IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT BEING A MARTYR FOR ALLAH….

FIGHTING FOR DEMOCRACY MY ARSE….THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY WITH SHARIA LAW…

DiManno: Recruits’ age ranges from 17 to 76 at rebel training camp

Published On Mon Apr 4 2011

Faitor Ali, 76, listening to instructor at a Libyan rebel training camp.Faitor Ali, 76, listening to instructor at a Libyan rebel training camp.

Rosie DiManno/TORONTO STAR

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By Rosie DiMannoColumnist

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BENGHAZI, LIBYA—Faitor Ali may well be Libya’s oldest rebel-in-training.

He’s 76.

So, it’s a good thing physicals aren’t required for recruits. Ali walks with a cane, his eyes are rheumy behind coke-bottle glasses and his bones creak when bending over to study the innards of a grenade launcher’s firing mechanism.

The septuagenarian isn’t kidding himself. He acknowledges the unlikelihood of being transformed into a front-line warrior at this late stage of life. But that’s not the point. Embracing the spirit — and burden — of revolution is the point. Aligning with the raw shaheeb is the point. No one, he says, is too old, or too young, to die for the cause.

“I just want to encourage young people to join the fight,’’ Ali told the Star on Monday, during a morning break from instruction at a large training camp on the outskirts of Benghazi.

“Okay, so my presence here is really just symbolic. I can hardly see anything when I look through the gunsights of a rifle, to be honest. But if I’m willing to go through the training, then there can be no excuse for any young man not to try.’’

In fact, Ali comes to the task better prepared than most among the hundreds of males in the current training class. He was a police officer for nearly three decades. He actually knows his way around a gun, if not the combat weapons and light artillery that trainers are introducing to recruits.

“If Gadhafi were standing in front of me, I don’t think I’d miss,’’ Ali cackles.

Creating a combat-ready infantry almost entirely from scratch is a daunting challenge for the nascent military command. While a shaheeb militia drawn largely from students, taxi drivers, merchants, computer programmers and civil servants has been undoubtedly enthusiastic — charging toward the fray in a flotilla of battered family sedans and pick-up trucks — a quick dose of bang-bang reality has sobering repercussions.

Initial gains on the ground over the past few weeks have been just as hastily surrendered, the rebel surge reversing with unseemly havoc whenever confronted by a hugely superior and tactically clever opponent.

Moral righteousness won’t win this fight. Overwhelming coalition air power can’t do the job either, certainly not around urban areas such as the strategically important oil refinery town of Brega, where the front line was still stalemated Monday night, with fierce fighting between the sides.

There’s no alternative to boots on the ground and, clearly, those boots will have to be filled with Libyan feet, since neither NATO nor any Western power — or Arab League state, for that matter — has the remotest intention of reinforcing the shaheeb militia with professional infantry troops; won’t even arm the rebels.

Improvements in control-and-command, better battle organization, are evident at the front, since regular army soldiers — defectors from Gadhafi’s forces — recalibrated the insurgent advance, imposing order on disarray and instilling cohesion on chaos.

Scrubeenies, military naifs who were given only a day’s training in the early stages of the revolutionary press, are now kept well behind the leading ranks.

“Graduating’’ new recruits, however, is critical. And certainly there’s no shortage of the willing.

At the main training facility, a former army base known to Benghazis as the 7th of April camp — named after the date when activist college students were publicly hanged there on Gadhafi’s orders — has been rechristened the February 17 Brigade, or Martyrs’ Brigade.

Volunteer fighters — who aren’t screened physically, psychologically or ideologically — now receive between two and three weeks of instruction in the bottom-line basics of warfare on the parade field.

On Monday, some 300 recruits rotated among half-a-dozen staging areas, under the tutelage mostly of retired army non-commissioned officers barking instruction: here assembling and disassembling weapons, there becoming familiar with the trajectory of rocket-launched grenades, over beyond taking turns on an anti-aircraft artillery piece.

“Ordinarily, soldiers would spend six months developing expertise on each piece of equipment,’’ noted Fawzi Abdullah, a 52-year-old army vet who fought under Gadhafi’s banner for 30 years, deployed as part of meddlesome interventions in Chad, Uganda and Lebanon.

A typically gruff and intimidating ex-NCO, Abdullah looks around at his charges and takes heart from their eagerness.

“They may not have any experience but they’re not so hard to teach,’’ Abdullah insists. “Most are educated men. They have cell phones and computers. They learn quickly.’’

What Abdullah wishes those who’ve graduated would learn, off the top, is to cease shooting their weapons into the air in celebratory rounds.

“I tell them over and over again: Don’t waste ammunition! But that’s the one thing where they won’t listen.’’

Ali Faitory is only 18, hasn’t even finished high school, but he’s signed on, ardently spouting all the right rhetoric: “Gadhafi must be stopped. This regime must be overthrown. We’ve been put in a situation where we have no choice except to fight.

“I’m not scared.’’

The teen pauses, then admits: “Well, yes, I’m a little bit scared. And my mother, she’s a lot scared. She didn’t want me to join the rebel fighters. She tried to prevent me from leaving the house this morning, actually.’’

Another greenhorn, Ahmed Aljaswy, is even younger at 17, kitted out in crisp khaki trousers and a raffish Tilley hat.

“My mother approves of me joining the fight,’’ he insists. “She has courage, she told me to go. She would be happy if I became a martyr.’’

That is surely an exaggeration. While parents may take some solace in losing a son to a liberation war, surely no mother would choose martyrdom for a child. Libyans aren’t radicalized Islamists, for the most part, though there are assuredly some jihadists in the rag-tag mix.

But, for all his eagerness to get to the front and prove his revolutionary mettle, Aljaswy adds that this military adventure is only for the short-term.

“After Gadhafi is gone, I’ll never pick up a weapon again.’’

In any event, none of these mini boot-camp graduates will be going anywhere near the front lines any time soon. All new recruits will be sent out in veteran-led units and kept firmly in the rear.

“I am proud to serve my country, Free Libya,’’ says Ashraf Salen, 23, a computer technician. “I hope to eventually make it up to the front lines. But I’m pretty sure all we’ll be doing is transporting food and fuel to the fighters.

“The truth is, I’m just a city boy from Benghazi. I’ve never fired a gun before in my life.’’

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4 thoughts on “IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT BEING A MARTYR FOR ALLAH….

  1. Which Allah? Sunnis have their allah. Shiites have their allah. Sufis have their allah. Alawis have their allah.
    So which allah. Any muslim care to answer?

  2. Try to spell “democracy” inside “theocracy.” (“I’ll wager $500 for ‘can’t be done,’ Alex.”)

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