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End of an era: The life and death of Moammer Gadhafi
October 20th, 2011
03:25 PM ET

End of an era: The life and death of Moammer Gadhafi

["Piers Morgan Tonight" will have the latest news and reaction to Moammer Gadhafi's death, live tonight at 9pmET. Intern Morkeh Blay-Tofey looks at the life and death of the leader.]

As celebrations erupt from Moammer Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, Libya's tyrannical leader is now on his way to the historical archives. From his spring to power in a bloodless coup against King Idris in 1969, Gadhafi initially resembled a Fidel Castro or Che Guevara figure: a young, charismatic 27-year-old who wanted to change the world. The story became much more than that simplistic goal. It was a world far from the cell-phone pictures captured of the 69-year-old breathing his last gasps of air.

From the start, “Moammar Gadhafi portrayed himself as a revolutionary battling Western colonialism, the leader of a united Africa and the 'king of kings' of his oil-rich desert nation."

Gadhafi did not trust very many people and was largely shunned by other global leaders. Still, he stuck to his controversial convictions. Rejected by Arab and African leaders, Gadhafi urged Muslims and Africa revolutionaries to fight Western powers, particularly the United States and Great Britain. He was instrumental in the dealing of arms to the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLO) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). He hosted young revolutionaries like former Sierra Leonean Revolutionary United Front leader Foday Sankoh and Former Liberian President Charles Taylor for military insurgent training. He supported the 1986 bombing of a West Berlin Nightclub and the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Through 42 Gadhafi’s years of rule, scores of Libyan civilians were kidnapped, tortured and killed, and the international community as a whole was very critical of Gadhafi. Many western nations and the United Nations imposed crippling sanctions on Libya.

Through the 90s and the 2000s, Gadhafi appeared to have moderated his behavior and seek better relations with the West piece by piece. He turned over the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing, agreed to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, and offered political analysts and statesmen free trips to Libya for lectures, discussions and personal meetings with Gadhafi among other methods of building his global reputation.

As the Arab Spring uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East came to Libya initially in the form of peaceful demonstration February 14, Gadhafi found himself subject to conflict. After all, he was one never to sleep in the same place consecutive nights and boasted his own personal security force. Even as peace turned violent, Gadhafi remained content in his role as Libya’s leader. He vowed never to surrender as the Libyan rebels gained prominence and NATO joined in the uprising. When his immediate family and inner circle left the country, Gadhafi stayed in Libya and fought the opposition.

It is now eight months later, and Libya is now at a point where it was 42 years ago: a new start. As the pictures, videos and reports come in from the Libyan people in celebration, from journalists on the ground, and from leaders all over the world, more will be revealed about the man known to be eccentric by most who came in contact with him. Gadhafi lived by the sword, so it is no surprise that he died by it as well.

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