Some of the foreign fighters in Libya also seem to come from groups that have long-standing political and financial ties to the Colonel. Qaddafi’s sustained and deep involvement in African politics, especially the affairs of neighboring countries like Sudan, Chad, and Niger, has included “funding and training many fighting groups and rebel organizations in West Africa and other places.” Qaddafi’s relationship with Chad is especially intense. These ties not only affected the trajectory of conflicts outside Libya, but also shaped the composition of Libya’s security forces:
Over the years, says [Thierry] Vircoulon [of International Crisis Group], Libya has welcomed many foreign fighters from Chad, Mali, Niger, and elsewhere to naturalize, and Qaddafi has set up special units entirely composed of foreign fighters.
Other rebels, who stand to suffer if Qaddafi falls, have been willing to join the fighting in Libya:
[Peter] Bouckaert [of Human Rights Watch] described the fighters from Chad as men “who were not mercenaries specifically recruited to defend Gadhafi but members of (a Chadian) rebel movement Gadhafi has been funding and training for many years who would lose that support if he fell.”