Libya releases Islamists including bin Laden driver

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 10:13

Tripoli: Libya has released 37 Islamists, including a former driver of Osama bin Laden and members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

Wearing white traditional robes, the mostly young
detainees were assembled yesterday in a tent put up in
Tripoli`s Abu Salim prison where they were joined by their

Bin Laden`s former driver, Nasser Tailamoun, and former
Guantanamo detainee Abu Sofian Ben Guemou, handed over by the
Americans in 2007, were among those released, according to the
Kadhafi Foundation.

The others were members of or connected with the LIFG, or
jihadists who collaborated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq or in north
Africa, a prison official said.

The release came just before the 41st anniversary of the
Libyan revolution which brought Colonel Moamer Kadhafi to

A source close to the foundation, headed by the son of
Kadhafi, Seif al-Islam, told AFP 150 more Islamists would be
released soon.

According to the foundation, "these people had completed
their rehabilitation programme, which was aimed at getting the
prisoners to renounce violence and reintegrate them into
Libyan society."

The foundation`s human rights spokesman Mohamed Allagui
said it was "working to free the other detainees so that there
will no longer be any prisoners of opinion in Libya."

Since 2007, the organisation has been reaching out to
Islamists jailed in Libya, a policy which saw 214 of them
released in March.

Among them were 34 members of the LIFG, including the
three leaders of the Islamist group -- top boss Abdelhakim
Belhaj, military chief Khaled Shrif and ideological official
Sami Saadi.
The group, made up of Libyans who had been in Afghanistan
to combat Soviet invaders in the 1980s, announced its
existence in 1995, saying its objective was to overthrow the
Kadhafi regime and replace it with a radical Islamic one.

In 2007, Al-Qaeda announced that the LIFG had joined the
jihadist network and Abu Laith al-Libi, one of bin Laden`s top
lieutenants, was thought to be directing it for a time from
Central Asia.
Libi was killed in a 2008 US missile strike in the tribal
zone of northwest Pakistan and last year, the Kadhafi
Foundation announced that Islamists being held in Libyan
prisons that had previously had links with Al-Qaeda had
renounced those ties.


First Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 10:13

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