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Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi1 ( ; also known simply as Colonel Gaddafi; born 1942) has been the de facto leader of Libyamarker since a coup in 1969.

From 1972, when Gaddafi relinquished the title of prime minister, he has been accorded the honorifics "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" or "Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution" in government statements and the official press.US Department of State's Background Notes, (November 2005) "Libya - History", United States Department of Statemarker. Retrieved on 2006-07-14. With the death of Omar Bongo of Gabonmarker on 8 June 2009, he became the third longest serving of all current national leaders. He is also the longest-serving ruler of Libya since Ali Pasha Al Karamanli, who ruled between 1754 and 1795.

Early life

Gaddafi was the youngest born into a peasant family. Officially his father is unkown, but his adopted father was Mohammed Abdul Salam bin Hamed bin Mohammed Al-Gaddafi, known as Abu Meniar (died 1985). His mother is jwesh lady, but adapted mother was Aisha Bin Niran. Little is known about Gaddafi's childhood. He has said that when he was five years old he had a brother that was killed by an Israeli soldier. However, the claim has been disputed as the IDF was not created until May 26, 1948, when Gaddafi was six. At a young age he was known to his friends as 'al-jamil' or 'the handsome'. He grew up in the desert region of Sirtemarker. He was given a traditional religious primary education and attended the Sebhamarker preparatory school in Fezzanmarker from 1956 to 1961. Gaddafi and a small group of friends that he met in this school went on to form the core leadership of a militant revolutionary group that would eventually seize control of the country. Gaddafi's inspiration was Gamal Abdel Nasser, president of neighboring Egyptmarker, who rose to the presidency by appealing to Arab unity. In 1961, Gaddafi was expelled from Sebha for his political activism.

Gaddafi entered the military academy in Benghazimarker in 1963, where he and a few of his fellow militants organized a secretive group dedicated to overthrowing the pro-Western Libyan monarchy. After graduating in 1965, he was sent to Britainmarker for further training at the British Army Staff College, now the Joint Services Command and Staff Collegemarker, returning in 1966 as a commissioned officer in the Signal Corps.

Military coup d'état

On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by Gaddafi staged a bloodless coup d'état against King Idris I, while he was in Kamena Vourlamarker, a Greekmarker resort, for medical treatment. His nephew the Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi had been formally deposed by the revolutionary army officers and put under house arrest; they abolished the monarchy and proclaimed the new Libyan Arab Republic. The slim 27-year-old Gaddafi, with a taste for safari suits and sunglasses, then sought to become the new "Che Guevara of the age". To accomplish this Gaddafi turned Libya into a haven for anti-Western radicals, where any group, supposedly, could receive weapons and financial assistance, provided they claimed to be fighting imperialism. The Italian population in Libya almost disappeared after Gaddafi ordered the expulsion of Italians in 1970.

A Revolutionary Command Council was formed to rule the country, with Gaddafi as chairman. He added the title of prime minister in 1970, but gave up this title in 1972. Unlike some other military revolutionaries, Gaddafi did not promote himself to the rank of general upon seizing power, but rather accepted a ceremonial promotion from captain to colonel and has remained at this rank since then. While at odds with Western military ranking for a colonel to rule a country and serve as Commander-in-Chief of its military, in Gaddafi's own words Libya's society is "ruled by the people", so he needs no more grandiose title or supreme military rank.

Islamic Socialism and pan-Arabism

Gaddafi based his new regime on a blend of Arab nationalism, aspects of the welfare state, and what Gaddafi termed "direct, popular democracy". He called this system "Islamic socialism", and, while he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones. Welfare, "liberation", and education were emphasized. He also imposed a system of Islamic morals, outlawing alcohol and gambling. Like previous revolutionary figures of the 20th century such as Mao and his Little Red Book, Gaddafi outlined his political philosophy in his Green Book to reinforce the ideals of this socialist-Islamic state and published in three volumes between 1975 and 1979.

