NEWS — 11 August 2014


By Madeline O’Connor

AN Irishman who commanded rebel groups in both Libya and Syria has been elected as the mayor of Tripoli, it has been reported.

Mahdi al-Harati, an Irish citizen from Firhouse in Dublin, was chosen as the city head by the Libyan capital’s new municipal council last Wednesday, according to state news agency Lana.

Al-Harati, 41, who was resident in Ireland for twenty years and married to an Irishwoman, went back to the war-torn North African country in 2011 and was involved in the armed revolt that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

It is believed Al-Harati founded a brigade that fought its way into the capital that year in a series of gun battles.

Also an Arabic teacher, he was popular with media outlets for his English in a country whose main language is Arabic.

Mr al-Harati went on to become deputy military chief in Tripoli, before leaving for Syria to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

He was also one of those seized after an Israeli attack on a Gaza flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, in April 2010. Reports suggested he had been wounded, and spent nine days in a Tel-Aviv jail.

Al-Harati was interviewed on RTE talk-show the Late Late Show in 2011.

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