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From jihadist to Libyan war hero

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From jihadist to Libyan war hero


Controversy surrounds the man named as the new military commander of Tripoli.

Security experts say Abdel Hakim Belhadj once spent time with al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan and led a failed revolt in Libya in the 1990s.

But despite concern about his past, Libya’s new rulers and western diplomats seem confident there is no problem with the appointment.

After fighting with other jihadists against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Belhadj joined the now defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

The group reportedly had links with al Qaeda but Belhadj’s supporters say he and fellow leaders rejected a merger with Bin Laden’s movement in 2007.

From prison, Belhadj is also said to have publicly renounced terrorism in 2009, a year before he was freed.

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