Qaddafi, Muammar al-
, 1942-, Libyan political leader. He graduated from the Univ. of Libya in 1963 and became an army officer in 1965. In 1969 he formed, along with a group of fellow officers, a secret revolutionary committee and led (1969) a successful coup against the monarchy of Idris I. Qaddafi established himself as Libya's commander in chief and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. Blending Arab nationalism, revolutionary socialism, and Islamic orthodoxy, Qaddafi proceeded to run Libya's government as a stridently anti-Western dictatorship. British and American military bases were closed in 1970; in the same year the property of Libya's Italian and Jewish communities was confiscated. The ancient Qur'anic law of cutting off the hands of thieves was reinstituted, gambling and alcoholic beverages were outlawed, and all foreign petroleum assets were nationalized (1973). A fervent Arab nationalist, he sought to unify Libya with other Arab countries, including Egypt and Tunisia, while bitterly opposing Israel. Since Qaddafi took power the Libyan government has been known for its support of many international terrorist and guerrilla organizations, including the Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and other extremist Arab and Islamic groups. In 1986 the United States sought to quell Libya's alleged terrorist activities by bombing several sites in Libya. Qaddafi survived, but several of his children were hurt or killed. In 1999, following the turning over of the suspects in the Lockerbie
bombing, Qaddafi sought improved relations with Western European nations and issued a denunciation of terrorism. He also was a strong force behind the Organization of African Unity
's decision to transform itself into the African Union. His Green Book
(2 vol., 1976-80) is a treatise on Islamic socialism. His name is also spelled Moammar El-Gadhafi.
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