As the NATO warplanes and rebel forces closed in around Muammar al-Qaddafi these past few weeks, one has to wonder if the dictator thought back to the man that he himself overthrew 42 years before. In a bloodless military coup in 1969, Qaddafi toppled Libya's British-backed King Idris, the chief of the Senussi Muslim order. Inspired by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who had come to power under similar circumstances, the charismatic 27-year-old revolutionary leader championed a pan-Arab, anti-colonial political philosophy that he eventually fleshed out in his Green Book in the 1970s. These rare images, found in Qaddafi's homes and compounds by Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert and photographed by freelance photojournalist Michael Brown, capture King Indris's rule and the early days of Qaddafi's. Foreign Policy turned to Jason Pack and James Roslington at the University of Cambridge and Ambassador David Mack at the Middle East Institute to shed light on the pictures that follow. We invite readers to help us identify some of the individuals in these photographs; please leave comments below.
Above, a dashing Qaddafi in a modern, modest military uniform walks with fellow soldiers shortly after seizing power.
© 2011 Michael Christopher Brown