Libya’s late President Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was killed after an assault on his hometown of Sirte by the revolutionary forces which were supported by the NATO and U.S. Before being brutally killed, Gaddafi had been the President of Libya for over four decades (since 1969) and had on/off relationship with the U.S. We have compiled a list of the interesting facts you need to know about Muammar Gaddafi:
11. The Beginnings
Muammar Gaddafi was born in Qasr Abu Hadi (a large rural farming area near Sirte), in June 1942. His exact date of birth is disputed as official records of births were not maintained at that time by most Bedouins. From early childhood, he hated colonial powers that occupied Libya from time to time such as Italy, France, and the United Kingdom.
He came into power as a result of a bloodless coup d’état in 1969.
10. The Reign
Muammar Gaddafi was the longest-serving Arab leader and the fourth longest-serving non-royal leader of the 20th century. He served for 42 years and 49 days as the Libyan head of state.
He masterminded various terrorist attacks on the west during his tenure due to which Gaddafi, his son, and his spy chief, were all wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
9. A Sudden U-turn
After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Gaddafi expected the same thing to happen to him in the near future, therefore, in a surprising move, he showed off all of Libya’s nuclear arsenal to the world and officially ended the national nuclear program of Libya.
He also unveiled Pakistan’s Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s secret nuclear network to the west in the hope of betterment of relations with the United States.
8. King of Kings
In a meeting of traditional African rulers in 2008, Gaddafi bestowed upon himself the title of “King of Kings”.
7. Love for Football
In January 2002 Gaddafi purchased a 7.5% share of the Italian football club Juventus for US$21 million, through the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company.
6. Role in Pakistan’s Nuclear Program
Gaddafi donated large sums to Pakistan for its nuclear program in the early ’80s believing in Pakistan’s mantra of building the first Islamic bomb as no other Muslim country had such a mature nuclear program at the time.
Due to his generous donations, Gaddafi was quite popular in Pakistan. A cricket stadium in Lahore is named after him.
Gaddafi has eight biological children, seven of them sons. They are Muhammad al-Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam Muammar Al-Gaddafi, Saadi Gaddafi, Mutassim Gaddafi, Saif Al Arab, Khamis, Ayesha al-Gaddafi, Hanna, and Milad.
4. Mad Dog
Former United States President Ronald Reagan called Gaddafi a “mad dog” and sent warplanes to bomb his Bab al-Aziziyah compound in 1986, after the bombing of a West Berlin discotheque he blamed on Libyan agents.
Gaddafi at the time reportedly lost his 4-year adopted daughter in that attack (dubbed Operation El Dorado Canyon) which really enraged him. The attempted hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 are believed to have been ordered by him as a retaliation for the killing of his daughter.
Some recent western reports suggest that Gaddafi’s adopted daughter actually survived the attack along with Gaddafi and the dead body shown by Libya in 1986 was of someone else. He simply used the narrative to have a soft corner in the hearts of the Libyan people.
Gaddafi was one of the founding members of O.I.C (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and actively called on all Arab leaders to adopt ‘Gold Dinars‘.
He also urged the whole Arab world to trade oil only in gold dinars, which he termed as true wealth – many conspiracy theorists call it to be the main secret reason for Libyan intervention by the USA because the USA doesn’t tolerate anyone challenging the dominance of its currency.
2. The Famous Female Bodyguards
Gaddafi loved female bodyguards and had a whole brigade of female bodyguards called Amazonian guards, who are believed to have taken a vow of chastity and pledged their lives to protect their leader.
The guards are believed to have saved him from several assassination attempts throughout his reign and defended him till the very end.
1. Kept His Word
Gaddafi used to vow that he would never leave his country even if he has to die, therefore he did what he said. An ultimate power struggle between different factions after Gaddafi’s death wreaked havoc on Libya and the country is still experiencing a civil war with no end in sight.
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Title Image Courtesy: Max Rossi/Reuters