Disaffected young Muslims like Wahid Farjani were supposed to be the core of Osama bin Laden's global jihad. And yet when news of his death reached the frontline volunteers guarding Ajdabiya yesterday some didn't believe it but most simply didn't care.
“ I don't know if Osama is really dead, they're always talking about it on television but then he reappears,” said the shoeless 31 year old Farjani trailing an antique rifle by his side.
“As a Libyan I've seen nothing from him, he never came here.”
Like most of his fellow Shabab fighters in the war-torn wastes beyond Ajdabiya, Farjani was unemployed, with no flat or wife. This was Gaddafi's fault, he said, not the West's.
“I'm not much good at politics,” said Farjani's little brother Mustafa, shouldering his rocket launcher and joining in. “But I think Gaddafi is the real al-Qa'ida. If you look at what he's done here then he's the same as Osama.”
The highway going out from Ajdabiya's West Gate towards Brega where Col. Gaddafi's forces are dug in was scattered with burnt tanks and dead camels.
Twenty-four-year-old Abdullah Derani spent yesterday morning watching his western allies from Nato bombing their shared enemy a short drive to the west. A computing student turned Shabab captain, he was only now hearing about bin Laden.
“Some people here like him, they think he's a good Muslim, some don't. It's an individual thing.”
The real terrorist was “fuzzy hair” Gaddafi, he said. “For me Osama is not important, he's not our problem.”
A convoy of six pickups with an assortment of missile launchers welded to their backs drove up on its way to battle. A young driver who gave his name as Mohamed and said he used to work in the job centre in Benghazi was clearly angry at the news from Pakistan.
“Osama was my father,” he called out. “This is a sad day.”
Away from the front in the largely deserted city, the Morning Cafe had al Jazeera news rolling silently on a large screen while anti-Gaddafi rap songs blared from speakers on top of the fridge.
Engineering student Ahmed Sharif, 19, wasn't mourning the passing of the al-Qa'ida leader in Abottabad.
“He killed a lot of people. More than that he killed a lot of Muslims, a lot of Arabs. What's that got to do with Islam?” he asked.
In the background the rap reached a crescendo with the lyrics “the Libyans tell you to fuck off now Gaddafi”.
Economics student Ali Mohammed Rageh, 18, thought the way Bin Laden had been killed was going to bounce back on America.
“ Why did they kill him? Why not capture him and show him to the world?” he asked. “They have made him a martyr and this could make al Qa'ida stronger.”Reuse content