The Good News & The Bad News: Libya Rebels Just Learning How To Use Their Guns

by John Hawkins | April 4, 2011 8:03 am

On the one hand, our new allies in Libya are, how can I put this delicately, a wee bit inexperienced[1].

Bernwi, the exterminator, said his father practically ordered him to the front. He bought a Kalashnikov and found a military uniform abandoned by one of Kadafi’s militiamen. He had never owned a gun or fatigues.

…At another checkpoint, Cherkasi was toying with his newly issued rifle. He said the Kadafi regime denied guns to many riot cops in eastern Libya because the strongman didn’t trust anyone in the rebellious region.

Cherkasi defected in February after his brother was shot by fellow riot police, he said. He smiled and remarked on the irony of his circumstances: The gun that was supposed to quell the rebellion was now supporting it. “This gun is my revenge on Kadafi,” he said.

Most of the fighters know nothing of guns because the weapons were banned under Kadafi. Getting caught with a gun meant prison or, in some cases, death.

If you’re wondering why the rebels don’t seem to be making much progress even with the West obliterating Gaddafi’s forces from the air, that explains it. What it probably means is that these guys are going to need a lot of training to become a fighting force that’s capable of overpowering Gadaffi’s men and holding the country together. That’s particularly discouraging because it means this may take a good, long while and encourage the West to get even more involved in what’s going on.

On the upside, this is encouraging.

Several miles away, Cherkasi, the defecting riot cop, was irked that some U.S. politicians have questioned the rebels’ intentions and spoken darkly of Al Qaeda influences.

“Al Qaeda? Nobody here has ever met anyone from Al Qaeda,” Cherkasi said. “We’re all normal Muslims, not crazy fundamentalists like these Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

If an Al Qaeda operative appeared before him, Cherkasi vowed, he would apply his newly acquired skills with his newly issued rifle and shoot the man dead.

You’ve got to love that attitude. If more Muslims talked like that, it would be a better world. Additionally, since there most definitely are Al-Qaeda sympathizers fighting with the rebels, maybe we can cross our fingers and hope for a little street justice after Gadaffi’s finished. Maybe that’s a long shot, but you have to take your hope where you find it.

  1. a wee bit inexperienced:,0,7049201,full.story

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