Gaddafi: The Endgame
The Long Road to Tripoli: part one
We follow a group of Libyan exiles as they sacrifice everything to return home for the final assault on Tripoli.
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2011 10:31

When Libyans rose up against the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan exiles living abroad were confronted by questions about who they are and what role they should play in their country's struggle for freedom. For many, the answer was clear: they wanted to be a part of their country's revolution.

The revolution would bring together Libyans from all walks of life. The Long Road to Tripoli is two one-hour documentaries that tell the story of a successful Libyan businessman who left the safety of London to go home, his son who had never before seen war and a property developer who became a revolutionary.

They joined a force of thousands of other ordinary Libyans fighting for freedom. Some had never before held a gun or come under fire. The road they all shared led to the same place and the same hope: to free Libyans from 42 years of Gaddafi's tyranny.

It is a story of extraordinary courage by ordinary people.

Written and directed by Anne Reevell of Moonbeam Films, these films offer a revealing behind-the-scenes account of a revolution, a slice of history in which people took back power.

"It's very rare that you get a ringside seat in history. I was lucky enough to see a revolution through the eyes of a remarkable group of people," says Reevell.

Part One: The Long Road to Tripoli

The first episode of The Long Road to Tripoli begins in springtime in London, where for weeks the news has been dominated by the political awakenings in Tunisia, Egypt and then Libya.

For 30-year-old Libyan exile Ibrahim El Mayat springtime has been given a new meaning and a new challenge: to return home.

"For me, growing up in the UK, I was always aware of my identity as a Libyan and an Englishman, but I didn't live there so I didn't feel the reality of growing up in Libya in the really difficult times," Ibrahim says.

"While I was enjoying a good life, my family in Libya had to queue for clothes, they had rations for food, they had absolutely no luxuries. They were really trapped; they were under siege in the country."

When the Libyan uprising began in February, Ibrahim and hundreds of other Libyans living in the UK began working together to send aid to those affected by the fighting. But for Ibrahim, sending aid from the comfort of the UK was not enough - he wanted to return to Libya.

"The people have found their spirit again and they've woken up from the coma of the Gaddafi years. I am part of that. I'm a Libyan. Struggling for freedom and fighting for this cause is part of the revolution. We are all revolutionaries."

Ibrahim El Mayat, a Libyan expat

Ibrahim's father, Abduladim, fled to London from Libya 30 years ago. During the 1980s, Gaddafi pursued Abduladim and others like him, sending death squads to assassinate Libyans living in London. Abduladim managed to escape with his life, but was left injured and permanently scarred.

"We lived in Tripoli. Gaddafi, he took my house, he took it by force. He took everything from us," Abduladim explains.

Father and son are motivated by a desire to return to Tripoli to take part in their country's revolution.

"I would be very happy if I died there fighting for my country. If we successfully liberate Tripoli it will be fantastic. I hope I can get back. I want to go back to my house," Abduladim says.

This film follows Ibrahim and his family as they decide to send a convoy of vehicles to supply and equip a group of rebels based in the Western Mountains of Libya. With the help of a London-based property developer, they plan to return to Libya to support anti-Gaddafi fighters.

Ibrahim buys two ambulances and leads a convoy from the UK, across Europe and on to Tunisia, where he meets up with his father and they both join up with the rebel group, helping to arm and train other Libyans for the final assault on Tripoli.

Ibrahim says: "The people have found their spirit again and they've woken up from the coma of the Gaddafi years. I am part of that. I'm a Libyan. Struggling for freedom and fighting for this cause is a part of the revolution. We are all revolutionaries."

Part one of The Long Road to Tripoli can be seen from Thursday, December 8, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1200; Wednesday: 0100; Thursday: 0600.

Click here for more on Al Jazeera's Gaddafi: The Endgame series.
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