Libyan protests
People climb flag poles in front of a building purported to be the internal security headquarters in Libya's second city of Benghazi in this still grab taken from video uploaded Feb. 20. Internet access was cut off in Libya over the weekend, and observers are watching to see if the government attempts to cut connections again. REUTERS

Khamis Gaddafi, a son of Libya ruler Moammar Gaddafi, recruited French-speaking Sub-Saharan African mercenaries to shoot live rounds at pro-democracy protestors, reported Al Arabiya, citing sources in the city of Benghazi.

These sources claim this knowledge because they’ve captured some of the mercenaries, who confessed their identity and the fact that Khamis Gaddafi hired them.

The sources also said they saw non-Libyan mercenaries flown in from other African countries land in the Benina International Airport near Benghazi.

Al Arabiya did not report or speculate on which countries these mercenaries are from. Many African mercenaries have historically come from South Africa. Ironically, Libya is another country known for supplying mercenaries around the continent. However, because these mercenaries are non-Libyan and French-speaking, they’re probably not from these two countries.

Rania Masri, a Lebansese activist, said via her Twitter account that analysts think the mercenaries may be from Chad, a French-speaking African country.

African leaders are no strangers to the concept for hiring foreign mercenaries. Indeed, many have been accused of importing mercenaries in the past – both from other African countries and outside of Africa.

In Gaddafi’s case, using mercenaries provide a key advantage: these paid soldiers will have no problem killing Libyans, whereas some of Libya’s own military personnel are hesitant.

Moreover, even before the massive protests, Libya is a country that historically fractured along regional and tribal divide, and the Libyan army may be defecting along those same lines.

Thus, the specter of a civil/regional war may be another incentive for Gaddafi to import outside help whose loyalty is to him (or his money) alone.