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Meet the 32-year-old militiaman holding Libya’s oil hostage

January 14th, 2014
03:46 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A 32-year-old Libyan militia leader, sitting since July on billions of dollars of oil in the eastern part of the country, was defiant in an exclusive interview Tuesday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“This government has allowed Libya to become one of the most corrupted five states in the world,” Ibrahim Jadran said through an interpreter. “The government is not able to defend itself.”

Perhaps no single person better illustrates the post-war woes of Libya than Jadran.

In 2012, he was entrusted by the government to guard Libya's crucial eastern oil ports.

But last July he went rogue, seizing the ports – blocking oil exports – and demanding more autonomy and shared revenues for his eastern region, which he calls by its ancient Roman name, Cyrenaica.

“We used to be part of that government until the corruption became so visible, and the government started to sell oil without measuring units, and after we became certain that such a government is not credible and unable to rebuild the state. That’s why we declared independence of our province and we started to seek our fair rights.”

The government calls him an outlaw, says he has cost them billions of dollars in lost revenues, and has issued warrants for his arrest.

“We gave them three years to rebuild the institutions, but they were not able to do that or to secure the average citizen,” Jadran said. “This is a government whose prime minister was kidnapped. How could it secure or start the offensive of anything? This is a government of corruption and a government that's accused of all types of corruption.”

Jadran’s exact goals are a bit murky. He wants to return Libya to the federalist system it had in the mid-20th century, when the country was divided into three regions.

“The real solution here is fair distribution of wealth and fair distribution of decision making; to activate the federalism – the real federal system…and to build a government which takes care of the rebuilding of army and the building of police and the financial aspects.”

Jadran claims an astounding 23,000 militiamen – which is a huge number for a country Libya’s size, say the government and independent analysts.

“This number is true,” he said. “We have navy troops; we have army.”

Jadran is standing opposed not only to the government, but also Islamists, over which much concern has been expressed by the international community.

“We will not allow those groups to take safe haven in Libya and allow Libya to become another Iraq, another Syria or Afghanistan,” he said. “We are aspiring to a State of institutions and law and order.”

Thus far, Jadran has been unable to sell the oil he controls on the open market. Analysts say that he would be hard pressed to find a major oil corporation that would deal with him, given the pronounced legal questions surrounding him.

The Libyan Justice Minister, Salah Bashir Margani, told CNN that Jadran has made two unsuccessful attempts to export oil.

Jadran claimed that he is “about to start exporting oil,” and he will use those revenues to pay his soldiers – who by his own admission have not been paid for five months.

He would not disclose what, if any, international buyers he has lined up.

He was equally murky about where he gets his funding.

“Until now, we don't have any finance coming except from businessmen who believe in our cause,” he said.

“We are determined to export oil in order to secure finance for the military, the police and the administration – particularly the troops that protect the oil facilities. We will do that in the near future.”

UPDATE: This post was updated to reflect the fact that Jadran was speaking through an interpreter.

READ MORE: Libya is not failing, PM Zeidan tells Amanpour

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Grendizer

    Jathran is an opportunist Militia Warlord that yearns for money & power & the limelight. He is no more a glorified Mafia leader that takes with the gun. He is adding to the lawlessness, violence & corruption in Libya, not fighting or reducing it.

    January 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  2. mastermachiavel

    It is true though, the current government is pretty ineffectual in every conceivable way, although he probably doesn't realise the irony that separatists like himself aren't merely the symptom of such a fractured state but also the cause...

    January 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  3. Crazylib

    Lol he want to export oil in order to pay his militia.Now who is gonna buy his bloody oil?Let us watch this fun movie of a great 'revolution'.Gadafi had his weaknesses but he sure knew how to deal with this confused characters.

    January 15, 2014 at 12:48 am | Reply
  4. kilani

    Thanks Christiane for this interview with Mr. Ibrahim Jadran, but let me disagree with you in describing what he did as Rogue, on the contrary he is very honest and brave man, because he is fighting agains the most corrupt government in the world, and to explain how corrupt this government is i would like to share some numbers with you, Libya revenue in the post Gadafi era was 330 billion dollars!!!! 2012 budget was 60 billion and 2013 budget was 70 billion, and the Libyan population is only 6 million people !!!! what they have done with all that money ???? literally nothing!!! they did not build any new school or hospital or bridge or power plant, they did not establish police forces and professional army!!!! they did nothing!!! actually they created some extreme islamic militias and have been sponsoring them with the oil revenue!!! So, the bottom line is that Libyan people have no jobs, no security , no infrastructure!!! and worst Libya become the new safe heaven for Alqaida and their affiliates, for all that and more i support Mr Jadarn action.

