Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Behind the Scenes of the al-Baida Massacre

Crimes Against Reality in Libya, part 1
March 30, 2011
last edits April 13

Fighting Back the Mercenaries
Al-Baida (aka Bayda, لبيضاء) is a good-sized city by Libyan standards at about 200,000 people strong, per Wikipedia. It’s located about 100 miles northeast of Benghazi, a center of agriculture, industry, and commerce. It was rocked by protests starting in earnest on February 17, the nationwide “Day of Rage” against the Gaddafi regime. At least one protester, and as many as 12, were killed when security forces opened fire. The BBC reported on the 17th “A regional head of security was removed from his post in al-Bayda after the violence on Wednesday, local media reported.” If that was to placate people, it was apparently a ruse, and failed anyway. 

Der Spiegel spoke with one protester in his hospital bed, who explained how they all raged harder yet on the 18th, until rumors spread of about 400 African mercenaries being flown in to mow them down. Hundreds of citizens armed with no guns rushed to the airport to meet them, he said, and stormed the place to a hail of machine gun fire. “The three days after the [mercenaries] landed were bloody in Bayda; it was a battle that has become a symbol of the Libyan insurgency." By this account, in which the teller is the only one of 23 friends to survive, protesters were at first slaughtered by “the heavily armed mercenaries, who were later reinforced with tanks.” 

But somehow, the protesters had taken control of the airport by Monday the 21st, as Der Spiegel reports.  A video available online suggests the city at large was liberated as of the 21st, with some people chanting slogans in a small circle, with signs, mostly in English. It would seem entirely calm here, with kids involved, no repression nor threat of it to be seen. Nothing, in fact, left to protest. Whatever Gaddafi loyalist forces remained free and alive had melted away or were, perhaps, re-grouping.

A reporter from Time visited the liberated town and was allowed to see and speak with some of roughly 200 alleged mercenaries taken captive by protesters at the airport and elsehwere. These were held in an old school in Shehat, a small town five miles east of al-Baida. The report, dated February 23, said in part:
“Given their claim that there were once 325 of them — flown in from Libya's southern town of Sabha — the remaining men consider themselves lucky. Many were captured during fierce clashes between residents and Gaddafi's forces last week; in the ensuing chaos, a group of men from al-Baida executed 15 of the suspected mercenaries on Feb. 18 and 19 in front of the town's courthouse. They were hanged, says the country's former Justice Minister Mustafa Mohamed Abd al-Jalil (who has quit and joined the revolution). It wasn't entirely planned, but the people here were enraged." 
So it’s been acknowledged that in this post-victory mayhem, at least 15 of these prisoners of protest were executed in the heat of the moment. And captives were being taken as of the first day of the reportedly lopsided battle against the mercs.  According to the account of prisoner Ali, 325 had become around 200, suggesting a total of about 125 of them had passed away somehow in the bloody fighting.

And for what it's worth, only a very few were true foreigners, and the rest Libyan citizens, although many held dual citizenship, mostly in Chad and Zimbabwe. Ali further claimed he hadn't come to kill anyone - they were flown up from Sabha to participate in peaceful counter-protests in Tripoli, but were re-routed to al-Baida at the last minute for unknown reasons. But as the old saying goes, he would say that, wouldn't he?  An official with Human Rights Watch investigated as well after visiting al Baida. Reporting by March 2, after an apparently later visit, he cited 156 soldiers who were
from the south of Libya and not from another African country. After talking to them he found out that they were all black Libyans of African descent. The soldiers have since been released by the protesters.

23 Claimed Martyrs
A further grim discovery was made and reported worldwide the same day as the Time article cited above, February 23. There are several articles available about this, many citing an amateur video, and some link to one of at least four recordings available on Youtube. These show an array of 22 corpses on a dusty patch of road amongst non-descript buildings.

The only video source I could easily find containing the video and an announcement of its significance was from Iranian channel Erasaneh, posted on Youtube. (3:00 in). Simply put, “130 Libyan soldiers have been executed for refusing to open fire on anti-Gaddafi protesters.” Everyone else agrees, or acts as if they agree, that this is just what happened here. They all cite a prominent Human Rights group, who announced the same day:
Paris - At least 640 people have been killed in Libya in protests against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi since they started last week, the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) said on Wednesday. The figure is more than double the official Libyan government toll of 300 dead, and includes 275 dead in Tripoli and 230 dead in the protest epicentre in the eastern city of Benghazi, the IFHR's Souhayr Belhassen told AFP.

