- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2011

Communication with family and friends back in Tripoli is sporadic — “up and down” — but Abdul Nashnoush says he has no doubts about the rightness of the U.S. decision to join the coalition taking up arms against his Libyan homeland.

“I totally agree with this action,” said Mr. Nashnoush, a vice president of national corporate sales for Reston-based Guidance Residential, a home finance company. “In fact, I thought the action came too late. It is still not enough. [Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi] is still able to attack. They have snipers on the buildings and are shooting civilians, and [citizens] are in dire need of basic necessities.”

Like many anxious Libyan-Americans, Mr. Nashnoush follows news reports about the conflict in Libya, while trying to find out on his own the fate of loved ones in the country. The few times he has been able to reach family members still living in the capital, Tripoli, they have related terrifying stories of what Col. Gadhafi’s forces are doing in the strongman’s bid to hold on to power.

Gadhafi made sure to put the entire city under siege by using snipers and mercenaries,” Mr. Nashnoush said. “For every five or six houses there is a checkpoint or a guard. During the day they allow people to go out [and] get their most basic needs, but once it is dark outside they are permitted to shoot and kill anything that is moving.”

Hiba Khalil was born in Tripoli and now works as a senior program officer for District-based World Learning, which offers international programs on education, exchange, and development.

Libyan-American Abdul Nashnoush says he thinks the military action against Col. Moammar Gadhafi came too late and is not enough. He said LIbyans are still in danger. He's had limited success keeping in touch with family and friends. (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)
Libyan-American Abdul Nashnoush says he thinks the military action against Col. Moammar ... more >

Ms. Khalil said her immediate family lives in the United States, but she knows many fellow Libyan-Americans who have lost loved ones since the revolt against the Gadhafi regime began. While grateful for what the U.S. has done to date, she said there is much more that can be done.

“The Libyan community, and I think I speak for most Libyan-Americans, welcome the U.S. cause and action taken,” she said. “How could we stand back and not intervene when there was a massacre happening?”

But, she added, “we also feel that we need to go further. We want the U.S. to free up the Libyan assets that belong to the Libyan people.”

Both Libyan-Americans reject any easy comparison between the mission in Libya and the U.S.-led campaign to oust Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 2003. They also say the clashes in Libya do not amount to a civil or religious war.

“Many people have this misconception that Libya is a tribal country and this is not the case at all,” Ms. Khalil said. “We know it is not going to be like Iraq because we do not have all of these sects.”

“This is basically war between the people of Libya and [Col. Gadhafi‘s] regime,” Mr. Nashnoush said. “He really turned the country into a war zone.”

Mr. Nashnoush said he fears outsiders many not fully understand how far Col. Gadhafi, whom he called “the most vicious, aggressive tyrant of our time,” will go to remain in power.

Though their families have been in the United States for decades, both Libyan-Americans say they look to the day when they can return to a liberated country in peace.

“As much as I am an American citizen, I feel the belonging to my roots, and once this war ends I look forward to going back,” Mr. Nashnoush said.

“We wait, we dream, we hope for the day that we can go back and be united with our Libyan families across Libya,” added Ms. Khalil.