Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

1,200 Bodies Buried at Abu Salim Prison. Really?

September 26, 2011
last update Sept. 29

For fifteen years Libyans have asked what happened at Tripoli's notorious Abu Salim prison back in June 1996. Well, the ones we hear from in the West actually don't - by now anyway they all seem to know and agree on the answer: about 1,270 prisoners, a vast majority of all those incarcerated there, were killed in a single day, June 28. For merely protesting their conditions, it's being summarized now, the victims were reportedly massacred in their cells, with grenades and guns, on government orders.

The legend is amazingly similar to that of the Libyan uprising of this year, but in miniature, and with a more literal prison as opposed to the whole country framed as one to riot within. Little surprise that memories of the '96 massacre fueled the initial protests and uprising until fresher blood greased the slide into full-on civil war.

I'm not read up on this chapter of the regime's alleged history, but I have seen it brought into doubt and myself have serious doubts. I didn't immediately find a good article articulating them, but two have since surfaced. Thanks to reader Felix we have a pre-existing critique by Lou Paulsen, summarizing the evidence available earlier this year. It comes across as a rather unimpressive case. And then Martin Iqbal just now wrote a great article at Empire Strikes Black. This one is quite detailed and worth a read.

The main point throughout, whatever one makes of the evidence that some number of prisoner were killed, is that 1,270 is a hefty number with little to support it. It comes down to one man's telling of his own count of lunch trays: 1,500 a day before the massacre, 300 after. Massive transfers in the wake of the riot? Don't be silly - we can be quite sure just from that about a hundred dozen were fatally killed. The reason we can be so sure is it's a "Gaddafi crime," and those are always fair game, no matter how little sense they make.

Physically true or not, the new rebel government just on Sunday announced, rather dramatically, that they have found the prisoners' remains near the prison grounds. Closure seemed at hand. I've been off the news track acouple of days, and the first I heard of this development was from Martin Iqbal, with an earlier article: "NTC concocts mass grave story in brazen propaganda ploy"
In a piece posted today after a NTC news conference, the BBC uses the headline: “More than 1,200 bodies found in Tripoli mass grave“. Categorically, absolutely, unequivocally, this is an out-and-out lie; 1,200 bodies have not been found. Not a single body has been found. In fact, no excavation has been performed, and no more than ‘several bone fragments’ have been discovered, according to the NTC.
It's true - the report itself clarifies that "several bone fragments and pieces of clothing have already been found in the top soil," and the "mass grave" is only "believed to contain" the massacre's remains. But hey, what else would a "mass grave" contain aside from some number of bodies? Excavation, expected soon, was apparently believed to be certain to reaffirm that hunch, or else the BBC wouldn't be so bold as to state the bodies had been found.

Mr. Iqbal calls this "an out-and-out lie," even adding three further adverbs for emphasis. But the editors, if pressed to describe the type of misinformation they published, would surely prefer the term "a grammatical inaccuracy." It should have read "more than 1,200 bodies surmised to be in the ground..." or perhaps even "possible mass grave located..." They implicitly apologize for the poor choice of words which served, accidentally, to vilify the regime we just bombed into the dirt and to justify an otherwise questionable and highly illegal operation.

Doubts aside, these upper traces were just the tip of the iceberg, the rebel leadership and the BBC's editors said they believed. The bodies apparently ground and mulched into the soil so some bits could be found way up on the surface. If so, a quick dig should turn up more fragments, and we should expect a little bit of verification soon.

The Guardian reports:
Libyan revolutionary authorities have reported the discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 1,270 inmates
The announcement was made on Sunday by Ibrahim Abu Sahima of the government committee overseeing the search for victims of the former regime.

He said investigators found the grave two weeks ago after receiving information from captured regime officials and witnesses.
This has the find coming in mid-September, from extracted leads. But CNN also reported on this and found "the Tripoli site was located by revolutionaries on August 20, said Kamal el Sherif, a member of a National Transitional Council committee." Members of the same committee give two different find dates, one of them days before rebels controlled the area in question. Odd.

Either way, this esteemed body of level-headed detectives had a month to poke around, look at the bones, think about the whole thing, maybe even dig deeper in spots. Whatever they found, it led them to finally decided this was pretty solid. And so they called a press conference to tell the whole world the amazing news, as Mr. Sherif put it in an Associated Press piece “We have discovered the truth about what the Libyan people have been waiting for many years, and it is the bodies and remains of the Abu Salim massacre." They also took the chance to clarify the remaining challenges. As CNN reported:
"There is a lot more to be done to reach the actual truth of this massacre," said Dr. Salem Fergani, a committee member. "To be honest, we were not prepared to deal with such human massacres, so we request the assistance of the international community. We need specialists in the field to help us in identifying the victims ... this is a national mission. The families of these victims have the right to learn the truth about their deceased sons."
It could take years to identify all the bodies through DNA, Fergani said Sunday.
It's very scientific work, most likely involving digging, laying out bones without mixing remains, and having family members look at them and say yes, that's my son. The confirming records will all be destroyed, but he'll have been arrested for nothing worse than "not liking Gaddafi," or perhaps "praying too much," and then killed for only daring to speak up.

Any of their bodies purportedly found - here or anywhere - ideally should be aged accurately by pure scientists.  Luckily 15 years ago vs. the last few weeks is a clear enough difference to be sure the crime happened under the Gaddafi regime anyway, as opposed to the mass-grave generators of late, the chaotic new NATO rebel regime.

But such detailed considerations might be moot here as the musty smell of a dead end gets nearer: CNN actually added something useful this time - a preliminary expert opinion:
It was unclear, however, whether the site actually was a mass grave, as no excavation has taken place. Members of the media were shown bones at the site, but medics with CNN staffers on the scene said the bones did not appear to be human.
Is that why Dr. Ferghani emphasized this as a "human massacre?" This might be a good place to stop and laugh, but their expert could be wrong. For example, maybe Libyans are just built different. The rebel guys - including Dr. Ferghani (clearly a smart guy of some stripe) - were all pretty sure, even after a month's reflection, that these bones their captives led them to were the right ones.

Some of the bones in question, for anyone who
wants to see for themselves.
Or perhaps the former guards were pranking them by directing them to the graveyard for prison dogs, and the whole commission, collectively, with a month to look at the bones and think it over, didn't catch on before cruelly raising the hopes of the victims' relatives.

If this turns out to be the case, well, the shocking news has already gone out to the world and the murmured or nonexistent retractions  won't be enough to correct that defect in most peoples' minds. Already we had 1,200 more victims found, and people will be allowed to keep that hinted closure. After all, it seems like re-affirmation of the justness of the war, by reality itself, for the 500th time, as if reality itself were somewhat insecure about the whole deal.
--- end main article

The Utility of Misleading Headlines
Here are a few instructive comments from an example run by the Huffington Post: "Libya Mass Grave: Tripoli Site Contained 1,270 Bodies from 1996 Massacre."

12:58 PM on 9/26/2011
So let me get this straight:

A "muddy field that contained animal bones"
"no human remains have been found"
morphs into
"NTC suspect is a mass grave"
which is
"believed to hold the remains of 1,270 inmates" ....

....and this become a Huffpost Headine that reads:

********** *****
This is not journalism .

Animal bones do not equal 1,270 bodies
Some earlier comments are, collectively, more amusing.

04:26 AM on 9/26/2011
Headline: "Libya Mass Grave: Tripoli Site Contained 1,270 Bodies From 1996 Massacre"

None of this is confirmed at all. They don't know how many remains are there. They don't know if these are victims of the 1996 events at Abu Salim.

