he was «shocked and outraged by vicious brutality» toward his father and his brother, Moatassem Gaddafi, and that the killing showed that the new Libyan leadership could not be trusted to hold fair trials.

International reactions

Many leaders and foreign ministers of European countries, as well as fellow Western countries including Australia, Canada, and the United States, made statements hailing Gaddafi’s death as a positive development for Libya. The city-state of Vatican City responded to the event by declaring it recognised the National Transitional Council as Libya’s legitimate government.World leaders such as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard suggested that the death of Gaddafi meant the war was over. Some officials, such as UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, expressed disappointment that Gaddafi was not brought back alive and made to stand trial.
Reaction from the governments of countries closely allied with Gaddafi’s Libya was negative, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez describing the former Libyan leader’s death as an assassination and an «outrage».


Immediately after Gaddafi’s death, NATO released a statement denying it knew beforehand that Gaddafi was traveling in the convoy it struck.Admiral James G. Stavridis, NATO’s top officer, said the death of Gaddafi meant that NATO would likely wind down its operations in Libya.Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, said NATO would «terminate [its] mission in coordination with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council»

  1. Ο/Η Libya S.O.S. (@Libya_SOS) λέει:

    On September 1, 1969 the pro-western regime that had ruled in Libya was overthrown by Colonel Muamar Gaddafi and his officers. At the time, Libya was home to the largest US Air Base (Wheelus Air Base) in North Africa. Agreements between the USA and Libya signed in 1951 and 1954 granted the USAF the use of Wheelus Air Base and its El Watia gunnery range for gunnery and bombing training and for transport and bombing stopovers until 1971. During the Cold War the base was pivotal to expanding US military power under the Strategic Air Command, and an essential base for fighter and reconnaissance missions. The Pentagon also used the base — and the remote Libyan desert — for missile launch testing: the launch area was located 15 miles east of Tripoli. Considered a ‘little America on the shores of the Mediteranean’, the base housed some 4600 US military personnel until its evacuation in 1970.
    With the discovery of oil in Libya in 1959, a very poor desert country became a very rich little western protectorate. US and European companies had huge stakes in the extremely lucrative petroleum and banking sectors, but these were soon nationalized by Gaddafi. Thus Libya overnight joined the list of US ‘enemy’ or ‘rogue’ states that sought autonomy and self-determination outside the expanding sphere of western Empire. Further cementing western hatred of the new regime, Libya played a leading role of the 1973 oil embargo against the US and maintained cooperative relations with the Soviet Union. Gaddafi also reportedly channeled early oil wealth into national free health care and education.
    Life in Libya with Leader Gaddafi:
    1. Electricity for household use is free,
    2. interest-free loans
    3. during the study, governmant give to every student 2 300 dolars/month
    4. receives the average salary for this profession if you do not find a job after graduation,
    5. the state has paid for to work in the profession,
    6. every unemployed person receives social assistance 15,000 $/year,
    7. for marriage state pays first apartment or house (150m2),
    8. buying cars at factory prices,
    9. LIBYA not owe anyone a cent,
    10. free higher education abroad,
    11. 25% of highly educated,
    12. 40 loaves of bread costs $ 0.15,
    13. water in the middle of the desert, drinking water,
    14. 8 dinars per liter of oil (0.08 EUR),
    15. 6% poor people,
    16. for each infant, the couple received $ 5,000 for their needs.
    Before NATO and the U.S. started bombing Libya, the United Nations was preparing to bestow an award on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and the Libyan Jamahiriya, for its achievements in the area of human rights. (document). [ That’s right–the same man, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, that NATO and the United States have been telling us for months is a «brutal dictator,» was set to be given an award for his human rights record in Libya. How strange it is that the United Nations was set to bestow a human rights award on a «brutal dictator,» at the end of March.
    Great Man made River Project
    These are some Facts and Figures about GMRA :
    – Approximately 500,000 pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipes have been manufactured to date.
    – Approximately 500,000 pipes transported to date. Pipe transportation is continuous process and the work goes on day and night, distance traveled by the transporters is equivalent to the sun and back.
    – Over 3,700 km of haul roads was constructed alongside the pipe line trench
    to enable the heavy truck — trailers to deliver pipe to the installation site Phase I Total Length 1,600 Km.
    Phase II Total Length 2,155 Km.
    – Volume of Trench Excavation 250 Million Cubic Meter.
    – The amount of aggregate used in the project : 30,000,000 Ton.
    Enough to Build 20 pyramids the size of the great pyramid of Khoufu.
    – Total Weight of Cement used 7.0 Million Tones.
    – Total Length of Pre-Stressing Wire 6.0 Million Kilometers
    This would circle the Earth 280 times.
    1. Libya is Africa’s largest exporter of oil, 1.7 million tons a day, which quickly was reduced to 300-400,000 ton due to US-NATO bombing. Libya exports 80% of its oil: 80% of that to several EU lands (32% Italy, 14% Germany, 10% France); 10% China; 5% USA.
    2. Gaddafi has been preparing to launch a gold dinar for oil trade with all of Africa’s 200 million people and other countries interested. He has been working with this since 2002 together with Malaysia. As of recently, only South Africa and the head of the League of African States were opposed. Before the invasion of Iraq, Hussein was in agreement as was Sudan, Burney, then Indonesia and United Arab Emirates, also Iran. French President Nickola Sarkozi called this, “a threat for financial security of mankind”. Much of France’s wealth—more than any other colonial-imperialist power—comes from exploiting Africa.
    (See: “The Libyan War, American Power and the Decline of the Petrodollar System” by Peter Dale Scott; “Bombing of Libya – punishment for Gaddafi for his attempt to refuse US dollar” as cited by Ellen Brown in “Libya: All About Oil, or All About Banking.” For this and other points see also: “Euro-US War on Libya: Official Lies and Misconceptions of Critics” by James Petras and see other articles on the subject.)
    3. Central Bank of Libya is 100% owned by state (since 1956) and is thus outside of multinational corporation control (BIS-Banking International Settlement rules for private interests). The state can finance its own projects and do so without interest rates, which reduce the costs by half of private banks. Libya’s central bank (with three branches in the east including Benghazi) has 144 tons of gold in its vaults, which it could use to start the gold dinar. (China, Russia, India, Iran are stocking great sums of gold rather than relying only on dollars.)
    4. Gaddafi-Central Bank used $33 billion, without interest rates, to build the Great Man-Made River of 3,750 kilometers with three parallel pipelines running oil, gas and water supplying 70% of the people (4.5 of its 6 million) with clean drinking and irrigation water. This provides adequate crops for the people and would be a competitive exporter of vegetables with ISRAEL and Egypt.

