Tara Vreeland, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- A Tulsa man, born and raised in Libya, says he left the country after graduating high school. But his family told him not to come back... all because of Muammar Gadhafi.
Nuredin Giayash was not able to go back to Libya for 23 years. He says he was deprived from seeing his own country, from seeing his mother and father -- both who have now passed away.
He says he hopes Libya will be different now that Muammar Gadhafi's reign of terror is coming to an end.
For Nuredin Giayash, it started with a phone call.
"He said have you heard! They are inside! They are in Tripoli! I remember I pulled over on the highway I just thanked God for this," Giayash said.
Overjoyed by the news that rebels took control of the Libyan capital, Giayash called his sister, who lives in Tripoli.
"You can tell from her voice that she is excited. I'm so happy for her and for all Libyans and myself. I'm very proud that I'm Libyan. It's amazing," he said.
This was the first time that the family was able to speak freely.
"Just because of Gadhafi. Just because of the dictator. This lunatic person," Giayash said.
Giayash says Gadhafi was everywhere. Always listening. He says they would be in danger if anyone said anything about the dictator So he and his sister talked in a secret code.
"How's my aunt? She's almost giving birth to a child. She said almost. Just pray for us. When I called her a day before also, she said ‘she's in the hospital,' we're waiting for this child. So when I called her yesterday... she says that's it! The child is here! The rebels are here and we are excited," Giayash said.
Giayash says his nieces and nephews celebrated by dancing in the streets, after being under siege for decades.
He says it's now time for a new Libya. A time to unite the country and to build the democracy where every Libyan is respected.
"I'd love to go back and salute the people from Tripoli to everywhere for their outstanding courage, patience, determination, and their goal to change," he said.
Nuredin Giayash says Libya is in for a tough fight. That the war may be over but building the democratic state is the next challenge.
Giayash says he knows that the Libyans are up for it and he intends to return to his home country in the next few months to help.