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Libya Table of Contents


Other Paramilitary Forces

In about 1980, Qadhafi introduced the Islamic Pan-African Legion, a body of mercenaries recruited primarily among dissidents from Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, and Chad. West African states with Muslim populations have also been the source of some personnel. Believed to consist of about 7,000 individuals, the force has received training from experienced Palestinian and Syrian instructors. Some of those recruited to the legion were said to have been forcibly impressed from among nationals of neighboring countries who migrated to Libya in search of work.

According to The Military Balance published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the force was organized into one armored, one infantry, and one paratroop/commando brigade. It has been supplied with T-54 and T-55 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and EE-9 armored cars. The Islamic Pan-African Legion was reported to have been committed during the fighting in Chad in 1980 and was praised by Qadhafi for its success there. However, it was believed that many of the troops who fled the Chadian attacks of March 1987 were members of the Islamic Pan-African Legion.

In an effort to realize Qadhafi's vision of a united Arab military force, plans for the creation of an Arab legion have been announced from time to time. The goal, according to the Libyan press, would be to assemble an army of 1 million men and women fighters to prepare for the great Arab battle--"the battle of liberating Palestine, of toppling the reactionary regimes, of annihilating the borders, gates, and barriers between the countries of the Arab homeland, and of creating the single Arab Jamahiriya from the ocean to the gulf." In March 1985, it was announced that the National Command of the Revolutionary Forces Command in the Arab Nation had been formed with Qadhafi at its head. A number of smaller radical Arab groups from Lebanon, Tunisia, Sudan, Iraq, the Persian Gulf states, and Jordan were represented at the inaugural meeting. Syrian Baath Party and radical Palestinian factions were also present. Each of these movements was expected to earmark 10 percent of its forces for service under the new command. As of April 1987, there was no information confirming the existence of such a militia.

Data as of 1987