    The Central Bank also financed Africa’s first communication satellite with $300 million of the $377 cost. It started up for all Africa, December 26, 2007, thus saving the 45-African nations an annual fee of $500 million pocketed by Europe for use of its satellites and this means much less cost for telephones and other communication systems.
    5. The opposition led by former Gaddafi ministers and some Eastern clan leaders set up a central bank in Benghazi to replace Libya’s central bank even before they have set up a government or an organized army. It was immediately recognized by Paris stock exchange and soon other Westerners. This is the first time in history rebels have set up a bank before victory or before having a government.
    6. There is evidence from Gaddafi defectors (especially Nouri Mesmari), under France protection that France started preparing a Benghazi based rebellion against Gaddafi from November 2010, in order to stop his plans to switch from the dollar to a new gold currency. US politician, Rep. Dennis Kucinich confirms this.
    On December 23, 2010, Libyans Ali Ounes Mansour, Farj Charrant and Fathi Boukhris met with Mesrami and French officials in Paris. Those three are now part of the Benghazi-based leadership.
    US General Wesley Clark (ret.) told “Democracy Now” (2007) that ten days after September 11, 2011 another general had told him that the Bush government was planning to invade: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. What they have in common is that they were not members of banks within the BIS, and most of them have lots of oil. Hussein had agreed with France President De Gaulle to switch from dollars to Euros in oil trading six months before Bush invaded.
    7. While Gaddafi had turned much of his oil sales toward the West, inviting in many of the major oil companies for great profits (BP, EXXON Mobil, Shell, Total, etc), he did not join the US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq as did most of the oil rich Middle Eastern governments. Nor did he sign on with AFRICOM, a US-inspired pact oriented towards US economic and military benefit in Africa also oriented to isolate China from Africa’s natural resources. In fact, China has 50 major economic projects going in Libya with $18 billion investment. Before the US-NATO invasion, there were 30,000 Chinese workers on these and other projects. Much of China’s investment is destroyed.
    8.Human Rights Watch (which some call an imperialist-oriented NGO) reported that there has been no civilian bloodbath by Gaddafi. In Misurata, for example, with 400,000 population (second largest city), after two months of war only 257 people were killed (743 persons are killed by OTAN in frist month), including combatants. Of 949 wounded, only 22 (3%) were women. (Boston Globe, April 14)
    9. As France took the lead, along with UK, to threaten Gaddafi militarily, Gaddafi threatened (March 2) to throw western oil companies out of Libya. With more blustering from the west, Gaddafi invited (March 14) Chinese, Russian and Indian oil companies to take their place. On March 17, the US-France-UK got want they wanted for starters from the UN. Resolution 1973, calling only for a no-fly strategy and not a regime shift or troop landings, was not backed by key big powers: China, Russia, Brazil, India and Germany. Of the 28 NATO countries, only 14 are involved in the Libyan campaign and only six of those are in the air war.
    Denmark is one of those six. It spent 70 million kroner ($12 million) in the first two weeks of bombing. By April 30, it had dropped 297 bombs on Libya. Denmark’s 2011 defense-war budget is $4 billion annually (22.4 billion kroner) out of $130 billion (671 billion kroner) budget. It uses more money than ever for wars: $250 million annually in Afghanistan, three times 2008 expenditures–$14 billion total in nine years. It used $½ billion in five active years at war in Iraq and continues there with less.
    What the US-NATO-EU hopes to achieve is to eliminate the half-reliable partner Gaddafi and replace him with a neo-liberal oriented government that will do their bidding: sign in on AFRICOM, kick China out, reverse the government central bank to a BIS private enterprise, continue using dollars of course, and have the lackey leaders join in their permanent war age throughout the Middle East and Africa.
    New neo-liberal socio-economic policies would eliminate what the Gaddafi government has provided the entire population through state subsidies funded with oil export sales: the highest standard of living in Africa with free, universal health and education care, and the possibility of studying abroad at state expense; $50,000 for each new married couple to get started with; non-interest state loans; subsidized prices of cars much lower than in Europe; the cheapest gasoline and bread prices in the world (similar to Venezuela); no taxes for those working in agriculture.

    Gaddafi is definitely not as bad as most of US-NATO allies, such as dictators in the Middle East and some in Africa, Asia, and certainly Israel. Their friendly governments in Saudia Arabia—which sent troops to good neighbor Bahrain to murder hundreds of unarmed protesters condoned by the US—Yemen, Oman, Jordon murder hundreds of unarmed protestors. In fact, the only armed insurrection occurring in the Arabic countries is in Libya. It seems the US doesn’t like supporting non-violent demonstrators and would rather see them dead.