The Benghazi toll includes "130 soldiers who were executed by their officers in Benghazi for refusing to fire on crowds" of protesters, she said. Belhassen, who heads the Paris-based IFHR, said the toll was based on military sources for Tripoli and on Libyan rights groups assessments in Benghazi and elsewhere. The Libyan government said on Tuesday that 300 people had died in the protests, including 111 soldiers.
Note that Tripoli did have a death toll, and that a majority of the discrepancy was based on this large new portion of 130 against the regime. Why didn't they acknowledge the 130 loyalists they had just hours before been accused of killing?

How do we know that's what happened? "Libyan rights groups" are cited. We don't know their evidence, affiliations, or credibility. But it is this hasty and dramatic announcement by the IFHR that nearly everyone else cites as the basis for this highly useful claim against our universal enemy and avoiding the same against our good guys, the protesters and citizen-fighters of Libya. (see comments below for my enquiry to them about their evidence)

What we can know is what the video shows. The  22 corpses are uniformed in solid green, blue-ish camouflage, and civilian clothes, many black African, many Arab. They were all bound, hands behind backs, blindfolded, shoes removed, and shot in the back of the head. Brain matter, missing faces, and large pools of thick blood abound. The other 100-plus victims  must be somewhere else - perhaps inside a building, perhaps in other locations and incidents altogether. Details are really that hazy.

But unless the whole world has it wrong (and that has happened, see below), this is the footage of part of that mass killing. Given the chronology above, with around 125 Gaddafi loyalists apparently slain in fighting with rebels, it's hard to imagine some other portion of those forces also slaughtering about the same number of their own amidst the chaos, for ... refusing to shoot the "protesters" ... who were fighting and killing them ... and wound up capturing a further 200 of the suspected mercenaries and/or army soldiers.

For refusing Gaddafi's orders and giving their lives in the process, these 22 were hailed by rebels and their affiliates as martyrs for the cause of freedom, heroes worthy of having streets name after them in the new capitol. But the evidence for that version of their demise was never clear. The video record of the aftermath, in itself, does little to explain why and by whom they were executed while held helpless.

Two available videos version show a 23rd body on the ground - alive. One is available here, and shows the survivor on his back in the bloody gravel and dust, in a spot between two corpse that’s empty in the other recordings. He’s wearing green fatigues with blood stains, seemingly covered in mud, but unbound and showing no visible injuries whatsoever. There is a pool of fresh-looking blood near his head, but the whole thing seems quite possibly fake. The cameraman just walks right past the living man, panning in on the gore of the others and chanting. Very strange response.

Another version shared on Facebook and thence on rebel site libyafeb17.com shows some (other?) passersby responding a bit more humanely. This oddball is there described as a “dying soldier who is being encouraged to say the testimony of faith." The cameraman, translated on that page, explained how the martyr said he was sent “from Az Zawiyah, he said Mu’ammar sent him.” (Thus, not from Sabha, where the real survivors were flown from). This statement isn't shown, just explained as the cameraman is called over to look at the survivor.

The fading man is also seen begging for water, which another man dribbles into his mouth. The last line from behind the lens almost reads like a sick joke: “Alright alright, don’t give him too much, you might kill him.” The camera’s panning in on the most bizarrely decimated heads would also be consistent with a rather twisted "onlooker." Not good signs. One can be excused for wondering, as commentator Stewart at the Feb17 video's page has, if the camera crew are in with the execution crew.

Gaddafi's Copy: Behind-the-Scenes
Further, the rebel site hosting the "survivor" video touts it as “demonstrat[ing] the falsity of Gaddafi run state tv which accused the rebels of executing these soldiers after muting the audio and filtering sections of it.”

That would not surprise most observers in the slightest, but we have the video in question also available on Youtube. Upon review, it's not muting some audio that's the problem, but a whole alternate beginning. Only one video is claimed to show direct evidence of what happened behind the scenes at al-Baida the night of the 22nd. And, however they got a copy, it was shown first (and only, as far as I know, aside from some Youtube postings) by al-Libya, the new, "liberal" and "private" news station owned by Muammar’s son Saif Gaddafi.