But this kind of reporting serves a purpose.
Indeed. One rebel-supporter's response to this comment shows the purpose of these widespread grammatical inaccuracies upon the lazy of mind:

lawrence of america
01:04 PM on 9/26/2011
explain then why, in a 99.999% muslim country, where the rule is to get a corpse into his own grave after ritual cleaning is soooo very important, there just happens to be a random mass grave with almost the exact number of bodies as was accused to have been killed at bu slaim prison massacre.
Yeah, how you esplain that, smar' guy?

One of the more interesting pieces came about three days before the NTC announcement. It was Human Rights Watch whose 2006 report on a couple of witness' stories basically created the Abu Salim prison massacre story we know (Libyans have only been protesting about the 1,200 dead -or 33 dead, see comments - since 2008). They mentioned their baby again prophetically after the recent slew of Tripoli mass graves. On September 22, they were concerned with the dangers of improper exhumations being done all over the capitol:
In addition to grave sites holding people killed during the six-month conflict, other sites relating to pre-conflict incidents are also at risk. These may include the graves of an estimated 1,200 prisoners killed in the Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, whose remains were never returned to their families.
"Oh, hey, that's right!" someone said that day. Three days later they made it official - the HRW prediction had come "true."

Further Coverage
A BBC follow-up adds little except a less grammatically misleading title "Libyan 'prison massacre grave' revives painful memories." It still fails to acknowledge any questions over the grave, or the massacre story itself. Many others picked up the story, the vast majority following suit and presenting this as either certainly or most likely the grave of at least some human victims
Ony a CNN follow-up expands on the CNN-infused notion of non-human bones, this time supported by an NTC official, this time "hedging their claim," if a little late.
"Some investigations have been conducted on this mass grave specifically, and there has been no conclusion yet," said Jamal Ben Noor, a senior official with the Justice and Human Rights Ministry. Ben Noor said the site reported behind Abu Salim prison in Tripoli "could be something else," because the bones found here are bigger than normal human remains.
a CNN team that was brought to the muddy field with other news outlets found only what appeared to be animal bones.
I thought they looked relatively humanoid, and about the right size, or even a bit small (aside from that molar - it looks big to me), but I don't know bones. I call a non-carnivorous mammal of decent size. There's video there of the site, just a short chunk of raw footage. It shows severalof the bone fragments, very old tin cans, glass jars, and other less identifiable junk, besides the clothes, and even bone wrapped in rope we've now heard of. The clothing does seem to have possible blood stains - random locals show it off, with no investigative control of the site or anything.

On the 26th, Human Rights Watch reiterated its warning to do nothing with the mass graves - this one in particular - to avoid messing up important evidence. By the 28th, the NTC said the area was un-dug and heavily guarded. The field of apparent animal bones under control, rebel diggers started working on exposing a grave near the Rixos hotel, perhaps to destroy clues as per the warning.

I predict a very slow response to the alleged grave of 1,270, citing expert caution as the reason to delay finding there's no such thing there.

News 24 mentions the doubts as more than half its story Libya mass grave still in doubt.
Libya's new regime must still confirm that a site discovered in Tripoli this week is a mass grave containing the remains of more than 1 700 prisoners executed in 1996, a National Transitional Council official said on Tuesday.

"I cannot guarantee 100% that there is a mass grave there... But we have found human remains, I have no doubt, I have found them myself," Salim al-Serjani, the deputy head of the NTC's committee for missing persons, told AFP.

NTC officials announced on Sunday that they had found a mass grave at the site containing the bodies of people killed at Tripoli's notorious Abu Salim jail.

Reports have since emerged questioning the veracity of the claim and noting that some of the remains appeared to be from animals.

Serjani said it was too early to be certain what had been buried at the site.

"It needs much more investigation; more time needs to be spent to determine if it is a mass grave," he said.
Yeah, about that... ideally, it's done before one goes to the world loudly proclaiming that it is in fact a mass grave, and one expected to match the tally of one witness' alleged count of lunch trays.

Massacring Protesters: Really?

The First Straw and Big Question Assessed
September 10, 2011
last edits, Sept. 29

The Order to Kill Demonstrators: Generally Accepted
Huge neon question marks have by now been affixed, usually to the less-visible  back sides, of most of the constructed accusations of the Libyan propaganda war. Human Rights Watch and others have repeatedly found against African mercenary claims, Amnesty International and others have found no basis for the general mass rape charges  (adding Viagra to the mix seems to done the field in). Even the US military acknowledged there was no evidence of aerial bombardment of Libyan cities and protesters as widely alleged, when there really should have been some. The emotionally potent charge of Children shot by Gaddafi snipers in Misrata might sound compelling, but anyone with the two shown x-ray images can see they're the same, fake, image (see link).

But one crucial accusation, the first and perhaps tallest construct, looms over the rest with no flashing sign yet, remaining generally accepted, even among such critics: the government order to shoot at peaceful demonstrators simply for daring to protest. The charges of doing so from the air are rightly ridiculed, but few go as far as I will here and directly question whether it was done from the ground either.

It's not a patently ridiculous claim, and one supported by numerous injured civilians we were shown. No one can deny that people who are described as protesters were injured and killed by live fire, at different times and places, often vague. Some were even cut in half (by anti-aircraft guns it's said) in pictures I've seen. At first, I myself accepted the basic accusation, thinking Gaddafi just didn't play the Arab Spring game. If his populace was to be weaponized against the "revolution" by the usual Western conspirators (as I'm sure he'd suspect after following events of the past decade) he'd move to destroy their weapons. You simply kill some, and hopefully send the others running in fear. It surely wouldn't have been the first time an unfree state used such sheer force to stay that way.

But while there is plenty of precedent, and proof of injured and killed people to support the accusation, what's never been scientifically proven (supported by clear video evidence, for example) is the exact circumstances of this violence - where were these civilians at and what were they doing when damaged so? The question is a complex one, and perhaps impossible to settle decisively. I've been considering this question but haven't until now created a dedicated post to best address it in one spot. Now that it's up, you can see why - it's a doozy of a post.

The Government Story: Defending Bases
We all know the official story in the international community, almost universally accepted at the moment: the insane and ruthless col Gaddafi ordered his citizens slaughtered for simply defying his rule, but damnit, now we would defy it too. They were simply protesting in some peaceful protest place when it happened. They did nothing to provoke or necessitate the violence they suffered. Troops fired indiscriminately, killing women and children, people not even protesting. They had snipers shooting those who tried to retrieve the dead, and so on. They did so consistently enough it couldn't be the actions of rogue commanders, but had to be an order from on high, presumably from Muammar Gaddafi himself.

This primordial sin, almost universally perceived worldwide, was the basis of Gaddafi's forfeiture of legitimacy in the eyes of world leaders. The exact death toll was always vague, but presented as alarmingly high and likely requiring some intervention. (note: the exact death toll is not clear, is important, but is not addressed here. This is about the qualities of death, not quantities.)

But below is, first, a video I made a while back, and then some text, that seek to first explain and then explore the Libyan government's own version, which hardly anyone's heard except maybe in passing derision.

