Tareg Gazel is a half-Irish, half-Libyan teenager with absolutely no military training who hunts snipers with a hunting rifle on the war-torn streets of his hometown.
Back before the Libyan revolution broke out earlier this year and turned his beloved homeland into a raging Fallout-style desert warzone, Tareg Gazel was just a regular 19-year-old kid who enjoying hanging out, watching skateboarding videos, and not having people shoot at him with high-caliber weaponry non-stop every single day. Describing his pre-war occupation as "just chilling'", Gazel's life changed pretty dramatically back in February, when the citizens of his native land suddenly decided they were sick of having their civil liberties ass-humped up and down the Mediterranean by the autocratic dictator Muammar Gaddafi. When the Arab Spring revolts successfully topped tyrannical regimes in Tunisia and Egypt with bloodless populist revolutions, the good people of Libya finally saw a golden chance to finally free themselves from the yoke of oppression – and young Tareg Gazel and his family were some of the first people out there waving flags in the streets, calling for a peaceful transition of power, and demanding the resignation of Gaddafi.
But this wasn't Egypt or Tunisia, and Libyan presidente-por-vida Muammar Gaddafi didn't become the world's second-longest-running world (besides Castro, assuming the Cubans aren't Weekend at Bernie's-ing that guy around the island) by not knowing how to put down a revolution or two. So while the people may have wanted a peaceful change in power brought about through popular demand, and some other North African countries were willing to hand over the keys to Parliament without so much as asking the rebel leader to armwrestle for it, Gaddafi was more of a "you'll pry the Amazonian Guardswomen from my cold dead hands" kind of motherfucker. This bastard was a hardcore tyrant, and when shit started getting unruly in his fiefdom he didn't really have a problem preserving his 40+ year rule by sending his government-sanctioned goon squad to kick the shit out of dissidents, or ordering Libyan Air Force attack jets to strafe the peaceful demonstrations with a few racks of high-explosive clusterfuck bombs.
Oh, my God, they found me, I don't know how, but they found me.
It was in the midst of this spontaneous Civil-War-Out-of-Nowhere that shit started getting real for Tareg Gazel pretty fucking quickly. This kid came from a family that didn't want to just bend over and take it anymore, and, as a result of their disobedience to the ruling regime, they drew the attention of Gaddafi's personal douchebag armada pretty early on in the conflict. For starters, Tareg's beloved uncle was capped by a sniper while leaving his morning prayers at the Mosque, bleeding to death in the middle of the street because he had spoken out in favor of the revolution. After that, Gaddafi's forces imprisoned most of his family as dissidents just for good measure, and Tareg knew all too well that all his loved ones could probably look forward to were a couple weeks of torture followed by summary execution without trial.
He wasn't going to let that happen. He knew the time for peaceful revolution had ended. Now it was time for vengeance. Steven Segal style.
Without hesitation, the 19 year-old kid in a backwards baseball cap and a "Just Do It" t-shirt grabbed his hunting rifle, took to the streets with grim determination, and decided he was going to declare a one-man war of vengeance against every motherfucking sniper in Gaddafi's army – presumably because if he caused all of those fools to cough up their nuts with a side order of 7.62mm ammunition he'd eventually hit the guy who'd offed his uncle. That personal vendetta may never be definitively/satisfactorily concluded, but what we do know for sure is that after six months of hardcore back-alley sniper-to-sniper street warfare, this gunslinging teenager now commands a team of eight counter-sniper specialist operatives in an ongoing battle taking place on the very streets where he grew up. So we can only imagine that he's pretty good at this shit.
I know I'm probably going to hell for using this pic here,
but when I found it on an image search I knew it had to be done.
But I should point out that Tareg Gazel isn't just some crazy whack-ass beltway sniper lunatic sitting in a clock tower picking off douchebags he thinks might be associated with Gaddafi-ism. This dude is a dedicated hardass who has trained himself and dedicated himself specifically in counter-sniper activities – a method of service that I probably don't have to tell you is easily one of the most dangerous missions any sniper, professional or otherwise, can undertake. Basically his team's job is to sit around a secret base cleaning their weapons, and then when some reports come through on his radio that there's a completely concealed mercenary sniper headshotting civilians or pinning down rebel militia units, Tareg Gazel and his buddies haul ass to the middle of the goddamned sniper-infested battlefield and willingly putting themselves in the killzone so that they can try to cap the hidden assassin before he can return the favor.
