US trying to recruit Libyan forces
07 November 2012, 12:01
Tripoli - US officials in Libya have begun to look for recruits for a commando force which they plan to train to fight militants, a former commander of Libyan rebels who toppled Muammar Gaddafi says.
There was no immediate US comment.
After a wave of anti-American violence in the Arab world in September during which the US ambassador to Libya died in an Islamist militant attack, President Barack Obama took measures to improve the security of US diplomatic installations in the region.
About 10 Americans from the embassy in Tripoli visited a paramilitary base in the eastern city of Benghazi 10 days ago to interview and get to know potential recruits, according to militia commander Fathi al-Obeidi.
"The American team asked us for a tour of our base and we granted them permission to walk around freely," he said.
"They stood with many of our men taking down information.
"They asked them about their ages, backgrounds, their tribal loyalties.
"They wanted to know what kind of training they had received, if any."
Obeidi is a commander with Libya's Shield, an umbrella group for various armed militias that refused to join the official army after the war that ousted Gaddafi last year, saying it was still being run by Gaddafi loyalists.
He also helped a team of US marines in September lead a rescue effort that saved a group of Americans hiding in a safe house after an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died.
The force may be required to fight jihadi militants like those accused in the September 11 assault on the consulate.
Obama moved after the September violence to beef up protection of US diplomatic installations in the Arab world, sending in Marine contingents to several embassies and temporarily reducing the number of US personnel at some posts.