If the early news reports are correct, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi (alias Moammar Ghedaffi, Muamar Khaddafi, plus more than 200 other combinatorial variants on his two names) has shuffled off this mortal coil. The “death photos” of Col. Kheddafi are too gruesome to post here, so I’ll just make do with an old photo of him from happier days.
I can’t say that the old thug deserved to live, but I will miss him. He was the most reliably entertaining head of state on the world scene. With his traveling Bedouin tent, his young blond Ukrainian “trainer” or “masseuse” or whatever she was, his annual practice of paying Italian hookers to come to Tripoli and listen to his sermons and convert to Islam — how could anyone not miss him? How could David Cameron or Nancy Pelosi ever compare with the Man of Many Spellings for sheer entertainment value?
Hugo Chavez runs a distant second, and if rumors are to be believed, he also is not long for this world.
According to CNN, Col. Ghadafi was shot by rebel forces while attempting to escape his hiding place in Sirte:
Reports Indicate Gadhafi is Dead
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Reports indicate deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is dead, the National Transitional Council spokesman said Thursday.
Revolutionary fighters attacked the house where Gadhafi was hiding, Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told CNN. Gadhafi was shot while trying to flee, he said.
“Colonel Gadhafi is history,” he said, adding that interim council’s chairman or prime minister needs to officially confirm the death.
However, Gadhafi’s status remained unclear as a host of conflicting reports surfaced Thursday. None could be independently verified.
AbdelHakim Bilhajj, head of the National Transitional Council’s military arm in Tripoli announced Gadhafi’s death live on Al-Jazeera Arabic Thursday. It was also reported by National Transitional Council television station Al-Ahrar. It did not cite a source.
A grisly cell phone photograph distributed by the news agency Agence France Presse appeared to show the arrest of a bloodied Gadhafi. CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the image.
Gadhafi’s capture was also reported by Libyan television, citing the Misrata Military Council.
The U.S. State Department could not confirm any of the reports about Gadhafi’s capture or killing, a spokeswoman said.
Abubaker Saad, who served as a Gadhafi aide for nine years, said it didn’t really matter whether Gadhafi was dead or alive — as long as he was captured.
“As long as he was on the run he represented a very ominous danger to the Libyan people,” Saad told CNN.
Without foolproof evidence of Gadhafi’s capture, it was unclear whether Thursday would turn out to be the biggest day in recent Libyan history. Statements made by representatives of Libya’s new leadership in the past have not always turned out to be true.
The Lonely Conservative has a slightly different version, reporting that Col. Qhedaffi was killed when trying to escape a convoy that was attacked by NATO warplanes:
According to reports, Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi was killed during a firefight in his home town of Sirte. The latest update from The Telegraph indicates he was shot in both legs and the head.
13:12 NTC official Abdel Majid Mlegta has told Reuters that Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn this morning as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked.
“He was also hit in his head,” the official said. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”
13:11 NTC Leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil is due to address the Libyan nation “shortly”, according to Free Libya TV station.
13:07 The Telegraph’s foreign correspondent, Ben Farmer – the only UK newspaper journalist in Sirte, describes the celebrations among NTC soldiers as the final Gaddafi stronghold is taken.
Other news outlets have not yet confirmed that Gaddafi is dead. According to the Washington Post, NATO also has not confirmed Gaddafi’s status.
Reuters reports that Gaddafi was fleeing the city in a convoy when NATO warplanes attacked.
If it’s true that Gaddafi’s dead, does this mean we can end our kinetic military action?
Update: Here’s the Reuters report. As of about 9:00 AM Eastern Time the US is still trying to confirm Gaddafi’s status.
Update 2: Mediaite has posted the “death photo” that all of the cable networks have been airing. It’s not pretty, and I’m a bit surprised that it’s been all over the news.
ABC News has yet another variant:
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the most wanted man in the world, has been killed, the country’s rebel government claimed today.
The flamboyant tyrant who terrorized his country and much of the world during his 42 years of despotic rule was reportedly cornered by insurgents in the town of Sirte, where Gadhafi had been born and a stronghold of his supporters.
The National Transition Council said that its fighters found and shot Gadhafi in Sirte, which finally fell to the rebels today after weeks of tough fighting. Rebels now control the entire country.
Word of Gadhafi’s death triggered celebrations in the streets of Tripoli with insurgent fighters waving their weapons and dancing jubilantly.
The White House and NATO said they were unable to confirm reports of his death.
Al Jazeera aired video of what appeared to be the dead leader, which showed Gadhafi lying in a pool of blood in the street, shirtless, and surrounded by people.
Libya’s Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told the Associated Press that Gadhafi was in a convoy when he was attacked by rebels.
NATO said that its jet fighters struck a convoy of Gadhafi’s loyalists fleeing Sirte this morning, but could not confirm that Gadhafi was in the convoy, the Associated Press reported.
Ave atque Vale, Moamar Ghaddafi! The world is a less entertaining place without you.
Hat tips: AC, Dymphna, and ESW.