Libyan-Americans, seeing turning point, pitch in to support rebels' cause
From the onset of the fight against Libya's Muammar Qaddafi in February, many Americans with family ties to Libya have dropped everything to be a part of what they feel is a historic moment.
As rebels battle for control of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, many Libyan-Americans who have opposed the long rule of Muammar Qaddafi are continuing their efforts to support the struggle. From the onset of the conflict in February, many Americans with family ties to Libya have dropped everything to be a part of what they feel is a historic moment for them and their native country.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Rebels take Tripoli
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• Ali Tarhouni, a University of Washington economics lecturer, precipitously left his family and students to become finance minister for the rebel factions. He’s since taken up the crucial oil and gas portfolio.
• Esam Omeish, since 2006 chief of the Division of General Surgery at Inova Alexandria (Va.) Hospital, is currently on a tour of medical duty in Libya.
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Even Libyan-American students are dropping out of school to take up arms: One in Virginia (name withheld for security) dropped out to train with a Benghazi brigade and is now reported to be in Tripoli, while another South Carolina family is mourning the death of their son, who left school to join the fighting on the eastern front in the early days of the struggle.
Those who aren’t dropping everything to hop on a plane are replacing the web of fear engendered by the Qaddafi regime with a web of social connection and action. That means coordinated networks of Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and e-mail users who once were too scattered and too afraid to contact one another but have been increasingly galvanized by the faltering prospects of Mr. Qaddafi.
“I was very impressed with how quickly [the Libyan-American community] sprang into well-organized groups. They are not a very large community, but many of them know each other,” says Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Libyan Council of North America. The number is tough to track, complicated by the fact that Libyan expatriates – many of them political exiles – made deliberate efforts to remain invisible to the long tentacles of the Qaddafi regime.