Omar Mukhtar

Ottoman resistance leader (1858–1931)

Omar Ben Mokhtar bin Omar (20 August 185816 September 1931), called The Lion of the Desert, known among the colonial Italians as Matari of the Mnifa, was the leader of native resistance in Cyrenaica (currently Eastern Libya) under the Senussids, against the Italian colonization of Libya. A teacher-turned-general, Omar was also a prominent figure of the Senussi movement, and he is considered the national hero of Libya and a symbol of resistance in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Beginning in 1911, he organised and, for nearly twenty years, led the Libyan resistance movement against the Italian colonial empire during the Pacification of Libya. After many attempts, the Italian Armed Forces managed to capture Al-Mukhtar near Solonta and hanged him in 1931.

We do not surrender — we win or die.
I am not sorry for what I did because it was God's will.



Trial proceedings (15 September 1931)

Quotes from Omar al-Mukhtar : The Italian Reconquest of Libya (1986) by Enzo Santarelli, Giorgio Rochat, Romain Rainero and Luigi Goglia, as translated by John Gilbert
  • I never submitted to the Italian government: I only had conversations with it.
  • I took part in all battles. If sometimes I was not there, the operation was likewise carried out under my orders.
  • It is useless for you to ask me single facts. Whatever has been committed against Italy and the Italians for the past ten years was willed and permitted by me, whenever I did not personally take part in the acts themselves. … The raids, too, were ordered by me and some of them carried out by me.
  • I am not sorry for what I did because it was God's will.
  • From God we have come and to God we must return.
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