This recording shows nine apparent military men seated on a long pinstriped couch, unbound but cowed and looking various shades of worried. The other half of the room, behind the camera and to the sides, is a noisy roomfull of people speaking Arabic, questioning and haranguing their unhappy guests. (I'm trying to hunt down someone now who can help me transcribe it, as I cannot understand Arabic in the slightest).

I have numbered the prisoners of protest from left to right. #1, 5, 7, and 9 wear Green fatigues, while #3 and 6 sport the distinctive Libyan bluish camouflage fatigues. Captives #2, 4, and 8 are in civilian clothes. Two (8, 9) look black African, the rest different shades of Arab. #1 and #6 seem the senior ones among them (balding), and a few look quite young. #4 seems around 17-18 years of age.

Captive #6 has the air of a long-serving officer, and keeps his head down, softly answering the few questions he's asked. He seems more than anything deeply sad about the things he never got around to doing after retirement.  #9, a big black guy, is repeatedly questioned at great length and tries to answer (all but inaudible, unfortunately). Captive #5 is standing apart from the rest for a while early in the video, gesturing emphatically, trying to explain something to his captors, a look of urgent worry on his face. After a while he's apparently told to shut up and sit down. He sits down in the middle of the couch, looking glum.

Identified in Both Videos
That the famous video of 22/23 martyrs is the aftermath of the one shown on al-Libya is based on their own comaprison, which is highly contested (in partisan Youtube comments, anyway. Some are a hoot.). Most people should naturally be expected to reject the word of Gaddafi-regime TV, but in this case it's not just propaganda. The video is right here for anyone who cares to double-check it for themselves.

(And if it gets yanked, I have a copy saved, and will try to make sure it's available)

Their visible findings are based on three freeze-frames, each showing a certain corpse next to an image of an eerily similar person in the first video. Each is supposedly a match for skin color, build, hair, and clothing. The three they were willing to put their name to are the prisoners I numbered, 6, 9, and 8, in order of their appearance, at 4:00, 4:07, and 4:18 in the video.

Each of al-Libya’s three guesses is, in my opinion, better than the last. The one they decided was #6 might well be wrong. This corpse seems to have hair both too thick and too curly. But at this resolution and with an apparently off-center balding spot, and the wrong angle to see it clearly, I don’t feel confident ruling him out. They may have had better copies and expertise to work with.

I kind of think the body laying across the backside of their #6, with its brains all over his blue camo legs and the ground, is prisoner of protest #5, the pleader. But it's hard to tell with no face, and the network did not venture that guess. The corpse they correlated with #9 is entirely consistent and a good guess. Few, but far from none, among a contingent of 325-plus-whoever would be that build and dressed the same as him.

But the one they linked with captive #8 (at right) is the sinker, all but undeniable. With his unique white pinstripe sweater, dark green pants, gangly build, and constant slouch, he has a distinctive and downcast look bedfore his captors. This body with a slightly hunched back suggests the slouch was from more than just his mood, and helps create a correlation one cannot reasonably ignore. It's the same guy.

Or faked video. But that's special pleading, and a weak position generally to take.

Furthermore, I can see bodies that could quite possibly be captives #1, #3, and #7 in there as well, but from there I run out of clear potential matches. It would seem the distinctive-looking captives #2 and 4 are not among those filmed the next morning. Perhaps they were spared, or joined the rebellion, or were killed elsewhere.

All told, this looks a lot like at least three and as many as seven of those same nine loyalists, executed in cold blood and strewn like refuse amongst 15-19 others of similar demographics and outfitting. And nothing about this video looks fake in the slightest. It's ridiculous to imagine a regime so besieged to even bother trying to fake as explanation for any of their reported slaughters, only to have the world ignore and dismiss it anyways.

No, this is likely the truth that the world is ignoring and dismissing. The camera - usually we presume it doesn't lie. ... Usually.

The Ones Not on the Couch
Next I turn to the captors, as seen in the al-Libya video. As generally noted, they do not seem to look or operate like senior loyalist commanders offing some mutineers.

