Tyrants, Beware!

Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, Libya’s leader since 1969, is defunct, gunned down in his home town of Sirte.

How fitting that he called the rebels against him “rats,” yet his final moments were spent in a reeking drainage pipe under a highway, just like a rat, like his fellow Arab despot Saddam Hussein. Indeed, he is the sixth tyrant on the lam in the past decade to be captured or executed; that leaves only Mullah Omar, the former Taliban leader, on the loose, hiding like a common criminal.

For my take on the Libyan leader, see the biting post-mortem, “Assessing Qaddafi,” written after the fall of Tripoli in late August 2011. In it, I noted his enduring impact on oil prices and Islamism, I delineated the four eras of his 42-year rule and argued for its utter futility.

Looking ahead, I nervously wish the Libyans well, hoping that the NATO-enabled overthrow of a brutal eccentric does not lead to the empowerment of brutal Islamist ideologues who do even more damage to Libya and beyond.

Daniel Pipes


Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, including Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (Transaction Publishers), from which this column derives.

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  • waynergf

    Hmmm…Assad of Syria is still “on the loose”…as is Kim Jong-il of North Korea…the Communist party dictatorship in mainland China…Chávez of Venezuela…Putin of Russia…and then there’s the virtual dictators of the sub-Sahara countries… 🙁