American who joined Libyan rebels returns to US

An American writer who went missing in Libya for months has returned to the United States.

Linthicum (Maryland): An American writer who
went missing in Libya for months has returned to the United
States, telling reporters he went to the north African nation
to participate in the uprising against dictator Muammar
Gaddafi and was on a reconnaissance mission when he was

But Matthew VanDyke (32), who returned to the US
yesterday, said his mother and girlfriend didn`t know when he
set off from Baltimore for Libya that his goal was to support
the revolution.

"You don`t tell your mother that you`re going to go fight
in a war," he said. "When I got out of prison, I was going to
finish what I came to do. So the past several weeks I`ve been
in combat on the front lines in Sirte fighting Gaddafi`s

VanDyke, dressed in his military uniform with a scarf
tied around his head, held up a Libyan flag as he walked out
of the concourse at Baltimore Washington International
Thurgood Marshall Airport into his mother`s arms. He was also
met by friends and family waving flags and holding up signs.

Later, as he talked to the media, his girlfriend, Lauren
Fischer, arrived and planted a big kiss on his lips. The two
stood hand-in-hand for the rest of the time he spoke.

Earlier this year, VanDyke was in Baltimore working on a
book and film about a motorcycle trip across the Middle East
and southeast Asia when he began to hear from friends in Libya
about their relatives disappearing.

"I wasn`t going to sit back and let this happen to people
I care about and not do anything about it," he said. "I see
how people are suffering under regimes like this and it`s time
for it to end."

VanDyke said he was on a reconnaissance mission in Brega
with three other fighters with weapons in a truck when he was
captured by Gaddafi forces. He was questioned once, he said.

VanDyke spent more than five months in solitary
confinement in Libyan prisons. He said he sang Guns n` Roses
songs to himself and tried to name all of the "Star Trek"
characters to pass the time. He said he also suffered from the
psychological effects of solitary confinement.

Bureau Report

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