The Libyan Rebels’ Massacre

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Barack Obama and his supporters are no doubt hoping the lion’s share of the credit for the deposing and killing of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi will go to the president, who himself expressed praise for the rebels back in September. “Today, the Libyan people are writing a new chapter in the life of their nation. After four decades of darkness, they can walk the streets, free from a tyrant,” Mr. Obama said at the time. They are indeed free from a tyrant. Whether they are free from tyranny is another matter. The final days of the fighting in and around the city of Sirte resulted in a massacre, with 53 people methodically executed at a hotel — apparently by a faction of the same rebels who have assumed control of the country.

“We found 53 decomposing bodies, apparently Gaddafi supporters, at an abandoned hotel in Sirte, and some had their hands bound behind their backs when they were shot,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “This requires the immediate attention of the Libyan authorities to investigate what happened and hold accountable those responsible.”

The Libyan authority at the moment is the National Transitional Council (NTC) chaired by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, and the likelihood of a competent investigation taking place is slim: on Monday volunteers were busy scrubbing the garden of the Mahari Hotel, where the alleged atrocity appears to have taken place. The volunteers, who said the dead were comprised of “at least two former Gaddafi government officials, local loyalist fighters and maybe civilians,” have collected dozens of bodies. But other evidence of the massacre, such as shell casings, plastic ties used to bind the hands of the victims, and patches of bloody grass remain behind.

Complicating any investigation is the fact that the bodies, which were found clustered together, were already in an advanced state of decomposition when they were viewed by HRW observers on October 23rd. HRW noted that the “condition of the bodies suggests the victims were killed approximately one week prior to their discovery, between October 14 and October 19. The bloodstains on the grass directly below the bodies, bullet holes visible in the ground, and the spent cartridges of AK-47 and FN-1 rifles scattered around the site strongly suggest that some, if not all of the people, were shot and killed in the location where they were discovered.”

According to witnesses HRW interviewed, anti-Gaddafi rebels from the city of Misrata had been in control of that section of Sirte since early October. Anti-Gaddafi brigades are organized according to their city of origin, and the city of Misrata has more that 100 brigades (katiba) which contain small numbers of fighters who operated semi-autonomously during battle. The names of five of those brigades, the “Tiger Brigade” (Al-Nimer), the “Support Brigade” (Al-Isnad), the “Jaguar Brigade” (Al-Fahad), the “Lion Brigade” (Al-Asad), and the “Citadel Brigade” (Al-Qasba), covered the walls and entrance of the hotel. This was apparently due to the fact that they used the facility as a base of operations. HRW did not directly accuse these five brigades of conducting the massacre, but said their presence at the hotel when it occurred “requires immediate investigation.”

The current record of the National Transitional Council suggests such immediacy is a pipe dream for both practical and political reasons. Practically speaking, the rebels who ostensibly liberated the nation are comprised of several separate militias. Despite repeated attempts, the NTC has failed to establish a chain of command among those militias or form a national army. Thus, despite several alleged incidents of arbitrary arrests, torture or murder, the mechanisms for dealing with formal investigations and prosecutions remain largely undeveloped. Politically speaking, the NTC’s attempt to burnish its own legitimacy requires it to establish relationships with the leaders of those militias, which may lead to more than a few alleged incidents of extra-legal activity being downplayed, ignored altogether or blamed on Gaddafi and his loyalist forces.

This last fallback position appears to be the stance the NTC is adopting with regard to the killing of Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, the rebel’s top military commander, as well as two of his aides, back in August. Younis, former aide and interior minister to Gaddafi, defected on February 20th, and was credited with helping the rebels overthrow the regime’s military garrison in the city of Benghazi. When the murders occurred, Younis was reportedly in the hands of rebel forces. NTC Chairman Abdel-Jalil had promised to investigate that incident, claiming no one, “not even the highest officials” would remain above suspicion. Yet he proposed that Gaddafi loyalists were responsible, even as other members of his organization revealed that rebels remained the chief suspects in the killing.

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  • Alvaro

    What a wonderful place Libya has become. I guess Obama and Ahmadinejad are celebrating now.

  • UCSPanther

    The problem is, that there are no "good guys" in places like Libya…

    • Geneww

      The Rebels Killed them!

      So much kindness comes from our 80% Muslim Membership of the UN and funded with US tax payers.

      Why are so many Christians being killed now without new reports? oops

      Where is the offense arsenal and Weapons of Mass Destruction? oops

      What happened to the 30 year in the making of the 2500 KM, 40 foot diameter pure water project to irrigate the Fertile Cresant to be the major food supply for Europe and N Africa? Fully paid for no World Bank or IMF finance … oops.

      Well this is not a perfect world!

  • truebearing

    Obama is succeeding in enabling a Caliphate. Next will be Syria, not that I will shed any tears for Assad.

    Not being one who displays much wisdom or serves the good of others, Obama can't be expected to be careful that you don't cast out one demon and seven take its place.

  • Fred Dawes

    We all knew that was coming, and obama needed it to happen, after all its not about freedom and justice or God or life its about power/oil/money/control.