In 1977, Gaddafi proclaimed that Libya was changing its form of government from a republic to a "jamahiriya"--a neologism that means "mass-state" or "government by the masses". In theory, Libya became a direct democracy governed by the people through local popular councils and communes. At the top of this structure was the General People's Congress, with Gaddafi as secretary-general. However, after only two years, Gaddafi gave up all of his governmental posts in keeping with the new egalitarian philosophy.

In practice, Libya's political system is less idealistic. Real power is vested in a "revolutionary sector" composed of Gaddafi and a small group of trusted advisers. While he holds no formal office, it is generally understood that Gaddafi holds near-absolute control over the government.

From time to time, Gaddafi has responded to domestic and external opposition with violence. His revolutionary committees called for the assassination of Libyan dissidents living abroad in April 1980, with Libyan hit squads sent abroad to murder them. On 26 April 1980, Gaddafi set a deadline of 11 June 1980 for dissidents to return home or be "in the hands of the revolutionary committees". Nine Libyans were murdered during that time, five of them in Italymarker.

External relations

With respect to Libya's neighbors, Gaddafi followed Gamal Abdel Nasser's ideas of pan-Arabism and became a fervent advocate of the unity of all Arab states into one Arab nation. He also supported pan-Islamism, the notion of a loose union of all Islamic countries and peoples. After Nasser's death on 28 September 1970, Gaddafi attempted to take up the mantle of ideological leader of Arab nationalism. He proclaimed the "Federation of Arab Republics" (Libya, Egypt, and Syriamarker) in 1972, hoping to create a pan-Arab state, but the three countries disagreed on the specific terms of the merger. In 1974, he signed an agreement with Tunisiamarker's Habib Bourguiba on a merger between the two countries, but this also failed to work in practice and ultimately differences between the two countries would deteriorate into strong animosity.

Libya was also involved in a sometimes violent territorial dispute with neighbouring Chadmarker over the Aouzou Strip, which Libya occupied in 1973. This dispute eventually led to the Libyan invasion of the country and to a conflict that was ended by a ceasefire reached in 1987. The dispute was in the end settled peacefully in June 1994 when Libya withdrew troops from Chadmarker due to a judgement of the International Court of Justicemarker issued on 13 February 1994.

Gaddafi also became a strong supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which support ultimately harmed Libya's relations with Egypt, when in 1979 Egypt pursued a peace agreement with Israelmarker. As Libya's relations with Egypt worsened, Gaddafi sought closer relations with the Soviet Unionmarker. Libya became the first country outside the Soviet bloc to receive the supersonic MiG-25 combat fighters, but Soviet-Libyan relations remained relatively distant. Gaddafi also sought to increase Libyan influence, especially in states with an Islamic population, by calling for the creation of a Saharan Islamic state and supporting anti-government forces in sub-Saharan Africa.

Notable in Gaddafi's politics has been his support for self-styled liberation movements, and also his sponsorship of rebel movements in West Africa, notably Sierra Leonemarker and Liberiamarker, as well as Muslim groups. In the 1970s and the 1980s, this support was sometimes so freely given that even the most unsympathetic groups could obtain Libyan support; often the groups represented ideologies far removed from Gaddafi's own. Gaddafi's approach often tended to confuse international opinion. Throughout the 1970s, his regime was implicated in subversion and terrorist activities in both Arab and non-Arab countries. By the mid-1980s, he was widely regarded in the West as the principal financier of international terrorism. Reportedly, Gaddafi was a major financier of the "Black September Movement" which perpetrated the Munich massacremarker at the 1972 Summer Olympics, and was accused by the United Statesmarker of being responsible for direct control of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombingmarker that killed three people and wounded more than 200, of whom a substantial number were U.S. servicemen. He is also said to have paid "Carlos the Jackal" to kidnap and then release a number of Saudi Arabianmarker and Iranianmarker oil ministers. Tensions between Libya and the West reached a peak during the Ronald Reagan administration, which tried to overthrow Gaddafi. The Reagan administration viewed Libya as a belligerent rogue state because of its uncompromising stance on Palestinian independence, its support for revolutionary Iranmarker in the 1980–1988 war against Saddam Hussein's Iraqmarker (see Iran–Iraq War), and its backing of "liberation movements" in the developing world. Reagan himself dubbed Gaddafi the "mad dog of the Middle East". In December 1981, the US State Departmentmarker invalidated US passports for travel to Libya, and in March 1982, the U.S. declared a ban on the import of Libyan oil and the export to Libya of U.S. oil industry technology; European nations did not follow suit.