In the video, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim can be seen at a February 28 press conference explaining their view, as opposed to that of "the media and the UN." At the beginning, there were "genuine, Libyan, peaceful protesters" with what he called "legitimate demands" for "much-needed political improvements." Some of them also waved the old monarchist flag while insisting that Gaddafi step down, which the government would not call a legitimate demand. But they weren't shot for anything they said, Ibrahim asserted, legitimate or not. This only happened after the protests were "hijacked" by violent Islamists, including members of al Qaeda, into a physical attack on Libya's government and people.
"[The Islamist-led "protesters"] immediately moved to attack and acquire weapons from police stations, army camps, and munitions depots. [...] the fights between the security forces and the armed individuals caused the deaths of hundreds of people. We never denied that hundreds of people were killed in the last few days. But those people were from both sides, and as a result of armed individuals attacking police stations and army [barracks] [...] the army and the security forces were not trained to deal with such a dramatic turn of events."
Also in the video, the leader's son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi says a total of 159 people, presumably on the civilian side alone, were killed in the rebellion's first days. "Most of them died when they attacked military sites," he said. This is from a July interview with Russia Today, in which he again denied any order to kill protesters, and explained the cause of the shooting so:
"The guards fired. That's it. The gurads were surprised by the attack of the people, and they started firing. They don't need an order to defend themselves and to defend their bases and camps."
As he rightly noted, this is standard for any country in the world, should armed and angry mobs attack a secure installation. The idea seems to be to avoid enemies, foreign or domestic, from killing your forces, sabotaging your hardware, or worse yet stealing your hardware. Because then it can be used to attack more bases in furtherance of a violent civil war, as the Libyan government alleges happened repeatedly in their country from the early days onward. The explanation fell on deaf ears (or hard-of-hearinng ones - see below).

Just for one example of an even softer response, protesters filmed themselves firing their guns into a military base around Feb 21, and suffering no violence themselves. But they did cheer with gunshots in the air as an ambulance took out someone injured inside. (see video study hereA documentary by R. Breki Goheda, based on the government's version with detailed information, shows this same camp (perhaps near Misrata), before it was finally taken by the armed civilian gang. Inside the opened gates, we can see in the distance soldiers standing at the alert, clustered with vehicles. Goheda's narration says they "refused to open fire at protesters," and instead only "opened fire into the air as the attackers were advancing in the barrack." It's said the protesters won there, as they seem to have everywhere else with a strange confidence against a bewildered enemy, in what Goheda artfully termed an "organized and coincident process." 

The Video Record: No Proof Either Way
Secretary of State Clinton said on February 28, in support of vigorous action against Libya, "we have seen Colonel Qadhafi’s security forces open fire on peaceful protesters again and again." Unless she and some associated "we" have access to secret videos and photos the rest of us don't, she's simply incorrect. We have seen it reported and alleged time and time again, but that's just not the same thing. 

The first problem I noticed in comparing Tripoli's explanation and that of the rabble forces was a lack of video proof either way.

The proof of the government's side might have been base security camera tapes, but these aren't likely available to them after each of the facilities was taken over. Whereas if the "protester" version was true, there would not likely be any lack of such proof; they'd end up with the tapes from the bases. And more importantly, the crowds had many, many iPhones and other cameras everywhere they went, and aside from their proud excursions into racist snuff films, we see in their  recordings people protesting, and then civilians injured and dead. There should be several videos, probably dozens, showing the crucial middle part - some of those hundreds of peaceful protesters visibly knocked down by government bullets. Instead we have three that I know of, discussed next. (see:  Video Study: Protesters Being Shot, Anywhere)

While the government's got no video of these base attacks either, one protester video at least provides a decent support for Tripoli's claims of repeated armed attacks. It's widely illustrated that on consecutive days, February 17-20, protests and/or funeral processions in Beghazi turned somehow into violent clashes with deaths on both sides. It probably didn't help that these kept happening next to the Al-Fadhil bin Omar Katiba barracks, Benghazi's main military base in the city's center.

On the third day, February 19, we have video of two injured "protesters," one apparently just deceased, the other being carried up a street from somewhere to the west-southwest, away from the setting sun. The spot it's filmed was identifiable in satellite imagery, and proves the injured man was being carried down al-Hijaz street, away from the Katiba's valued north gate four blocks back. (see map at left, and the post February 19's death toll  in Benghazi for more details). Keep that north gate in mind - it comes up again in the conquest by "protest" of that base on the following day. 

To be sure, some of Muammar Gaddafi's and the Libyan government's claims, freely mixing al Qaeda, foreigners, mass drugging, mass rape, cannibalism, and CIA manipulations, are questionable at best. But the part about a violent and apparently orchestrated turn of events is well supported. Any government would probably have responded at least as harshly as Libya's did. 

No Proof, but Evidence: Exceptions to the Rule?
Seif al-Islam said "most," not "all," of the killed civilians were involved in attacks. We don't know what "most" means from their point of view, but there do seem to be exceptions to the rule. 

There are two instances I'm aware of (and I admit my knowledge there isn't exhaustive) of apparently unarmed civilians shot dead on camera. These both happened during a funeral march on a certain street in al Baida on February 17, and were captured by three cameras, one from street level and two from above.  I've analyzed the videos and collectively, they show two unarmed people shot down in the street, at different times, some distance from a line of armed police/soldiers at the end of the street.   

No other gunmen are visible from these rooftop views or from the ground view (except maybe a couple), so the presence of security men in the area, some would argue, is enough to demonstrate the pattern alleged. But some evidence supports my strange hunch that anti-government snipers on rooftops - apparently next to the cameras filming - were responsible. 

There's video 2's strange camera move to consider - popping from behind a possible sniper nest to film the crowd again just as the shot is fired. And there's the possible rifle on that same rooftop filmed by a another camera (video 1 as listed). And then consider the line of sight. Each of the two protesters were shot as they came into camera view, which is also the line of fire for any sniper in the same location.

But my theory, even though better illustrated than I thought it would be, is not proven. But these possible sniper clues hover above all three of the videos and both filmed victims of unprovoked shooting that I know of. I will leave this space open for any other excepions to, or refutations of, "the rule" that I run across or have suggested. Evidence of apparent state brutality like these videos is not proof, but it is worth a look, and I challenge any reader who thinks I must be wrong to please dig around for anything to support that hunch.  

Defiance of the Order as Evidence of the Order
One of the more powerful illustration of the alleged commandment to massacre was the repeated allegation of government soldiers executed for refusing to follow it. We only know of this because their bound and executed bodies were then found by protesters with a magical knowledge of just why they'd been slain - "because they would not commit the brutality commanded to them."

On February 23, a total of 130 soldiers were reported by a sham Human Rights  group as executed like this and for this reason across Eastern Libya. There was no evidence to support that, and enough against to disprove it in at least 27 cases. First, 22 soldiers executed by rebels, as their own video proves, were boldly blamed on the regime for "refusing to fire on civilians," and included in the 130. Ironically, their rebel-issued death sentence has been translated as based on the fact they DID shoot at the armed people attacking their base (apparently Labraq airbase).

And another, more horrific case of fobbed-off rebel brutality, presumably also included in the same 130, concerns another five "soldiers" found charred in the conquered barracks in Benghazi. This find occurred on February 21, right after "protesters" there had burned to death five innocent men from Chad. That's 27 so-called mutinous soldiers executed. The oher 103 we just don't know the details, but the patterns illustrated so far do not line up with what the rebels asserted.

Evidence by executions, claimed by rabble forces, when the killings are demonstratably carried out by them, clearly does nothing to support their own claim. In fact, it goes strongly and ingeniously towards disproving altogether the legend of the order to cut down peaceful protesters.

