Former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi feared religious extremism, under his regime he had taken a hard line stance against the Islamists, preferred a secular state rather than an Islamic one. Extreme radicals were imprisoned under Gaddafi with many of them shot during the Abu Salim prison massacre.
Gaddafi throughout his rule, had always been wary towards the Islamists, in June 1998, one of Gaddafi’s female bodyguards was killed and seven others were wounded when Islamic fundamentalists in Libya ambushed the Colonel’s motorcade. It was claimed that the dead guard, Aisha, who was Gaddafi’s favourite, threw herself across Gaddafi’s body to stop the bullets.
Gaddafi called the Islamists “heretics” and worked fanatically to suppress them. Hundreds, if not thousands, were jailed, and an unknown number were executed. In 1987 Gaddafi authorized state television to broadcast the hanging of six suspected Islamists in front of a crowd at a sports stadium.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a variety of armed Islamist groups tried and failed to topple Gaddafi. Gaddafi hated Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda deep to core. The first international warrant to arrest Osama bin Laden was issued in April 1998 following a request not by the Americans or the Europeans, but by Colonel Gaddafi of Libya - and that was 3 years before 9/11 attack.
In 2003, Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction and jumped at the chance to join the United States on its war against Al-Qaeda, which led to Libya removed from US sanction and reintegrated into the world stage.
Now that Gaddafi has been overthrown, we take a look at what Libya’s new government really wanted:
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) Libya’s transitional leader declared his country fully liberated on Sunday, three days after the hated dictator Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed.
He called on Libyans to show “patience, honesty and tolerance” and eschew hatred as they embark on rebuilding the country at the end of an 8-month civil war.
The transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil set out a vision for the post-Gadhafi future with an Islamist tint, saying that Islamic Sharia law would be the basic source of all legislation in the country and that existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam would be nullified. Libya would officially become an Islamic state instead of the secular one it had been for the past decades. In a gesture that showed his own piety, he urged Libyans not to express their joy by firing in the air, but rather to chant “Allahu Akbar,” or God is Great. He then stepped aside and knelt to offer a brief prayer of thanks.
The implementation of Shariah, that provide punishments such as amputations and stoning, is something new in Libya, which even Gadhafi did not impose on his people during his 42-year dictatorship. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision will certainly please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising, but at the same time worried many young liberal Libyans who take their political cues from the West.
Abdul-Jalil said new banks would be set up to follow the Islamic banking system, and that all military personnel and civilians who have taken part in the fight against Gadhafi would be promoted to the rank above their existing one. The new Libyan government went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia - that is the banning of polygamy.
Gadhafi in the past insisted that a man should only be married to one woman and stay loyal to his wife throughout his marriage, under a ‘one husband one wife’ policy, the practice of having several wives was banned, it is now however, lifted by the new government.
To celebrate the fall of Gadhafi, in a populist move, Abdul-Jalil also announced that any existing loans by any Libyan, up to 10,000 Libyan dinars (about US$7,500) would be voided out.