Libya has also been a supporter of the Polisario Front in their fight against Spanish colonialism and Moroccan military occupation.

In 1984, British police constable Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan Embassy in Londonmarker while policing an anti-Gaddafi demonstration. A burst of machine-gun fire from within the building was suspected of killing her, but Libyan diplomats asserted their diplomatic immunity and were repatriated. The incident led to the breaking off of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdommarker and Libya for over a decade.

The U.S. attacked Libyan patrol boats from January to March 1986 during clashes over access to the Gulf of Sidramarker, which Libya claimed as territorial waters. On 15 April 1986, Ronald Reagan ordered major bombing raids, dubbed Operation El Dorado Canyon, against Tripolimarker and Benghazimarker killing 45 Libyan military and government personnel as well as 15 civilians. This strike followed U.S. interception of telex messages from Libya's East Berlin embassy suggesting Libyan government involvement in a bomb explosion on 5 April in West Berlin's La Belle discothèquemarker, a nightclub frequented by U.S. servicemen. Among the fatalities of the 15 April retaliatory attack by the U.S. was Gaddafi's adopted daughter, Hannah. Libya responded by firing two Scud missiles at the U.S. Coast Guard navigation station on the Italian island of Lampedusamarker, in retaliation for the bombing. The missiles landed in the sea, and caused no damage.

In late 1987, a merchant vessel, the MV Eksund, was intercepted. Destined for the IRA, a large consignment of arms and explosives supplied by Libya was recovered from the Eksund. British intelligence believed this was not the first and that Libyan arms shipments had previously reached the IRA. (See Provisional IRA arms importation.)

For most of the 1990s, Libya endured economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation as a result of Gaddafi's refusal to allow the extradition to the United Statesmarker or Britainmarker of two Libyans accused of planting a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbiemarker, Scotlandmarker. Through the intercession of South African President Nelson Mandela – who made a high-profile visit to Gaddafi in 1997 – and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Gaddafi agreed in 1999 to a compromise that involved handing over the defendants to the Netherlands for trial under Scottish law.: U.N. sanctions were thereupon suspended, but U.S. sanctions against Libya remained in force.

An alleged plot by Britain's secret intelligence servicemarker to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi, when rebels attacked Gaddafi's motorcade near the city of Sirte in February 1996, was described as "pure fantasy" by former foreign secretary Robin Cook, although the FCOmarker later admitted: "We have never denied that we knew of plots against Gaddafi."

In August 2003, two years after Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi's conviction, Libya wrote to the United Nations formally accepting 'responsibility for the actions of its officials' in respect of the Lockerbie bombing and agreed to pay compensation of up to US$2.7 billion – or up to US$10 million each – to the families of the 270 victims. The same month, Britain and Bulgariamarker co-sponsored a U.N. resolution which removed the suspended sanctions. (Bulgaria's involvement in tabling this motion led to suggestions that there was a link with the HIV trial in Libya in which 5 Bulgarian nurses, working at a Benghazimarker hospital, were accused of infecting 426 Libyan children with HIV.) Forty percent of the compensation was then paid to each family, and a further 40% followed once U.S. sanctions were removed. Because the U.S. refused to take Libya off its list of state sponsors of terrorism, Libya retained the last 20% ($540 million) of the $2.7 billion compensation package. In October 2008 Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund which will be used to compensate relatives of the
  1. Lockerbie bombing victims with the remaining 20%;
  2. American victims of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombingmarker;
  3. American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772marker bombing; and,
  4. Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.
As a result, President Bush signed an executive order restoring the Libyan government's immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases in the US, the White Housemarker said.