This, of course, is complete insanity.
Lying completely motionless for as long as eight hours at a time while waiting for a well-armed, well-trained Libyan Army soldier with a high-powered scoped sniper rifle to waltz into your crosshairs isn't any picnic, especially when you're carrying a fucking hand-me-down bolt-action rifle (I assume he has upgraded his gear during the course of the war, but how technologically advanced could his initial weapon have been?), but Tareg Gazel has made it work somehow. By his own admission, "We're not SEALs or anything," but despite having zero professional training and going up against seasoned veteran soldiers, Gazel's motley gang has fought, survived, and won, sometimes claiming as many as 4 enemy snipers killed in a single night of operations (which, obviously, is a lot of kills for a counter-sniper).
Sure, patience, accuracy, and boom headshots are the primary prerequisites for sniper success, but winning a life-or-death game of wits and nerves also requires a little bit of cleverness and ingenuity as well. And Gazel's crew has it. Like, for instance, one of this guy's strategies is to tie a flashlight to a dog and send the pooch running around the streets of the city barking its ass off. Crouching motionless from their sniper perch, Gazel and his men carefully look for a laser sight dot to appear on the dog, then try extrapolate the sniper's position based on the angle of the dot so they can locate their target. When that becomes boring/routine/not insane enough, Gazel and his team sometimes just go outside run across the fucking street themselves, acting as human bait to DRAW THE FIRE OF AN ELITE SNIPER so that another team member can pop the bad guy when he shows himself.
Balls of steel, dude.
But hey, it works somehow. This guy is so hardcore that not only has he survived to tell the tale and racked up an impressive kill count, but he's also used his tactics to corner the enemy sniper and capture him alive rather than killing them – putting himself in such an advantageous position that his hard-as-nails enemies don't even want to try to fight back. He keeps these guys in a homemade bunker he's created, and even though Gazel is basically just some dude with a gun and not anything remotely resembling a professional soldier, he takes care to ensure that all of his prisoners are treated according to the POW regulations laid out by the Geneva Convention. Not only is that awesome in a "hey dude you're totally chill" way, but it's especially tolerant considering that Tareg Gazel knows damn well he could hope for no such courtesy if he ever found himself imprisoned by pro-Gaddafi forces.
This isn't sniper-related, but it is pretty badass.
The quality of his POWs gives some insight into what Gazel and his homedogs are dealing with here. Naturally some of the folks he's captured are Libyan Regular Army, sure, but since Gaddafi is having a lot of trouble finding support among his own people, the dictator (more like dick-tator, am I right here folks HAR HAR HAR) has been importing hundreds of hardcore battle-hardened mercenaries – tough-as-fuck warriors who had seen combat in Iraq, Serbia, and other global conflicts, yet somehow they find themselves bested by a 19 year-old kid who knows these streets like the back of his hand.
One particularly badass-sounding POW was a Nigerian woman who was, according to Gazel, "bloody brilliant". I wish I had a little more info on her to get into more detail there, since she sounds pretty badass herself, but unfortunately I wasn't able to track anything down.
And, for the record, I should also mention that I wasn't able to find a whole shitload of info about Tareg Gazel, either. As is the nature of current events, there really isn't much info out there on this kid. Hell, there's really only one news story on him, and it's just getting passed around the different news media outlets. This usually makes me a little nervous, but considering that most of the people who find Tareg Gazel end up with a high-powered rifle bullet in their brain I can kind of cut the international media a little slack for not being able to track this kid down. Fuck, even if it turns out that that this sniper-capping maniac is just some fictional construct cooked up in a drug-induced stupor by some delusional Reuters reporter without any concept of journalistic integrity, it's still a pretty badass story.
I have no idea what's going on with this photo, but I kind of love this guy in a very non-sexual way.
Mail & Guardian