Born: Nov. 30, 1941 in near Surt, Libya
Died: Oct. 20, 2011 in Sirte, Libya
The son of a Bedouin goat herder, Muammar Gaddafi was a revolutionary who seized power in a bloodless coup and steered Libya towards socialism, transforming it into a country boasting perhaps the highest standard of living in Africa. His economic policies and success, combined with his support for oppressed people around the world — along with his support for African union at the very time the U.S. appeared bent on recolonizing Africa — made him a prominent target of right-wing elements in the U.S. Gaddafi’s politics and perhaps agricultural initiatives also angered corporate interests, notably foreign oil companies but perhaps Monsanto and Bill Gates as well.
As a rebellion backed (and perhaps created) by the CIA gave the U.S. an excuse to invade Libya, stories about Gaddafi’s alleged crimes and eccentricities grew ever more bizarre and harder to believe. Even as the U.S. continued torturing and murdering people around the world, U.S. President Obama expressed moral outrage at Gaddafi’s alleged human rights abuses as he fought against the rebels (though Obama ignored atrocities committed by the rebels).
Though the war lasted much longer than the few weeks promised by Obama, Gaddafi was eventually murdered by a mob in Surt on October 20, 2011. The dreams of an entire continent appeared to die with Gaddafi, who was one of just a handful of African leaders who had snubbed President George W. Bush’s Africom program, barring the U.S. military from his nation’s soil.