Conflict & Justice

Libya's rebels: then and now (PHOTOS)

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Mohammed Al Derbale, 19, fires an FN rifle at Gaddafi troops from the window of an abandoned farmhouse in Dafnia.

Credit:

Tracey Shelton

A year ago, thousands of Libyans left their lives and families, took up arms, and joined a ragtag rebel army to help fight Muammar Gaddafi, one of the world's most powerful dictators. Most of them civilians with little knowledge of war or weapons, the rebels were thrown into a violent and chaotic conflict that dragged on for eight months. Now, with Gaddafi dead and a new Libya struggling to gain its footing, the former rebels are attempting to get back the lives they left.

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    Ahmed Alsied, 46, fires an FN rifle at troops loyal to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte, Gaddafi's homeown, last September. Alsied was among a small group of bloggers who organized the first protest in the rebel city of Misrata. He became a prominent fighter from the first days of the revolution until its end on Oct. 20, 2011.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    A devoted family man, Alsied played with his son Khalid in his living room last week. His youngest son, who was born during the revolution, was named in honor of Ahmed’s cousin and friend Khalid Abushahma, who was the first protester shot dead by Gaddafi troops in Misrata.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Aasem Maseur Haman, 15, fights with his rebel group on the front line in Dafnia, Libya last June. Despite his young age, he was a constant presence among the fighters, often easing the mood with his frequent jokes.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Haman has now rejoined his classmates at high school. When he graduates he hopes to study engineering.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    During a rebel push to enter the city of Sirte last October, Ahmed Hassan, 22, manned a rifle known locally as a PKT. The rifle was salvaged from a destroyed tank and remounted on the hood of a cut off utility truck.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Now, Hassan records music. Here, he records a track he wrote while fighting on the Libyan front line with his rap group "Skills N Da Hood." Their new album, featuring songs inspired by the revolution and dreams of a free Libya, is set to be released on Feb. 17, the anniversary of the start of the Libyan revolution.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Commander Ali Hadouth Alobaidi, 61, holds his rifle in the air as he speaks to his men before battle on the outskirts of Zlitan in July. A former commander under Gaddafi who defected and walked from Tripoli to Misrata to lead a rebel army, Alobaidi inspired thousands with his powerful speeches.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    A young boy stares at a painting of Ali Hadouth Alobaidi as he walks along the "Wall of Names" in Misrata, a list of thousands of rebels who died during the revolution. Alobaidi was killed in battle on July 7, 2011.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Marwan Enhicey, 20, holds his rifle on the outskirts of Sirte last September.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Enhicey sits by a crane at his workstation at the Misrata port. After the revolution, he was hired as a safety inspector by BP, who is set to commence oil production at the end of the year.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Hassan Shoihdi, 47, holds an FN sniper rifle in the streets of Sirte during a battle between rebel fighters and Gaddafi forces in October.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Shoihdi repairs a broken power circuit in Misrata last week. A devoted family man and electrician, Shoihdi remains a member of his militia group and is on call to respond to security issues with his unit.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Moftah Enhicey, 17, prepares to drive a modified utility truck armed with two missile launchers, RPG’s and several rifles into battle in Sirte last October.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Enhicey serves customers in a lighting warehouse store last week. The store remained closed until the end of the revolution, but as it reopened its doors late last year, Enhicey returned to his previous role as cashier.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Mohammed Alhorshy, 21, fires an anti-aircraft gun across the front line in Sirte last year. At the outset of the revolution, Alhorshy turned his skills as a mechanic toward the repair and modification of weapons, becoming an expert in light arms and heavy weapons.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Alhorshy recently began work repairing broken generators. He remains a member of his militia group, on call in case of any unrest.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Mohammed Yusef Enhicey prepares to fire a rocket-propelled grenade in Sirte. At 24, renowned for his bravery and battle tactics, Enhicey became the youngest frontline commander among the rebels.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Enhicey prepares a meal to celebrate the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan for his parents and siblings at the family home in November. He remains commander of his battalion but is now in Greece for follow up surgery from a prior injury.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Mohammed Al Derbale, 19, fires an FN rifle at Gaddafi troops from the window of an abandoned farmhouse in Dafnia.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton

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    Derbale practices his karate techniques earlier this week. Prior to the revolution Derbale was a champion black belt in karate, competing internationally for Libya. Although he still practices his sport, his club, which closed during the fighting, is yet to reopen. Derbale has now returned to university where he studies engineering.

    Credit:

    Tracey Shelton