Maj. Gen. Younes, Deadly Force, and the Benghazi Katiba
In his Russia Today interview, Seif Gaddafi explained how his reaction to news of massacres in his country was to get ahold of the man in charge of internal security - the interior minister, Maj. Gen. Abdel Fateh Younes.
"My father called the general Abdel Fatah - he's in Benghazi now - he's one of the leaders of the rebels. He called him, and I called him, and the calls are recorded. We told him many times: "don't use force with people." He told us: "but they are attacking the military sites. It's a very difficult situation."
Younes apparently won that dispute, and by the 20th, as Benghazi teetered on the brink, the secretary himself rolled a major reinforcement in personally, ready to negotiate or fight. Instead he defected, marking a major turning point in the war no one even knew was a war yet.

He was sent to re-enforce the Al-Fadhil bin Omar barracks. Many sources agree the base was decisively takend Feb 20, following an attack by a suicide car-bomber who'd blended into the fourth day of funeral processions-turned-to-battles there. After he destroyed the valued north gate with a truly powerful explosion (also not seen on any public videos), the insurgents were able to enter the base full-force. They reportedly killed an unknown number of soldiers, beheading at least one, before Younes had even arrived. The remainder, holed-up in various buildings, were spared and allowed to leave only by the bargain Younes struck that night.

The French terrorism and intelligence groups CIRET-AVT and CF2R made a joint investigation in Libya and issued a report in May, 2011. Speculating on reasons for the lack of protester shooting they saw evidence for, they offer a little conspiracy theory about the eventual star defector:
The government, surprised at the escalation of the insurgency, did not want to start a blood bath, so as not cut themselves off from the tribes, nor to create the problem of vendetta (revenge.) It is not inconceivable that the interior minister (Abdel Fatah Younis) deliberately gave orders to do nothing, so the insurgency could take hold, from the perspective of his imminent departure for Benghazi.
That is, perhaps Seif was lying and such an order was issued, but blocked by Younes. Either way, if there was such an order from on high, it didn't get sent down the chain, judging by the evidence - and lack thereof - for its execution.

They did get the Weapons
The first thing that really struck me as odd about the first days of the civil war is how non-violent protesters, whom I believed were being shot dead in droves, were able with just anger, and despite the heavy losses, simply take military control, even briefly, of half of the cities in the country. I sensed we were missing something there, and the things I've found since are starting to reveal what that was.

The "protesters" did, starting on February 19 at the latest, acquire heavy weapons of war from military bases they somehow conquered, despite just protesting. For just one important example, the Katiba in Benghazi remained in protester hands thanks in part to Younes' defection. But as they made off with many many more weapons, it was civilians doing the driving and handling, not military professionals. These were happy just to be allowed to leave the scene alive, in the opposite direction.

Some of the hardware taken from the Katiba is seen at left from a Russia Today news video - tanks, Grad rocket launchers, and more. Other weapons taken from Zintan to Zawiyah, Misrata to Dernah, were shown in other videos made by protesters, and largely included in my own video up top.

Goheda's video explains that "rebels stormed most of the military camps in the country," along the way seizing "different types of weapons, including: 250 tanks, 72 armored vehicles, 112 artillery, 176 anti-aircraft machine guns, 254 rocket launchers, 222 light machine guns, 3,628 rifles, and a large quantity of ammunition." I can't vouch for all of that, but it sounds about right considering the small samples we've been able to see of rebel arsenals coming together all across "Free Libya" in those early days and weeks.

Every time a new city center saw its display of rebel-held weaponry, the "freedom fighters" would trumpet that the military there had defected, bringing their weapons along. We see claimed defectors in original uniforms and such in a few videos, and some later in rebel non-uniforms. The people holding the weapons are usually clear amateurs so excited to be armed like Rambo they can't help but fire into the air incessantly. Consider this video analysis by C.J. Chivers; not a person on the crew running this artillery piece in Misrata knew they were standing ten times too close to that wall for safety. At least two rebel fighters were injured by the sloppiness, including one whose femoral artery was severed and who likely died soon after. (But they did the job - the place they were blasting was like swiss cheese, and had several very destroyed government soldiers and a mysterious charred boy inside.)

Brutality and the Boys in Blue
Libya's Internal Security Organization, being the usual force to control and deal with crowds and riots, would have been the main people expected to fire on protesters on, before, and after the "Day of Rage" that brought "peaceful protesters" out to tear down the state. It was Internal Security who held that line in al Baida, and were blamed for the shootings of the 17th and many others. But according to Goheda's video, they were given orders "not to open fire under any circumstances." Other than the al-Baida videos discussed above, I've seen no evidence to counter that.

Another video I made:
Instead, as we can see there, the brutality was generally against them. Several among the dead at in the "al Baida massacre" wear the blue camouflage, along with another black-skinned ISO cop, tortured horribly and shown off as an African mercenary in Az Zintan. Not included in the video, another ISO soldier, by his blue jacket, was killed and badly mangled in some town, his limp and disjointed body then hoisted up joyously in the gate of some official building by a meat hook under his chin. (this is visible here)

The CIRET-AVT/CF2R report cited above also discussed the three weeks in which az Zawiyah, just west of the capitol, remained in protester hands unmolested. “During the three weeks, the police received written orders not to do anything against the insurgents, not to shoot, not to confront them. The police also had to evacuate their own buildings due to the attacks by the rioters. […] The local authorities and the police complained openly about the absence of orders from Tripoli…” As for what happened during those weeks, I have a great analysis here, and the report added:
[A]ll public buildings were pillaged and set on fire. [...] Everywhere, there was destruction and pillaging (of arms, money, archives). There was no trace of combat, which confirms the testimony of the police [who claim to have received orders not to intervene] [...]

There were also atrocities committed (women who were raped, and some police officers who were killed), as well as civilian victims during these three weeks. [...] The victims were killed in the manner of the Algerian GIA [Armed Islamic Group]: throats cut, eyes gauged [sic] out, arms and legs cut off, sometimes the bodies were burned. [...]
Another Official Story Assessed: The UNHRC Report
The United Nations Human Rights Council sent a three-person fact-finding mission to Libya in May to investigate the alleged crimes of the regime and/or rebel forces. They issued a report (the Advance unedited version is still the only one available - PDF link) on June 1 that came out at least somewhat more reasonable than what the rebel-fed Media had so far patched together. They explain how the charge of Gaddafi's protester massacre was their primary focus:
The catalyst for establishment of this Commission of Inquiry was concern over the use of force against demonstrators in mid to late February. The Human Rights Council in Resolution S-15/1, expressed “deep concern at the deaths of hundreds of civilians,” referring also to “indiscriminate armed attacks against civilians” and “extrajudicial killings.”[p3]
What they found confirmed, to their satisfaction but not mine, that there were apparently orders to kill peaceful protesters. From their conclusion:
99. The Commission considers that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the Government forces engaged in excessive use of force against demonstrators, at least in the early days of the protests, leading to significant deaths and injuries. The nature of injuries inflicted in several locations (with high proportions shot in the head or upper body) is indicative of “shoot to kill” operations. From the common style of response in many parts of the country, it would appear likely that the forces were given orders to engage in the harsh crackdown of demonstrators. Such actions represented a serious breach of a range of rights under the ICCPR including the right to life, the right to ... [p 37-40]
The question, again, is "under what circumstances did these killings happen?" The report does acknowledge the government disputed the prevailing story: "The particular circumstances, leading up to the use of force by security forces against demonstrators, have been contested by the demonstrators and the Government." The latter said what I've related above, and "protestors have reiterated the peaceful nature of their demonstrations." The facts, as I note here, do not clearly support that, but the commission accepted it anyway.

