According to ABC News, Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced that dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been killed. The following is from the report:
The flamboyant tyrant who terrorized his country and much of the world during his 42 years of despotic rule was reportedly cornered by insurgents in the town of Sirte, where Gadhafi was born and which was a stronghold of his supporters.
National Transition Council leaders said Gadhafi’s son, Motassim, was also killed though another son, Saif Al-Islam, fled Sirte in a convoy. Three of Gadhafi’s children are in Algeria, and NTC leaders say they will ask the neighboring country to send them back.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Moammar Gadhafi has been killed,” Jibril said at a news conference in Tripoli.
He added that the rebel government will wait until later today or Friday to officially declare what it calls a state of liberation.
The National Transition Council earlier today said that its fighters found and shot Gadhafi in Sirte, which finally fell to the rebels today after weeks of tough fighting. Rebels now control the entire country.
An NTC fighter who says he shot Gadhafi told reporters the eccentric leader was carrying a golden pistol and pleaded to him not to shoot.
Word of Gadhafi’s death triggered celebrations in the streets of Tripoli with insurgent fighters waving their weapons and dancing jubilantly.
The White House and NATO said they were unable to confirm reports of his death.
Al Jazeera aired video of what appeared to be the dead leader, which showed Gadhafi lying in a pool of blood in the street, shirtless, and surrounded by people.
Libya’s Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told the Associated Press that Gadhafi was in a convoy when he was attacked by rebels.
A NATO official said that its jet fighters struck two military vehicles “which were part of a larger group that was maneuvering in the vicinity of Sirte conducting military operations that presented a clear threat to civilians.” But NATO would not confirm whether Gadhafi was part of that convoy.
Gadhafi had been on the run for weeks after being chased out of the capital Tripoli by NATO bombers and rebel troops.
He was believed to be hiding in the vast Libyan desert while calling on his supporters to rise up and sweep the rebel “dogs” away. But his once fearsome power was scoffed at by Libyans who had ransacked his palace compound and hounded him into hiding.
While reports of Gadhafi’s death have been met with jubilation, Libya now faces a new challenge of establishing a government.
“Let us recognize immediately that this is only the end of the beginning,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
Gadhafi, 69, ruled Libya with an iron fist for almost 42 years. He seized control of the country in Sept., 1969 in a bloodless coup when he was just 27 years old. The then young and dashing army captain and his small band of military officers overthrew the monarch King Idris, setting up a new Libyan Arab Republic that over the years became increasingly isolated from the rest of the world.
Gadhafi became an advocate of Arab and African unity, and openly declared his vision for a “United States of Africa.” But his relationship with the western world was strained and Gadhafi instead became known as the top sponsor of terrorism and for harboring international fugitives.
At the height of his ability to threaten terrorism, President Ronald Reagan dubbed Gadhafi the “mad dog of the Middle East.”
He was accused of backing the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco popular with American soldiers, reportedly funding the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, and the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which resulted in the U.N. and United States imposing sanctions on Libya.
For years, Gadhafi refused to take responsibility for the bombing, but that changed in 2003 when he acknowledged his role and tried to make amends.
Western nations established diplomatic relations with Libya in 2003 after Gadhafi agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction.
The eccentric leader, who amassed power and wealth by controlling the nation’s oil industry, held the title of being the longest-serving leader in Africa and the Arab world.
Over the years, Gadhafi earned an international reputation for his outlandish apparel and much-ridiculed phobias and proclivities.
In U.S. diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks, Gadhafi was described as a “mercurial and eccentric figure who suffers from severe phobias, enjoys flamenco dancing and horse racing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike.”
He was “obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel,” especially his longtime Ukrainian nurse Galyna, who has been described as a “voluptuous blonde,” according to the cables.
Among his other unusual behaviors, the Libyan leader reportedly feared flying over water, didn’t like staying on upper floors and traveled with a “pistol packing’ posse” of female bodyguards.
He Counted On America To Be Passive. He Counted Wrong …
As mentioned in the article above, Gadhafi was responsible for backing the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco popular with American soldiers. Big mistake. Big, big mistake. In response to this, on April 14, 1986 shortly before 7 p.m. EST (2 a.m., April 15 in Libya), The U.S. launched air strikes against Libya. Five military targets and “terrorism centers” were hit, including the headquarters of Gadhafi.
Even before the operation had ended, President Reagan went on national television to discuss the air strikes. “When our citizens are abused or attacked anywhere in the world,” he said, “we will respond in self-defense. Today we have done what we had to do. If necessary, we shall do it again.”
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