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Libyan Exile Returning Home After 30 Years

Dr. Fathi Fadhli has been living in exile from Libya for 30 years, but plans to return after the apparent downfall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. (Credit: CBS)

Dr. Fathi Fadhli has been living in exile from Libya for 30 years, but plans to return after the apparent downfall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. (Credit: CBS)

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (CBS) – Libyan rebels stormed Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli on Tuesday, seizing weapons and loot. Gadhafi was not inside, but rebels saw the event as the effective collapse of his 42-year reign over Libya.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, it was a big reason a local man was heading back to Libya, after 30 years in exile.

It was a happy day for the Fadhli family in Bridgeview as rebels took over Gadhafi’s compound.

“The battles in other cities were, like, taking months and weeks and we expected that the battle in Tripoli would take months,” Dr. Fathi Fadhli said. “I had no doubt that we’re gonna have victory. I had no doubt, but not that fast.”

His wife, Rajea Fadhli, said that as she watched the rebels going into Tripoli, she was “crying and then very happy. It’s … the greatest moment of my life.”

They constantly have been watching what appears to be the end of a 42-year reign of terror, which they left years ago.

“I’ve been writing against the regime for thirty years,” Fathi Fadhli said. The power of his words meant he was powerless to return home, because he would have been killed “in no time,” he said.

The tyranny touched the family he left behind. A cousin of his died in the Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, one of the events that sowed the seeds of discontent that ultimately brought hope for Libya’s future.

Asked if he has concerns about what will happen next in Libya, Fathi Fadhli said, “I believe they should (be) focusing on the security of the people, the safety of people.”

He said will be part of whatever happens next. He’s going back to be a voice for free speech and human rights.

“This is what I want to see there in my country,” he said.

His sons never lived in Libya, but they said they lived with the oppression of it because of their parents’ experience.

Fathi Fadhli wrote his final article on the opposition. It’s a letter to his dad, who passed during the dictatorship, titled: “To My Generous Father: The Tyrant Has Fallen.”