On 28 June 2007, Megrahi was granted the right to a second appeal against the Lockerbie bombing conviction. One month later, the Bulgarian medics were released from jail in Libya. They returned home to Bulgaria and were pardoned by Bulgarian president, Georgi Parvanov.

Gaddafi's 2009 welcome to the return of convicted Lockerbie bomber Megrahi, who was released from prison on compassionate grounds, attracted criticism from Western leaders and has disrupted his first-ever visit to the United States to attend a UN General Session. Gaddafi often resides in a tent when travelling, but plans to erect a tent in Central Parkmarker and on Libyan government property in Englewood, New Jerseymarker during Gaddafi's stay at the UN were both protested by community leaders and subsequently cancelled by Gaddafi. His tent finally found a home on an estate belonging to Donald Trump in Bedford.

September 23, 2009 marked Gaddafi's first appearance at the United Nations General Assemblywhere he addressed world leaders at the annual gathering in New York. The Libyan leader while demanding representation for the African Union, used the occasion to scold the United Nations structure saying the 15-member body practised “security feudalism” for those who had a protected seat. The Libyan leader's appearance at the United Nations generated demonstrations both for and against Gaddafi.


Gaddafi also appeared to be attempting to improve his image in the West. Two years prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, Libya pledged its commitment to fighting Al-Qaeda and offered to open up its weapons programme to international inspection. The Clinton administration did not pursue the offer at the time since Libya's weapons program was not then regarded as a threat, and the matter of handing over the Lockerbie bombing suspects took priority. Following the attacks of 11 September, Gaddafi made one of the first, and firmest, denunciations of the Al-Qaeda bombers by any Muslim leader. Gaddafi also appeared on ABC for an open interview with George Stephanopoulos, a move that would have seemed unthinkable less than a decade earlier.

Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by US forces in 2003, Gaddafi announced that his nation had an active weapons of mass destruction program, but was willing to allow international inspectors into his country to observe and dismantle them. US President George W. Bush and other supporters of the Iraq War portrayed Gaddafi's announcement as a direct consequence of the Iraq War by stating that Gaddafi acted out of fear for the future of his own regime if he continued to keep and conceal his weapons. Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a supporter of the Iraq War, was quoted as saying that Gaddafi had privately phoned him, admitting as much. Many foreign policy experts, however, contend that Gaddafi's announcement was merely a continuation of his prior attempts at normalizing relations with the West and getting the sanctions removed. To support this, they point to the fact that Libya had already made similar offers starting four years prior to it finally being accepted. International inspectors turned up several tons of chemical weaponry in Libya, as well as an active nuclear weapons program. As the process of destroying these weapons continued, Libya improved its cooperation with international monitoring regimes to the extent that, by March 2006, Francemarker was able to conclude an agreement with Libya to develop a significant nuclear power program.

In March 2004, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair became one of the first Western leaders in decades to visit Libya and publicly meet Gaddafi. Blair praised Gaddafi's recent acts, and stated that he hoped Libya could now be a strong ally in the international War on Terrorism. In the run-up to Blair's visit, the British ambassador in Tripoli, Anthony Layden, explained Libya's and Gaddafi's political change thus:
"35 years of total state control of the economy has left them in a situation where they're simply not generating enough economic activity to give employment to the young people who are streaming through their successful education system. I think this dilemma goes to the heart of Colonel Gaddafi's decision that he needed a radical change of direction."

On 15 May 2006, the US State Departmentmarker announced that it would restore full diplomatic relations with Libya, once Gaddafi declared he was abandoning Libya's weapons of mass destruction program. The State Department also said that Libya would be removed from the list of nations supporting terrorism. On 31 August 2006, however, Gaddafi openly called upon his supporters to "kill enemies" who asked for political change.

In July 2007, French president Nicolas Sarkozy visited Libya and signed a number of bilateral and multilateral (EU) agreements with Gaddafi.

On 4 March 2008 Gaddafi announced his intention to dissolve the country's existing administrative structure and disburse oil revenue directly to the people. The plan includes abolishing all ministries, except those of defence, internal security, and foreign affairs, and departments implementing strategic projects.

