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Qaddafi, Muammar El-(1942?–)

Muammar el-Qaddafi is the leader of Libya. Since his assumption of power in 1969, he has used his position to support insurgencies and terrorist groups throughout the world.

Qaddafi's exact birth date is unknown; a Bedouin, he was born in a tent in the Libyan desert near the town of Surt. He grew up in the traditional tribal, nomadic way of his people; throughout his life Qaddafi has extolled and romanticized tribal values and castigated the soulessness of modern industrial cities.

Qaddafi has always been fiercely proud and independent—traits for which the Bedouins are noted. Ambitious and intelligent, Qaddafi, from his earliest youth, abhorred all forms of foreign domination and “imperialism” in Libya. As a teenager, he came to admire Gamal Abdel Nasser and was inspired by Nasser's 1952 coup in Egypt. Qaddafi believed in and endorsed Nasser's pan-Arabist philosophy.

In 1961, Qaddafi enrolled in ...

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