Death of Muammar Gaddafi
|Death of Muammar Gaddafi|
|Part of the Libyan civil war|
Situation in Sirte just prior to Gaddafi's death.
|National Transitional Council NATO command||Libyan Arab Jamahiriya|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Mustafa Abdul Jalil
| Muammar Gaddafi †
Mutassim Gaddafi †
Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr †
Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, died on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte. Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces. He was killed shortly afterwards. The NTC initially claimed he died from injuries sustained in a firefight when loyalist forces attempted to free him, although videos of his last moments show rebel fighters beating him before he was shot in the head.
- 1 Events
- 2 Concurrent capture or death of relatives and associates
- 3 Subsequent events
- 4 Domestic reactions
- 5 International reactions
- 6 References
After the fall of Tripoli to forces of the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) in August 2011, Gaddafi and his family fled the Libyan capital. He was widely rumoured to have taken refuge in the south of the country and in fact Gaddafi had fled in a small convoy to Sirte on the day Tripoli fell. His son Mutassim Gaddafi followed in a second convoy.
On 19 October, Libya's acting prime minister Mahmoud Jibril said that the former leader was believed to be in the southern desert, organising an insurgency among pro-Gaddafi tribes in the region. By that point the NTC had just taken control of the pro-Gaddafi town of Bani Walid and were close to taking control of Gaddafi's home town, the tribal heartland of Sirte east of Tripoli. According to most accounts, Gaddafi had been with heavily armed regime loyalists in several buildings in Sirte for several months as NTC forces took the city. Mansour Dhao, a member of Gaddafi's inner circle and leader of the regime's People's Guard, said that Gaddafi was very delusional and complained about the lack of electricity and water. Any attempts to persuade him to flee the country and give up power were ignored. As the last loyalist district of Sirte fell, Gaddafi and other members of the government attempted to flee.
At around 08:30 local time (06:30 UTC) on 20 October, Gaddafi, his army chief Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, his security chief Mansour Dhao, and a group of loyalists attempted to escape in a convoy of 75 vehicles. A Royal Air Force reconnaissance aircraft spotted the convoy moving at high speed, after NATO forces intercepted a satellite phone call made by Gaddafi.
NATO aircraft then fired on 11 of the vehicles, destroying one. A U.S. Predator drone operated from a base near Las Vegas fired the first missiles at the convoy, hitting its target about 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of Sirte. Moments later, French Air Force's Rafale fighter jets continued the bombing. The NATO bombing immobilized much of the convoy and killed dozens of loyalist fighters. Following the first strike, some 20 vehicles broke away from the main group and continued moving south. A second NATO airstrike damaged or destroyed 10 of these vehicles. According to the Financial Times, Free Libya units on the ground also struck the convoy.
According to their statement, NATO was not aware at the time of the strike that Gaddafi was in the convoy. NATO stated that in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1973, it does not target individuals but only military assets that pose a threat. NATO later learned, "from open sources and Allied intelligence," that Gaddafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.
After the airstrike, which destroyed the vehicle in front of Muammar Gaddafi's car, he and his son Mutassim, and former defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr took shelter in a nearby house, which was then shelled by NTC forces.
Mutassim then took some 20 fighters and went to look for undamaged cars, having persuaded his father to come too. "The group belly-crawled to a sand berm," a UN report released in March 2012 said, and then through two drainage pipes and set up a defensive position.
One of Gaddafi's guards threw a grenade at advancing rebels on the road above but it hit a cement wall above the pipes and fell in front of Gaddafi. The guard tried to pick it up, but it exploded, killing both the guard and Yunis Jabr.
Capture and death
Gaddafi survived the strikes and took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. A nearby group of NTC fighters opened fire, wounding Gaddafi with gunshots to his leg and back. According to one NTC fighter, one of Gaddafi's own men also shot him in order to spare him from being arrested. It is unclear if NATO aircraft were involved in helping secure Gaddafi's capture by Libyan forces on the ground. A group of rebels approached the pipe where Gaddafi was hiding and ordered him to come out, which he did, albeit slowly. He was then dragged up to his feet as rebels shouted "Muammar, Muammar!"
