TODAY | October 21, 2011
>>> death of libyan dictator moammar gadhafi . nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel is here with the latest. and richard, the images we want to mention are disturbing.
>> they are disturbing. and libyan officials this morning are saying gadhafi 's body will be treated with more dignity and respect, but buried, most likely, in an unmarked grave after his violent end. once in rebel hands, gadhafi was shown no mercy. injured, they manhandled him, pulled his hair and propped him up on the hood of a car to take pictures. these were the final moments of the libyan dictator after 42 years in power. news of gadhafi 's death triggered wild celebrations across libya . he was killed in sirte, his hometown, in a neighborhood called district 2. fighting had been intense there for weeks. the reason is now obvious. the rebel assault devastated the neighborhood, so moammar gadhafi tried to escape. a large convoy attempted to slip out of sirte, but the convoy was spotted, and u.s. officials say it was targeted by a nato air strike . gadhafi survived the strike. witnesses say he managed to crawl to a nearby drain pipe. it was there in the pipe that the former dictator was found by rebels . rebels quickly covered it in graffiti that reads " gadhafi was here." rebels arrested his bodyguards and seized a gold pistol they say gadhafi was carrying. but gadhafi himself didn't put up a fight. confused, he asked rebels who they were and said "don't shoot, i'm like your father." but these rebels say they did shoot gadhafi at least once in the stomach.
>> we shot him. somebody shot him by gun, gun, .9-milli.
>> reporter: they also hit him with their shoes. then officials say the rebels couldn't contain their emotions and rage. rebels executed gadhafi with a gunshot to the head. president obama called gadhafi 's death an opportunity for libyans to move forward and said the war he backed through nato was complete.
>> this marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of libya who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny.
>> reporter: while gadhafi 's capture may have seemed inevitable, it still surprised u.s. officials, including secretary of state clinton, who read initial reports on her blackberry from afghanistan.
>> wow. ha.
>> reporter: before al qaeda , gadhafi was one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism, responsible for the bombing of pan-am flight 103 over lockerbie that killed almost 200 americans. in the end, gadhafi was killed by his own people, who pulled the wounded dictator from a drain pipe, shot him and watched him die. with gadhafi now dead, matt, nato officials are meeting to consider ending military operations in libya .
>> all right, richard engel , thank you for your reporting on that. we appreciate it. it's