Irishman swaps Dublin's nightlife for Libya's frontlines

Mon Aug 1, 2011 2:14pm EDT
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By Michael Georgy

NEAR TIJI, Libya (Reuters) - As Libyan rebels braced for more desert fighting in the first day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, one of them explained battlefield dangers - in a thick Dublin accent.

"They have ammunition to burn while we are running out of ammunition," said Irishman Husam Najjair, who, after a decade abroad, is taking part in a new offensive against government forces in the plains below Libya's Western Mountains.

Once a building contractor who partied hard in Dublin's lively pubs after work, he now belongs to The Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade, one of the rebel forces struggling to end Muammar Gaddafi's decades-old autocratic rule.

The son of an Irish mother and Libyan father, he decided to give up the good life after reports alleging that government troops were committing atrocities to quell Libya's uprising.

"I heard there were rapes and oppression. I could not just sit there like a couch potato just watching it on the news," said Najjair, holding a rifle he purchased himself.

Najjair came to Libya for a family wedding in January -- his first visit in 10 years -- and stayed on to fight after the February 17 revolt began. Friends back home were shocked.

Like many rebels, he had a crash course in warfare, mostly on the job.

Najjair has become an insurgent-of-all-trades. Sometimes he gathers intelligence. Or he uses Facebook to try and promote the rebels, who drive pick-up trucks with sand glued on their frames for camouflage and are mounted with anti-aircraft guns.   Continued...

<p>Irish-Libyan rebel fighter Husam Najjair speaks to reporters at a front line checkpoint near Tiji in western Libya, August 1, 2011. REUTERS/Bob Strong</p>