Dublin man on frontline in last battle against Gaddafi
Published 24/08/2011 | 05:00
AN Irish builder and an Arabic teacher based here were among the hundreds of Libyan rebels laying siege to Tripoli in a fierce battle to overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi last night.
Dublin-born Husam Najjair (32) swapped the nightlife of his native city for Libya's frontline when he left home several months ago to join the revolution.
Yesterday, alongside his brother-in-law Almahdi Alharati (39) and hundreds of other fighters, he fought for control of the Libyan capital Tripoli as his family anxiously waited for news back home.
Last night Husam's sister Eftaima (28), whose husband Almahdi is fighting alongside her brother, said they always thought it was likely her husband would return to Libya.
Her brother joined him on the frontline earlier this year, and she told how Husam narrowly escaped with his life this week after two of his close friends were shot dead as they travelled in convoy towards Tripoli.
The daughter of an Irish mother and Libyan father, she said Almahdi left Ireland last February and was now a commander of the 380-strong Tripoli Revolutionary Brigade.
She revealed how amid the din of gunfire and explosions Almahdi phoned home yesterday afternoon.
"He said he was outside Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli. I could hear the gunfire and bombings over the phone. He phones when he gets the chance to talk to me just to reassure me and to let me know he is safe," she said.
Husam, a building contractor, admitted that he started to feel a sense of responsibility only when he travelled to Libya for a family wedding in January.
When the revolt began on February 17, he joined the fight.
"I wasn't always such a good Muslim in Dublin; you could say I spent some time at nightclubs," he said.
"This has made me learn about myself, what I am capable of achieving."
His sister said that Husam made an emotional phone call to their mother Joanna this week, in which he described his narrow escape from death.
Mrs Alharati said that once the regime was toppled, she planned to travel to Libya to meet some of her family but she has not yet decided whether she will remain there or return to Dublin.