Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi Dead After Being Captured Alive as Sirte Fell
Muammar Gaddafi stayed true to his vow to remain in Libya and fight ’til the death.
The longtime dictator was killed today by National Transitional Council fighters as the rebels overran the former leaders’ stronghold in Sirte.
According to al-Jazeera, Gaddafi was captured alive and died afterwards from wounds received as NTC forces took the Mediterranean city, located about halfway between the capitol Tripoli and Benghazi. The city was the last pro-Gaddafi stronghold; it was there that the dictator was born in a bedouin tent and it was there that he died.
NTC military chief Abdul Hakim Belhaj confirmed that Gaddafi died after being captured. NTC official Abdel Majid said he’d been wounded in both of his legs.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” acting Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told reporters in Tripoli. “Muammar Gaddafi has been killed.”
TO WATCH A DRAMATIC (AND GRAPHIC) VIDEO OF GADDAFI’S LAST MOMENTS, CLICK HERE.
The news set of wild celebrations in cities throughout the country, with revelers waving the new Libyan flag and firing off guns into the air.
NTC fighters also completed their capture of Sirte. Their success was hard-fought; Gaddafi loyalists had fiercely resisted for weeks.
Also captured were Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi’s most prominent son. There have been conflicting reports as to whether Mutassim Gaddafi, another son, was caught as well.
“One of the world’s longest-serving dictators is no more,” U.S. President Barack Obama declared this afternoon. “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted… The rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end.” Addressing the Libyan people, Obama said: “You have won your revolution.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon called Gaddafi’s death the culmination of “a historic transition for Libya.”
“Now is the time for all Libyans to come together. Libyans can only realize the promise of the future for national unity and reconciliation,” he added.
Muammar Gaddafi led a bloodless coup to oust the Libyan monarchy in 1969. He ruled from that time until this year’s ‘Arab Spring’ revolts toppled him. He was a ruthless dictator who also provided free medical care for all his citizens, free education, free study abroad for top students, $50,000 in government assistance for newlywed couples, zero-interest loans, subsidized automobiles, zero taxes for agricultural workers, and gasoline and bread for just one penny. He also undertook an ambitious $33 billion irrigation project that provided water to much of the desert nation.
Relations with the United States were usually strained, with Ronald Reagan ordering the bombing of Libya in 1986 in retaliation for Libyan-sponsored terror attacks against U.S. troops and interests in Europe. Libya is also believed to be responsible for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, an attack which killed 270 people. In the 2000s, relations thawed after Gaddafi agreed to pay $2.7 billion in compensation for the Lockerbie attack and abandon his weapons of mass destruction program. High-ranking American officials, including Bush-era Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, met with the dictator, with a delegation of Republican and conservative senators including John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham calling Gaddafi an “important ally” and promising to help him obtain U.S. arms in 2009.
But just two short years later, Gaddafi was once again in America’s crosshairs. ‘Suddenly’ he was a cold-blooded dictator who was murdering his own people; NATO entered Libya’s civil war on the side of the anti-Gaddafi rebels, providing air support, arms, cash and guidance as the NTC began slowly but surely rolling back the dictator’s regime. Tripoli fell in late August, with Gaddafi fleeing to Sirte where his forces made their last stand.
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