In September 2008, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Libya and met with Gaddafi as part of a North African tour. This was the first visit to Libya by a US Secretary of State since 1953.

In January 2009, Gaddafi contributed an editorial to the New York Times, suggesting that he was in favor of a single-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts that moved beyond old conflicts and looked to a unified future of shared culture and mutual respect.

Cooperation with Italy

On 30 August 2008, Gaddafi and Italianmarker Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a historic cooperation treaty in Benghazimarker. Under its terms, Italy will pay $5 billion to Libya as compensation for its former military occupation. In exchange, Libya will take measures to combat illegal immigration coming from its shores and boost investments in Italian companies. The treaty was ratified by Italy in 6 February 2009, and by Libya on 2 March, during a visit to Tripolimarker by Berlusconi. In June Gaddafi made his first visit to Romemarker, where he met Prime Minister Berlusconi, President Giorgio Napolitano and Senate President Renato Schifani; Chamber President Gianfranco Fini cancelled the meeting because of Gaddafi's delay. The Democratic Party and Italy of Values opposed the visit, and many protests were staged throughout Italy by human rights organizations and the Radical Party. Gaddafi also took part in the G8 summit in L'Aquilamarker in July as Chairman of the African Union. During the summit a handshake between US President Barack Obama and Muammar Gaddafi took place (the first time the Libyan leader has been greeted by a serving US president), then at summit's official dinner offered by President Giorgio Napolitano US and Libyan leaders upset the ceremony and sat by the Italian Prime Minister and G8 host, Silvio Berlusconi. (According to ceremony, Gaddafi should seat three places after Berlusconi).


Gaddafi has also emerged as a popular African leader. As one of the continent's longest-serving, post-colonial heads of state, the Libyan leader enjoys a reputation among many Africans as an experienced and wise statesman who has been at the forefront of many struggles over the years. Gaddafi has earned the praise of Nelson Mandela and others, and is always a prominent figure in various pan-African organizations, such as the Organisation of African Unity (now replaced by the African Union). In February 2009, upon being elected chairman of the African Union in Ethiopiamarker, Gaddafi told the assembled African leaders: "I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa."Gaddafi is also seen by many Africans as a humanitarian, pouring large amounts of money into sub-Saharan states. Large numbers of Africans have come to Libya to take advantage of the availability of jobs there.

His views on African political and military unification have received a relatively lukewarm response from other African governments. On 29 August 2008, Gaddafi held a public ceremony in Benghazi in which he was self-handed the title "King of Kings of Africa" with over 200 African traditional rulers and kings as part of a grassroots effort to encourage African heads of state and government to join with Gaddafi toward a greater political cohesion; this was followed on 1 February 2009 by a coronation ceremony in Addis Ababamarker, Ethiopiamarker simultaneous with the 53rd African Union Summit, at which he was elected head of the African Union for the year. His January 2009 forum for African kings, however, was cancelled by the Ugandan government (Uganda was to host the forum), since the invitation of traditional rulers to discussion of political affairs contravened Uganda's current constitution, and according to Ugandan foreign ministry spokesperson James Mugume, would have led to instability.

The title of "King of Kings" was reiterated by Gaddafi at the 2009 Arab League Summit, at which he claimed to be the King of Kings, "leader of the Arab leaders" and "imam of the Muslims" in his criticism of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabiamarker prior to storming out of the summit.

Notwithstanding his claims of concern for his African roots, Gaddafi has often expressed an overt contempt for some African dwellers of Libya, the Berbers, and for their language, maintaining that the very existence of Berbers in North Africa is a myth created by colonialists. He adopted several measures forbidding the use of Berber, and often attacks this language in official speeches, with statements like: "If your mother transmits you this language, she nourishes you with the milk of the colonialist, she feeds you their poison" (1985).

