Gaddafi’s white African mercenaries

Muammar Gaddafi relied extensively on mercenaries from elsewhere in Africa to secure his rule. It is usually assumed they're black Africans. It turns out a lot of them come from South Africa. And they're white.

A poster of Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi, Libya, in April 2006 (NH53, via Flickr CC).

Danie Odendaal calls Gaddafi’s thwarted escape attempt from his last stronghold, Sirte, “a terrible failure.” He probably knows. From a Libyan hospital bed, Odendaal informed South African Sunday paper Rapport he was one of some twenty, mostly white, South Africans contracted to get Gaddafi out of town, and into neighboring Niger. It turned into “a gruesome, gruesome orgy.” But Libyan rebels also appeared sympathetic towards foreigners, careful “not to shoot them.” More: they helped him escape. On Monday, a middle-man trying to fly the surviving South African men out of Libya (two of them died), “gave assurances that these men were not involved in anything illegal. He said they were contracted by Nato, and that Nato and the UN would pay for the flight” (News24). Prior to Gaddafi’s killing on Thursday, another “team of South African mercenaries helped Muammar Gaddafi’s family out of the war zone of Tripoli (…) to hide out in Algeria.” South African newspaper The New Age has the full story.

In other words: not only did Gaddafi rely on experienced South African farmers to get his olive fields growing, word also spread to Libya there are some skilled and eager mercenaries (‘all ex-police officers’) to be found in South Africa.

It puts the story about Libya’s African mercenaries – usually assumed to be black and from Niger or Chad – in a different perspective.

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