However, a UN report released in March 2012 revealed a different account of Gaddafi's capture. Gaddafi was wounded by grenade fragmentation, from a grenade thrown by one of his own men, that bounced off a wall and fell in front of Gaddafi, that shredded his flak jacket. He sat on the floor dazed and in shock, bleeding from a wound in the left temple. Then one of his group waved a white turban in surrender.
Gaddafi was killed shortly afterwards. There are conflicting reports; according to one report, Gaddafi said "Please don't shoot!" prior to being shot, and when questioned by Misratan rebel fighters about the damage done to Misrata by his forces, denied any involvement, and begged his captors not to hit him or kill him. One fighter demanded Gaddafi stand up, but he struggled to do so. Gaddafi can be heard in one video saying "God forbids this." and "Do you know right from wrong?" when being shouted at by his captors. In a video of his arrest he can be seen draped on the hood of a car, held by rebel fighters. A senior NTC official said that no order was given to execute Gaddafi. According to another NTC source, "they captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and then they killed him". Mahmoud Jibril gave an alternative account, stating that "when the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head."
Several videos related to the death were broadcast by news channels and circulated via the internet. The first shows footage of Gaddafi alive, his face and shirt bloodied, stumbling and being dragged toward an ambulance by armed men chanting "God is great" in Arabic. The video appears to picture Gaddafi being poked or stabbed in the rear "with some kind of stick or knife" or possibly a bayonet. Another shows Gaddafi, stripped to the waist, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, and in a pool of blood, together with jubilant fighters firing automatic weapons in the air. A third video, posted on YouTube, shows fighters "hovering around his lifeless-looking body, posing for photographs and yanking his limp head up and down by the hair." Another video taken, most likely after his death, shows him being stripped naked and jeered at by his captors.
In late September 2012, reports erupted about the involvement of French secret services in the tracking and killing of Muammar Gaddafi. According to some sources, Gaddafi was in fact killed by a French spy who infiltrated the mob of rebels that captured Gaddafi, and shot him in the head after his capture. The motive for the operation was said to be to prevent Gaddafi from being interrogated and revealing his highly suspicious links with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Former interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril, told an Egyptian television that “it was a foreign agent who mixed with the revolutionary brigades to kill Qaddafi.” Former NTC head of foreign intelligence Rami al-Obeidi confirmed Jibrils assertion, stating that "French intelligence played a direct role in the death of Gaddafi, including his killing" and claiming that Bashar al-Assad sold Gaddafi's satellite telephone number to French spies operating in Sirte in exchange for a "grace period" and less political pressure on the Syrian government by France. Diplomatic sources in Tripoli stated that if a foreign agent was responsible for Gaddafi's death, it was certainly a French agent.
It was stated in a new report in October 2012 that Gaddafi had not been killed in crossfire during his capture. He may have been executed along with 66 others, including one of his sons.
Move to Misrata
The interim Libyan authorities decided to keep his body "for a few days", NTC oil minister Ali Tarhouni said, "to make sure that everybody knows he is dead." To that end, the body was moved to an industrial freezer where members of the public were permitted to view it as confirmation. Gaddafi's body was publicly displayed in a freezer in Misrata until the afternoon of 24 October. Video shows Gaddafi’s body on display in the center of an emptied public freezer in Misrata. Some people drove hundreds of kilometres across Libya to see proof that he had died. One viewer of the body said about the public display of his corpse, "God made the pharaoh as an example to the others. If he had been a good man, we would have buried him. But he chose this destiny for himself." A Reuters reporter who saw the body said that there was gunshot residue on the wounds, consistent with wounds of people when they are shot at close range.
Gaddafi's body was displayed alongside that of his son, Mutassim Gaddafi, who also died in the custody of Misratan fighters after his capture in Sirte on 20 October. The younger Gaddafi's body was removed from the refrigerator for burial at the same time as his father's on 24 October.
Demands for the body
Although an NTC spokesman said Gaddafi's body would be returned to members of his family with a directive to keep the late strongman's burial site a secret after Libyan coroners conducted an autopsy to determine his cause of death, the semi-autonomous military council in Misrata said it would be buried quickly instead, vetoing the idea of an autopsy. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for an independent autopsy and an investigation into how Gaddafi died in captivity, but Jibril said neither step was necessary.
