Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, born June 7th 1942, staged a bloodless coup d'état of Libya on September 1st 1969, where he led a small team of junior officers and overthrew then-King Idris, while he was in Turkey for medical treatment. Disposing of Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi (Idris' nephew), they abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. This was likely fueled by the frustration and shame felt by Libyan officers, who stood by helplessly at the time of Israel's swift and humiliating defeat of Arab armies on three fronts in 1967. Under Gaddafi, Libya was considered as a pariah state by the West; among the allegations were oppression of internal dissidence, acts of state-sponsored terrorism, assassinations of expatriate opposition leaders, and crass nepotism exhibited in amassing a multi-billion dollar fortune for himself and his family.Muammar Gaddafi's attempts to procure weapons of mass destruction began in 1972, when Gaddafi tried to get the People's Republic of China to sell him a nuclear bomb. In 1977, he tried to get a bomb from Pakistan, but Pakistan severed ties before Libya succeeded in building a weapon. After ties were restored, Gaddafi tried to buy a nuclear weapon from India, but instead, India and Libya agreed on the 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, Jurgen 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 U.S. 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. U.S. 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, pointing out 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. As the process of destroying these weapons continued, Libya improved its cooperation with international monitoring regimes to the extent that, by March 2006, France was able to conclude an agreement with Libya to develop a significant nuclear power program.In regards to Israel, Gaddafi announced that any Arab wishing to volunteer for Palestinian terrorist groups "can register his name at any Libyan embassy [and] will be given adequate training for combat", even promising financial support for attacks. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Gaddafi sent one armored brigade, two fighter squadrons, and financial aid to Egypt.After the 1986 Bombing of Libya and the 1993 imposition of United Nations sanctions, Gaddafi established closer economic and security relations with the west, cooperated with investigations into previous Libyan acts of state-sponsored terrorism and paid compensation, and ended his nuclear weapons program, resulting in the lifting of UN sanctions in 2003.In early February 2011, major political protests, inspired by protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the Arab world,note Libya borders both Tunisia and Egypt broke out in Libya against Gaddafi's government, quickly escalating from protests into a full-blown civil war. Gaddafi vowed to "die a martyr" if necessary in his fight against the rebels and external forces. He fled Tripoli when rebel forces captured the city, and his whereabouts remained unknown until October 20, 2011. On that day Gaddafi was critically wounded in Sirte, either in a firefight with rebel forces, or by a NATO airstrike, and was captured, beaten, possibly sodomized and finally summarily executed together with some of his last remaining supporters.
When he was in power, this leader provided examples of:
Alternative Calendar: In addition to renaming the months July and August after Nasser and his son Hannibal, respectively, he screwed with the Islamic calendar a lot, jumping back and forth between calculating it from Muhammad's death and Muhammad's birth, instead of using the traditional hejira (date of Muhammad fleeing from Mecca to Medina). He would also declare the start of Ramadan and Eid himself.
Ax-Crazy: Many, many political figures, critics and commentators called him out on his rather psychotic mindset. To repeat, Reagan called him "the mad dog of the Middle East", and Nimeiry once said he had a split personality, "both sides evil".
Beware the Silly Ones: He was mostly seen as an amusing Cloudcuckoolander by the world, until he started attacking his own people. People also tend to forget he ordered the invasion of several countries.
Big Brother Is Watching: While in power, Gaddafi put surveillance in government, in factories and in the education center to keep an eye on them, ordered assassinations and placed bounties on critics around the world, forbade anyone from forming political parties, made it illegal for Libyans to engage in political conversations with foreigners, and removed foreign languages from school curricula.
Bling Bling Bang: Favoured a gold plated Browning Hi-Power, which was found on him when rebels finally caught him.
The Caligula: Showed many signs of this, beginning with his extravagant clothing and speeches. On other hand, he somehow managed to stay in power for 42 years despite impoverishing his people, allowing in foreign workers while many of his own people were unemployed. He butchered the education system, removing history and going so far as to claim scientific subjects areuseless.
He organized executions just to make an example, admitting that "some innocent should be killed to scare the real criminals", attended by college students, complete with live TV broadcasting. He kidnapped a Lebanese girl scout to make her one of his female bodyguards. Let's not get started with those guards... it seems virginity was one of his criteria.
