The arrest warrants accuse Gadhafi, son Saif al-Islam, and Abdullah al-Senussi, head of Libya's intelligence agency, of committing crimes against humanity -- murder and persecution -- across Libya against regime opponents fighting to oust Gadhafi, the International Criminal Court said in a statement issued from The Hague, Netherlands.
The three-judge pre-trial chamber said it found "reasonable grounds" to believe the Gadhafis and Senussi committed the alleged crimes and their arrests were necessary.
In announcing he would seek the warrants in May, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said his office had "strong evidence" the two Gadhafis and Abdullah al-Senussi ordered attacks on civilians in the weeks after protests began seeking the elder Gadhafi's ouster.
"We have direct evidence of each of them involved in the crimes," he said.
Gadhafi "personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians," in which government forces shot demonstrators, fired heavy weapons on funeral processions and "placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers," the prosecutor said.
Ocampo later said he was considering adding rape to the charges because his investigators found indications hundreds of women were raped in the Libyan government crackdown on the popular uprising and that Gadhafi had ordered the violations as a form of punishment.