Wednesday, April 6, 2011

African Mercenaries in Libya - Part III

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi could not only face The International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity in his country, he has been involved in terrorist and criminal acts in Northern Ireland, when Libya supplied arms to the IRA during its terror campaign, and Sierra Leone, when Gaddafi masterminded the 11-year civil war that left over 50,000 dead.

Aroun Rashid Deen a journalist from Sierra Leone living in New York comments that "It was also part of Gaddafi's broader agenda included in his geopolitical ambition to destabilize much of West Africa and establish satellite states in the region to be headed by puppet regimes that will be doing his bidding. The decade-long war ripped Sierra Leone apart. Thousands of its victims, whose arms and legs were chopped off by rebels, were reduced to being paupers, roaming the streets as beggars in Freetown and other cities. Children as young as a day old were also among those whose arms and limbs were hacked off by Gaddafi's rebels. Pregnant women, too, were disemboweled with delight in their display of ghastly brutality."

For now, Gaddafi is trying to retain power by arming thousands of Africans with the complicity of African governments, building a strong African anti-West block. The media outlet News Days of Zimbabwe reports it is difficult to believe that gunmen with military experience were hired and flown out of various African nations without the knowledge of security services in those countries, suggesting some African governments have cooperated with the plan or at the very least looked the other way.

If Gaddafi stays in power, he will keep on threatening his own people and the whole world, through violence and terrorism as he did in the past. The United States is bracing for possible Libyan-backed terrorist attacks. The New York Times writes that, asked if American officials feared whether Gaddafi could open a new terrorism front, President Obama's top counter-terrorism official John O. Brennan said: "Gaddafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature. We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community."[1]

East Africa


No clear information on mercenaries heading to Libya


Unconfirmed sources say huge numbers of foreign mercenaries from the African country of Eritrea have arrived by ship at the port (ferry terminal area) in Tripoli, Libya on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. The mercenaries were seen roaming around on the streets of Tripoli. In the past four weeks the Eritrean government has been said by credible sources to have sent two battalions of Eritrean army of artillery unit and a commando unit to Libya in the last four days to support Gaddafi

Eritrea sent these two battalions through Chad. A Chadian member of government told a French intelligence personnel in Chad that Eritrea sent the two battalions as cover-up as "bakers, technicians, cooks, nurses and drivers to help in the humanitarian activities". The Chadian intelligence officer believes that the Eritrean artillery unit may have played a major role in the recent battle gains around Tripoli for Gaddafi[2]


Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy UN ambassador, who has turned against the Gaddafi regime, said Ethiopians were among the mercenaries that that came in support of the Libyan leader[3].

The video below shows Ethiopian mercenaries being captured in Libya.


No clear information on mercenaries heading to Libya.

However, Uganda has accused Gaddafi of involvement in recent terrorism attacks in which two suicide bombs killed 76 people as they watched the FIFA World Cup final in Kampala last year[4]. Furthermore, Wikileaks revealed that Uganda's leader, Yoweri Museveni, fears the Libyan leader is out to shoot down his Presidential plane and he has since asked US security agencies for surveillance protection whenever he is flying[5].


There is no confirmed news that Somali merceneraries are present in Libya. On the other hand, there is evidence that Somali immigrants have been harassed for having been taken for mercenaries and that at least four of them have been killed[6].


Reports claim that Darfur rebels areamong mercenaries in Libya (See Hudson-NY Report: Gaddafi Mercenaries in Libya)[7].


No clear information on mercenaries heading to Libya


Kenyan mercenaries are among foreign soldiers helping Gaddafi. This was confirmed by Gaddafi's former Chief of Protocol Nouri Al Misrahi in an interview with the Al Jazeera broadcasting network. When asked where the mercenaries came from and how they were recruited, the first country he mentioned was Kenya. He then clarified that they were not sent officially by their governments, but were recruited directly by the regime[8].

Diplomatic relations between Libya and Kenya resumed in 1998, after 11 years ago after they were severed. The relations between the two countries severed in 1987 after Kenya accused Libya of supporting a rebel movement in its universities and in providing aids to Kenyan opposition groups[9].

West Africa


According to Saudi-owned satellite channel, Al-Arabiya, last February four planes with mercenaries took off from Benin and landed to Benghazi in order to help Gaddafi.[10]

Burkina Faso

Tuaregs from Burkina Faso have been hired by the Libyan regime. The Tuareg community is composed of some 1.5 million people spread across Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali and Niger. According to the AFP, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has recruited some 800 Tuareg separatist fighters from Niger, Mali, Algeria and Burkina Faso[11]. According to news reports in Libya there are also non-Tuareg mercenaries from Burkina Faso. However, there is not enough clear information.

Burkina Faso is one of the African countries which enjoyed the most benefits from Libya's investment. In this country, Gaddafi expanded its infrastructure and built the hospital. Traditionally, the government of Burkina Faso has established close partnership with Gaddafi.

Former leader of the opposition coalition of Burkina Faso Hama Arba Diallo said "Gaddafi is not only investing in Burkina Faso, […] and we are very grateful. What happened in Libya […] become a burden for us all," said Diallo[12].

