Muammar Gadhafi’s Amazonian Guard

“Lincoln was a man who created himself from nothing. I followed his struggles. I see certain similarities between him and me.” —Muammar Gadhafi

In A Nutshell

Among other strange personality quirks of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi was his retinue of female bodyguards. Despite their beauty and smart attire, these women were trained killers, often called upon to perform grisly acts of violence and self sacrifice for their leader.

The Whole Bushel

Africa is well known for a series of colorful, often brutal dictators such as Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe, and Mobutu Sese Seko. But few could top the bizarre excesses of Libyan tyrant Muammar Gadhafi. Aside from his behavior at home, when traveling, he could always be counted upon to take an entourage that numbered in the hundreds, including a Saharan camel and a group of virgin female bodyguards known as “The Revolutionary Nuns.” The logic behind choosing women for this job usually reserved for men has been highly debated, with some asserting that he chose them because there was a small likelihood of gunmen drawing down on women, and others claiming he was just showing off or using them as his own personal harem.

The nuns, dubbed the “Amazonian Guard” by journalists, underwent intense training at the Women’s Military Academy in Tripoli. Over three years, they learned marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, and some even trained to fly fighter jets. In 1998, they defended their charge from Islamic fundamentalists during a motorcade ambush, with two guards receiving wounds and one woman named Aisha dying after throwing herself in front of an assassin’s bullet. It has since emerged that during some of Libya’s darkest days, the nuns were also used as assassins to execute rebels and subjected to all manner of sexual abuse by their superiors.

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During the Arab Spring’s massive backlashes against the totalitarian governments in the Arab world, Libya was quickly sucked into the cycle of violence, with rebels turning against the repressive Gadhafi government, infuriated by their leader and his lavish ways, usurping the country’s massive oil wealth for his own indulgences. Civil War broke out in the streets, and though Gadhafi was well protected, he was quickly ousted and went into hiding with his nuns. On August 23, 2011, the war ended with Gadhafi’s ravaged corpse being dragged through the streets. Many of his Revolutionary Nuns allegedly suffered horrible fates for their final loyalty to the dictator, including rape, torture, and murder.

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