Italy declared war on Libya, part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, in September 1911, on the pretext that Turkey wasn’t sufficiently protecting her own subjects. Many Libyans, however, refused to accept Italy’s “protection” and in the massive guerrilla war which followed a million Libyans were killed.

The leader of the guerrillas was Omar al-Mukhtar, 80, known as the Lion of the Desert. He was captured in September 1931 and refused the Italian terms offered, reminding the invaders that his people were victims of their oppression. The Italians then offered him money in exchange for peace. Omar not only refused, he declared himself deeply insulted.

He was charged before a summary military court in September 15th, 1931, and sentenced to death for high treason. Next day, Wednesday, September 16th, Italian soldiers rounded up thousands of Libyans in the city of Solouq and forced them to watch their hero being hanged.