“We announce to the world that Qaddafi has been killed at the hands of the revolution. It is a historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Qaddafi has met his fate.” Abdel Hafez Ghoga, spokesman for the National Transitional Council
Note: This article contains graphic images of Gaddafi’s body. They may not be suitable for all readers.
The Arab Spring gained new momentum today with the killing of Moammar Gaddafi by forces loyal to the National Transitional Council. The NTC had captured Tripoli in August and the former dictator had been on the run attempting to rally loyalists to help him regain power. His efforts were in vain. The NTC forces which are best described as a collection of irregular forces rather than a real army continued to gain territory and liberate cities which had been terrorized by Gaddafi’s forces.
Gaddafi was killed today while he and close advisors were attempting to flee Sirte his hometown which was in the process of falling to NTC forces. Reports are sketchy but his convoy appeared to be hit by French Jets and American Predator drones killing many of his loyalists. Gaddafi reportedly was wounded but escaped to hide in a drainage ditch tunnel. He was later captured by pursuing NTC forces, captured and reportedly died of his wounds after his capture. The circumstances of his death are unclear some say that the vehicle that he was being transported in was caught in a crossfire and other reports indicate that he may have been summarily executed by his captors. Pictures of his body seem to show a bullet wound in his forehead, one in his left arm and several just below his sternum.
Along those killed with Gaddafi was his Defense Minister Abu Bakr Yunis Jabr, head of Intelligence Services Abdullah al-Senussi and his son Muatassim and other loyalists who were killed during or following a firefight with NTC forces. Another report by Al Arabya News says that one of their reporters in Sirte has confirmed that Saif-Al Islam Gaddafi is also dead.
Gaddafi wounded and still alive (above) after his capture and his corpse below
The death of Gaddafi ends a 42 year reign of terror in Libyaand of Gaddafi’s support for terrorism and terrorist organizations. Among those terrorist acts included the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland on December 21st 1988 killing all 270 souls aboard and the April 5th 1986 bombing of the West Berlin nightclub La Belle which killed 3 people and wounded 230. The latter was directed at US Army soldiers that frequented the club. He trained and supported tyrants in Sierra Leone and Liberia who killed hundreds of thousands of people. Tens of thousands of Libyans died at his hand.
Despite this Libya faces difficulties. Tribal, ideological, economic and political rivalries long contained and suppressed are showing. The Misrata Council in the West does not recognize the NTC despite the latter group’s recognition by governments around the world. There are tensions between those of a more secular democratic view and Islamists so it remains to be seen what Libya will evolve or devolve into over the coming weeks, months and years.
The killing of Gaddafi is likely to have broad repercussions throughout the Middle East and may further encourage the now months long revolts against Yemen’s long term dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh and Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad. Other regimes could face uprising and there is potential for the Arab Spring to inspire those in other nations who feel oppressed or that have real or imagined grievances against their governments or those that they see as the real power brokers in their lands.
Since war, economic crisis and perceived inequities between the rich and the poor are fertile ground for such movements it is my belief that the Arab Spring is helping to usher in a new era of revolution around the world such as not been seen since 1918 and the overthrow of long established governments and the collapse of empires which lasted until the 1960s. The world is still shaped by those events.
As Alexis de Tocqueville said “In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.”
As I said a few days ago this is a time of promise and peril. But for now we can rejoice for the people of Libya as they begin a new chapter in their history.