Muammar Gaddafi came to power in Libya in September 1969 as the leader of a bloodless military coup which overthrew King Idris.
He was 27 years old, inspired by Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser and he seemed to fit the regional template of Arab nationalist from the military becoming president. But he outlasted his contemporaries.
During nearly 41 years in power he invented his own system of government, supported radical armed groups as diverse as the IRA in Northern Ireland and the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, and presided over what may have been North Africa's most totalitarian, arbitrary and brutal regime.
The World's Matthew Bell looks back at Muammar Gaddafi's life.