Omar Mukhtar – Muslim Warrior

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Omar Al-Mukhtar Muhammad Ibn Farhat Bredan, known among the Colonial Italians as Matari of the Mnifa, was the leader of Cyrenaican Resistance against the Italian Colonization of Libya and a prominent figure of the Senussi Movement, he is Considered the National Hero of Libya and a symbol of Resistance in the Arab World, Beginning in 1911, he organized and, for nearly twenty years, led native resistance against the Colonial Italians, after many attempts, the Italian Armed forces managed to capture Al-Mukhtar near Slonta and hanged him in 1931.

Omar Al-Mukhtar also fought against the French Colonization of Chad and the British Occupation of Egypt.

1.Early life
‘Omar Al-Mukhtar was born in 1862 (or 1858) to a poor family in the town of Zanzur near Tobruk , belonging to the Mnifa Clan, in the region of Cyrenaica under Ottoman control, young Omar lost his father early on, and spent his youth in poverty, he was adopted by Sharif El Gariani, nephew of Hussein Ghariani, a political-religious leader in Cyrenaica, and received his early education at the local mosque, before continuing his studying for eight years at the Senussi university in Jaghbub, the holy city of the Senussi Tariqa , He became a popular expert on the Koran and an imam, joining the confraternity of the Senussi, he also came to be well informed of the social structure of his society, as he was chosen to settle inter-tribal disputes.

Mukhtar developed a strong relationship with the Senussid Movement during his years in Jaghbub, in 1895, Al-Mahdi Senoussi traveled with him south to Kufra, and on another occasion further south to Karo in Chad, where he was appointed as sheikh of Zawiyat Ayn Kalk, when the Colonial French advanced on Chad in 1899 he was sent among other Senussites to help defend from the invaders, as the Senussi considered their expansion dangerous for their Missionary activity in Central and West Africa. in 1902, Omar was recalled north after the death of Al-Mahdi, the new Senussi leader Ahmed Sharif as-Senussi appointed him as Sheikh of the troubled Zawiyat Laqsur in Northern Cyrenaica.

2.Italian invasion
In October 1911, during the Italo-Turkish War, the Royal Navy under the command of Admiral Luigi Faravelli reached the shores of Libya, then a territory subject to Ottoman Turkish control. The admiral demanded that the Turkish administration and garrison surrender their territory to the Italians or incur the immediate destruction of the city of Tripoli and Benghazi. The Turks and their Libyan allies withdrew to the countryside instead of surrendering, and the Italians bombarded the cities for three days, then proclaimed the Tripolitanians to be “committed and strongly bound to Italy.This marked the beginning of a series of battles between the Italian colonial forces and the Libyan armed opposition in the East of Libya (Cyrenaica) under Omar Mukhtar for 22 years.

3.Guerrilla warfare
A teacher of the Qur’an by profession, Mukhtar was also skilled in the strategies and tactics of desert warfare. He knew local geography well and used that knowledge to advantage in battles against the Italians, who were unaccustomed to desert warfare. Mukhtar repeatedly led his small, highly alert groups in successful attacks against the Italians, after which they would fade back into the desert terrain. Mukhtar’s men skillfully attacked outposts, ambushed troops, and cut lines of supply and communication. The Italian army was left astonished and embarrassed by his guerrilla tactics.

4.Capture and execution
Mukhtar’s struggle of nearly twenty years came to an end on 11 September 1931, when he was wounded in battle near Slonta, then captured by the Italian army. The Italians treated the native leader hero as a prize catch. His resilience had an impact on his jailers, who later remarked upon his steadfastness. His interrogators stated that Mukhtar recited verses of peace from the Qur’an.

In three days, Mukhtar was tried, convicted, and, on 14 September 1931, sentenced to be hanged publicly (historians and scholars have questioned whether his trial was fair or impartial). When asked if he wished to say any last words, Mukhtar replied with a Qur’anic phrase: “We surely belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”.[this quote needs a citation] On 16 September 1931, on the orders of the Italian court and with Italian hopes that Libyan resistance would die with him, Mukhtar was hanged before his followers in the POW camp of Suluq at the age of 73 years.

5.Legacy
Mukhtar’s face appears on the Libyan ten-dinar bill.
His final years were depicted in the movie Lion of the Desert (1981), starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, and Irene Papas. It was based on the struggles of Mukhtar against Rodolfo Graziani’s forces.
Omar Al-Mukhtar University (1961)

In 2009, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi wore a photograph of Mukhtar in Italian captivity on his chest while on a state visit to Rome, and brought along Mukhtar’s elderly son during the visit.
With the Libyan Civil War beginning 17 February 2011, Omar Mukhtar again became a symbol for a united, free Libya and his picture is depicted on various flags and posters of the Free Libya movement. Rebel forces named one of their brigades the “Omar Mukhtar brigade” after him.
A masjid is named after Mukhtar in Tampa, Florida, USA, known as Masjid Omar Al Mokhtar
A street is named after Mukhtar in Gaza City, known as Omar Mukhtar Street.
A street is named after Mukhtar in Cairo, Egypt, known as Omar Al Mukhtar Street.
A street is named after Mukhtar in the West Bay area of Doha, Qatar known as “Omar Al Mukhtar Street”.
A street is named after Mukhtar in Tunisia, in the city of Bizerta.
A Road is named after Mukhtar in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, “Omar Al Mukhtar Road”.

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