With promises of gaudy cash payments of $10,000 to join and an addition $1,000 a day to fight, thousands of ethnic Tuaregs are said to be flocking to join the mercenary forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, the last vestigates of support he has since most of the military defected to the side of protesters.
The traditionally nomadic Tuaregs are a small minority in Libya, living mainly in the southwest corner of the nation, but the reports today are that the ones flocking to fight are not Libyan, but rather are from other nations, particularly Mali and Algeria. Gadhafi has been accused for decades of having backed Tuareg secessionist movements in northern Mali.
The comments are the first details of exactly where the well armed and surprisingly motivated foreign mercenaries the Gadhafi regime is relying on are coming from, though it remains to be seen how long he has the cash to keep this force on his side.
Though the Gadhafi regime itself is under investigation for crimes against humanity by the ICC, the Obama Administration ensured last week that the mercenary fighters would be immune from such prosecution assuming they come from non-ICC member nations. This will, it seems, grant immunity to most of the fighters.