Gaddafi: Libyan leader's scandals over the years
Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is fighting to hold on to power as Egypt- and Tunisia-inspired anti-government demonstrations continue to spread throughout Libya, with reports of several hundred dead. In a media address today, Gaddafi called those who oppose him "rats" and "agents." He also vowed to stay in power and "die a martyr."
The 68-year-old, who has controlled Libya since he came to power in a bloodless 1969 military coup, has never been one to shy away from controversy. We've rounded up some of his biggest scandals throughout the years:
Fallout from the WikiLeaks cables
In the 2009 WikiLeaks release of U.S. State Department cables, memos detailed some tidbits about Gaddafi. For instance, he has an intense dislike of staying above the first floor of hotels. He also can not climb more than 35 steps. He has a fear of flying and is known to travel with a Ukranian nurse described as a "voluptuous blonde" who "knows his routine."
U.N. General Assembly address
In September 2009, Gaddafi spoke at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City. During the hour-and-40-minute address, he tore up a copy of the U.N. charter, drew similarities between the U.N. Security Council and al-Qaeda and pushed for Tony Blair (then British prime minister) and former U.S. president George W. Bush to be put on trial for the Iraq war. He also suggested swine flu was created by the military. During his time in New York City, Gaddafi had planned to erect a luxury tent in Bedford, N.Y., but Donald Trump, who owned some of the land where the tent would sit, asked Gaddafi to leave. He did.
Lockerbie bombing sanctions
In 1988, 270 people were killed in the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland. Two Libyans were accused of carrying out the attack. Gaddafi refused to hand over the suspects, and the U.N. imposed sanctions against Libya in return, in 1992. In 1999, Libya finally handed the suspects over, and sanctions were lifted. In 2003, Libya took responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing. In 2009, the sole person convicted of the bombing was released.
Expulsion of Palestinians
In 1995, Gaddafi expelled more than 30,000 Palestinians from Libya. He was retaliating against peace negotiations that had started between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
In 1993, factions of the Libyan army unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Gaddafi.
Labeled a "mad dog"
The Libyan dictator had rocky relations with U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who labeled Gaddafi a "mad dog." During the Reagan administration, the U.S. conducted airstrikes in Libya because of clashes over access to the Gulf of Sidra in 1986. Gaddafi's adopted daughter was killed in the bombings.
Children of the leader
Gaddafi has eight biological children, one of whom, Saadi Gaddafi, was a professional soccer player who now dabbles in the Hollywood film industry and once paid singer Beyonce $2 million to perform for him. His daughter Ayesha is a lawyer who joined the defense team of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2004.
Gaddafi is also an author. He wrote "The Green Book" in 1975, which outlines his political philosophy and his idea of "third universal theory," an alternative to capitalism and communism rooted in the Koran. He read from it during Tuesday's speech. In a 2005 New York Times article the book is described as having fallen out of favor, despite it still being touted as a best seller:
Government officials tried desperately to carry out the book's tenets, twisting Libyan society to fit Qaddafi's utopian, quasi-socialist vision. For years, team sports were banned in favor of "mass games," such as communal tugs-of-war, because of the book's declaration that "sport is a public activity that must be practiced rather than watched."
Protesters on drugs
Also in Tuesday's speech, Gaddafi made the claim that protesters in Libya were given "hallucination pills" by infiltrating groups:
| February 22, 2011; 1:50 PM ET
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