Damned by Faint Praise: A very common argument used by his supporters from abroad was that his rule gave Libya the "highest HDI in Africa". Um...
It gets worse. Libya, at one point under Gaddafi, actually did have a very high standard of living, comparable to South Korea or even parts of Europe. Of course, as Gaddafi's insanity set in, disastrous economic reforms, steady brain drain, and diplomatic fallout from state-sponsored terrorism ensued, driving the standard of living steadily downward, resulting in the "highest HDI in Africa" argument.
Dodgy Toupee: Or as his former personal servant above says, "a French hair recipe was applied to his head that looked like hair."
Family Values Villain: Say what you will about his authoritarian regime, but when it comes to his family, he was shown (especially in recovered personal home movies) to be quite sweet and kind with his grandchildren. He is also said to have forgiven his son Muatassim for having once plotted against him...a charge that earned the death of people more important in the day to day workings of the regime.
Fan Nickname: Abu Shafshufa which translates to "Old Fuzzhead", in reference to Gaddafi's iconic hair.
Improbable Age: Successfully overthrew the Libyan King and established himself as absolute dictator at the ripe old age of 27.
Insistent Terminology: Despite being a dictator and de facto head of Libya's military, he was officially only a colonel.
Actually, when he became a leader, he suppressed all the military grades above colonel, rather than simply promote himself. Colonel is the highest rank in the Libyan army, altough he promoted some family members to General ranks.
Part of his justification for not stepping down was that he insisted that he wasn't a prime minister or president, but merely the "Brother Leader and Guide to the Revolution" and was thus powerless.
Irony: His green flag was one of the most boring and unremarkable flags in the world...but it wound up being unique simply because no other flag was like it!
Just The Brother Leader: Gaddafi hadn't held any formal position of power since resigning as prime minister of Libya in 1972 — however, he was dictator all the way up until 2011, and was often referred to as "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" or "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution." This was taken to absurd levels during the Civil War. Gaddafi kept insisting that he could not step down because there was nothing to step down from.
While local councils theoretically had the power to make various important decisions, the catch is that Gaddafi could simply overrule them. In the end they were just a sham to give the people the feeling that they had some sort of political power, while in reality all the power was firmly in the hands of Gaddafi and his inner circle.
The Chadian War is sometimes called the Toyota War because the Chadian Army didn't have proper transport vehicles or tanks and had to make do with armed civilian trucks. Libya lost 7500 soldiers and 800 armored vehicles, compared to only 1000 Chadian troops killed.
His attempted attack of Egypt was a complete failure, and he was forced to seek peace after just 3 days when the Egyptian Army occupied several Libyan border towns, and were preparing a full-scale invasion.
Overly-Long Name: To Westerners, anyway. In the Arab world, such long names are more common, as part of their heritage; genealogy is very important in tribal societies.
And Libya's name for most of his regime was Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Note that "Jamahiriya" can be translated as "State of the Masses"note It's a neologism based on the Arabic word for "republic", jumhuriyyah, which itself stands for "[government as a] public matter," a literal translation of the Latin res publica: jumhur=the audience, the public; jamahir=the audiences, the masses, so literally, Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab State of the Masses.
Permanent Elected Official: Averted. Gaddafi served as Secretary-General of the General People's Congress (or Head of State) after the revolution in 1967 but resigned from the post in 1977. Part of his argument against standing down was that he didn't have an official office to resign from.
Pet the Dog: In The New York Times, Gaddafi once suggested that he was in favor of a single-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts, which looked to a unified future of shared culture and mutual respect.
Reportedly, he adopted a nephew as a son after he survived the 1986 bombing thanks to him. Gaddafi had reportedly just lost an adoptive daughter in the same bombing (although she may have not actually been his daughter and was "adopted" posthumously for propaganda reasons).
There is also evidence that the adoptive daughter survived the bombing - it was the death, not the adoption, that was made up for propaganda reasons.
He did agree to give up his WMD program, although whether that was out of true goodwill or a desire for the West to leave him alone is debatable.
Considering the drums of yellowcake found in storage, he had seemed to not completely abandon it.
The first recipient of his Human Rights medal was Nelson Mandela.
Libya is one of the richest African countries. Was it due to his regime, or despite it?
