The National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) is an opposition movement to Muammar al-Gaddafi's regime in Libya. NFSL was established on 7 October 1981 at a press conference held in Khartoum, Sudan's capital. Its original leader was Muhammad Yusuf al-Magariaf, formerly Libyan ambassador to India. The NFSL is led by Ibrahim Abdulaziz Sahad, a former Libyan military officer and diplomat. The most recent National Congress of the NFSL was held in the United States in July, 2007.
NFSL was based in Sudan until 1985 when the regime of Colonel Nimeiry fell. It opposed military and dictatorial rule in Libya, and called for a democratic government with constitutional guarantees, free elections, a free press, and separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. NFSL launched a wide campaign to topple Gaddafi in Libya, establishing a short-wave radio station, a commando military training camp and also published a bi-monthly newsletter, Al Inqadh (Salvation). According to various sources, the United States Central Intelligence Agency had trained and financed the NFSL.
The NFSL organizational structure is formed by 2 primary bodies. The National Congress (المجلس الوطني) is the highest authority in the NFSL, and the Permanent Bureau (المكتب الدائم) is elected during the National Congress sessions and represents the legislative authority when it is not in session. The Permanent Bureau is also responsible for overseeing the executive body of the NFSL. The Executive Committee (اللجنة التنفذية) is led by the Secretary General, who is also elected during the National Congress sessions. The Executive Committee is made of several Commissioners who oversee the multiple programs of the opposition organization, as well as the Deputy Secretary General.
The NFSL Executive Committee is currently led by Secretary General Ibrahim Abdulaziz Sahad, who was re-elected for his 2nd term during the 5th National Congress held in July 2007. Mr. Sahad has appointed Mr. Mohammed Ali Abdalla as his Deputy, and selected 4 others to be members of the Executive Committee and to lead the different commissions formed by the Executive Committee. The NFSL's Permanent Bureau (National Congress) leadership is currently led by Mr. Fawzi al-Tarabulsi, who was elected as Vice President of the National Congress and became the President upon Dr. Suleiman Abdalla's resignation as President of the National Congress in 2008. The Bureau's leadership also includes Vice-President Mr. Mohamed Saad and Rapporteur of the Bureau Mr. Mohamed Ali Binwasil.
Three weeks later, on 8 May 1984, NFSL's commandos took part in a daring attack on Gaddafi's headquarters at Bab al-Aziziyah barracks near Tripoli in an attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader. The attack was thwarted when the group's leader, Ahmed Ibrahim Ihwas, was captured when trying to enter Libya at the Tunisian border. Although the coup attempt failed and Gaddafi escaped unscathed, dissident groups claimed that some eighty Libyans, Cubans, and East Germans had been killed in the operation. However, some 2,000 people were arrested in Libya following the attack, and eight were hanged publicly.
NFSL continued its efforts to topple Gaddafi and formed the Libyan National Army (LNA), after a group of soldiers, taken prisoner by Chad during the Chadian-Libyan conflict, defected from the Libyan Army and joined the NFSL in 1987. The LNA was later evacuated from Chad after the President Hissène Habré was overthrown by one of his former officers, Idriss Déby, who was backed by Gaddafi.
WPC Yvonne Fletcher
On 17 April 1984, a demonstration in London of Libyan dissidents was organised by NFSL outside the Libyan embassy. One of the police officers controlling the demonstration, WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot directly in front of the embassy by a Libyan government operative, and died in hospital shortly after. WPC Fletcher's murder quickly led to the severing of diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya.
Having apparently given up the idea of a military takeover, the NFSL continues its opposition to Gaddafi by media campaigns and forming political alliances with other opposition groups. The NFSL was one of 7 other Libyan opposition groups that formed the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO) which was formed in June 2005 at the 1st NCLO conference in London. The NFSL and 3 other organizations withdrew from this alliance in February 2008 citing differences of opinion. In a statement issued by the NFSL on February 28, 2008 , the NFSL announced its withdrawal from the NCLO due to what it called "straying away from the 'National Accord of 2005'". The NFSL has continued its media campaigns, primarily utilizing online mediums. Though relatively weaker than before, and without a clear method of carrying out its objective of topling the Gaddafi regime in Libya, the NFSL continues to be recognized as the leading opposition movement to Col. Gaddafi's regime in Libya.
The group's position has been bolstered in recent weeks as the 2011 revolt against Gaddafi's rules have intensified in major towns and cities throughout Libya.