Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libyan revolutionary and politician, Died at 69

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Dead, Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qaddafi died on October 20, 2011, Libyan officials announced that Muammar al-Qaddafi had died near his hometown of Sirte, Libya.

He seized control of the Libyan government in 1969 and ruled as an authoritarian dictator for more than 40 years before he was overthrown in 2011.

He joined the military and staged a coup to seize control of Libya in 1969, ousting King Idris.

Though his Arab nationalist rhetoric and socialist-style policies gained him support in the early days of his rule, his corruption, military interference in Africa, and record of horrific human rights abuses turned much of the Libyan population against him.

Accused of supporting terrorism, in the last decade of his rule Qaddafi reached a rapprochement with Western leaders, and Libya became a key provider of oil to Europe.

Born on June 7, 1942, in Sirte, Libya, raised in a Bedouin tent in the Libyan desert, he came from a tribal family called the al-Qadhafah.

At the time of his birth, Libya was an Italian colony.

In 1951, Libya gained independence under the Western-allied King Idris.

As a young man Qaddafi was influenced by the Arab nationalist movement, and admired Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

In 1961 Qaddafi entered the military college in the city of Benghazi.

After graduating, Qaddafi steadily rose through the ranks of the military.

As disaffection with Idris grew, Qaddafi became involved with a movement of young officers to overthrow the king.

A talented and charismatic man, Qaddafi rose to power in the group. On September 1, 1969, King Idris was overthrown while he was abroad in Turkey for medical treatment.

Qaddafi was named commander in chief of the armed forces and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Libya’s new ruling body.

From 1974 onward Qaddafi espoused a form of Islamic socialism as expressed in The Green Book.

This combined the nationalization of many economic sectors with a brand of populist government ostensibly operating through people’s congresses, labour unions, and other mass organizations.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi was becoming known for his erratic and unpredictable behaviour on the international scene.

His government financed a broad spectrum of revolutionary or terrorist groups worldwide, including the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam in the United States and the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland.

Libya’s purported involvement in the destruction of a civilian airliner in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, led to United Nations (UN) and U.S. sanctions that further isolated Qaddafi from the international community.

In the late 1990s, however, Qaddafi turned over the alleged perpetrators of the bombing to international authorities.

UN sanctions against Libya were subsequently lifted in 2003, and, following Qaddafi’s announcement that Libya would cease its unconventional-weapons program; the United States dropped most of its sanctions as well.

Although some observers remained critical, these measures provided an opportunity for the rehabilitation of Qaddafi’s image abroad and facilitated his country’s gradual return to the global community.

In August 2011 Qaddafi’s hold on power appeared to break when rebel forces entered Tripoli and took control of most areas of the city.

Rebel fighters achieved a major symbolic victory on August 23 when they captured the Bāb al-ʿAzīziyyah compound, Qaddafi’s headquarters in Tripoli.

Jubilant crowds ransacked the compound, destroying symbols of the Qaddafi regime.

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