Mr. Qaddafi’s use of mercenaries from all over Africa was so common that when citizens see people with darker skin than theirs, they assume that person is a mercenary and promptly hand that person over to the authorities, or, more horribly, settle the matter violently themselves.
In the Atlantic piece, Mr. Gwin describes an interview with a Tuareg fighter, given the pseudonym Abdullah, recently returned from Libya. His unit in Tripoli was told to disperse anti-Qaddafi demonstrators.
“That was easy,” he said with startling nonchalance. "We would kill three or four in the front of the crowd and they all ran away."
And when Qaddafi said in February that his fighters would hunt for protesters house by house, Abdullah and his men took the Libyan leader at his word. "To be honest, it is true. We believed what Qaddafi told us. We believed we would go there and kill everyone."
Libyan news continues to dominate headlines, and in the Monitor’s Backchannels blog yesterday, Dan Murphy reported that the anti-Qaddafi forces have rejected a United Nations proposal to send in peacekeepers. The rebels say they are not in a civil war, but rather in a fight to defend themselves against the forces of a dictator. Now on the outskirts of Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, the rebels have given the city an ultimatum to surrender by this weekend. If not, the rebels say they will take the city by force.