"In the early days of the protest there was little evidence to suggest that the protestors were engaged in other than peaceful assembly," the mission noted. "Little" evidence is a relative call. There's a decent amount and it's consistent. There is even less evidence that those "protesters" who were killed were engaged in anything other than starting an armed insurgency.

The report's relation and refutation of the government story:
96. The Commission was told that when the demonstrations erupted, instructions were given to security forces to withdraw from police stations and security premises. The Government has stressed that the live ammunition was only employed in response to demonstrators’ violent actions. The Government also noted that demonstrators attacked police stations, destroying approximately 17 stations several of them in various cities and towns of Libya, and that demonstrators took up arms against the security forces. The Government was thus of the view that any use of force had been justifiable.

97. The majority of information collected by the Commission, however, indicates that the Government forces used live ammunition against unarmed peaceful demonstrators in many instances.
Generally they just catalog the numbers of dead as reported, focusing on the shoot-to-kill clues, presuming peaceful actions only on the victims' parts, and accepting every report possible to suggest government forces fired "indiscriminately," often killing people who weren't even involved in protests. The whole way what's missing is any proof their basic presumption of peaceful victims. Since this has not really been established, the report, at least in this regard, is an exercise in faith-based "investigation."
It is accepted by both the Government and the demonstrators that Government forces used significant force, including the use of firearms and other weaponry against persons participating in demonstrations in various locations within Libya during the period studied by the Commission. 
Adding "participating in demonstrations" makes this statement untrue. Attacks to secure weapons are not "demonstrations." Scratch that phrase and what they say here is true.

They acknowledge in Misrata, "on 21 and 22 February, demonstrators attacked Revolutionary Committee offices, police stations and military barracks, taking arms and weapons from these locations." But as they heard it, this was only after days of brutal attacks on completely peaceful people who were suddenly, when angry, able to actually take over and remove weapns from military bases - with sheer Arab Spring enthusiasm, we're to presume.

In al Baida, "at least 40 persons were killed during peaceful demonstrations between 16 and 19 February," they noted. Problem is, police station were burnt there as early as Feb 15, anti-government snipers might have been behind any of these killings (and apparently are behind the recorded ones), and by about the 19th, the city and surrounding military bases - including Labraq (or al-Abraq) airbase - were completely in the hands of the "peaceful protesters."
93. On 18 February, at the demonstrations near Al-Abraq Airport (east of Al-Bayda town), the Commission received information that 11 persons were killed by security personnel of Khamis Katiba, including the Commander of Husein al-Jiwiki Katiba. According to several sources, the Commander was killed when he refused to shoot at demonstrators, and was shot as a result of his refusal to shot at demonstrators. 
Yeah, you'll get "several witnesses" when, for example, several people involved in a killing agree to a cover story. The big clues is the old "killed by his own forces for being a good guy" schtick. It was a lie in the "al Baida massacre," and in the burned soldiers in Benghazi thing, and probably here.

Why do they know it was the Khamis brigade that killed an officer and 11 of their own? Why were they "demonstrating" at the airbase to begin with? The people involved themselves told the media, if not the UN, that they went there, on the 18th, to capture or kill "African mercenaries" they thought were coming to kill them. They took it militarily on about the 20th, after a couple days of fighting, executed some prisoners, and kept 156 black Libyan soldiers alive long enough to be proven not mercenaries. That some of their own were killed in the process should be no surprise, to us or them, prepared as they were for martyrdom.

The claim of government orders to kill demonstrators weren't just on the word of rebel sources but also, the report explained,"corroborated through information collected from some security personnel."
One member of security personnel, currently in detention, stated that he was among 250 soldiers deployed by the regime to “contain demonstrators” in Benghazi on 17 February. Interrogation records provided to the Commission by the Benghazi General Prosecutor’s Office state that members of the security forces were given orders, by their commanding officers, to use force against demonstrators. In at least one transcript, there is an admission of involvement by a member of the security forces in the random shooting of protestors in Benghazi on 20 February.
February 20 is the day Benghazi fell, as the Al Fadhil bin Omar Katiba was overrun. The report did pass on that "government opponents assumed control over the Katiba premises in Benghazi," but made no mention of the suicide bomber that allowed that, or of the soldier killings inside. And it even has the date wrong, citing the 19th when the decisive brutality that took 60 lives, by their own numbers, occurred on the 20th, mostly following the suicide bombing and the pitched battle within the walls. Why on Earth was anyone firing randomly that day, when a concerted militant force was attacking the base and hacking off heads? 

His "admission" to doing this is just not credible. This claimed evidence from the inside is quite likely the result of forced confessions, and the commission's inability to spot that (or to admit they did) is telling.

The report is deeply flawed. But it formed the basis of explaining why the intervention the UN's top member nations were already deeply invested in was not completely unjustified. In fact, they seem relatively in tune with the existing mission in an accompanying press release, again of June 1:
The team, led by Professor Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian jurist and war crimes expert, calls on the Government to immediately cease acts of violence against civilians in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, and to conduct “exhaustive, impartial and transparent” investigations into all alleged violations.
Even if this statement had been issued on February 18, it would have been poison advice to a besieged government. But here it was June, and they called for a current, one-sided cease-fire. There was no mention of the fact that by then the "civilians" were trying their damndest, with half the nation's stolen hardware, and with eager NATO air support, to attack the capitol and everything between. Mr. Bassiouni, like the power structure pushing this war through, was in effect calling for Libya's government to surrender abjectly to the armed insurgency.

This bold move of dubious propriety was based, it would seem to most, on the team's exceptionally clear findings that the government had proven itself brutal to the point of falling outside the normal rules of respect for nations the United Nations was supposed to ensure.

But the reality wasn't really as clear as all that, was it?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Great Video

September 24, 2011

I can't vouch for everything in this, but it'sagain worth more and more people realizing - this is about how a good chunk of Libyans feel. Right or wrong, they're angry and scared and grief-stricken with what they see as a huge crime against their nation.And the perpetrators are just patting themselves on the back for averting or punishing crimes that are largely works of pure fiction.
The rape of Libya -- NATO's proxy "rebels" continue to loot and massacre
Uploaded by StopNATOcrimes on Sep 12, 2011