'NATO of the South'

In September 2009, at a South America-Africa summit on Isla Margaritamarker in Venezuelamarker, Colonel Gaddafi joined the host, Hugo Chávez, in calling for an "anti-imperialist" front across Africa and Latin America. Gaddafi proposed the establishment of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization to rival NATOmarker, saying: "The world’s powers want to continue to hold on to their power. Now we have to fight to build our own power."

UN General Assembly speech

On 23 September 2009, Colonel Gaddafi addressed the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New Yorkmarker, his first visit to the United Statesmarker, in part because a Libyan diplomat, Ali Treki, has just become president of the General Assembly for 2009-10. Gaddafi spoke for one hour and 36 minutes.

A translation of the speech courtesy of Jamahiriya News Agency (JANA) the official Libyan news agency, is available here.

Gaddafi spoke in favor of the preamble to the United Nations Charter, but rejected several provisions of the rest of the Charter; and criticized the United Nations for failing to prevent 65 wars, and invited the General Assembly to investigate the wars that the Security Council had not authorized, and for those responsible to be brought before the International Criminal Court.

Following Colonel Gaddafi's speech, in which he criticized the UN Security Council (UNSC) calling it the "Terror Council", Gaddafi failed to attend a special Security Council heads-of-state meeting on 24 September 2009, when a resolution calling for a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons was passed unanimously.

Disappearance Of Imam Musa al-Sadr

In August 1978, the Lebanesemarker Shia leader Musa al-Sadr and two companions departed for Libya to meet with government officials. They were never heard of again. At the time, Musa al-Sadr founded Amal Movement, a liberal-Shia Lebanese resistance movement (which later went on to oppose the Israeli invasion of Lebanon). However Amal Movement became powerful much to the annoyance of the PLO which was based primarily in south Lebanon. Libya has consistently denied responsibility, claiming that al-Ṣadr and his companions left Libya for Italymarker. Some others have reported that he remains secretly in jail in Libya. Al-Ṣadr's disappearance continues to be a major dispute between Lebanonmarker and Libya. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri claimed that the Libyan regime, and particularly the Libyan leader, were responsible for the disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-run pan-Arab daily reported on 27 August 2006.

According to Iranian General Mansour Qadar, the then head of Syrian security, Rifaat al-Assad, told the Iranian ambassador to Syria that Gaddafi was planning to kill al-Ṣadr. On 27 August 2008, Gaddafi was indicted by the government of Lebanon for al-Sadr's disappearance.

Internal dissent

In October 1993, there was an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Gaddafi by elements of the Libyan army. On 14 July 1996, bloody riots followed a football match in Tripoli organised by Gaddafi's son, as a protest against Gaddafi.

There are a number of political groups opposed to Gaddafi: A website, actively seeking his overthrow, was set up in 2006 and lists 343 victims ofmurder and political assassination.The Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) – based in Genevamarker – petitioned Gaddafi to set up an independent inquiry into the February 2006 unrest in Benghazi in which some 30 Libyans and foreigners were killed.

Fathi Eljahmi was a prominent dissident who has been imprisoned since 2002 for calling for increased democratization in Libya.

Public works projects

Great Manmade River

It is the largest underground network of pipes and viaducts in the world. It consists of more than 1300 wells, most more than 500 m deep, and supplies 6,500,000 m³ of fresh water per day from beneath the Sahara Desert to the cities in the north, the Benghazimarker region on the Mediterranean coast, Tripolimarker, Benghazi, Sirtmarker and elsewhere. These aquifers consist of vast quantities of fresh water trapped in the underlying strata between 38,000 and 14,000 years ago, though some pockets are only 7,000 years old.

Construction on the first phase started in 1984, and cost about $5 billion. The completed project may total $25 billion.

Muammar al-Gaddafi has described it as the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and presented the project as a gift to the Third World.

Astronomical observatory

Libya, the native country of Eratosthenes of Cyrene, born in today's Shahhatmarker, ancient astronomer and chief librarian of the Great Library of Alexandriamarker, will be the seat of North Africa's largest astronomical observatory.

The Libyan National Telescope Project costing nearly 10 million euros, was ordered by Muammar al-Gaddafi, who has a passionate interest in astronomy.