    And when the other black guys( CAIN) is handed the black house it will be the new boos saying bye bye to the old black boss Puppet ALL AND ONE; and some day down the EVIL road to hell we will see it here in the land of BS.

  • StephenD

    Now comes the rhetoric with a call to calm and a caution to take a laissez-faire approach (hands off; wait and see). Of course, we'll have to give them time to adjust to their new found freedom and like all babes in the woods they'll have to work out the kinks. Pay no attention to that well oiled machine called the Muslim Brotherhood. Besides, they're "mostly secular" anyway. Yeah, everything is moving along quite nicely, thank you very much. Now then, you can go ahead and thank this Administration for keeping the oil prices steady for all of Europe-NOT (who must now assume more of the Dhimmi posture to stay in business with them). Our work there is almost complete. We must still provide funding for their infrastructure, set-up for their governmental agencies, etc. After all, what’s a little American Taxpayer money when we have a chance to make someone maybe say ‘like’ us?

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Mullahs in their mosques will give the orders to all of the bands of murdering thugs
    killing off undesirables. Sickening situation and vile consequences for the population
    who only wanted a job and a home. Islamist dominance is guaranteed and the
    slaves must line up while the Muslim Brotherhood decides who will live and how and
    who will die, some more horribly than others. Obama and Clinton, two of the hero's
    of the day but no one here knows what tomorrow will bring………………William



  • Bobbi

    NATO soldiers were caught on tape a few feet from the heinous murder of Kaddafi. They could have stopped the atrocity, which included Kaddafii being brutally beaten, sodomized with a stick after he had surrendered under a white flag. One wonders, since the Mufti has declared him an infidel, if this was the Muslim version of assassination.
    But, remember, all was done under the blessing of Obama, who did not want Kaddafi spilling any secrets, especially of where Obama’s campaign funds came from.
    At least GWB gave Saddam a trial.
    This brutal act will fester more terrorist acts against America, by Kaddafi’s family.

  • Bobbi

    The message this sends to dictators is, unlike Kaddafi, do not surrender your WMD’s.

  • tanstaafl

    Nuclear weapons are a dictator's insurance policy.

    • Herman Caintonette

      And yet, you wonder why Iran wants nukes?

      • GKC

        Who wonders why? They must be stopped. The questions are how, when and by whom?

  • BS77

    Qadaffi, the rebels, the ayotollahs, the Taliban, Sudan, Somalia…what's the difference? They are all barbarians.

  • mrbean

    I have no use for Qaddaffi, but Obama and his Administration conducted a Constutionally and Statuate Law illegal war. Here was the spin from the Whitehouse.
    “We are acting lawfully,” said Harold Koh, the State Department legal adviser, who expanded on the administration’s reasoning in a joint interview with White House Counsel Robert Bauer. American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya, and the United States took up what is mainly a supporting role.

    Ahhhh… use of drones with hellfire missiles on Qaddaffi, continuous combined bombing runs with NATO over Tripoli, command and control with AWAX on air operations constitutes an active war role. It seems the results will establish an Islamic Theocracy under Sharia law.

    • UCSPanther

      Don't forget that Gaddaffi wasn't friendly to the west, and wasn't openly hostile mainly because he was tamed down after that air raid by the USAF in the 1980s.

      I now think the rebels only won because NATO supported them. Had they been left to their own, Gaddafi would very likely have won mainly because of his ruthless cunning and his experience with putting down rebellions, since he had survived about 39 of them.

    • mlcblog

      Koh has a twisted view of "lawful."

      • Herman Caintonette

        And John Yoo didn't?

        • mlcblog

          Who is John Yoo?

  • Herman Caintonette

    There are atrocities in every revolution — including our own, truth be told. That someone decided to exact personal revenge on Gadhafi and his ministers is hardly surprising; I wonder how we would react, given similar provocation.

  • BLJ

    If it looks like MB, walks like MB, talks like MB and smells like MB. It is MB.

    Anyone who is suprised about what is happening and is going to happen in Libya is
    living in a fantasy world. Obama and his clueless cast of losers are asleep at the wheen at best or willing conspirators at worst.

  • crackerjack

    Same procedure as in Afghanistan. Same procedure as in Iraq. Same procedure as in Iran, if the war mongers get their way.

  • Big Red

    From what I have read in the comments for this article the posters are ignorant of the libyan tribal cullture. The Rebels are from a group of tribes from the western portion of
    Lybia and Gaddaffi' Tribe is from the area arouns Sirte. Gaddaffi's tribe has been killing and opressing the other Lybian tribes for years now they are getting cutural payback the arab way. Its not Obamma's fault for this except for his total lack of understaning the Arab and Islamic cultures and Obamma is getting terrible advice from his left wing sycophants who have not a clue in dealing with arabs.

  • crackerjack

    This wasn't Obama's war, and never was. Sarkozy led NATO in , forcing the US to adopt its role as leader of the alliance.

    Those now slamming Obama for supporting the Libyan rebells, are the same who slam Obama for not supporting Iranian or Syrian rebells. As if anyone serously expacts an different outcome in these countrys "revolutions".