Cape Verde

No information on mercenaries heading to Libya.

Ivory Coast

No information on mercenaries heading to Libya.

The Ivory Coast is now facing a political and humanitarian crisis.


Gambian President Yahya Jammeh declared that the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, should resign. Jammeh's declaration came as a surprise. Gaddafi was actually considered as the mentor of the Gambian President, who is one of the African most cruel dictators. Gambian opposition's media outlet, Freedom Newspaper, reports the following: "Speaking on behalf of The Gambian leader, during in a nationwide televised speech, the Head of Gambia's Civil Service Dr. Njogu Bah said Gaddafi has lost the will of the people, and should resign in the interest of peace, stability, and tranquility in Libya. Mr. Bah says power belongs to the people, and the mass revolt in Libya clearly manifests that Libyans want to see an end to Gaddafi's rule"[13].

Gambia was considered to be one of Libya's major ally. In 1994, Gaddafi helped Jammeh, at the time he was an army Lieutenant, to topple the democratically elected Government of former Gambian President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. Libya also provided bilateral support to Gambia in the areas of military hardwire (weapons), agriculture, education, and other areas of national development[14].

There is no clear information on mercenaries from Gambia in Libya. The Gambian President stated: "We are calling on all Gambians in Libya and around the world not to be used as mercenaries because the current revolution taking place in Libya is one that will not fail, Allah willing. Any Gambian that is captured as a mercenary in Libya should not expect any intervention or support from the Gambia government."[15]


According to media items, Ghanaian mercenaries are fighting in Libya. Rumors say that Ghanaians are being offered US$2500 dollars per day to go fight on behalf of the Gaddafi regime[16]. However, many simple Ghanaian workers have been captured by Libyan rebels, who thought that they were mercenaries.

Guinea Conakry

Many Guineans have expressed sympathy with the Libyan leader, and denounced the air raids on Libya. Pro-Gaddafi Guineans said they would seize this opportunity to show their gratitude to the Libyan leader who has always been kind to Guinea[17].

According to Guinean media, hundreds of Guinean soldiers went to fight in Libya allegedly sent by their own government.[18]

Guinea Bissau

No information on mercenaries heading to Libya.


News items reports that mercenaries from Liberia are fighting in Libya[19].

Gaddafi is also responsible for financing and supporting former Liberian President Charles Taylor, facing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War.


BBC reports that Tuaregs from Mali confirmed that a large number of their community's members were hired by Gaddafi[20].

Furthermore, the Rebel National Libyan Council claims Mali sent regular troops to assist Gaddafi[21]. The government of Mali denies the allegations. However, reports state that a discreet recruitment office for mercenaries was installed in a Libyan hotel in the Mali's capital, Bamako[22].


Tuareg from Niger have been hired as mercenaries. According to French daily, Le Monde, Gaddafi has often used battalions of Tuaregs, picking these rugged warriors from tribes living in Southern Libya but mostly in the Tuareg communities of Mali and Niger. One of Gaddafi's closest advisors is also a Tuareg[23].

The Rebel National Libyan Council claims that Niger sent regular troops to assist Gaddafi[24].


Nigeria backed the UN's No-Fly-zZone resolution over Libya. Nigeria's permanent representative to the UN, Prof. Joy Ogwu, said, in a statement after the vote, that the Federal Government declared: "the current state of affairs leaves an indelible imprint on the conscience and moves us to act. The magnitude of this humanitarian disaster is, indeed, what compelled Nigeria to vote in favor of this resolution."[25]

Nigeria's backing possibly comes as a reaction to Gaddafi's remarks in 2010, when the Libyan leader stated that Nigeria should be split into a Muslim and a Christian country to end communal clashes. Nigerian politicians, religious leaders and civil society reacted strongly, calling Gaddafi anything from "mad" to "evil," "ignorant," "reckless" and "inflammatory."[26] After Gaddafi's remarks, Nigeria recalled its ambassador to Libya but few months later the two countries mended their relations.

Media items report the presence of Nigerian mercenaries in Libya. Two men, identified by Libyan rebels as Nigerians in civilian clothes, were shot and killed during a firefight in Benghazi[27].


Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade is a Gaddafi's supporter. Wade has been considered for long time as Gaddafi's protégé.

There is no clear information on mercenaries from Senegal in Libya.

Sierra Leone

No confirmed news about the presence of mercenaries from Sierra Leone.

However, some unconfirmed rumors have been floated by the fact that Gaddafi has been hiring mercenaries from states and organizations from which had received support in the past; and Gaddafi had, in the past, supported Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel army that fought a failed eleven-year war in Sierra Leone, starting in 1991 and ending in 2002.

Aroun Rashid Deen a journalist from Sierra Leone living in New York writes of Gaddafi's involvement in Sierra Leone's internal affairs: "Gaddafi was the mastermind and key financier of the brutal war that left hundreds of thousands dead in Sierra Leone in West Africa in the 1990s. The war would not have happened in the first place had it not been for the desire of the Libyan leader to punish the government of Sierra Leone for what he regarded as its siding with the West in the 1980's when Gaddafi was at loggerhead with particularly the United States and Britain."[28].


No information on mercenaries heading to Libya.


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Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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