Moammar Gadhafi Slain, But How?

Conflicting Stories Emerge of Ousted Dictator's Killing

Hiding in a spiderhole in his hometown of Sirte, former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was discovered by rebel troops and screamed “don’t shoot, don’t shoot” before the troops mowed him down. Celebrating troops kicked his body up and down the street while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

At least that’s one version of the story. Several other versions have also emerged this morning, each of which conflicts with the others, and each of which seems to be presented in the media as an absolute fact.

Another story had Gadhafi fleeing Sirte in a military convoy before being killed by NTC troops that were chasing after him. Still other stories have him dying in the convoy when French warplanes bombed it. US officials supposedly “confirmed” that a US Predator drone actually attacked the “large convoy” fleeing toward Bani Walid. French officials are saying the strikes didn’t actual hit the convoy but “stopped” it.

Most of the stories have Gadhafi being slain in a bombing or firefight that led to his capture, but videos show a wounded Gadhafi after his capture being loaded into a car. Other reports claim a near-dead Gadhafi was loaded into an ambulance and died in it.

Somewhere between being loaded in the car and arriving wherever he was being taken, however, he was killed somehow (some reports say he was mysteriously shot in the head) and his body was slapped around by a bunch of troops. Or in some stories he was still alive while being dragged down the street.

And after the obligatory corpse desecration, the NTC is now saying his body is being taken “to a secret place for security reasons.” But again, this isn’t an unquestioned report, as other reports say his body is being taken to Misrata for some more celebratory desecration.

Gadhafi’s death is being loudly celebrated by the various Western officials involved in the recent civil war, with President Obama terming his killing a “momentous day.” The mysterious circumstances around his death and the fact that those same Western officials desperately wanted to avoid an embarrassing trial if he was captured alive are likely to raise even more questions about the killing going forward.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.