About 350 Libyan guerrillas trained by the United States to fight dictator Moammar Gadhafi have been scattered in undisclosed locations in the United States to be resettled at government expense, officials said Friday.
The decision to accept the soldiers of the self-styled Libya National Army as refugees ended a six-month odyssey for the men who once served in Gadhafi's expeditionary force that invaded Chad, Libya's neighbor to the south, and later decided to attack their north African homeland.On Thursday, the guerrillas were quietly flown from Kenya to New York. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that after they landed in the United States they were sent "to various destinations,"
He refused to say exactly where they went or to identify the private agencies the government has retained to help the new arrivals.
However, some apparently were to be settled in New York City and in Phoenix, according to local groups working in conjunction with the State Department.
The Phoenix director of the Tolstoy Foundation, David Lockey, said the men being sent there were mainly mechanics and pilots, mostly high school graduates in their 30s.
Lockey said he had "heard good things about this group. They are hard workers. I don't expect any trouble."
Timothy McCully, a program officer for refugee affairs with Interaction, a refugee agency clearinghouse in New York City, said the government had asked his group several months ago to help find places for some of the Libyans "because they were outside the normal pipeline."
"The resettlement agencies responded to the need to resettle these people as anybody else," McCully said. "They were given no different priority."
A reversal of political fortunes in Chad had turned them from favored revolutionaries-in-exile to unwanted outcasts.
Pentagon sources said the force conducted several operations into Libya but would not say whether the troops ever engaged in combat or what the cross-border expeditions entailed.