The very long "description" reads as follows:
Since "rebels" entered Tripoli, under the cover of NATO bombing and led by foreign Special Forces, the abject criminality of imperialism's takeover of Libya is becoming increasingly evident.
Fighting continued to rage throughout the Libyan capital for many days, whose two million residents have been made hostages of the armed gangs and Western special forces troops that have seized control of the city's streets.
The focus of NATO operations has become a frantic effort to hunt down and murder Muammar Gaddafi. A $2 million bounty has been placed on his head, and the British media now openly boast that SAS special forces troops are leading the search for him and his family. A vast array of US armed Predator drones, AWACS spy planes and other surveillance equipment have been concentrated on the North African country to facilitate the illegal manhunt.
The pretense that the US and its European NATO allies were intervening in Libya to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas from threat of attack," as stated in the United Nations Security Council resolution has been effectively abandoned. Behind the fig leaf of this resolution the naked imperialist and colonial character of the war has emerged.
The Security Council's stipulations that ground troops not be introduced into the country, that an arms embargo be kept in place and that mercenaries be prevented from entering Libya have all been flouted in this criminal operation to seize control of an oil-rich former colony and loot its resources. There is barely any attempt to hide the fact that special forces, intelligence agents and mercenary military contractors have organized, armed and led the "rebels", who have not made a single advance without the prior annihilation of government forces by NATO warplanes.
After being terrorized for five months by NATO bombs and missiles, the people of Tripoli are now facing sudden death and a looming humanitarian catastrophe as a result of the NATO campaign to "protect civilians".
Kim Sengupta of the Independent reported Thursday from the Tripoli neighborhood of Abu Salim, which the "rebels" stormed under the cover of NATO air strikes. Known as a pro-Gaddafi area, its residents have been subjected to a reign of terror.
"'The rebels are saying they are fighting government troops here, but all those getting hurt are ordinary people, the only buildings being damaged are those of local people...'"
Meanwhile, other reports laid bare war crimes carried out by NATO and its local agents on the ground in Tripoli. Both the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies documented a massacre perpetrated against Gaddafi supporters in a square adjacent to the presidential compound that was stormed and looted.
"The bodies are scattered around a grassy square next to Moammar Gadhafi's compound of Bab al-Aziziya. Prone on grassy lots as if napping, sprawled in tents. Some have had their wrists bound by plastic ties," AP reported.
"The identities of the dead are unclear but they are in all likelihood activists that set up an impromptu tent city in solidarity with Gadhafi outside his compound in defiance of the NATO bombings."
AP said that the grisly discovery raised "the disturbing specter of mass killings of noncombatants, detainees and the wounded."
Among the bodies of the executed the report added were several that "had been shot in the head, with their hands tied behind their backs. A body in a doctor's green hospital gown was found in the canal. The bodies were bloated."
Reporting from the same killing field, Reuters counted 30 bodies "riddled with bullets". It noted that "Five of the dead were at a field hospital nearby, with one in an ambulance strapped to a gurney with an intravenous drip still in his arm." Two of the bodies, it said, "were charred beyond recognition."
News reports and statements from international aid agencies warn of a humanitarian catastrophe in the city as a result of the NATO siege. Reporting from a local hospital, the Telegraph said: "As battle raged in the Tripoli streets hundreds of casualties were brought in, rebel fighters, Gaddafi's soldiers, and unlucky civilians, laying next to each other in bed and even on a floor awash with blood, screaming or moaning in agony. Many died before they could be treated."
The universal euphoria of the US and much of the European media, which is "embedded" with NATO and its "rebels," cannot conceal the brutal reality that a war waged under the pretense of human rights and protecting civilians has unleashed immense death, human suffering and destruction.
Far from a "revolution" or struggle for "liberation," what the world is witnessing is the rape of Libya by a syndicate of imperialist powers determined to lay hold of its oil wealth and turn its territory into a neo-colonial base of operations for further interventions throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

From the "Terrorism Against the Libyan People" Building, With Love?

?September 24, 2011

The Pittsburgh Tribune reported on September 18 a development in Free Libya that would, on its surface, seem just another delightful turn in the fortunes of this brutalized nation.

A friendly Fathi Sherif greets visitors to Libya's once-feared Internal Security Agency. "This is [was?] the 'Terrorism Against the Libyan People' building," he announces. The tables have turned, however. Moammar Gadhafi's past victims now hunt for him and his regime's key figures.

Not all of the new Transitional National Council has relocated here from Benghazi, the rebellion's initial stronghold; much of the new government is being created from scratch.

Into this political void stepped Sherif, 49, and his Gadhafi-hunters."We are catching rats," he says, acting on tips from the capital and beyond. "We have our eyes everywhere."

Theirs is an ad-hoc operation. Rebels bring Gadhafi loyalists, captured in six months of fighting, to prisons around the country.Many of Sherif's 15 volunteers were imprisoned or tortured under Gadhafi. "We work for free," he says, puffing on a cigarette. "We even pay for the prisoners' food."

The prisoners are treated well, he insists, because "(we) want them to know the difference between us and them."

The main difference is unlike Gaddafi's people, these guys seem intent on privatizing things, opening the oil spigots up to foreign control, and so stand a good chance of being demonizedfarless, and even the opposite, by their Western benefactors.

A few regime figures have been captured already, he says. These included "the 'Secretary of the Jamahiriya's Secrets' [...] and the dictator's 'money guy.'" The former, "Ahmed Ramadan, Gadhafi's private secretary of two decades" was arrested after being shot in the head. He shot himself, they swear, and I suppose it's quite likely. He didn't die, and so if he recovers consciousness before Gaddafi's death or capture (or even after), he may be in for some telling or torture.

A Human Rights Watch researcher, the Tribune added, "has visited the prisoners and found them well-treated. "What they do complain about it the utter lack of judicial procedures," he says." And I suspect that's just beginning. I predict over-dramatic, unverifiable, illogical, and venom-filled testimony will be used, with no defense evidence allowed, to hang as many of these problem people as possible.

Besides those captured, some have surrendered, says Mr. Sherif, to avoid the vengeance of the mob, where "people would kill them and cut them into pieces."

Sadly for some people of Libya worried about street justice and not quite detained, the rat-hunters' "eyes everywhere" fact-finding capabilities aren't so great. To be fair, I'm not sure the same people were responsible for the following bold operation, but it could be. The suspects involved were apparently considered possible members of the ruler's own extended family. A Yahoo story explains it so:
A woman and her family were shot by Libyan rebel fighters in a deadly attack because their last name was Gaddafi, it has been reported.

Mother-of-three Afaf Gaddafi was attempting to flee the war-torn country with her children and other family members over fears that their surname would land them in trouble.

Mistaken for Gaddafi loyalists, rebel fighters opened fire at them near an airport - killing the couple’s two daughters Yam, 20 months, and Aden, three weeks, as well as Afaf’s mother and sister.
Now if they had actually been Gaddafi loyalists, would it have been okay? This question is left unanswered. But even those mistaken for them - parties with babies and especially the babies - are being shot dead. This case isn't as clear-cut as I aft first thought, in that the victims were in a car, which raises the prospect of some fault of their own - refusing orders to halt, mainly. But why were they even singled out to be detained?

Afaf's husband, Essam Arara, lives in London, a graduate of the London School of Economics. He's obviously devastated, and now lobbying to have his wife (minus her right eye) and surviving 3-year old son join him in safety, away from the dangerous liberation this family (among others) has been maimed by. To the London Evening Standard, Mr.Arara spoke to the factors behind their misfortune:
"None of them are even related to Muammar Gaddafi - it is just a surname given to many thousands of members of his tribe. But my wife and all our relatives were afraid that they could immediately be subjected to revenge attacks just because of their names. So they decided to flee to a safer place. If their names had not been Gaddafi they would have stayed at home and all be alive today."
His family were driving near the airport to escape the violence when a group of rebels spotted the cars [on the lookout for them?]. Everyone but Mr Arara's wife and three-year-old son Ahmed were killed.

"They thought the cars might be carrying Gaddafi loyalists, because there had apparently been some shooting not long before from roughly the same direction," said Mr Arara.
And what luck the cars they spotted in that direction contained people actually named Gaddafi? Had they been tipped off by some overzealous idiot that those weird, nervous Gaddafis across the street were fleeing suspiciously in such and such cars? Ironically, in trying to flee from imagined harm that would seem unlikely to most of us over here, she may have provoked just the violence feared, proving it was there, wriggling stupidly and venomously beneath the surface.

Is this what's now emanating from the "Terrorism Against the Libyan People" building?

