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With thousands of Libyans rising up against Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan strongman has been put under the spotlight. At one time called the “mad dog of the Middle East”, Moammar Gadhafi had used an iron hand to consolidate his rule over the North African country of Libya. He has been in place for over 40 years.

Moammar Gadhafi rose to power after a 1969 coup. He gave up the title of prime minister in 1972, but has been called the "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya". In official government statements and press releases, Moammar Gadhafi has been called Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution. Moammar Gadhafi is now the longest-serving non-royal national leader. He will also go down in history as one of the longest serving rulers. In his own country, he is also the longest serving leader since Libya was still called Tripoli and part of the province of the Ottoman empire.

Moammar Gadhafi is said to have used his long stay in power to enrich himself. He is reported to have gotten 60 billion dollars for himself and his family. Moammar Gadhafi’s wealth includes shares in Tamoil and Unicredit, which is one of Italy’s biggest banks.

Gaddafi was born near the town of Surt, which is about 300 miles away from Tripoli. A teenage Gaddafi looked up to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who promoted an Arab socialist and nationalist ideology. Gaddafi participated in anti-Israel demonstrations during the 1956 Suez Crisis. Moammar Gadhafi went to military college where he is said to have begun plotting how to overthrow the monarchy. Moammar Gadhafi got additional military training at the in Hellenic Military Academy in Athens, Greece, and the United Kingdom.

On September 1, 1969, Moammar Gadhafi led a little group of junior military officers in a bloodless coup d'état against Libyan ruler King Idris, who had sought medical treatment in Turkey. Revolutionary army officers formally deposed King Idris’s nephew, Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, and placed him under house arrest. The cadre of junior officers put an end to the monarchy and announced a new Libyan Arab republic. Moammar Gadhafi expelled Italians who were living in Libya in 1970. He is said to have made Libya into a refuge for radicals opposed to Western imperialism. It is said that any organization could avail of weapons and financial assistance as long as they said that they were against the West.

Moammar Gadhafi formed a Revolutionary Command Council to govern Libya and appointed himself as chairman. He allowed himself to be promoted from captain to colonel, but abstained from elevating himself to the rank of general. Moammar Gadhafi has been accused of funding terrorist plots outside Libya. Moammar Gadhafi published his political paradigm in the Green Book, which outlined his objectives for a socialist-Islamic state.

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