Friday, October 21, 2011

TIME Magazine Cover: Col. Muammar Gaddafi - Apr. 2, 1973 - Libya - Africa

Muammar Gaddafi was once bigger than life. But at the end of his time in power, his braggadocio had become surreal, his threats disembodied; he was almost all feint and desperate manipulation. "It's time to leave frizz head," read one sign in Tripoli, the capital that was once both enthralled and scared to death of him, as his control over the city crumbled in August. Pay no attention to the man wearing the curtain.

Two months before his demise, his menace was already in retreat. In the late afternoon of Aug. 23, after hours of pounding battle, Libya's rebels smashed through the fortified perimeter of Gaddafi's compound in western Tripoli — the nerve center of the old regime — sending huge plumes of smoke over the city. Gaddafi and his loyalists fled. He declared the withdrawal "tactical," but he was running for his life. The triumphant transitional government, no longer comprised of rebels but rulers, offered more than $1 million for his head. They got it on Oct. 20, when a bloodied Gaddafi was captured as his hometown of Sirt fell to the new government after a ferocious siege of several weeks. He was quickly reported to have died of his wounds, and a gruesome cell-phone photo of a pale-faced man looking much like the colonel circulated online almost immediately. His last words may have been "Don't shoot." Gaddafi's long, weird run as unquestioned overlord of Libya was over.{TIME By VIVIENNE WALT Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011}