News / Middle East

Gadhafi's 42-Year Reign Marked By Controversy

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (C) speaks at a press conference in Paris, France, 1973. (file photo)
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (C) speaks at a press conference in Paris, France, 1973. (file photo)

Moammar Gadhafi was in power from 1969 after he deposed King Idris in a military coup until National Transitional Council fighters overran his compound in August.  

National Transitional Council officials say the former Libyan leader was reportedly killed Wednesday as transitional fighters took control of Gadhafi's hometown.

Sirte was the last remaining bastion controlled by Gadhafi loyalist.

Colonel Gadhafi gained a reputation as an eccentric, donning flowing robes and animal skins and surrounding himself with all female bodyguards.

Labeled the "mad dog of the Middle East" by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, the Libyan leader drew attention for his often-controversial political decisions.

He has supported a number of revolutionary movements around the world, including in Chad and Iran. He has been accused of sponsoring Islamic militant groups and terrorist attacks.

In 1986, U.S. President Reagan ordered air strikes in Libya because of the Gadhafi government's alleged involvement in the bombing of a German nightclub that killed two U.S. servicemen. Gadhafi's adopted daughter died in the U.S. raid.

Just two years later, Libya was blamed for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie that killed 270 people. Gadhafi admitted responsibility for the attack in 2003 and agreed to pay victims' families more than $2 billion in compensation.

That same year, the Libyan leader agreed to renounce terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, clearing the way for the lifting of U.S. and European sanctions imposed after the German disco bombing, and the restoring of diplomatic relations. The United Nations also lifted its sanctions related to the Lockerbie bombing.

But the goodwill did not last long. Gadhafi fought to hold onto power against a large-scale uprising that began in February. He was under immense international pressure to step down after responding to the uprising with deadly violence. The government crackdown on protesters prompted new international sanctions against Libya, and in March, NATO began an air campaign against Gadhafi's forces under a U.N. mandate to protect the Libyan people.

Born in 1942 to a Bedouin family in the Libyan desert, Gadhafi graduated from the University of Libya and became an army officer.

Less than a decade after taking control of the country at age 27, he invented a system of government called the "Jamahiriya," Arabic for "state of the masses." In theory, the system was to be run by people's committees, with Gadhafi assuming the title of "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution." But in reality, he quashed dissent and reportedly survived several assassination attempts.

Gadhafi was a strong advocate of the ideology of Arab unity known as Pan-Arabism, and also led a Pan-African effort seeking to unify African nations.

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs