News / Africa

Libya: Gadhafi has History of Using Mercenaries

Joe DeCapua

There have been numerous reports that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is using mercenaries to try to quell the unrest in his country.  It wouldn’t be the first time he’s employed outside fighters.

Retired army Lt. Col. Robert Brown is editor and publisher of Soldier of Fortune Magazine.  It reports on what it calls “news and adventure.”  The magazine’s editorial policy is stated as pro-military, pro-strong U.S. defense, pro-police and pro-veteran.

Brown says Mr. Gadhafi has a history of using mercenaries.

“You’ve had Gadhafi employing mercenaries way back in the late 70s, when he had Americans, when he had employed two notorious individuals – Frank Terpil and Ed Wilson - who served as advisors to him.  And they had brought in a number under false pretenses, I do believe, Americans that had been discharged, or some which were actually on active duty taking leave working for him.  It became quite a scandal back then.  So, it’s not something unusual,” he says.

Both Terpil and Wilson were former CIA agents accused of many crimes, including illegal arms dealing.

Not all mercenaries alike

Brown says mercenaries are easy to be found in Africa.

“Africa is a very open ground, if you will, for recruiting.  You had a lot of your South African soldiers, after the apartheid government fell, serving in Executive Outcomes, which actually did a very good job in suppressing the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) in Sierra Leone.  You had a lot of Chadians I think that are now with Gadhafi’s forces,” he says.

Brown says mercenaries can be motivated by any number of things to fight, including adventure and especially money.  But he says not all mercenaries are alike.

“Well, it’s hard to say what their level of training is,” he says, “whether they’re just thugs that can go around and beat people as an irregular force or whether they’ve been trained.  This I don’t think anybody knows.  And certainly their effectiveness is going to be predicated on what type of training they have and what their capabilities are.  Certainly, it doesn’t take a great deal of training to go around and beat civilians or shoot civilians.”

He says they do know that if they are caught by the opposition that their lives are at stake.  And if reports from Libya are true, suspected mercenaries have not been treated kindly.

He says there can be a big difference between those called mercenaries and those called contractors, like those we’ve seen in Iraq working on behalf of the U.S.

Brown says, “People that Gadhafi has certainly don’t have the training or the capabilities as the people who’ve been hired as contractors.  Because whether you approve or disapprove of contractors, it’s been my experience that these people for the most part are very well trained, or they wouldn’t be hired.”

Robert Brown has been the editor of Soldier of Fortune Magazine since its founding 35 years ago.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs