Muammar Gaddafi Biography: The Rise And Fall Of The Colonel

10/20/2011 03:42 pm ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

On October 20, 2011, 69-year-old Colonel Muammar Gaddafi became the first leader to be killed in the Arab Spring in his hometown on the Mediterranean coast of Sirte, Libya.

Gaddafi was born in June 1942 in a tent near Sirte. Before joining the military, Gaddafi studied at the University of Libya.

He assumed the leadership of Libya in 1969 after overthrowing King Idris I with a group of revolutionary army officers.

In his early days of rule, his views were largely influenced by pan-Arabism. Opposed to U.S. interests, Gaddafi won little support from Washington and the West. In 1972, he encouraged the Arab World to fight the West.

Gaddafi distanced himself and his country even further from the U.S. and the U.K. after the 1988 Pan Am 103 Bombing, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, and killed 270 people. A series of U.N. sanctions were imposed on Libya after Gaddafi's initial refusal to hand over two Libyan suspects to Scottish jurisdiction.

In 1999 Gaddafi turned over a new leaf, and by 2003, President George W. Bush lifted sanctions and Gaddafi was welcomed back into the international community after he promised to renounce terrorism.

In September 2009, Gaddafi gave a rambling 90-minute speech at the U.N. The previous summer had been filled with criticism over Scotland releasing Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, one of the accused attackers found guilty in the Pan Am 103 bombing.

With the Arab Spring of 2011 spreading to Libya, Gaddafi found himself as a target of protests. International leaders accused the colonel of committing human rights violations by killing innocent civilians, which lead the U.N. Security Council to issue a no-fly zone and allow NATO to do whatever necessary to protect civilians short of an invasion.

After Gaddafi spent eight months in hiding, during which he accused NATO of killing innocent civilians and even wrote to President Obama asking him to stop the NATO air raids, Libyan rebels finally succeeded in bringing Gaddafi's 42-year-rule to an end.

Take a look at some facts about Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's life below:

Moammar Gadhafi Facts