How an American Signed Up With Libya's Rebels

Texas native Jamal Abed says he 'wanted change'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2011 3:54 PM CDT
Rebel fighters drive toward the battle field in the desert near Umm Qandil on September 02, 2011.   (Getty Images/AFP)

(Newser) – When Jamal Abed signed up with the Libyan rebels, many of his fellow recruits had no idea how to use guns. But Abed knew; after all, he’s from Texas. “They were shooting way off, way off,” he tells USA Today. “I was like, ‘C’mon, it’s not that hard!’” Abed’s father was Libyan, but Abed was born and raised in the US, majored in political science at the University of Texas, and had been working at a San Francisco restaurant when the war broke out.

“I’d watch Anderson Cooper, and when Anderson was talking about Mubarak, I was saying, ‘Libya’s next, Libya’s next,’” he recalls; he’d visited Moammar Gadhafi’s Tripoli, and hadn’t been impressed. A few months after the war broke out, he made up his mind to go, and wound up being part of the brigade that led the advance on Tripoli. When the war is over, he wants to head home. “I miss Texas. I miss Chinese food,” he says, clarifying, “American-Chinese food.” Abed isn’t the only American to sign up with the rebels—though an Al Jazeera reporter says another, UCLA student Chris Jeon, has been sent packing.

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