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Photos: The Rise and Fall of Muammar Gaddafi
Thursday, October 20th, 2011

When Libyan rebels shot and killed toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Thurday, they brought an end to the rule and life of one of the modern world's most controversial — and colorful — authoritarian rulers.

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Gaddafi, who once had himself crowned the "king of kings of Africa," and on another occasion the "Guide to the era of the masses," erratically, and sometimes brutally, led Libya for more than 42 years. He managed one of Africa's biggest oil producing countries and leveraged that power on the world stage. He also regularly drew headlines for his sense of fashion, which was marked by bright colors, long, flowing robes and flashy sunglasses.

Gaddafi's hold on power began to disintegrate in February when Arab Spring-style protests erupted in the eastern city of Benghazi. Gaddafi security forces met the protesters with violence, leading civilians to take up arms and form a rebel army. The rebels battled Gaddafi's well-armed forces for months before finally taking Tripoli, the capital, last month with the help of NATO airstrikes. Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown and where the leader made his final stand, fell to rebel forces on Thursday.

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THE RISE AND FALL OF GADDAFI: An image captured off a cellular phone camera shows the arrest of Libya's strongman Moamer Kadhafi in Sirte on October 20, 2011. A Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) commander had told AFP that Kadhafi was captured as his hometown Sirte was falling, adding that the ousted strongman was badly wounded.

(Philippe Desmazes - AFP/Getty Images)
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Libyan Head of State Colonel Muammar Gaddafi waves to the crowd in Tripoli followed Commandant Abdussaman Jalloud the number two of the Libyan regime. June 1975.

(- - AFP/Getty Images)
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Libyan Head of State Colonel Muammar Gaddafi reviews troops in Dakar upon his arrival for three-day official visit to Senegal. Dec. 03, 1985.

(Joel Robine - AFP/Getty Images)
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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak confers with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at his traditional colorful tent in Cairo. March 6, 1999.

(Amr Nabil - AFP/Getty Images)
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Lockerbie bombing defendant Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, second left, walks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after arriving in the capital Tripoli a day after being acquitted in the Lockerbie bombing trial. Feb. 1, 2001. Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, Fhimah's co-defendant in the trial for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103, was found guilty by a Scottish court and sentenced to life in prison for which he served 8 years before being release on humanitarian grounds.

(Courtney Kealy - AFP/Getty Images)
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In this handout image supplied by the MoD Crown Copyright, a screengrab from a Tornado GR4, shows the strikes of two Libyan main battle tanks. Coalition forces targeted Libyan armored vehicles threatening civilians.

(Handout - AFP/Getty Images)
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President Vladimir Putin of Russia (C) meets with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, Libya. April 16, 2008.

(Epsilon - AFP/Getty Images)
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Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi arrives to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Tripoli, Libya. April 16, 2008. Putin is in Libya for a two-day official visit to rebuild Russian-Libyan relations.

(Epsilon - AFP/Getty Images)
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In this handout from the Ministry of Defence, a RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft is prepared for launch, the first UK air combat mission in support of UN Resolution 1973, at RAF Marham in Norfolk, England. March 19, 2011. Muammar Gaddafi has vowed a "long war" against the "crusader aggression" after over 100 missiles were fired by the US and UK, during multi-national action.

(Handout - AFP/Getty Images)
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A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of troops loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi west of Ajdabiyah, Libya. April 14, 2011

(Chris Hondros - AFP/Getty Images)
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A rebel militiaman stands in the ashes of an alleged torture chamber of the former Libyan Internal Security force in Benghazi, Libya. Feb. 28, 2011. The notorious building was mostly burned in the uprising that drove loyalists to President Muammar Gaddafi out of Bengazi the week before.

(John Moore - AFP/Getty Images)
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A libyan rebel fighter runs up a burning stairwell during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from an upstairs room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata in Misrata, Libya. April 20, 2011.

(Chris Hondros - AFP/Getty Images)
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Libyan rebels soldiers embrace as they grieve at Martyr Square formerly known as Green Square, for the Eid Al-Fitr prayer in Tripoli, Libya. Aug. 31, 2011. Libyans celebrated the first Eid Al-Fitr in 42 years under a new regime.

(Daniel Berehulak - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Libyan National Transitional Council fighter fires a heavy machinegun at loyalist forces in central Sirte. Oct. 16, 2011. Fighters of Libya's new regime launched a fresh assault on the desert oasis of Bani Walid as fighting died down in Sirte, the other main holdout of Muammar Gaddafi diehards.

(Ahmad Al-Rubaye - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Libyan rebel wounded during the battle for the control of the Brega flashes a victory sign as he is rushed into the emergency room at the general hospital in Ajdabiya. July 17, 2011.

(Gianluigi Guercia - AFP/Getty Images)
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Rebel fighters carefully move into a building where they had trapped government loyalist troops during street fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misurata. April 20, 2011.

(Chris Hondros - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Libyan fighter loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) fires at pro-Kadhafi pockets in central Sirte. Oct. 15, 2011.

(Ahmad Al-Rubaye - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Libyan rebel poses with a hat belonging to Muammar Gaddafi at Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli August 23, 2011.

(Louafi Larbi - Reuters)
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Supporters of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi gather to support their leader as rebels ceded ground to loyalist advancing forces today, and the United States came under increasing pressure to arm the opposition and the UN appointed a humanitarian envoy. March 7, 2011.

(Mahmud Turkia - AFP/Getty Images)
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National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters take part in a street battle in the center of the city in Sirte, Libya. Oct. 14, 2011.

(Majid Saeedi - AFP/Getty Images)
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Libyan rebels celebrate at Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli August 23, 2011. Joyful Libyan rebels overran Muammar Gaddafi's Tripoli bastion on Tuesday, seizing weapons and loot and destroying symbols of a 42-year dictatorship.

(Louafi Larbi - Reuters)
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Libyan National Transitional Council fighters fire at forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi during street battles in the neighborhoods of Dollar and Number 2 in Sirte. Oct. 17, 2011.

(Ahmad Al-Rubaye - AFP/Getty Images)
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A National Transitional Council fighter screams after he was wounded by a mortar fired by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi during battles in Sirte. Oct. 12, 2011.

(Aris Messinis - AFP/Getty Images)
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Fighters with the National Transitional Council from the Tripoli Brigade guard blindfolded prisoners, allegedly foreign fighters with loyalist troops, outside the restive city of Bani Walid one day after they took control over it after weeks of intense fightings with troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. Oct. 18, 2011.

(Marco Longari - AFP/Getty Images)
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National Transitional Council fighters confiscate posters of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the apartment of a man suspected of being a loyalist in the restive Abu Salim district of Tripoli. Oct. 15, 2011.

(Marco Longari - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter looks through a large concrete pipe where ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was allegedly captured, with a dead loyalist gunmen in the foreground, in the coastal Libyan city of Sirte. Oct. 20, 2011.

(Philippe Desmazes - AFP/Getty Images)
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A grab from a video taken from the mobile phone of a National Transitional Council fighter shows the arrest of Libya's strongman Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte. October 20, 2011.

(Philippe Desmazes - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Libyan rebel fighter stands in front of a closed shop in the embattled city of Zawiya, about 25 miles west of Tripoli. August 18, 2011.

(Marc Hofer - AFP/Getty Images)
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