On Thursday, international news organizations and media outlets were largely dependent on mobile phones and social networks to gain insight into what proved to be the final moments of former Libya strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s life.
From CNN to BBC, gruesome photos (taken via mobile phone) of an apparently lifeless Moammar Gadhafi were used to underpin reports that the former leader had, in fact, been killed in crossfire earlier that day.
According to CNN’s coverage, the mobile phone images were not only instrumental in proving Gadhafi’s death but also further weakening the late leader’s lingering supporters.
The images will be a big blow to the morale of his supporters, who have been clinging to the hope he would seize power again, during the weeks he has been on the run.
Five years ago, images also taken from a mobile device were released of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein at his execution. Unauthorized cell phone footage showed the world Hussein’s final moments on the gallows. This incident followed other images that surfaced three years earlier of Hussein’s two sons, Uday and Qusay, who were killed in a firefight.
Shortly after the images were released publicly, former CIA Director James Woolsey told CNN: “I think it’s necessary for the world to see and particularly for the Iraqis to see that these two are, in fact, dead, that this is not some ginned-up story from the United States.”
What was true at that time in Iraq is also true today in Libya. And those who are rejoicing in the death of Libya’s former tyrannical leader are especially thankful for the mobile devices that made proof of Gadhafi’s death possible in close to real-time.