The lesson here for anyone in recently liberated cities named Gaddafi, Sennoussi, etc. (you'll know the list far better than I) is this: you should not attempt to run in fear. Do not "run like rats." Sit quietly in fear instead, and your chances of being massacred by the nation's new rat hunters/exterminators will be slightly reduced. Just remain calm - you have nothing to fear unless you start acting nervous, or move your hands at all, or are interviewed after one of the far-too-armed beardy kids has had his eighth cup of coffee.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Suicide Bomber Opens the Katiba

May 22 2011
last edits, September 30, 2011

Note Sept. 30: When I first wrote this piece I did not know the formal name of the military barracks in question here. It's often called the Katiba, as used below, but that just means something like "brigade." But it's called the Al-Fadhil bin Omar barracks, at the time housing a brigade of that name.

Three months ago the other day, the Katiba barracks fell to what was becoming the Libyan rebel army. The large, loyal, and well-stocked military base in the middle of Benghazi would arm much of rebel-held Cyrenaica after defection of general Abdel Fatah Younes there on February 21. This came the day after the base's main gate was blown open, triggering a fierce battle within the sprawling complex. The swift culmination of that episode was a major turning point in the fate of the city, Libya's second largest and soon the de facto rebel capitol.

This post focuses on the opening of the gate by an act that, in any other context, would be denounced by the Western media as an act of terrorism. Consider this still from a Russia Today broadcast, showing the effects of a very powerful blast:
Further images of the damaged gate can be seen here, here and here.

Al Jazeera had an excellent photo but nothing much on the cause, mentioning this suicide bomber not at all.
A gaping hole in the northern wall of the compound, all twisted metal bars and jagged concrete blocks, marks the spot where protesters first managed to push through under a hail of gunfire. In white spray-paint, someone has written "Martyrs' Square" in Arabic on an unhinged metal gate that hangs off the breach.
But others give due mention of Mahdi Ziu, the middle-aged executive turned Jihadist. The Guardian, for one, reported two months later:
Ziu was not classic suicide-bomber material. He was a podgy, balding 48-year-old executive with the state oil company, married with daughters at home. There was no martyrdom video of the kind favoured by Hamas. He did not even tell his family his plan, although they had seen a change in him over the three days since the revolution began.
But Mr. Ziu (see tribute  poster at left, from here) did drive an explosive car, we're told, from within a funeral procession, right at the Katiba's north gate and blew it open, probably killing some guards and helping make the heavy weapons inside available to all sorts of riff-raff. The Guardian's use of plastic language re-brands what elsewhere wouldbe termed a disaster and a heinous crime:
The Middle East. A man with a car fashioned into a bomb. He disguises his intent by joining a funeral cortege passing the chosen target. At the last minute the man swings the vehicle away, puts his foot down and detonates the propane canisters packed into the car.
It all sounds horrifyingly familiar. Mahdi Ziu was a suicide bomber in a region too often defined by people blowing up themselves and others. But, as with so much in Libya, the manner of Ziu's death defies the assumptions made about the uprisings in the Arab world by twitchy American politicians and generals who see Islamic extremism and al-Qaeda lurking in the shadows. Ziu's attack was an act of pure selflessness, not terror, and it may have saved Libya's revolution.
Admittedly, it was a rather violent selflessness, with further violent effects.
Then Ziu arrived, blew the main gates off the barracks and sent the soldiers scurrying to seek shelter inside. Within hours the Katiba had fallen.
What followed wasn't pretty. "(The revolutionaries) were beating Gaddafi people they captured, it's true. When they captured a Gaddafi soldier they said: 'What was this man doing? He was shooting us.' Gaddafi's soldiers wanted to kill anyone. They were using anti-aircraft weapons on humans. It cut people in half. People were angry," says Fasi. So angry that some of Gaddafi's soldiers were lynched. At least one was beheaded.

CNN reported the story a month earlier, but got the name a bit different, as Mendhi Ziu.
Confirmed: Hero Story of Benghazi Suicide Bomber
CNN reports that a man named Al Mendhi loaded his car with explosives and drove it into a military compound in Benghazi last week [...] Mr. Mendhi, a 49 year old oil company worker, is being hailed as a hero, because it was his sacrifice that enabled the resistance to overtake the barracks and roust Gadaffi's army, ultimately regaining the city of Benghazi. He had filled cylinders with cooking gas, packed them into his car, where he sat and prayed for half an hour before driving the car at high speed into the compound. His valiant efforts were not in vain.

Re-gaining Benghazi? When was it first lost?
His best friend reports that he carried the brave man's remains out of the car, and said that "If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I would not believe it myself."
There was a car left? There were remains? Is this the car? It looks just about like an other car looted and burned within the compound. It doesn't look blown up by the blast center responsible for ruptiuring the concrete gate building. I'm no explosives expert, but there seems ample room to wonder whether this was the result of exploding gas canisters at high speed, or of something quite a bit more professional-grade.

For what it's worth, I confirmed the location from imagae analysis of the Russia Today footage. By background structures, I decided it's clearly the north gate, the west lane (inbound?) passage. These images show my work.

Update, Sept. 30: This historic bombing of the north gate and guard house - either the actiual blast or the destruction after - is something that, like protesters being shot, is simply absent from " "protester" videos. Russia today showed it, outside media showed it, but somehow the people who did it seem to have kept it mum,as if that would help us fail to notice they were"protesting" places to smithereens.

It also has a way of being glossed over or ignored in mainstream run-downs of the battle for Benghazi. For example, the UN's Human Rights Council issued a report on June 1 (PDFlink) about the early violence. It could and should have addressed this particular act but somehow missed it. They make note of an extracted "admission of involvement by a member of the security forces," in rebel detention, "in the random shooting of protestors in Benghazi on 20 February."

Their statistics show the biggest spike of daily deaths that day - 60 to the previous 20 and 20 (on the 17th and 19th). But they thought this was from an extreme, random-shooting punishment because "government opponents assumed control over the Katiba premises," in some unspecified way with no mention of a terrorist suicide bomber, "on 19 February!" No wonder their conclusions were so warped - these guys were confused on major events like this, which aren't even hard to figure out just with a Google search and no airfare required. The question remains whether this type of goof-up is accidental or part of some design.

Video Study: Protesters Being Shot, Anywhere

September 22, 2011

I've been saying for a while that there are very few videos - at least three, and I doubt much more - of those peaceful Libyan protesters actually being shot back in February. I must first acknowledge I've run a bit ahead of myself there, and haven't really made an exhaustive study. I'm trying to do that now, but it's tedious. So far I'm finding nothing past the three that show apparent demonstrators visibly being downed.

If you're not familiar with the government's explanation, see the post "Massacring Protesters: Really?"  They'd say the videos either weren't made or weren't shared because they were getting themselves shot attacking army bases to steal weapons for violent war. And they wanted to be seen instead as peaceful protesters. And they were seen that way - they just weren't seen being shot hardly ever.

There were thousands of little iPhone-type cameras floating around, several filming most of the incidents we've seen, often from two or three of a dozen views captured (for example, this March protest against "mercenaries" in Benghazi). Most of these were able to get their footage to the world within 24 hours, somehow or other. And we heard that hundreds of innocent protesters were shot dead unprovoked, and hundreds others shot non-fatally. There should be (and might be) far more than the three cases I know of where we get to see the sudden transition from healthy to injured or dead.

Understandably, not all camera people are solid enough to keep filming when shots are being fired. Some will drop the thing, or turn it off and run, or keep it going and run away, showing us nothing but blurs. I'm sure it's not easy to film a killing or massacre within your own line of sight. But it's a pivotal moment to capture, the moral crux of the protesters' cries for foreign intervention. They told us all about it in the starkest and most alarming terms, but proved unable generally to actually and simply prove it with video. A single view, anything.

