"He would say: 'Why is there no electricity? Why is there no water?'"

Still, though some of the colonel’s supporters portrayed him as bellicose to the end, armed at the front lines, he actually did not take part in the fighting, Mr. Dhao said, instead preferring to read or make calls on his satellite phone. “I’m sure not a single shot was fired,” he said…

Apart from the phone, which the colonel used to make frequent statements to a Syrian television station that became his official outlet, he was largely “cut off from the world,” Mr. Dhao said. He did not have a computer, and in any case, there was rarely any electricity. The colonel, who was fond of framing the revolution as a religious war between devout Muslims and the rebel’s Western backers, spent his time reading the Koran, Mr. Dhao said.

He refused to hear pleas to give up power. He would say, according to Mr. Dhao: “This is my country. I handed over power in 1977,” referring to his oft-repeated assertion that power was actually in the hands of the Libyan people. “We tried for a time, and then the door was shut,” the aide said, saying that the colonel seemed more open to the idea of giving up power than his sons did.