What I wanted to do here was bring up some history about Gaddafi and his use of an Islamic Legion, and his contracts with Islamic extremist mercenaries like Abu Nidal. From his desire to cleanse North Africa of all non-Arabs to his misguided wars against his neighbors and the West–this dictator has definitely been busy.
I think what fascinated me the most was his usage of his Legionnaires in Chad, versus France’s use of their Legion and military forces. The Islamic Legion started off alright in it’s beginnings, but later was poorly used, had low moral and was poorly organized in subsequent years. Hence why they failed in key battles towards the end. The low moral was also a result of forcing folks to serve in this legion, and sending them to Chad to fight against a superior enemy with a better strategy.
Now compare this to France and it’s use of it’s military forces. The French Foreign Legion played a pretty important role, but what was probably more important of a factor in defeating this Libyan enemy in Chad was the concept of the Toyota War and air domination. (pickup trucks with Milan Anti-tank missiles mounted)
But back to the other areas of interest with Gaddafi’s Islamic Legion. The Janjaweed was an unfortunate outcome of this legion, and of course they are famous for their genocidal activities in the Sudan. The leaders of this group got their start in the Legion.
The other bit of history that needs to be brought up is Gaddafi’s relationship with Abu Nidal, one of the world’s most infamous mercenaries and terrorist. He was contracted by Libya to do all sorts of awful things. Matter of fact, you could look at all of the attacks linked to Libya as contracts that Gaddafi issued to Islamist mercenaries, and they certainly did some damage. The 1986 Disco Tech Bombing and the 1988 Lockerbie Bombing come to mind, and no telling what else Libya and their buddy Abu were a part of.
The Disco Tech Bombing is also why the US bombed Libya back in 1988. But the really kick ass retaliation was when the US supplied missiles, Toyotas and equipment to the Chadian Army, and helped Chad to defeat Libya. Interesting history and certainly relevant to today’s events. –Matt
This is just a parade of his current military forces. I could not find any photos of the Islamic Legion.
The Islamic Legion (aka Islamic Pan-African Legion) was a Libyan-sponsored pan-Arab paramilitary force, created in 1972. The Legion was part of Muammar al-Gaddafi’s dream of creating the Great Islamic State of the Sahel.
Gaddafi, who had come to power in September 1969, was not only a Pan-Africanist, but an Arab cultural supremacist. His hostility to Chad’s government of President François Tombalbaye was at least partly inspired by Tombalbaye’s African and Christian background. It also led Gaddafi to drive the Toubou of Libya, who were considered ‘black’, off Fezzan and across the Chadian border. Gaddafi supported the Sudanese government of Gaafar Nimeiry, referring to it as an “Arab Nationalist Revolutionary Movement”, and even offered to merge the two countries at a meeting in late 1971. Gaddafi’s plans for the peaceful formation of an “Arab Union” were dashed when Nimeiry turned down his offer and negotiated the Addis Ababa Agreement ending the First Sudanese Civil War, fought with the black animist and Christian South. Gaddafi’s definition of “Arab” was broad, including the Tuareg of Mali and Niger, as well as the Zaghawa of Chad and Sudan.
In 1972, Gaddafi created the Islamic Legion as a tool to unify and Arabize the region. The priority of the Legion was first Chad, and then Sudan. In Darfur, a western province of Sudan, Gaddafi supported the creation of the Arab Gathering (Tajammu al-Arabi), which according to Gérard Prunier was “a militantly racist and pan-Arabist organization which stressed the ‘Arab’ character of the province.” The two organizations shared members and a source of support, and the distinction between the two is often ambiguous.