And it's not that they're required to, just that it'sreally odd how they cant when, if the picture they paint were true, the videos should, just naturally exist. Perhaps three doze, perhaps one dozen or even less.But three?

Below are some samples of videos that don't make the cut, the three I know of that do, and a space for any others that fit the required bill. I will keep looking, and invite submissions.I suspect in time the list will grow, but not by much. Prove me wrong!

No Good
No Good, Hospital footage
Libyan killed by Gaddafi forces in Tripoli- CAUTION VERY GRAPHIC
craino0 Feb 22, 2011
Several dead victims shown in still photos, some extremely dead, blasted apart in shocking ways most people don't need to see. All are fighting age males, one light-skinned black, the others Arab. Circumstances and even assailant are unclear, but it's been said they were killed by security forcesand/or "African mercenaries," using anti-aircraft guns against completely peaceful demonstrators. And there's plenty of "said" already, and not enough "shown."

A Message to Gaddafi from A Libyan injured protester at the hospital in Zawia, Libya Feb25th
Uploaded by molibya on Feb 25, 2011
Again, this tells us nothing except what someonesays about what happened -in alanguage I can only catch a few words in. It wastes the evidentiary value of video, putting it on a par with any credulous news report. It isn't even worth wasting a moment with, unless I could myself understand and evaluate his words and look into verifying them .... Plus, FWIW, actual video evidence shows Az Zawiyah "protesters" were in full armed combat mode (machine guns, RPGs, perhaps tanks) by mid-day of the 24th.

No Good, Shot Not Shown
This is a large and sometimes ambiguous category, encompassing most videos the average person would be tempted to retort with here. Unlike the above category, some of these are worthy of examination for direct secondary clues (location mostly), but none quite show what some of them should - people actually being shot.

Libyan citizen killed by a sniper Gaddafi in Libya.FLV

phinix89x, March 1
A man shot in the head in an alleyway, lots of blood around, a hole in the top of his head, slumped against another man's legs. There's a car and one other guy nearby. What could be a less clear sign of government repression?

Protesters in Libya shot and killed by Gaddafi Thugs
ibntarabulus, February 17
An injured man, being carried. Blood is on his pants and coming from his nose. It's not even clear if he was shot, or punched, or what. No context shown, obviously, for if he deserved it. But being in the field instead of hospital, presumably near the site of injury, makes it worth more study (later, maybe). Where was he at? This kind of question proved useful in the following video:

Libya Protesters Shot
Like the above, it doesn't show the shooting, but I covered it already anyway (see February 19's Death Toll in Benghazi). It shows two injured (one fatal, one unsure) only after the fact, next to a school in Benghazi, and coming from roughly the site of violent attacks on the Benghazi army barracks a few blocks away to the southwest. This not only fails to prove the rebel version, it actually supports the government version fairly well.

And for the second most ambiguous one yet, see the post "Video Study: Demonstrators Shot by Unseen Gunmen." The video from Benghazi, February 15, was first presented as showing anti-government protesters shot by the government. But prior to drastic editing, it had shown pro-government demonstrators, so it was thought by some they were shot by anti-government terrorists. But I think it shows no one shot at all. Read it to see if you agree or disagree, and feel free to comment.

No Good, Idiot
riots in libya protest 2011 protester/camera man killed while filming in libya
Uploaded by onetv1channel on Feb 26, 2011
Then there's this video around of an unarmed cameraman killed by Gaddafi forces (in Misrata?) while filming them (watched it once, haven't studied it). Problem is, he wasn't filming protests near the army, but an armed gang stalking them, sneaking up behind them with rocket launchers, to kill them. He wasn't technically a combattant, but naturally when the forces opened fire to defend themselves in a moment of surprise, they might hit whoever they see instinctively. Really sad? Or just really stupid and unlucky? Perhaps both.

No Good, Not Protesters AND No One Shot
Protesters In Triploi Take Fire From Anti Aircraft Weaponry
Protesters in Triploi take AA fire? Not in this video. This shows hooligans burning buildings and cars at night. They might be armed, but not that I noticed. Someone's shooting a lot, sounds like, and yelling Allahu Akbar a lot, I'm not sure where and which side. The "protesters" do hide behind cars, perhaps as if avoiding bullets, but the only time they run is just after one guy finishes some unseen manual work next to a car. They run behind the wall and just then more "gunshots" are heard. A car nearby is on fire, and car alarms keep going off. IF anyof these hooligans had gotten shot by the police, I wouldn't call it justified, but not regime change material either.

No Good, Only Weapons Shown
Libya - Benghazi - Weapons of African mercenaries
Posted by Benzebide, Feb 21
This shows some idiot holding up the fearsome weapons the protesters confiscated from an "African mercenary" in Benghazi. It's apparently the same weapon found on killed "mercenary" Hisham Mansour, and stuck mockingly into the crack of his naked butt in another famous video from, I believe, Benghazi, February 21. Problem is, at least according to a researcher who made a video to demonstrate it, the weapon is a special non-lethal gun used by riot control police around the world, including Libya's Internal Security forces, of which Mr. Mansour was a member. Oops. 

Good: Noncombatant People Getting Shot
By that I mean not that it's a good thing, but that it fits the criteria of being worth really examining. As I said above, I start with three videos so far. They're all from the same town, apparently the same day (February 17, as  I've been saying, or perhaps February 16), the same hour, and the same stretch of street. And further, two of them show the same exact shooting (total victims: 2). However this examination pans out, it cannot therefore do much to illustrate a top-down, nationwide order to kill protesters as was alleged - that would manifest in more than one city and more than one day.

1) Protests in Al Bayda East Libya on the 17th Feb facing live fire
Posted by Libyanm, Jun 10 
This decent-resolution video, filmed from a rooftop, is dated on-screen Feb 17, day 3 of fighting. It shows a rowdy funeral procession approaching a police line. One of the protesters is shot down and then carried away, leaving a trail of blood.

2) "Qaddafi's men open fire on a funeral procession and kill mourners, Al BaiDa'"
Posted by LibyanSolidarity, March 2
On-screen text has, in "Indian numbers," 17, suggesting again Feb 17. The day or the group? Dunno. It's from the same procession as above, again from a rooftop, a bit earlier and further from the police than the other. Again, one protester falls at the sound of a gunshot, this time hauled away in a truck that happened (?) to pull up just before the shooting. 

Posted by apologiiiize, Feb 20 
Description gives this as the date of the incident, but it's earlier - the police were all dead or gone by the 20th. This shows the same killing shown in video 1, from closer - ground level, just feet behind the young guy who was shot. It's abit disturbing to see - lots of blood,but no brains.

For in-depth analysis, including a video, of these three videos, see the post "Video Study: Al Baida Snipers" (fuller summary forthcoming here). The first and only time I see three videos of protester-type people being shot, I have a special case to make - several clues converge here suggesting a false-flag job by provocateur snipers, letting their work be naturally blamed on the government troops everyone could actually see. It's a solid case, if not quite proven. Skeptics, please have a look before dismissing this.

And alternately, this could be a genuine case of government troops opening fire on demonstrators. On one day, and in one of Libya's mid-tier cities. One was captured by two cameras. Where are the hundreds of victims from Benghazi, Tripoli, Misrata, az Zawiyah, etc. being shot down? Even one view of oneincident like this, that we can study?

Anything further I find or have submitted (comments below are a good place for this) will go in this list, starting with 4), if that ever is unearthed.