Karim Kadim / AP
Two Iraqis watch a TV broadcast on the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi Friday in Baghdad, Iraq.
By Robert Windrem, NBC News' senior investigative producer
Some have written that Libya had a "Ceausescu moment" on Thursday, when former dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s body was paraded through the streets of Misrata. But while photos of the corpses of former Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were widely distributed after they had were executed on Christmas Day, 1989, their bodies were quickly buried without any public display.
But history provides several more-apt comparisons of deceased leaders being publicly dishonored, including:
Najibullah, the one-named, Soviet-backed dictator of Afghanistan, who was holed up at the U.N. compound in Kabul when Taliban soldiers came for him on Sept. 27, 1996. He had believed, incorrectly, that his presence at the U.N. compound would offer him protection and that the Taliban would not kill him. They did more than that.
The Taliban fighters first castrated him, then broke his fingers. Finally, they dragged him to death behind a truck through the streets of Kabul. After Taliban fighters were persuaded he was dead, his body was hung from a traffic light. His brother, who was with him at the compound, faced a less public fate. He was shot to death.
The body of Saddam Hussein, following his execution on Dec. 30, 2006, (which was recorded on a prison guard's cell phone), was taken from prison and brought to a "viewing party" at an Iraqi government official's home before being buried, according to some published accounts. There was no public parading of the body, but pieces of the hangman's rope were distributed as souvenirs to those present at the hanging.
A poor choice of footwear tripped up former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Said also met an ignominious and pubic end. After King Faisal II and his family were assassinated at the royal palace on July 14, 1958, Said fled and went into hiding. But he was discovered by supporters of the coup led by two Iraqi colonels as he sought to flee the country disguised as a woman. His fatal mistake: He was wearing men's shoes. He was shot dead and buried, but his body was disinterred, dragged through the streets of Baghdad, where it was hung up in a public plaza, burned, and mutilated.
The closest comparison to Gadhafi’s end may be that of Benito Mussolini, the Italian Fascist leader who was killed April 28, 1945.
In the final days of World War II, Mussolini was trying to escape to Spain through Switzerland, where his Fascist ally, Francisco Franco of Spain, had a plane waiting for him.
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Italian dictactor Benito Mussolini is shown wearing ministerial garb in a 1926 file photo.
Mussolini and an entourage, including his mistress, Carla Petacci, were moving along the shoreline of Lake Como toward the border when they were stopped by partisans who recognized "Il Duce" even though he was dressed in a German military uniform.
He was taken to a house where the commander of the Communist partisans told him he was there to rescue him. The partisans put the group on a truck, but after a short ride the commander ordered Mussolini to get off and he was shot twice in the chest and killed. Shortly afterward, the others, mostly ministers from Mussolini's government, were executed by a firing squad.
The next morning, the bodies of Mussolini, Petacci and the others were trucked south in a moving van to a plaza in Milan, where partisans had recently been publicly executed. After being dumped at 3 a.m., word spread of their arrival. Soon, all were hung upside down on meat hooks from the roof of a gas station, where they were stoned by passing Italians.
After he was buried in an unmarked grave, Mussolini's body was dug up by loyalists and moved around Italy until authorities recovered it months later. But it was not buried in the Mussolini family plot for another 10 years.