Moammar Gadhafi, 69, ruled Libya for 42 years before his death on Thursday. (Source: Libyan State TV/CNN)
(RNN) - Before inspiring fear in the country of Libya and around the world, Moammar Gadhafi was the youngest child born into a peasant family in Sirte.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, he attended the Sebha preparatory school in Fezzan, Libya, from 1956 to 1961, when was expelled for his radical activism.
While he was a student at the school, he met a small group of associates who with him eventually would go on to seize control of the country.
He studied law at the University of Libya, and entered the Military Academy in Benghazi, Libya. He was later sent to Britain to train with the British Army Staff College.
On Sept. 1, 1969 Gadhafi led a small group of military officers against King Idris I. The next day, the king's nephew, crown Prince Hasan as-Sennussi, was supposed to become king, but was placed under house arrest and the monarchy abolished.
It is believed that Gadhafi accepted a ceremonial promotion from captain to colonel and remained at that rank.
The Jewish Virtual Library also reports that Gadhafi created a new regimen he called "Islamic socialism." He imposed Islamic law, outlawing gambling and alcohol.
As a dictator, Gadhafi "sought the world stage," according to CNN. He was rejected by Arab and African leaders, and grew to reject Western sentiments and culture, which left him to turn to terrorism in the 1970s and '80s.
He gradually began to earn his nickname, "mad dog of the Middle East."
In 1981, the U.S. attacked Libyan patrol boats during what became called the "Gulf of Sidra incident." During the "incident," Libya tried to extend by 12 miles its territorial waters in the gulf, prompting the U.S. to deploy the USS Forrestal and Nimitz. Both countries deployed fighter jets; however, no weapons were fired.
As a result of the effort, sanctions were imposed against Libya by President Ronald Reagan.
In 1988, Libya outraged the international community when it was implicated in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. Years later, Gadhafi turned over suspects in the bombing to the courts, and the country claimed to have eliminated weapons of mass destruction.
In his later years, Gadhafi became a colorful figure, known to have had plastic surgery on his face, favoring extravagant and flamboyant clothing and making bizarre proclamations about world events and leaders.
In 2009, Gadhafi abandoned plans to pitch a traditional Bedouin tent in a New York park owned by Donald Trump when Trump himself told him to leave. Gadhafi and his entourage had been denied a place to stay in New York City during a UN General Assembly meeting, during which he delivered a rambling, "marathon" speech, according to ABC News.
In early 2011, Gadhafi became a target of his own people when citizens of several Middle Eastern countries began to riot and call for the ouster of their dictator leaders. Gadhafi fought back and blamed others for the violence after a Civil War began in February.
Gadhafi was on the run when he was captured in killed Oct. 20. He was 69.