On 25 October, NTC representatives announced that Gaddafi's body had been buried in an undisclosed location in the desert early that morning, together with those of his son Mutassim Gaddafi and the regime's defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr. A Dubai based satellite TV channel Al Aan TV showed amateur footage of the funeral taking place at an undisclosed location where Islamic prayers were read. Libya's Minister for Information Mahmoud Shammam said that a fatwa had declared that "Gaddafi should not be buried in Muslim cemeteries and should not be buried in a known place to avoid any sedition."
Concurrent capture or death of relatives and associates
National Transitional Council officials also announced that one of Gaddafi's sons, Mutassim Gaddafi, once the Libyan national security advisor, was killed in Sirte the same day. A video later surfaced showing Mutassim's body lying in an ambulance. A video aired on Al Arrai television showed Mutassim alive and talking to his captors. The circumstances of his death are unclear.
Footage had emerged earlier on 20 October of the body of Gaddafi's defense minister, Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr. Abdul Hakim Al Jalil, the commander of the NTC's 11th brigade, stated that former Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim had been captured near Sirte. Reports indicate that Ahmed Ibrahim, one of Gaddafi's cousins, was also captured.
Calls for investigation
Numerous organizations, including the United Nations and the U.S. and UK governments, have called for an investigation of the exact circumstances of Gaddafi's death, amid concerns that it might have been an extrajudicial killing and a war crime.
The UN Human Rights Office spokesperson said that he expects the UN commission already investigating potential human rights abuse in Libya would look into the case. Waheed Burshan, a member of the NTC, said that an investigation should happen.
On 24 October 2011, the NTC announced that it had ordered an investigation in response to the international calls and that it would prosecute the killers if the investigation showed he died after his capture. Almost a year later, on 17 October 2012, new evidence was revealed by Human Rights Watch showing that mass killings occurred at the Gaddafi death site.
In its immediate aftermath, the killing of Gaddafi was thought to have significant implications in the Middle East, as a critical part of the wider 'Arab Spring'. Former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel speculated that the death would intensify protesting in Syria and Yemen, and French officials stated that because of this they were "watching the Algerian situation".
Omran Shaban, the Misrata fighter who discovered Gaddafi in the drain pipe and who had posed in photos with his golden gun was captured by Green Resistance fighters in Bani Walid. He was then paralysed and severely tortured. The interim president of Libya secured his release but he died some days later from his wounds in France.
Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he wished Gaddafi had remained alive so he could be tried for crimes against humanity, saying he had wanted to serve as Gaddafi's prosecutor, but now that he was dead, Libya would need a meticulous plan for the transition to democracy.
The de facto head of state, said, "Our forces' resistance to Gaddafi ended well, with the help of God." He declared Libya to be "liberated" at a ceremony in Benghazi on 23 October, three days after Gaddafi's death.
NTC official Ali Tarhouni said on 22 October that he had instructed the military council in Misrata to keep Gaddafi's body preserved for several days in a commercial freezer "to make sure that everybody knows he is dead". Two days later, Tarhouni acknowledged that there had been human rights abuses in the Battle of Sirte, which he said the NTC condemned, and said the Executive Board "did not want to put an end to that tyrant's life before bringing him to trial and making him answer questions that have always haunted Libyans".
Saadi Gaddafi, one of Muammar Gaddafi's surviving sons in exile in Niger, said through an attorney that he was "shocked and outraged by vicious brutality" toward his father and his brother, Mutassim Gaddafi, and that the killing showed that the new Libyan leadership could not be trusted to hold fair trials.
Many leaders and foreign ministers of European countries, as well as fellow Western countries like Australia, Canada, and the United States, made statements hailing Gaddafi's death as a positive development for Libya. The city-state of Vatican City responded to the event by declaring it recognised the National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate government. World leaders such as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard suggested that the death of Gaddafi meant the Libyan civil war was over. Some officials, such as UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, expressed disappointment that Gaddafi was not brought back alive and made to stand trial.
Reaction from the governments of countries including Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Nicaragua, was negative. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez described the former Libyan leader's death as an "assassination" and an "outrage", Russia's Vladimir Putin lashed out at U.S. for the killing of Gaddafi and asked "They showed to the whole world how he (Gaddafi) was killed; there was blood all over. Is that what they call a democracy?" and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega later called his killing a "crime" during his inauguration on 10 January 2012.