Spell My Name with an S: The man had dozens of transliterations of his surname alone; Qadhafi, Qaddafi, Kaddafi, Khaddafy, Gathafi, Quathafi and Ghadhafi, among others. London's Evening Standard paper has estimated that there are a mind-boggling thirty-seven possible legitimate transliterations of his full name! Wikipedia has even had to resort to charting all the possibilities in a fairly lengthy diagram of possible transliterations! For what it's worth, "Muammar Gaddafi" is the most commonly seen transliteration in Western media, and "Moammar" and "Qaddafi" are also fairly common variations.
Rebels seized a passport issued to one of his sons; the document indicates that "Gathafi" was the Colonel's preferred spelling.
All the variations used at one time or another led to him being referred to jokingly as "Ghadafi, May His Spellings Be Many".
Strange Bedfellows: He sure had an odd assembly of friends - Idi Amin, Nelson Mandela, Silvio Berlusconi, Josip Broz Tito...
Troll: In general with regards to other nations, but particularly the Arab League and once famously the UN General Assembly back in 2009.
There's a famous picture (in the Arab world at least) of Gaddafi smoking a cigar at an Arab League meeting as he ignores the guard leaning over to tell him to put it out. The most hilarious thing is that he didn't even smoke at the time; he literally did it solely to thumb his nose at convention.
The Tyson Zone: When the ruler of a country indisputably falls under this trope, you know something's a little off.
The Usurper: As mentioned above, he came to power through a coup against King Idris of Libya.
Secretary Rice actually visited him once. She was creeped out when he showed her a Fan Vid he'd had made of her. It featured a song called "Black Flower in the White House", which he had had written for her. She discusses it here.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: He started out as a young, idealistic and charismatic army officer, but his regime gradually descended into nepotism, corruption, political isolation and he himself became more and more prone to irrational and counterproductive behaviour.
During the Libyan Civil war, this leader provided examples of:
Calling Your Attacks / Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: What eventually got him overthrown, when he announced to Libya and the world that he would massacre any who stood against him in Benghazi and everywhere else. That had acted as the catalyst the UN needed to authorize a no fly zone and have NATO carry out an aerial intervention.
On maps, loyalist-held territory was denoted as green while rebel territory was red.
Determinator: Through the 42 years he was in power, he was able to survive everything the Americans threw at him, and even to the end he fought on and refused to surrender to neither the NTC or to NATO. His loyalists in Sirte likewise: even though they were cornered to a tiny part of the city, they still refused to give up until the very end.
Failure Is the Only Option: After losing Tripoli, there was no way he could have possibly regained the momentum in the war, but he kept fighting.
Four-Star Badass: Averted. For all the resistance his loyalists put up in the battle for Sirte, he himself went down rather quickly when the rebels captured him (in fact, his death process was probably extended by the rebels deciding to beat the hell out of him rather than just straight-out killing him).
Get Back Here Boss: After the fall of Tripoli when he fled, the war effort to sweep up the remaining resistance from that point on was just as importantly an effort to chase down Gaddafi before he escaped/regrouped.
Glass Cannon: The loyalist town of Bani Walid wound up being this. After NTC forces pushed through the town's defenses, they managed to capture 95 percent of the town very quickly.
Hannibal Lecture: Even as his forces steadily continued losing the war, he continued delivering these.
Hired Guns: When he started suffering massive defections/desertions of his military's personnel, he didn't take the hint to give up, instead hiring Taureg and Sub-Saharan African fighters to replenish his numbers.
This, in turn got worse for everyone involved: The hired guns could not save Gaddafi, the presence of disproportionately high numbers of black African troops among Gaddafi's forces gave some rebels the impression that all black Africans were complicit, resulting in brutal revenge attacks towards many innocent migrant workers and the hired Taureg soldiers returned to Mali with their Gaddafi-given weapons to exact revenge on the Malian government that had oppressed them in the past.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The rest of the world really got physically involved in the 2011 uprising after Gaddafi started threatening to blow passenger jets out of the sky if the UN didn't butt out, resulting other countries actively helping the rebels' attempt to bring him down.
Last Villain Stand: After the brigade in charge of defending Tripoli surrendered without a fight, he was considered an Anticlimax Boss for a time, until his remnant made their stand in his hometown of Sirte, where they resisted the rebels for nearly a month. He was killed as the city fell.