Built by Francemarker's REOSC, the optical department of the SAGEM Groupmarker, the robotic telescope will be two metres in diameter and remote-controlled. A possible desert site at 2200 meters above sea level near Kuframarker could be chosen.

It will be housed in an air-conditioned building, with a network of four weather stations deployed at a distance of 10 kilometers around it to warn of impending sandstorms that could damage its fragile optics.

Personal life and family

Gaddafi has eight children, seven of them sons. His eldest son, Muhammad al-Gaddafi, was born to a wife now in disfavour, but runs the Libyan Olympic Committee. The next eldest son by his second wife is Saif al-Islam Muammar Al-Gaddafi, who was born in 1972 and is an architect. He runs a charity (GIFCA) which has been involved in negotiating freedom for hostages taken by Islamic militants, especially in the Philippinesmarker. In 2006, after sharply criticizing his father's regime, Saif Al Islam briefly left Libya, reportedly to take on a position in banking outside of the country. He returned to Libya soon after, launching an environment-friendly initiative to teach children how they can help clean up parts of Libya. He is involved in compensation negotiations with Italymarker and the United Statesmarker. The third eldest, Saadi Gaddafi, is married to the daughter of a military commander. Saadi runs the Libyan Football Federation and signed for various professional teams including Italian Serie A team U.C. Sampdoria, although without appearing in first team games. Gaddafi's fourth son, Moatessem-Billah Gaddafi, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Libyan army.He fled to Egyptmarker after allegedly masterminding an Egyptian backed coup attempt against his father. Gaddafi forgave Moatessem and he returned to Libya where he now holds the post of national security adviser and heads his own unit within the army. Saif Al Islam and Moatessem-Billah are both seen as possible successors to their father.

The fifth eldest, Motassim Bilal (Hannibal) Gaddafi, once worked for General National Maritime Transport Company, a company that specializes in Libyan oil exports. He is most notable for being involved in a series of violent incidents throughout Europe. In 2001, Hannibal attacked three Italian policemen with a fire extinguisher; in September 2004, he was briefly detained after driving a Porsche at 90 mph in the wrong direction and through red lights down the Champs-Élyséesmarker while intoxicated; and in 2005, Hannibal allegedly beat model and then girlfriend Alin Skaf, who later filed an assault suit against him.

On 15 July 2008, Hannibal and his wife were held for two days and charged with assaulting two of their staff in Genevamarker, Switzerlandmarker and then released on bail on 17 July. The government of Libya subsequently put a boycott on Swiss imports, reduced flights between Libya and Switzerland, stopped issuing visas to Swiss citizens, recalled diplomats from Bernmarker, and forced all Swiss companies such as ABB and Nestlé to close offices. General National Maritime Transport Company, which owns a large refinery in Switzerland, also halted oil shipments to Switzerland. Two Swiss businessmen who were in Libya at the time have, ever since, been denied permission to leave the country. At the 35th G8 summit in July 2009, Gaddafi called Switzerland a "world mafia" and called for the country to be split between France, Germany and Italy.

Gaddafi's two youngest sons are Saif Al Arab and Khamis, who is a police officer in Libya.

Gaddafi's only daughter is Ayesha al-Gaddafi, a lawyer who had joined the defense team of executed former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. She married a cousin of her father in 2006.

His adopted daughter, Hanna, was killed in the April 1986 United States bombing of Libya. At a "concert for peace", held on 15 April 2006 in Tripoli to mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing raid, U.S. singer Lionel Richie told the audience:
"Hanna will be honoured tonight because of the fact that you've attached peace to her name."

In January 2002, Gaddafi purchased a 7.5% share of Italian football club Juventus for USD 21 million, through Lafico ("Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company"). This followed a long-standing association with the Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli and car manufacturer Fiatmarker.

Gaddafi holds an honorary degree from Megatrend University in Belgrademarker conferred on him by former Yugoslav President Zoran Lilić.


