20 October 2011
Last updated at 13:43
Muammar Gaddafi pictured in September 1969, just a few weeks after his coup d'etat ousted King Idris. He was only 27 when he became Libyan leader.
The young Col Gaddafi was passionate about the kind of Arab nationalism espoused by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Libyan leader blended it with elements of socialism and Islamic ideals and by 1975 had outlined his political philosophy in the first of three volumes of his Green Book.
In 1971 Col Gaddafi, Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Syrian President Hafez Assad formed the Federation of Arab Republics, but it failed to take off as an organisation.
In the early days, Col Gaddafi was seen by some as an "African Che Guevara".
During the 1980s Col Gaddafi hosted training camps for rebel groups from across West Africa and backed a number of militant groups including the Irish Republican Army and the Palestine Liberation Organisation. By 1986, the then US President Ronald Reagan was calling him "the mad dog of the Middle East".
The Libyan leader's second wife Sophia, with three of their children, in 1986. Two-year-old Khamis, left, was injured and Col Gaddafi's adopted daughter Hannah was among an estimated 100 people killed when the US bombed Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1986. Washington said Libya had been involved in attacks in Europe including the bombing of a Berlin disco frequented by US servicemen.
In the late 1990s the Libyan leader admitted that pan-Arabism had failed and he remodelled himself as a champion of Africa. His unique fashion sense was also becoming increasingly colourful.
Col Gaddafi had close relations with the recently ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He was said to be angry about Mr Mubarak's removal from office - reportedly saying the Egyptian leader was poor and "could not afford to buy clothes".
Col Gaddafi's links to militant groups and to the bombing of a Pan Am plane over Lockerbie, Scotland, meant international isolation for Libya for many years. But relations between Libya and the West warmed in the last decade after Libya formally took responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and opened up its weapons programme to international inspection.
No longer shunned by the international community, Col Gaddafi travelled widely in recent years, and requested that a tent be pitched for him wherever he stayed, so that he could receive guests in traditional Bedouin style.
The Libyan leader's personal bodyguard contingent often provoked interest. The "Amazonian Guard" was made up entirely of women, specially trained in the use of firearms and martial arts, and reports suggest a condition of their employment was that they remained virgins.
Col Gaddafi became a regular visitor to Italy, Libya's former colonial ruler. On a visit in 2009, the Italian left-wing paper Il Riformista described him and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as “two old men with tinted black hair and faces creased by too much plastic surgery”.
In 2011, as rebels organised themselves in the east of the country and Nato imposed a no-fly zone over Libya, Col Gaddafi rallied his supporters in the capital Tripoli promising "a long, drawn-out war with no limits".
But as the rebel advance continued and Nato raids intensified, public appearances by the embattled Libyan leader dwindled. State TV occasionally showed images of him - grim-faced - in meetings or broadcast his addresses urging his supporters to fight on.
Forces of the interim government eventually stormed Tripoli in August and overran Col Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, but the toppled Libyan leader had vanished.
However, on 20 October NTC forces captured the fugitive leader in his home town, Sirte. Pictures purporting to show Col Gaddafi were broadcast on Libyan TV soon after the first, unconfirmed reports of his death emerged.