    January 15, 2014 at 1:38 am | Reply
    • rafaa

      I'm agree with you also Im live in benghazi libya as this man said the truth

      January 15, 2014 at 7:14 am | Reply
    • Agori Moh

      This man is left from the Chadi mercenaries that Gadafi brough to Libya to kill his own people. Now after the world helped the Libyan people to get red off Gadafi, Jadran after getting weapons and mercenaries from Gadafi best friend Idres Debi Chad president to revenge from the Libyan people. Jadran till now he has not got the Libyan nationality neither the social security number.

      January 15, 2014 at 8:05 am | Reply
    • Mudit

      Dear Mr. Ibrahim Jadran, I am adding to my previous message posted above. You may reach us at our IDD phone number +91-9028044466

      January 15, 2014 at 8:31 am | Reply
    • Mudit

      We are gonna destroy you Agori Moh. We will annihilate you if you dare to touch us.

      January 15, 2014 at 8:34 am | Reply
  5. Jeff

    Only the faces and names change.

    January 15, 2014 at 3:32 am | Reply
  6. Abba Sule

    Libya's situation is sad, Libya was not ready for a Western imposed regime change. And it may take years for Libya to get back on its feet. It's very unfortunate, Western selfish interference has resulted in great hardship not only to Libyans but to hundred of thousands of migrant workers from the Middle East and Africa. It has destroyed the centuries old peaceful co-esixtance between different communities and faiths in Libya. It makes it easy for outlaws from Mali to Syria to access weapons. Like in similar situations before, Libya is now left alone by the international community to sort her problems. It's sad.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:11 am | Reply
    • William

      Pal, the west was/is not interested in Libya, we don't care who is in power they are all the same: killing their own people and robbing their country. Don't blame the west, Jews, Cats & Dogs for your backwardness, blame your cult. Until you get rid of that cult you will be prone to have more dictators. Have fun.

      January 15, 2014 at 6:22 am | Reply
      • Agori Moh

        I my self thank the west and the all Libyan friends to help the Libyans get red of the Gadafi Regiem, which was thw rost ever dictator on earth, and it was the right time, bacuse it was just days and the second sun of Gadafi Saif who was more dicator than his father killing people evey where. now yes new government is partially robbing the country but the good in this governments is avoiding killing. Gadafi was robbing and killing the same time any Libyans or others every where.

        January 15, 2014 at 8:13 am |
  7. Mudit

    This is my message to Mr. Ibrahim Jadran. We represent a group of private companies based in Asia. We are an EPC(Engineering,Procurement and Construction)-LSTK contractor. We are interested in doing business with you and we are ready to pay for your crude oil if you can help us secure the supply. Please contact us at our email ID: with your contact phone/fax numbers ASAP.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:07 am | Reply
    • Agori Moh

      If any of you come close to the Libyan shore you will be crushed and we mean it crushed.

      January 15, 2014 at 8:16 am | Reply
  8. Mudit

    Agori Moh, we will annihilate you all if you dare to touch us and our employees.

    January 15, 2014 at 8:38 am | Reply
  9. Boukhrais

    Many people in the west of Libya don’t know why the east of Libya (Cyrenaica.)was liberated form Kaddafi regime just in 92 hours . they still don't know why the people of east of Libya did that in very short time? . we in the east( Cyrenaica.) not just against Kaddafi himself but we against all his regime . We fighting Kaddafi to get our rights to have some benefit s of our resources, not just to change the old regime and keep everything in under control of Tripoli .

    January 15, 2014 at 8:59 am | Reply
  10. jambone

    lots of truth to what he says-especially if your one who personally has been there or live there..actually america would benefit if their people stood-up more to the corruption there as well..its just more hidden glamourously thats all..

    January 15, 2014 at 9:15 am | Reply
  11. Abdalla al bargoi

    Well it's not Ibrahim al jadran who is stopping exporting the oil the who people of Cyrenaica with him and if the tripoli government try t steal our oil again we will deal with them different this time and will get our country of Cyrenaica again we fed up with them stealing our oil for 54 years

    January 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm | Reply
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