National Front for the Salvation of Libya

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The National Front for the Salvation of Libya or NFSL is the most influential and at one time the best armed of the Libyan exile groups. Organized in 1981, it has collected a variety of exile Libyan elites and, more importantly, a variety of important foreign sponsors.

NFSL won its spurs with an audacious 1984 assassination attempt on charismatic Libyan dictator and male fashion plate Moammar Gadafi. Until Hamid Karzai was selected by the U.S. and NATO Allies to rule Afghanistan, Gadafi had few competitors for "most stylish Middle East strongman." Following the 1984 assassination attempt hundreds of Libyans were arrested in a round-up of suspected NFSL members and some spent many years imprisoned without charge or trial.

The military might of the NFSL was at its height in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1987 several hundred Libyan soldiers and a large quantity of Libyan military equipment were captured by the Chadian Army. Libya and Chad were involved in a long standing dispute over the Aozou Strip, a territory belived to hold large uranium reserves. The Libyan prisoners were recruited into a "Contra" force led by Col. Abdoulgassim Khalifa Haftar. Training was provided by the U.S. CIA and Chadian Army officers. Funding was provided by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The main base was at wonderfully named Ouadi Doum, located south of the Aozou Strip but still in far northern Chad.

The Contra operation was reportedly ended because Moammar Gadafi threatened a chemical weapons strike in retaliation for any cross-border raids into Libya.


NFSL Leadership



  • "A Look at the Major Libyan Opposition Groups in Exile." Associated Press. June 26, 2005.
  • "USA/Chad Target Gadaffi." Africa Confidential. Vol. 30, No. 1. January 6, 1989.
  • Tarik Kafala. "Libyans 'Cyncial' on Gaddafi Move." BBC.
  • David E. Long & Bernard Reich. 2002. The Government and Politics of the Middle east and North Africa. Pp. 384-385.

External Links

  • NSFL Home Page
  • Libya: Our Home
  • Amnesty International Report on Libya 2002
  • Essay: The Secret War Against Libya
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