“This Mad Dog of the Middle East….”

In 1969, 27-year-old Captain Muammar al-Gaddafi and other junior officers of the Libyan Army led a bloodless coup d’état abolishing the Libyan monarchy.  He quickly assumed complete control of the state although technically he has only promoted himself to colonel, a title he has maintained ever since.  An admirer of Nasser and Pan-Arabism, he advocated the destruction of imperialism and advocated Islamic Socialism publishing his philosophy in his Green Book in imitation of Mao’s Little Red Book.  Gaddafi’s activities quickly spread outside the borders of Libya and he became associated with the Palestine Liberation Army, the Irish Republican Army, and other terrorist organizations embracing “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” philosophy and providing funds and safe haven to these kinds of groups.  Many consider him mentally unbalanced. In 1986 he was associated with the bombing of a Berlin discotheque frequented by American serviceman prompting President Reagan to call him “this mad dog of the Middle East” and ordering an airstrike of Gaddafi’s compound.  The attack killed one of his daughters affecting him deeply.  His involvement in Pan Am Flight 103 destruction over Lockerbie, Scotland and his refusal to extradite two Libyans involved in the bombing, initiated a series of economic sanctions by the rest of the world.   He eventually handed over the suspects and paid compensation to the families of victims of this and other attacks. In recent years he has moved closer towards the middle of the world community but remains eccentric and dangerous.  As unrest rocks the Middle East his days as the longest reigning head of state of any non-royal in the world seem numbered.

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