Immediately after Gaddafi's death, NATO released a statement denying it knew beforehand that Gaddafi was traveling in the convoy it struck. Admiral James G. Stavridis, NATO's top officer, said the death of Gaddafi meant that NATO would likely wind down its operations in Libya. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, said NATO would "terminate [its] mission in coordination with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council".
- "Muammar Gaddafi: How he died". BBC News. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- Greenhill, Sam (28 October 2011). "Gaddafi's killers will be put on trial over mob execution, vow Libya's new rulers". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 28 October 2011.
- Kareem Fahim (22 October 2011). "In his last days, Gadhafi survived on pasta and delusions". Star Tribune. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Gaddafi 'is recruiting fighters from other African countries'". The Guardian (London). Associated Press. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Libya's Moammar Gadhafi killed in hometown battle". MSNBC. Associated Press. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- Fahim, Kareem; Gladstone, Rick; Shadid, Anthony (20 October 2011). "Violent End to an Era as Qaddafi Dies in Libya". The New York Times (Misrata). Retrieved 29 October 2011.
- Fahim, Kareem (22 October 2011). "In His Last Days, Qaddafi Wearied of Fugitive’s Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Harding, Thomas (20 October 2011). "Col Gaddafi killed-convoy bombed by drone flown by pilot in Las Vegas". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- "Wie die Nato Gaddafi jagte". Der Spiegel (in German). 21 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- Williams, David (21 October 2011). "How a NATO air strike finished off Gaddafi". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- James Blitz and Hugh Carnegy. "Confusion over Nato role in Gaddafi death" (20 October 2011). Financial Times.
- "Gaddafi wanted to stage last stand in desert - U.N. report". Reuters. 2 March 2012.
- Gabbatt, Adam (20 October 2011). "Gaddafi killed as Sirte falls". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- David Martin – "Who shot Qaddafi? Was it his own bodyguards?" – CBS News – 20 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- ""Don't shoot": Qaddafi's last moments". CBS News. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- "Libyan fighter: I spoke to Gaddafi before he died". BBC News. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- "Clues to Gaddafi's death concealed from public view". Reuters. 23 October 2011.
- Raymond A. Schroth (27 October 2011). "Readings: Any Hope for Libya?". America Magazine. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Gaddafie Captured alive then Executed footage.". Liveleak. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- "Gaddafi's death – who pulled the trigger?". Reuters. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- "Muammar Gaddafi killed in Libya". BBC. 20 October 2011.
- "GlobalPost: Qaddafi apparently sodomized after capture". CBS.
- Chulov, Martin (28 October 2011). "Gadafy's killers will be tried, claims NTC". The Irish Times.
- "Footage shows Gaddafi's bloodied body". Al Jazeera. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- Faraway (26 December 2011). "(Exclusive Video) Gaddafi stripped naked by rebels before his death". All Voices. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- French spy, not lynch mob killed Gaddafi: Report – The Express Tribune. Tribune.com.pk. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
- "Qaddafi was killed by French agent, not rebel: report". Al Arabiya. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- "Bashar al-Assad 'betrayed Col Gaddafi to save his Syrian regime'". The Daily Telegraph. 30 September 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- Lorenzo Cremonesi (29 September 2012). "[Esplora il significato del termine: Un agente francese dietro la morte di Gheddafi". Il Corriere Della Sera. Retrieved 3 October 2012.(Italian)
- "Report: Libyan militias executed dozens, possibly including Gadhafi". CNN. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Barry Malone (20 October 2011). "Gaddafi killed in hometown, Libya eyes future". Reuters.
- "Libya delays burial plans for Muammar Gaddafi". BBC. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Gaddafi, in meat locker, still divides Libya". Reuters. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Libya's NTC orders probe into Gaddafi killing". Al Jazeera. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Kim, Kyle (21 October 2011). "Gaddafi's body "packed in shopping center freezer" (VIDEO) (GRAPHIC)". GlobalPost. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
- "Libya "liberated" but Gaddafi still unburied". Reuters. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- "Ignominious end for dictator Gaddafi as he is buried with his son Mutassim in unmarked desert grave at dawn". Daily Mail (London). 26 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- "Muammar Gaddafi family demands body, Nato ends Libya war". The Times of India. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "22 October 2011". Al Jazeera.
