Gaddafi is dead. That news is everywhere.
Ever since the uprising started I have been following it avidly not only because it involves a horrid dictator being taken down by his own people under NATO air cover but also because of past military historical knowledge of the region from following the Eighth Army vs. the Afrika Korps from the time I was a little kid. Most of that war was fought on Libyan soil (some in Egypt, and the end came in Tunisia).
There is footage of Gaddafi being captured alive. The scene is chaotic but Gaddafi is clearly alive. It is unknown how Gaddafi thought this was going to end, but he seems surprised. For a man who attempted to radiate manliness and strength you’d have thought he’d have died under his own hand rather than being captured alive.
He was holed up in Sirte for weeks, holding off the forces of the NTC, which mainly consisted of militias from Misrata and Benghazi. After fruitless attempts at negotiations, the militias moved up and back over a period of weeks, gaining ground over time but facing fanatical resistance. It is unknown what those resisting so fiercely thought they’d accomplish; there was nowhere to go, and nothing to do but surrender or die. It is ironic that Gaddafi’s forces fought so hard with little thought of their own survival while Gaddafi himself hid in a stinking drain pipe and awaited capture. I am only speculating but his hold on his bodyguards and remaining fighters must have been due to delusions of retaking the country or from fear of offending their leader, whom had run the country with an iron fist for over 40 years. Perhaps this is similar to German delusions of using “wonder weapons” like V2’s to turn the tide against the advancing allies in 1944-5 which helped to buoy morale when the end game was clear. Or perhaps it was a fear of violent reprisals at the hands of the Misrata militias, who had seen their city destroyed by pro-Gaddafi forces and suffered brutal atrocities. Only speculating but likely the latter.
Rommel was famously quoted saying something along the lines of
He who fights without command of the air fights like a savage
Per the BBC Gaddafi’s bodyguards attempted to break out this morning and their convoy of armed jeeps was struck by either a jet or predator drone and suffered severe damage. Just as NATO played a critical role in turning the tide as Gaddafi’s forces neared Benghazi, they apparently played a pivotal role in shooting up this convoy and allowing NTC forces to close in while Gaddafi hid.
There is a lot of discussion in certain parts of the media about darker skinned Libyans being targeted as mercenaries and allies of the regime; it likely won’t be helped that per the BBC in the end his remaining bodyguards (whose mauled and decapitated bodies were found near Gaddafi) were all black.
Exactly how he died is under dispute and perhaps we will never know. All that is documented is that he was captured alive and in a crowd of NTC fighters and wound up dead. Given the violence that he unleashed and the nature of the militias fighting him (not professional soldiers) it seems inevitable that it would end up this way. This wasn’t a “formal” war; it was a civil war, brother against brother, and unlike the US civil war those types of conflict often end up with bloody frontier style justice. So it happened here, as well.