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Flying the flag of freedom: Even the young in Tobruk are swept up in the revolution (Jabril Darwish) 

Dr Rida ben Fayed, a Libyan orthopaedic surgeon back from Denver, Colorado, introduces his team like an announcer rallying the audience at a live Hendrix concert.

"We've got Ahmed on ground information, Walid on IT, Abdullah on medical supplies, Majdi on press, Ahmed on logistics, Colonel Farah on air defence, Colonel Sanusi on naval affairs..."

Midnight in Tobruk and the daily digital diwan is in full swing. Around 20 men, cross-legged on cushions, are gathered in a ground-floor sitting-room. There's no one on drums tonight, but that doesn't mean there's no music. From a bedroom in Manchester a Libyan girl is singing live online about the Libyan fight for freedom. Smoke, laughter and revolution in the air. Tiny glasses of tea so sweet they remind you why diabetes is endemic in the Arab world. Surfing across satellite news channels.

These men are doctors, engineers, businessmen, human rights activists, military types, many from abroad, others entirely home-grown. Half have laptops. Facebook and Twitter to the fore. The familiar underwater jangle of an incoming Skype call regularly punctuates the hubbub. My neighbour is editing a video cartoon mocking a typical, fist-pumping Gaddafi harangue. Others upload and download photos, coordinate medical supplies, pass on information to colleagues across Libya. A former colonel is planning a dangerous 50-hour mission on a fishing boat to take weapons to opposition forces in the besieged city of Misrata.

"This is our digital operations room," says Dr Rida with pride. "We're all volunteers." He thrusts a laptop and a pair of headphones into my hands. "Here, speak to Perdita in Benghazi. She can tell you what she thinks about all the reporting on al-Qaeda infiltrating the Libyan revolution. Her husband was killed three weeks ago by Gaddafi's forces. She's eight months pregnant."

Perdita's husband, Mohammed Nabbous, was the 28-year-old founder of Libya al Hurra (Free Libya) television station in Benghazi. He was shot in the head by Gaddafi's forces on March 19, barely a month after the channel was launched, after transmitting videos and pictures of regime forces suppressing the uprising with indiscriminate brutality.

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