  • "God damn America" – Time magazine, April 2, 1973
  • "Israel is a colonialist-imperialist phenomenon. There is no such thing as an Israeli people. Before 1948, world geography knew of no state such as Israel. Israel is the result of an invasion, of aggression."
  • "The statements of our Kenyan brother of American nationality, Obama, on Jerusalem ... show that he either ignores international politics and did not study the Middle East conflict or that it [Barack Obama's expression of solidarity with Israel] is a campaign lie. We fear that Obama will feel that, because he is black with an inferiority complex, this will make him behave worse than the whites. This will be a tragedy. We tell him to be proud of himself as a black and feel that all Africa is behind him."
  • "The black people’s struggle has vanquished racism. It was God who created colour. Today Obama, a son of Kenya, a son of Africa, has made it in the United States of America."
  • "It is a response to greedy Western nations, who invade and exploit Somalia’s water resources illegally. It is not a piracy, it is self defence. It is defending the Somalia children’s food. If they (Western nations) do not want to live with us fairly, it is our planet and they can go to other planet."
  • "I am an international leader, the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam (leader) of Muslims, and my international status does not allow me to descend to a lower level."
  • "There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe - without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades."


Because of the lack of standardization of transliterating written and regionally pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi's name has been transliterated in many different ways into English and other Latin alphabet languages. An article published in the London Evening Standard in 2004 lists a total of 37 spellings of his name, while a 1986 column by The Straight Dope quotes a list of 32 spellings known at the Library of Congressmarker. This extensive confusion of naming was used as the subject for a segment of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update in the early 1980s.

In 1986, Gaddafi reportedly responded to a Minnesotamarker school's letter in English using the spelling "Moammar El-Gadhafi". The title of the homepage of reads "Welcome to the official site of Muammar Al Gathafi".

"Muammar Gaddafi" is the spelling used by Time magazine, BBC News, the majority of the British press and by the English service of Al-Jazeera. The Associated Press, CNN, and Fox News use "Moammar Gadhafi". The Edinburgh Middle East Report uses "Mu'ammar Qaddafi" and the U.S.marker Department of Statemarker uses "Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi". The Xinhua News Agencymarker uses "Muammar Khaddafi" in its English reports.

Even though the Arabic spelling of a word does not change, the pronunciation may vary in different varieties of Arabic, which may cause a different romanization. In standard Arabic the name معمر القذافي‎ (مُـعَـمَّـرُ الـقَـذافـي‎ with all vowels and elongation) is pronounced in IPA: /mu'ʕam:aru l‎qa'ða:fi/. /ʕ/ represents a pharyngeal sound (ع), not present in English. The second /m/ is geminated (doubled). In spoken Libyan Arabic voiceless uvular plosive /q/ (ق) may be replaced with /g/ or /k/; and /ð/ (ذ) (same as English "th" in "this") may be replaced with simple /d/. Vowel /u/ may alternate with /o/ in spoken Arabic. Case endings are dropped (/mu'ʕam:aru/ -> /mu'ʕam:ar/). Thus, /mu'ʕam:aru l‎qa'ða:fi/ may be pronounced as /mo'ʕam:ar al‎ga'da:fi/ colloquially. The definite article al- (ال) is often omitted. Here, the initial /a/ is silent because of the preceding /u/.

The show

In September 2006, at the ENO in Londonmarker, the UKmarker-based electronic band Asian Dub Foundation created and did six performances of a show commissioned by Channel 4 and based on Gaddafi's story, called "Gaddafi: A Living Myth". The title role was played by Ramon Tikaram. The book was by Shan Khan and the direction by David Freeman. Although critics were generally unflattering in the English-speaking press, coverage in Muslim countries was more positive.

Postage stamps

The Libyan Posts (GPTC General Posts and Telecommunications Company) released many postage issues (stamps, souvenir sheets, postal stationery, booklets, etc.) including the subject of Muammar al-Gaddafi. The first issue was a souvenir sheet celebrating the 6th Anniversary of the September Revolution in 1975 (ref. Scott catalogue n.583 – Michel catalogue block 18).

See also


External links

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