Leptis Magna (AFP) — Ali Hribish stands by the Arch of Septimius Severus which dominates Libya’s ancient city of Leptis Magna, brandishing letters of thanks for his efforts to protect the site.
The former electricity company employee in his 50s has become the Roman city’s unlikely saviour, protecting it from looting and vandalism as chaos rocks the country following the 2011 downfall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Despite having no background in archaeology, Hribish gathered a band of fighters who dedicated themselves to preserving the ancient Roman city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
While others set up armed groups to protect banks and public buildings, “we immediately thought of Leptis Magna,” says Ashraf Mohammed, 33, one of the first fighters to join Hribish’s group.
“A bank can be rebuilt, but our monuments and our history are things we can’t replace,” he says.