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Is an American college student fighting with Libya's rebels?

21-year-old Chris Jeon, a student at UCLA, thought it would be "cool" to join Libya's rebels this summer.
Libya gaddafi american rebel 09 01 11Enlarge
Libyan rebels guard their advanced military position near Al-Sadaadi on the road between Misrata and Sirte on August 31, 2011. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Libyan rebels extended on Thursday a deadline for pro-Gaddafi forces to surrender the city of Sirte, one of the last remaining strongholds of troops loyal to Libya's embattled leader of 42 years.

The rebels have vowed to take Sirte by military force if Gaddafi loyalists do not lay down their arms by the new deadline - September 10.

Gaddafi, whose whereabouts are still unknown, responded with the threat of continued aggression.

"If Libya goes up in flames, who will be able to govern it? Let it burn. They don't want to rule Libya. They cannot rule it as long as we are armed. We are still armed. We will fight in every valley, in every street, in every oasis, and every town," said Gaddafi in an audio recording reported first by Al-Arabiya, according to Reuters.

In the middle of that potentially violent showdown in central Libya is Chris Jeon - a 21-year-old American college student who speaks no Arabic and carries a Russian-made shotgun, according to reports.

Jeon apparently traveled to Libya for the summer because he thought it would be "cool".

“It is the end of my summer vacation, so I thought it would be cool to join the rebels," Jeon told a UAE-based newspaper.

The National reports:

In a daring, one might even say foolhardy, decision two weeks ago, Mr Jeon flew on a one-way ticket from Los Angeles to Cairo. He then travelled by train to Alexandria and by a series of buses to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. From there, he hitched a ride with rebels heading west towards the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

At first glance, Mr Jeon looked like someone who took a wrong turn on their way to the beach or the Santa Monica Pier. He wore a blue basketball basketball jersey emblazoned with a script “Los Angeles” and the number 44.

Jeon, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, was apparently eager to join the rebel cause in Libya's 6-month civil war.

“I want to fight in Sirte!” Jeon yelled while gesturing in the direction of the Gaddafi stronghold, reported the National.

This, however, despite the fact that the young student could not operate a gun.

Also from the National:

"How do you fire this thing?” Jeon asked on Wednesday, as a bearded rebel handed him an AK-47. Locating the trigger of the assault rifle and switching off the safety, Mr Jeon fired it in the air in two short bursts.

It was unclear exactly when - or how - Jeon planned to return to Los Angeles.

Jeon was sure about one thing: the young man did not want his family in the U.S. to find out about his little "road trip" in North Africa.

“Whatever you do, don’t tell my parents,” the man begged the reporter for the National.  “They don’t know I’m here.”


 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/american-college-student-fighting-libyas-rebels