Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi
Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi REUTERS

From lecturing handpicked group of young western women on Islam to his fear of flying over waters, and from virgin bodyguards to maniacal imperial delusions, Muammar Gaddafi’s traits are as strange and funny, or even more so, as his weird dress sense. The following are some of his idiosyncrasies, peculiar hatreds, strange loves and manifestations of borderline psychosis:

‘King of Kings’
Gaddafi’s imperial delusions bordered on megalomania. He considered himself to be the king of the whole of Africa and the ultimate Arab emperor. The rest of Africa and the Arab world unkindly brushed off his imperial obsessions for the most part. Yet he incessantly preached about Pan-African Islamic empire and a unified Africa. He also created what was called the Legion of Islam.

In a pan-African tribal ceremony held in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 2008, Gaddafi was anointed the King of Kings of Africa. Some reason why Benghazi was one of the first cities to erupt in unbridled anger against Gaddafi?

Idi Amin for a son-in-law
Gaddafi had the infamous company of madcap Ugandan dictator Idi Amin as his son-in-law. Various websites, including the Wikipedia, say that Gaddafi’s only daughter Aisha al-Gaddafi married the deposed Ugangan dictator Idi Amin. There is no final confirmation about this though Gaddafi and Amin were friends and the African dictator stayed in Libya after he was deposed. The Internet grapevine is that she later divorced him.

Europe, convert to Islam
As Gaddafi shook off his old image of a terror leader, he began to gain some level of acceptance in western countries. But when he visited Italy in 2010, he tore into the hosts, saying Europe should covert to Islam.
“Islam should become the religion of all of Europe, he told a group of 200 women his PR team roped in to attend his sermon, allegedly by offering money. A free copy of Quran was given away to all the women.
There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe—without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades, he told Al Jazeera in 2006.

HIV is ‘peaceful’
For Gaddafi, the virus causing AIDS is a ‘peaceful’ one. He is reported to have said that HIV is a peaceful virus, not an aggressive one. If you are straight you have nothing to fear from AIDS – he said in 2003.

Plan to kill Ronald Reagan
Gaddafi talked about assassinating U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Reagan, in return gave him the lasting moniker the mad dog of the Middle East.

‘Dissolution’ of Switzerland
Gaddafi once made a bounteous offer to France, Italy and Germany, saying Switzerland should be dissolved and the areas be apportioned among those countries. The reason was the arrest of his son in Switzerland.
His son Hannibal too proved as acerbic as his father, saying he would have busted the Swiss if he had nukes. Hannibal said in 2009 that he would wipe Switzerland off the map if he had nukes.

Complex civilian surveillance
Gaddafi extols his regime as the most democratic, but had no qualms in tying up the citizens in a complex web of surveillance. His communist-style surveillance system employed as much as 10 to 12 percent of the population, effectively turning everyone to spy against everyone else and entrenching the police state.

Shopping around for nukes
Gaddafi had no qualms in approaching countries with nuclear technology and bluntly asking if he could buy one off the shelf. He asked Pakistan in 1977 if he could buy a nuclear bomb from them. He approached India too, but apparently India agreed only to give him nuclear energy technology.

Gaddafi’s version of feminism
Gaddafi has always vouched for the power of women and was keen on getting women into politics! He once said any woman can join politics and contest elections no matter whether she was male or female.

Virgin bodyguards
Gaddafi's 40-strong security detail is staffed fully by women. All of them are personally selected by him and given extensive training after selection. Reportedly one major criterion is that they should be virgins.

Diplomatic killings
Gaddafi's diplomats had a major role to play apart from representing their country in foreign capitals. They were entrusted with the task of recruiting assassins for bumping off the regime's critics and opponents hiding in foreign countries. One such incident took place in London in 1984 when Libyan diplomats shot at protesting against the regime. A British policewoman was killed and 11 people were injured. Britain severed diplomatic ties with Libya following this.

Chase them to Mecca and kill
Gaddafi's relentless killing machine was unforgiving even if a would-be victim was on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Muslims. Gaddafi imposed the sharia law in his country immediately after taking power, but he had scant respect for the essence of the faith. He said in 1984 that he would continue to kill dissidents even if they were on pilgrimage in Mecca.

Sudan merger plan
Gaddafi's geological stances and approaches have always been as strange and funny as his dress sense. He wanted to merge his country with Sudan in 1971, but Sudanese leadership at the time steered clear of him. Sudanese president famously said Gaddafi had a split personality, and that both parts were evil. He also signed an agreement with Tunisia for merger, but it did not work out and eventually the two countries became bitter foes.

‘United States of Africa’
When he was elected as head of the African Union in 2009 he overstepped his brief and called for the creation of the United States of Africa. I shall continue to insist that our sovereign countries work to achieve the United States of Africa, he said.

World Revolutionary Centre to train thugs, war criminals and despots
Gaddafi had strange ideas about how to cultivate global leadership --typical of him, again. Look at who graduated from his self-styled leadership academy. The graduates from the World Revolutionary Center in Benghazi include Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, Foday Sankoh, the founder of Revolutionary United Front, Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso and Idriss Déby of Chad. Another protégé was Jean-Bédel Bokassa, the Emperor of the Central African Empire.

Radicalising indigenous people in New Zealand
Radicalising indigenous people in New Zealand was another of Gaddafi’s pet missions. He targeted the Maoris of New Zealand.

Friend of Milosevic
Another of Gaddafi’s friends with dubious distinctions was ethnic cleanser Slobodan Miloševi?. Gaddafi aligned himself with the Orthodox Serbs against Bosnia's Muslims and Kosovo's Albanians, a Wikipedia entry says. “Gaddafi supported Miloševi? even when Miloševi? was charged with large-scale ethnic cleansing against Albanians in Kosovo.”

Another friend, Hugo Chavez
Gaddafi and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have been friends and Gaddafi honoured his Latin American ally recently by naming a stadium after him. There have been reports both supported the banned guerrilla group FAARC.

‘Fierce pro-Palestinian’ who expelled 30,000 of them from Libya
Gaddafi threw out 30,000 Palestinians from Libya in 1995. The reason was simple. The Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision to start negotiations with Israel enraged him.
In the early years of his rule Gaddafi offered that Arab radicals volunteering for Palestinian terrorist groups will be supported by Libyan embassies around the world.