Tripoli: Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddaffi, who was killed by National Transitional Council
fighters in his hometown Sirte Thursday, will be remembered as a
"mercurial and eccentric" man.
In a leaked diplomatic cable, US American ambassador to Libya Gene
A. Cretz threw light upon Gaddafi's personality and lifestyle.
Cretz dispatched the wire days after Gaddafi's 2009 visit to New
York City (NYC) to address a meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
He wrote that Gaddafi's speech, which could only be described as
erratic, was marked by a tearing of the UN charter, Al Jazeera
In his speech, Gaddafi also wondered aloud whether swine flu was
manufactured as a weapon and said that the Security Council should
be renamed the "terror council" and demanded investigations into
the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.
The episode raised Gaddafi's profile in Western media and left
many people eager to know more about who he was.
According to Cretz's wire, in one instance, Gaddafi initially
refused to have his picture taken for a US visa application. An
aide suggested that the US consulate instead photograph one of the
hundreds of billboards in Libya that featured his image and shrink
it to fit its criteria.
Gaddafi was well-known for his carefully constructed photo ops and
media events. His image was plastered on billboards and banners
throughout Libya, often portraying him as a hero of the people.
His face was also featured on commemorative stamps and state
As per Cretz, Gaddafi even once presented Condoleezza Rice, the
former US secretary of state, with a locket that had his image
engraved on the inside!
Believed to have been obsessed with maintaining an image of being
young and strong, Gaddafi often wore bright colours, preferring
safari suits and sunglasses over traditional diplomatic attire. He
changed his outfits frequently throughout the day.
Gaddafi had fear of heights, and could not fly for more than eight
hours or over water. According to Cretz, this created "logistical
headaches for his staff". When tending to his travel arrangements,
they had to plan alternative routes and frequent stops due to this
But, interestingly, Gaddafi had a penchant for giving speeches
from high places!
Cretz observed that Gaddafi seemed "obsessively dependent" on a
core of trusted staff - including his "voluptuous blonde"
Ukrainian nurse Galyna Kolotnytska. In fact, they were so close
that some embassy personnel believed that the two shared a