Qaddafi, Muammar al-

views updated May 11 2018

Qaddafi, Muammar al- (1942– ) Libyan de facto head of state. In 1969, he led the coup that toppled King Idris I. As head of state, Qaddafi sought to remove all vestiges of Libya's colonial past. He shut down US and British bases, nationalized all petroleum assets, and encouraged a return to Islamic law. In 1983, Libya bombed the neighbouring state of Chad. Qaddafi supported a number of unsuccessful attempts to bring Libya into union with other Arab countries. He also lent assistance to various international terrorist groups. In 1986, the USA bombed Libya in an attempt to stop this aid. Qaddafi survived, but one of his children died. In 1999, he handed over for trial two Libyans suspected of the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.