The loyalists sure put up one helluva fight - according to That Other Wiki, the total number of rebel casualties is six times higher than that of the loyalists. And the loyalists were greatly outnumbered, too (1,000-5,000 vs. 16,000 rebels).
Motive Rant: A specialty of his, with emphasis on the word "rant".
Path of Most Resistance / Revealing Coverup: Making headways into Sirte with no sign of Gaddafi, the rebels begun speculating that he might have already left the country. And then they stumbled on a loyalist safehouse that put up a much tougher fight.
Sinister Shades: Commonly photographed wearing them in his final years. Admittedly, he didn't do a particularly good job of looking sinister in them.
Villainous Breakdown / Sanity Slippage: Compare him as a small-time colonel to how he was as a dictator. Just when the world thought the guy couldn't get any crazier, he started ranting about the uprising against him by his own people being fueled by Zionist agents, imperialist foreign powers and LSD,note Well, "hallucinogenic pills", which became a pan-Arab meme for a while while accusing the Western countries of orchestrating the whole thing in an insidious plot to destroy Libya's air conditioners.
This was just the tip of the iceberg for this trope. The more his power slipped, the more his sanity devolved. Many dictators get hit by this pretty hard when their power is threatened, and Gaddafi just fell significantly faster than most.
Of particular interest is the speech he gave while sitting in a broken car in a blown up building holding an umbrella, a large part of which was him commenting on the rain. No, we don't get it either.
After being deposed, he issued an epic rant which just screams this trope. In it he made three very conflicting points at once, including basically saying "fuck you" to Libya while encouraging them to rise up and rebel against the, well, rebels.
Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Averted. Though both he and his family had always insisted he be buried in Sirte, the provisional government buried him in the open desert at an undisclosed location in an unmarked grave to prevent it from becoming a Shrine to the Fallen.
Decapitated Army: Double Subverted. About 5 months after his defeat, an uprising in the town of Bani Walid against that town's NTC authority began. Although reports initially said that it was a group of pro-Gaddafi fighters, it turned out to be a local tribal group.
Due to the Dead: After being laid out for a few days, his body was given a proper Islamic burial (although in secret, for obvious reasons).
Family-Unfriendly Death: Graphic pictures and video of his blood-soaked corpse spread all over news sites right after his death.
Have a Nice Death: Above the culvert where he was captured, the rebels wrote graffiti which roughly translates to "this is the home of Gaddafi, the rat. God is great!".
He Was Right There All Along: The rebels initially attacked Sirte to symbolically capture Gaddafi's hometown and finally connect the east and west coasts of Libya. It was only toward the end when the fighting became so uncharacteristically intense that the opposition realized someone important was in the city, initially suspecting his son Mutassim, who commanded the city's defense. Very few expected to capture Gaddafi himself.
No Honor Among Thieves: He was betrayed by fellow dictator and President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, in his final days if thisTelegraph article is anything to go by. note Synopsis: Gaddafi was contacting a Syrian TV station via satellite phone to broadcast his messages in Libya. Assad negotiated a deal with the French to hand over the number in exchange for a lifting of pressure on his regime.
Rasputinian Death: The precise details are uncertain, but apparently this is how things went: his convoy was strafed by French warplanes, he was hit in the legs, he fled and was captured, and was shot at least two more times in the torso and head. It's not known if he was hit by stray fire or just executed.
Word Salad Philosophy: From 1986 to 2011, Libya's official name was "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya."
The first shot we saw of Leo Mc Garry on the The West Wing was him complaining on the phone to the New York Times crossword department for getting the spelling of the name "Gaddafi" wrong.
NCIS: Los Angeles has an episode dealing with Gaddafi's secret police trying to assassinate an LA-based rebel communications leader at the height of the war, though the episode itself only aired a few weeks after the end of the conflict.
Salon.com (before the end of the war and thus before Gaddafi met his ultimate fate) commissioned eight stories about how Gaddafi's final days might look like, each written by a different author.
Gaddafi was among several dictators that attended a pool party hosted by Stewie Griffin on an episode of Family Guy.
Parodied by The Simpsons. When Springfield Elementary attends a Model UN conference, Bart (representing Libya) wears sunglasses and a headdress reminiscent of Gaddafi's fashion style.