A Brief History
On October 20, 2011, the former King of Kings of Africa’s gruesome murder was recorded and posted all over the internet.
Muammar Gaddafi was once one of the longest “reigning” leaders in the world. After a revolution overthrew Libya’s monarchy in 1969, Gaddafi seized power, holding a number of ever more lofty sounding titles. From 1969 through 2011, he at various times referred to himself as the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution in Libya, Prime Minister of Libya, Chairperson of the African Union, and yes, toward the end of his life, he even assembled a group of African kings and traditional rulers to name him “king of kings of Africa“.
While holding these and various other offices, Gaddafi had many ambitions for glory. These schemes included plans to unite Libya with its neighboring countries, support of Uganda’s mad dictator Idi Amin, war against Chad, and support of various international militant groups. Not surprisingly, he at varying times faced opposition from the United States of America resulting in the occasionally violent confrontation.
Yet, all of his dreams came crashing down in 2011’s “Arab Spring”. A Civil War erupted in his homeland that took tens of thousands of lives, including Gaddafi’s as well as those of other members of his family. The circumstances of his death remain controversial. Not only does the topic get its own Wikipedia article, it has divided people among those who think a dictator got what he deserved and those he think what happened to him constitutes a war crime.
In the final attack against him, NATO forces (notably France) provided air support to rebels hunting Gaddafi down. They captured him after he took shelter in a drainage pipe and from there, we get disputes about what happened next. Chaotic videos of the fallen leader’s last moments show him being ruffed up by aggressive and jubilant rebels who shout as the bloodied and apparently shot Gaddafi looks about confused and afraid. In the most notorious incident caught on camera, something is thrust into his buttocks, suggesting that he was perhaps even sexually assaulted by his killers.
In any event, it is a dramatic end to one of the world’s longest serving leaders and a rather frightful beginning to post-Gaddafi’s Libya. Indeed, despite his fall from power, violence in that country still continues…
Question for students (and subscribers): Did Gaddafi deserve to be killed in this fashion? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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A wealth of online resources exist on this topic. You can start with the BBC and CBS for some good early reports, but please keep in mind that the total facts about this incident are still being scrutinized in international circles and so a complete and accurate recounting of what exactly happened is not yet entirely clear.