The recently slain Libyan dictator, Moammar Gaddafi, ruled the Northern-African country of Libya for 41 years, until Libyan civilians decided they had enough. The longest-ruling Arab leader was killed by rebels today, just months after his government was overthrown.
Time and time again, his name was associated with war, conflict, and assassination attempts.
So what exactly did he do during his four decades of leadership?
Here is a list of 10 things you may have not known about Gadhafi
At age 27, as a captain in the army, Gadhafi led the 1969 coup that overthrew the Libyan monarchy while King Idris was abroad seeking medical treatment. Banning vices like gambling and alcohol, Gadhafi proclaimed “Islamic socialism” as the new regime’s philosophy of governance. [TheDailyBeast.com]
2. Pan Africanist
Gadhafi proposed the “United States of Africa” – an idea first thought of by US Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey — in which the continent would include “a single African military force, a single currency and a single passport for Africans to move freely around the continent.” [Rediff.com]
3. Flamboyant Leader
Gadhafi was known for his highly decorative military dresses and caps, his noodle hair was his trademark. Whenever he traveled out of the country, he was known to be more flamboyant. On foreign trips, instead of staying at five star hotels, he set up camp in a luxury tent and was accompanied by armed female bodyguards. Some of the pictures taken of his palace here, after he was ousted, shows Gadhafi’s opulence and the extravagant life that he led. He also had plastic surgery to shave years off his appearance. [Rediff.com]
4. Weapons Smuggler
In 1973, British authorities intercepted the Claudia, a ship carrying five tons of Libyan weapons destined for the Provisional IRA. Though briefly chastened, he again began funneling weapons to the IRA after a 1986 American bombing—launched from British bases—kills Gadhafi’s adopted daughter. In 1987, British and French officials stop another vessel, the Eksund, with 120 tons of weapons and ammunition. [TheDailyBeast.com]
For four decades the willful, mercurial figure of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron grip while remaining a persistent thorn in the side of the West. Branded “mad dog” by Ronald Reagan, the outlandish antics, flamboyant dress and bombastic pronouncements of the self-styled “Brother Leader” made him a figure of ridicule at times. The erratic nature of his regime was underlined in 1984 when diplomats at the Libyan embassy in London shot at a demonstration outside, killing policewoman Yvonne Fletcher. [HeraldSun.com]
6. Car Designer
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the revolution that brought him to power, Gadhafi in September rolled out a car he designed. The car is chock-full of safety features, apparently in response to high numbers of fatalities on Libyan roads. A government official calls it “the safest car produced anywhere.” [BBC.co.uk]
7. Hated Leader
Prior to this year, there have been at-least 8 recorded unsuccessful assassination attempts against Gadhafi. In 1993, over 2,000 Libyan soldiers plotted to assassinate Gadhafi. 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 Gadhafi belongs to. [Wikipedia]
Gadhafi supported militant organizations that held anti-Western sympathies around the world. The Foreign Minister of Libya called the massacres “heroic acts.” Gadhafi 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. [Wikipedia] In the most notorious of several state-sponsored terrorist acts, Libyan agents blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, in December 1988. [TheDailyBeast.com]
Just six months after the Lockerbie bombing, Gadhafi donned a white glove to avoid touching the “blood-stained hands” of fellow Arab leaders at a conference in Algiers in June 1988. Elsewhere at the conference, he pulled a white sheet over his body as a screen while Jordan’s King Hussein spoke; refused to shake the hand of Moroccan King Hassan II; tanned and sipped coffee instead of listening to speeches one afternoon; delivered a speech railing against his colleagues as “imperialist lackeys;” and skipped a summit dinner without even bothering to offer an excuse. [TheDailyBeast.com]
Benjamin Barber, an independent political analyst from the US who has met Col. Gadhafi several times recently to discuss Libya’s future, said the Libyan leader “sees himself very much as an intellectual.” “As a man he is surprisingly philosophical and reflective in his temperament – for an autocrat,” he told the BBC News website. [BBC] In what appears to be a racially incendiary move, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadhafi, once offered to stem the steady influx of Africans into various European nations in an effort to keep Europe “white and civilized.” Gadhafi told Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on a recent trip to Rome that the European Union (EU) should pay him at least 5bn euros ($6.3 billion) a year to stop illegal African immigration and avoid a “Black Europe.” [AfricaSource.com]