Who are Libya's Rebels?

Transitional National Council is headed by a judge who found the Bulgarian nurses guilty in sham trial.

Gil Ronen ,

Libyan rebel fighters
Libyan rebel fighters
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Numerous Western nations have recognized the Libyan opposition Transitional National Council as the legitimate leadership of Libya, instead of Muammar Qaddafi. However, the views of the TNC's members are not well known and what they plan for post-Qaddafi Libya remains a mystery at this time.

When she announced U.S. recognition of the TNC last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the council as "the legitimate governing authority for Libya."

According to VOA news, the recognized leader of the TNC is Mustafa Abdul Jalil, a judge from the eastern Libyan town of al-Bayida who in recent years had regularly criticized Qaddafi's government.

However, Jalil himself had been part of "the system" for a long time. He resigned as Libya's justice minister in February when the uprising against Qaddafi's nearly 42 years of autocratic rule began. He had been in the position for four years.

As rebels surged into Tripoli Monday, Jalil proclaimed, "The Qaddafi era is over."

Jalil has been noted in some news outlets for his stance against various human rights violations in Libya. On the other hand, it was he who sentenced to death six Bulgarian nurses whom Libya accused of intentionally infecting 400 babies with HIV. The nurses were tortured and sentenced to death twice before their eventual extradition and release, in what is generally considered a sham trial.

According to VOA, two other men "have proved important in representing the rebels to the outside world." These are Mahmoud Jebril, who had fostered privatization of state-run industries when he was head of the country's National Economic Development Council, and Ali Aziz al-Eisawi, former Libyan ambassador to India, who was the first of Qaddafi's envoys to resign.

The TNC has 31 members, but only 13 were identified in the early stages of the uprising. The rest remained secret for security reasons, but were believed to be living in the western part of Libya that until recently was under Qaddafi's control.