Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-GaddafiHerald Reporter
October 21, 2011
LIBYAN leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was yesterday killed in unclear circumstances when NATO forces and the rebel National Transitional Council overran his seaside hometown of Sirte.
He was 69.
Western media reports claimed that a number of his supporters and family members; among them his son Mutassim and ex-Defence Minister Abu-Bakr Yunis, were also dead while his son Saif al-Islam managed to escape to the desert.
The bodies were transported to Misrata, but the exact location was kept a secret for security reasons though the rebels promised to parade Colonel Gaddafi's body.
The NTC said it had a video and photos proving Col Gaddafi's death.
Some TV channels aired a cellphone photo of a bleeding man saying it was Col Gaddafi.
The story seems to have the same script as the recent killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
However, just hours after news of Gaddafi's death filtered, questions abounded about how he had died amid conflicting reports from NATO and the NTC.
The Guardian newspaper's defence correspondent said the convoy in which Col Gaddafi was travelling was hit by a NATO air strike at 8am.
"Two NATO aircraft bombed the vehicles as they fled Sirte. Neither were British planes, though two Tornado ground attack aircraft were on surveillance and reconnaissance missions at the time."
An NTC UK representative said Col Gaddafi was alive when captured and died in an ambulance on the way to Misrata.
The fighters claim they saw Col Gaddafi get shot dead in his lower body from a rifle.
One fighter says he hit Gaddafi with his shoe, which is a grave insult in the Arab world.
According to RT, TV footage showing anti-Gaddafi fighters dragging his body was shown on Al Jazeera English channel and several pictures purportedly showing the slain leader's body have appeared on the Internet.
An NTC official confirmed the pictures were real.
Al Jazeera television showed images of Col Gaddafi, apparently wounded but still alive when he was captured.
He was shown being manhandled by a group of fighters and appearing to struggle against them at one point.
He was shown with a bloodied face and being pushed against a car and being struck on the head by a pistol.
Al Jazeera said the pictures were aired by a Libyan television channel.
Col Gaddafi's death drew mixed international reactions, with the African Union through AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra saying: "We will check it. There are a number of Press dispatches, even the one that stated he may have been killed; so let us find out from the authority incumbent."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it "marks a historic transition of Libya."
In Brussels, a joint statement by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Col Gaddafi's death "marks the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long."
"Today, Libya can turn a page in its history and embrace a new democratic future," it said.
The EU urged the NTC to "pursue a broad-based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country."
In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Col Gaddafi's death held out the promise of a better future for the people he ruled for four decades.
In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he hoped peace would eventually prevail in Libya.
"All those who represent this country, various representatives of Libyan tribes, will be able to reach a final agreement on a configuration of power, and Libya will turn into a modern political country," Medvedev said at a joint Press conference with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte in Moscow.
"Otherwise, all the efforts taken recently are senseless," Medvedev said.
US President Barack Obama was to make a statement on Col Gaddafi's death, the White House said.
At the time of going to press, Obama and senior US officials were yet to publicly react to the killing.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota voiced hope that violence in Libya would end soon following Col Gaddafi's death.
"Brazil expects violence in Libya to stop, military operations to cease, and the Libyan people to be able to follow its aspirations and wishes in a spirit of dialogue and national reconstruction," Patriota said.
Col Gaddafi was born in a Bedouin family in 1942 and actively fought against Italian occupation since teenage years.
After school, he attended the UK's Royal Military Academy and later joined the Signal Corps.
He first appeared on the Arab arena sending his unit to help Egypt in the six-day war with Israel without sanction by King Idris of Libya.
On September 1, 1969 the 27-year-old Captain Gaddafi led a coup d'état against King Idris and became the youngest head of state ranked Colonel.
After the revolution, in the 1970s, he formulated his Third International Theory (following Karl Marx and Adam Smith) published in three chapters of the Green Book.
The theory rejected traditional instruments of government and made Libya promoter of Arab nationalism and eternal rival of Israel and the US in the Middle East and North Africa.
This certainly affected his relations with the West.
In 1986, Libya was accused of masterminding the Berlin disco bombing and US bombers struck Tripoli.
Col Gaddafi, the target, miraculously survived.
In 1988 he was accused of masterminding the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people on the Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York.
In 2003, Libya claimed responsibility for the attack under sanctions and Gaddafi publicly paid billions in compensation.
Another Gaddafi idea was to unite the African continent and on March 2, 2001, the African Union of 52 countries was set up under his initiative.
He also planned to have collective parliamentary assembly, court and central bank.
Col Gaddafi earned reputation for extravagance and eccentricity in everything from his clothes to behaviour.
He was known to hate official formalities and protocols and went on all international visits with beautiful female bodyguards and his Bedouin tent. ---- Agencies-Herald Reporter