Muammar Gaddafi

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi[lower-alpha 2] (c.1942  20 October 2011), commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi, was a Libyan revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He governed Libya as Revolutionary Chairman of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then as the "Brotherly Leader" of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011. He was initially ideologically committed to Arab nationalism and Arab socialism but later ruled according to his own Third International Theory.

Muammar Gaddafi
معمر القذافي
Gaddafi, pictured shortly after his seizure of power, on a visit to Yugoslavia in 1970
Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya
In office
1 September 1969  20 October 2011[lower-alpha 1]
Prime Minister
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMustafa Abdul Jalil (Chairman of the National Transitional Council)
Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council of Libya
In office
1 September 1969  2 March 1977
Prime MinisterMahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi
Abdessalam Jalloud
Abdul Ati al-Obeidi
Preceded byIdris (King)
Succeeded byHimself (Secretary General of the General People's Congress)
Secretary General of the General People's Congress
In office
2 March 1977  2 March 1979
Prime MinisterAbdul Ati al-Obeidi
Preceded byHimself (Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council)
Succeeded byAbdul Ati al-Obeidi
Prime Minister of Libya
In office
16 January 1970  16 July 1972
Preceded byMahmud Sulayman al-Maghribi
Succeeded byAbdessalam Jalloud
Chairperson of the African Union
In office
2 February 2009  31 January 2010
Preceded byJakaya Kikwete
Succeeded byBingu wa Mutharika
Personal details
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi

c. 1942
Qasr Abu Hadi, Sirte, Italian Libya
Died20 October 2011(2011-10-20) (aged 68–69)
Sirte, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (now Libya)
Cause of deathGunshot wound
Resting placeIn an unknown location in the Libyan Desert
Political partyArab Socialist Union (1971–1977)
Independent (1977–2011)
  • Fatiha al-Nuri
    (m. 1969; div. 1970)
  • (m. 1970)
Sons (8)
Daughters (2)
ResidenceBab al-Azizia
Alma materUniversity of Libya
Benghazi Military University Academy
Royal Military Academy
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of Libya
Libyan Arab Republic
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Branch/serviceLibyan Army
Years of service1961–2011
CommandsLibyan Armed Forces
Battles/wars1969 Libyan coup d'état
Libyan–Egyptian War
Chadian–Libyan conflict
Uganda–Tanzania War
First Liberian Civil War
1986 United States bombing of Libya
First Libyan Civil War

Born near Sirte, Italian Libya, to a poor Bedouin family, Gaddafi became an Arab nationalist while at school in Sabha, later enrolling in the Royal Military Academy, Benghazi. Within the military, he founded a revolutionary group which deposed the Western-backed Senussi monarchy of Idris in a 1969 coup. Having taken power, Gaddafi converted Libya into a republic governed by his Revolutionary Command Council. Ruling by decree, he deported Libya's Italian population and ejected its Western military bases. Strengthening ties to Arab nationalist governments—particularly Gamal Abdel Nasser's Egypt—he unsuccessfully advocated pan-Arab political union. An Islamic modernist, he introduced sharia as the basis for the legal system and promoted "Islamic socialism". He nationalized the oil industry and used the increasing state revenues to bolster the military, fund foreign revolutionaries, as well as implement social programs emphasizing house-building, healthcare and education projects. In 1973, he initiated a "Popular Revolution" with the formation of Basic People's Congresses, presented as a system of direct democracy, but retained personal control over major decisions. He outlined his Third International Theory that year in The Green Book.

Gaddafi transformed Libya into a new socialist state called a Jamahiriya ("state of the masses") in 1977. He officially adopted a symbolic role in governance but remained head of both the military and the Revolutionary Committees responsible for policing and suppressing dissent. During the 1970s and 1980s, Libya's unsuccessful border conflicts with Egypt and Chad, support for foreign militants, and alleged responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland left it increasingly isolated on the world stage. A particularly hostile relationship developed with the United States, United Kingdom and Israel, resulting in the 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya and United Nations–imposed economic sanctions. From 1999, Gaddafi shunned pan-Arabism and encouraged rapprochement with Western nations and pan-Africanism; he was Chairperson of the African Union from 2009 to 2010. Amid the 2011 Arab Spring, protests against widespread corruption and unemployment broke out in Eastern Libya. The situation descended into civil war, in which NATO intervened militarily on the side of the anti-Gaddafist National Transitional Council (NTC). The government was overthrown and Gaddafi retreated to Sirte, only to be captured and killed by NTC militants.

A highly divisive figure, Gaddafi dominated Libya's politics for four decades. He was decorated with various awards and praised for his anti-imperialist stance, support for Arab—and then African—unity, as well as for significant improvements that his government brought to the Libyan people's quality of life. Conversely, many Libyans strongly opposed Gaddafi's social and economic reforms. He was condemned by many as a dictator whose authoritarian administration systematically violated human rights and financed global terrorism.