herald

Friday 18 April 2014

Irish boy (16) in the hunt for Gaddafi

THIS is the Dublin schoolboy who had a summer holiday like no other – battling Gaddafi's forces in Libya.

Muktar Smew, from Lucan, was holidaying with family in Tunisia when he made the snap decision to travel 15 hours across the border to a training camp in Tripoli.

And despite only receiving minimal training, the brave teenager quickly joined the rebel forces – armed with just an assault rifle.

He was the youngest of a group of 15 men operating on the front line for over two weeks.

Muktar (16) will shortly enter his Leaving Cert year at The Institute of Education on Leeson Street. His sister Fadwa (20) is president of the Irish Libyan Youth Organisation.

His parents are originally from Benghazi but moved to Ireland over 20 years ago to take up work as doctors.

Muktar admitted that the decision to join the rebels was a hasty one and that his parents did not know he was going to be risking his life.

“My parents didn't mind me going but I didn't intend to fight. They didn't know I was fighting until I got back.

“I didn't plan on fighting but when I heard that they captured Gaddafi's son I got excited. “My friend's uncle, who runs the training camp just outside Tripoli, brought me over,” he said.

“When I arrived there the training was over and they were just getting ready to go out.

“They just basically showed me how to use the gun, just firing in the air and practising stuff, and then I got my own gun.”

Muktar said he hopes to live in Libya permanently once he finishes his exams.

He admitted that he doesn't know whether he killed anybody while in battle but that he would have no problem shooting one of Gaddafi's soldiers.

“I wouldn't mind. In our religion you have permission to do it. I was near the front door (of Gaddafi's compound) but I didn't get in. A few of my friends want to go over now as well.

“It's hard to know who you are shooting at. Even Libyans shooting at you, you don't know. They were shooting in our direction but nobody got shot from our group. It was like a drive-by shooting. I was a bit scared when there were shots going off, you don't know what's going to happen.”

It is estimated that up to 500 of the 3000 Libyans living in Ireland travelled to Libya to join the campaign to remove the Gaddafi regime.

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