- Hounshell, Blake (21 October 2011). "Does it really matter if Qaddafi was executed?". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- McElroy, Damien (22 October 2011). "Libya to greet dawn of new era". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Gaddafi buried in unknown location, reports say". The Guardian (London). 25 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "Gaddafi buried in secret location at dawn". ABC News. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "NTC says Gaddafi buried in secret grave". Al Jazeera. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- Mousa, Jenan. "تجهيز جثمان القذافي للدفن في الصحراء الليبية - صور حصرية". Akhbar Alaan (in Arabic). Retrieved 28 October 2011.
- Richardson, Clare (26 October 2011). "Gaddafi Funeral Video: Footage Claims To Show Secret Ceremony". Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
- "Col Gaddafi 'buried in secret, desert grave at dawn'". BBC. 25 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "Mutassim's body". YouTube. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "UN calls for probe into Gaddafi's death". Al Jazeera. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "Saif al-Islam Gaddafi arrested in Libya". Al Jazeera English. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Muammar Gaddafi killed as Sirte falls". Al Jazeera. 20 October 2011.
- Karin Laub (24 October 2011). "Calls grow for full investigation into Gaddafi’s death". Business Day. South Africa.
- "Pressure grows for Gaddafi death investigation". ABC News. 22 October 2011.
- "UN calls for probe into Gaddafi's death". Al Jazeera. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
- "Doubts cast on official Gaddafi death account". Al Jazeera. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "Libya Vows to Prosecute Gadhafi Killers". Voice of America. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
- "Libya: New Proof of Mass Killings at Gaddafi Death Site". Human Rights Watch. 17 October 2012.
- "Arab Spring domino effect: Gaddafi is gone, will Syria’s al-Assad be the next Arab autocrat toppled?". 21 October 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- "Arab Spring: timeline of the African and Middle East rebellions". The Daily Telegraph (London). 21 October 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
- "Which Middle East Dictator Is Going Down Next?" World News – The Daily Beast - 20 October 2011 – 20 October 2011.
- George Grant (25 September 2012). "Libyan revolutionary who captured Qaddafi dies in Paris". Libya Herald. Retrieved 9 December 2012.(subscription required)
- "Omran Shaban Dead: Rebel Who Helped Catch Gaddafi Dies After Being Captured And Tortured". The WorldPost (Reuters). 2012-09-26. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
- "Autopsy: Qaddafi was killed by shot to head". CBS News. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Libyan PM: I wish Gaddafi had not been killed". The First Post. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Remember years of agony in Libya, says Mahmoud Jibril". The Scotsman. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Daragahi, Borzou (23 October 2011). "Libya declares liberation after Gaddafi's death". Financial Times. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Libya delays burial plans for dictator". BBC News. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- "NTC vows to probe rights abuses, control arms". Magharebia. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
- Cave, Peter (21 October 2011). "Misurata militia says it still has Gaddafi's body". ABC News. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- "Sun, 23 Oct 2011, 21:02 GMT+3 - Libya". Al Jazeera Blogs. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Satter, Raphael (20 October 2011). "World looks warily to Libya's future post-Gadhafi". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- "News of Gadhafi's Death Met With Relief". VOA News. Associated Press Reuters. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- "Gaddafi death brings 'relief' to Libya: Gillard". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 21 October 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
- David S. Cloud." NATO commander expected to recommend ending Libya airstrikes" (20 October 2011).
- "Fidel Castro calls NATO "brutal" for Libya role". Reuters. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Putin 'disgusted' at Gaddafi coverage". ABC News Australia. 27 October 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "Gadhafi's friend to the death, Chavez calls Libyan leader 'a martyr'". CNN. 20 October 2011.
- "Iran's Ahmadinejad says West set to plunder Libya". Reuters. 25 October 2011.
- "Nicaragua’s Ortega condemned killing of Gaddafi and offered a prayer for Hussein". MercoPress. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "As it happened: Libya's Col Gaddafi killed". BBC. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
- Deng Shasha (15 December 2011). "Putin slams U.S. on Gaddafi killing". Xinhua. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- "NATO commander to recommend Libya mission end" (21 October 2011). Associated Press.