Colonel Moammar Gadhafi (b. 1942) was the ruler of Libya from 1969 until 2011, when he was killed during the Arab Spring revolution.
Born in the village of Qasr Abu Hadi, young Moammar was raised in a Bedouin tent in the desert. At the age of six, he was injured by a landmine left behind by the colonial Italian Royal Army, and watched as the blast killed two of his cousins. From that moment on, he was a staunch opponent of colonialism in all its forms, a belief system that would manifest itself later in his rigid anti-American, anti-capitalist, and anti-Zionist stances.
He was just 27 years old, a mere lieutenant in the army, when he assumed command of Libya in a bloodless coup. The young leader immediately went into action, closing American and British military bases and forcing oil companies to give Libya a much larger percentage of their profit. Gadhafi’s brazen—and successful—negotiations with the oil companies inspired other OPEC countries to take similar action, contributing to the surging price of oil during the energy crisis of the 1970s. Much of the wealth was funneled into the coffers of his friends and family, whom he tapped to head key energy jobs. This bred a culture of corruption and entitlement.
In 1977, Gadhafi implemented a series of drastic changes to secure the Islamification of Libya—what he hoped would be the beginning of a pan-African Islamic state. Never lacking for confidence, he began to exhibit signs of megalomania, dressing in ever more elaborate uniforms while ruling over his oppressed people with an iron fist. His ideological opposition to the Jewish State helped fuel the fire for the Middle East crisis that would last decades, and he actively sponsored any terrorist group—from the Irish Republican Army to Hezbollah—that would bring the fight to the capitalist West. Libya’s role in the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing compelled President Ronald Reagan to launch a series of air strikes against the country, and Gadhafi’s complicity in the heinous Lockerbie bombing made him a pariah on the national stage.
Although some of his reforms helped the Libyan people, he was feared in his country, and with good reason: Gadhafi regularly practiced cruel and unusual punishments, incarcerated prisoners indefinitely without trial or just cause, and executed suspected traitors. Aided by U.S. coalition air strikes, the Libyan people wasted little time rising up against his regime in the Arab Spring revolutionary movement. Hunting him down to the rural village where he was raised, rebel forces shot him dead in 2011.
Coin Data: Libya 1 Dirhem (KM 12) weight: 1.8 grams; diameter: 16mm; issued 2005 Obverse: Libya’s coat of arms—the Hawk of Quriash, an emblem associated with the Prophet Muhammad. The hawk clutches a banner with an Arabic inscription that reads “Union of Arab republics.” Reverse: denomination.
Banknote Data: P-62, ¼ dinar; 143 x 72mm; issued 2005 Obverse: the famous Roman ruins at Leptas Magna. Reverse: the historic fortress of Ghat Watermark: coat of arms. P-71, 1 dinar; 140 x 70mm; issued 2008 Obverse and watermark: portrait of Gadhafi. Reverse: a mosque with two identical minarets. This note was the last Libyan issue to feature the Colonel.
Album Data: Album open measures: 11” x 7.5” Album folded measures: 5.5” x 7.5”
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