Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi (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.
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 cell 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.
From 1999, Gaddafi shunned Arab socialism and encouraged economic privatization, 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.
The second of Muammar Gaddafi’s nine children, Saif al-Islam had been seen by many before the 2011 uprising as his father’s heir apparent and the second-most powerful man in Libya.
As head of the Gaddafi family’s charity and allegedly the multi-billion dollar sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) – although he denies this – Gaddafi had access to huge amounts of money, which he used to smooth relations with the West.
He was involved in the negotiations which led his father to abandon his nuclear weapons programme and later helped mediate the release of six Bulgarian medics accused of infecting children with HIV in a Libyan hospital.
He also negotiated compensation for the families of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, the 1986 Berlin nightclub attack and the 1989 downing of UTA flight 772.
Mr Gaddafi owned a house in London and had links to British political figures as well as the Royal Family. He met the Duke of York twice – once at Buckingham Palace and on another occasion in Tripoli.
He is known to have kept two tigers as pets and also enjoyed hunting with falcons in the deserts – a pastime traditionally enjoyed by Arab royals – and is a keen amateur painter.