Muammar Gaddafi

Political Leader

Born: 7 June 1942
Died: 20 October 2011 (killed in battle)
Birthplace: Near Sirte, Libya
Best known as:

Dictator of Libya, 1969-2011

Muammar Gaddafi ruled Libya as the African country's dictator for more than four decades before he was overthrown and killed in 2011. Born a Bedouin tribesman, Muammar Gaddafi attended military college and almost immediately set about plotting to overthrow Libya's ruler, King Idris I. He succeeded in 1969, taking power in a bloodless coup. Muammar Gaddafi was 27. He took the title of colonel, and in the 1970s he seemed to have philosophical pretentions, publishing his so-called Green Book of political philosophy and leading Libya in a path of "Islamic socialism" while ruthlessly suppressing dissent. But in the 1980s he tangled with the United States and President Ronald Reagan; Reagan called Gaddafi "the mad dog of the Middle East" and ordered U.S. Air Force bombings in Tripoli in 1986 that killed Gaddafi's daughter. The 1988 bombing of a Pan Am passenger airplane over Lockerbie, Scotland, was blamed on Libyan terrorists, which led to international sanctions on Libya throughout the 1990s. Libya took responsibilty for the bombings in 2003, easing the sanctions and leading to better relations with the West. Throughout all, Muammar Gaddafi remained firmly in power and built a reputation as a shrewd, if eccentric, dictator. In 2011, he attacked protesters in his own country, leading to a full armed rebellion in Libya. An allied group of Arab and Western countries supported the rebellion by attacking Libyan air defenses and establishing a "no-fly zone" over Libya. The rebel forces overran Tripoli in August of 2011. Gaddafi escaped, but two months later he was wounded in battle after being cornered near his home town of Sirte; he reportedly was captured and then died of his wounds shortly thereafter.

Extra credit:

Muammar Gaddafi was born in the desert, so no specific place of birth can be listed; the BBC and other sources say it was near the town of Sirte... His son, Seif al-Islam el-Gaddafi, was widely seen as his successor before the public protests of 2011 ended Gaddafi's rule... His Arabic name has been translated variously as Quaddafi, Qaddafi, and Khaddafi as well as Gaddafi and al-Gaddafi... He was famous for his all-female contingent of bodyguards, and for his habit of receiving visitors in a Bedouin-style tent.

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