Chicagoans with ties to Libya react

March 20, 2011 6:10:23 AM PDT
Members of Congress from our area and people with family in Libya shared their thoughts on the allied attack.

In some parts of Libya, communications have been cut off for days or even weeks. So for many Libyan-Americans here in Chicago, news reports are all they have.

On Saturday night in Orland Park, some families with relatives in Libya gathered for support.

The Adiubs of Chicago hold Moammar Gadhafi responsible for the danger facing their loved-ones.

"You're going to work, you're going to school, and literally, as you're doing everyday things, you remember in the back of your mind your family is getting bombed," said Abdulrahman Adiub, who has relatives in Libya.

Mohammad Baiu has not been able to reach his parents in the eastern part of Libya and just heard reports that Gadhafi's forces had bombed their neighborhood.

"It's torture. I mean, there's nothing you can do. You try and do something, but there's nothing you can do," Baiu said.

Baiu has already lost family friends at the hands of Gadhafi's forces.

Abbas Ibrahim, who spent six years as a political prisoner in Libya, also learned of a friend's death.

"I cried because he's my close friend. He's a very, very educated man," Ibrahim said.

Gadhafi has threatened retaliation in the form of terrorism and he has tens of billions of dollars to bankroll such operations.

"That is why I think the president made a right call. Gadhafi has turned into political cancer. He hates France, he hates Britain, and he hates the United States. If he had been allowed to win, he would have supported terrorism," said U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

"Nobody likes the idea of war. Nobody likes the idea of intervention into the affairs of another country. But then, of course, there are times when you cannot stand by," U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Chicago.

For the U.S. and its allies, success could depend on securing a single city.

National security expert Robert Pape of the University of Chicago says for weeks, he's urged the White House to focus on Benghazi, a rebel-held city that Gadhafi is hoping to re-capture.

"Benghazi is the future of the Libyan revolution. If we lose Benghazi, then it's not just a matter of months before Gadhafi loses power, it will probably take years," Pape said.

Some of the people ABC7 spoke with Saturday night with relatives in Libya say they have been able to get limited word on loved-ones through Twitter and other social networking sites. Still, it's been very spotty.

Some say it's been two weeks since they've heard from relatives.