These I've numbered, a bit more abritrarily. #1 is the cameraman, obviously unseen. Captor #2, "the Imam" I'll call him, stands to the camera's left, just barely on screen in parts. We can see he's not tall, but has a long, dark, unruly beard, a good-sized nose, and soft, pink, chubby hands. He seems to hold a walking stick (?), and wears a loose, light-colored top (possibly a robe, or is that a Gandalf/Osama leap of imagination?).

"The Imam" seems to lead the haranguing, and also patiently "comforts" the distressed prisoner #5 until he gently pushes him down to re-join the others on the couch. Later he dramatically turns to the big black guy, #9, causing a brief moment of shock, as seen here, and levels some more serious questions at him, I guess.

Captor #3 is a masked young man of apparently fair Arab stock, perhaps holding a cell phone. He briefly squats down and leans on the couch to the right of captive #9. Someone on that end of the room, perhaps him, also lets a machette dangle across the screen at one point. #5 looks rather professional in his all-black, all-tight outfit. Of a middling complexion and sharp features but unclear ethnicity, he seems to stand guard on the left half of the room. #6 only pops in briefly at 1:54 to invade prisoner #9's personal space for unsure reasons. This person is also black-African-looking, and wearing something green and black.

We can also see, through the open window's lattice, that it's dark outside and a crowd has gathered to watch this all.

One commentator at Youtube was able to understand the dialog that would really help me out, and panned the whole thing.
"The comments the "news reader" made at the end were false, she said that the interrogators asked their prisoners who their "emir" was, trying to invoke fear of islamists, in truth the interrogators asked who the commanding officer was "dobaat" then asked who is the boss "raees" then "they asked who is "emir", so to try to portray them as islamists is incorrect, she was also trying to insinuate that the eastern part of libya were in a war against the western part of libya. In summary, this is the type of "news" that the people in Tripoli are subjected to 24 hours a day.
Well, that would make it more informative on at least this episode anyway, which to my knolwedge hasn't once been seen on CNN, BBC, or al Jazeera or the rest. Not even Russia Today.

Folks like this are quite sure these two videos aren’t linked by any reality, that the similarities shown are coincidence or worse. And furthermore, it's clear to them that the rebels shown in the first one are not the foreign al-Qaeda-linked Islamists Gaddafi has been shouting about. They’re just ordinary Libyans, fed-up and not taking it any more. Consider this captor shown in the video, and whom I’ll call Khalid (wearing the white jacket).
Khalid could be any local Libyan man who moved to al-Baida from Benghazi with his two daughters, after his wife died of a rare neurological disease in 2006. He might work hard in construction, struggling to make ends meet under Gaddafi’s stifling regime, hoping to send his eldest, Aisha, to college in America. But history called, and he took up arms, like this rifle, to protest. And here is Khalid about one month ago, with captor #5 guarding the left end of the room, assisting in the peaceful interrogation of these obvious outsider mercenaries.

Ironically, the Youtube commentator cited above made issue of Slavic-looking riflemen used by ... the Gaddafi regime: “There are also unconfirmed reports that serbian snipers are being used by the Gaddafi regime (only unconfirmed because the snipers were not captured alive)”

Further Awkward Insights
So it appears these regime-loyal fighters were not murdered for refusing to “shoot protesters.” Rather, it could be they were offed for refusing to join the insurgency. This goes strongly against the once-prevailing idea that the whole country had effectively mutinied, leaving an illegitimate and insanely depraved tyrant in charge with only a few paid thugs. But here we see dedication and sacrifice, and a human side to the loyalists, defending their country from an unprecedented and bewildering inside-and-out attack, that we are currently bombing to smithereens in the dozens, if not hundreds. (Armored personnel carriers carry what?)

Further we see here a shrinking roster of vile and desperate mass-murder by those who remain loyal. Could it be the reality on the ground is more nuanced and unclear than the dramatic narrative of heroism against madness that we’ve been sold? These 22 killings, plus the fifteen at the courthouse in al-Baida, and likely many others, were not done in cold blood by Gaddafi’s desperate thugs. Most likely the full 125-130 who demised in that reported sum did so at the hands of the same side, just not the side reported to the world.

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider other incidents in and around Benghazi as well, like another six soldiers, or alternately (or also?) “dozens” of mutinous soldiers “burned alive in their bunkers," we’re told, for the same crime – refusing to shoot peaceful protesters. Again, how we know the villains, their motives, and that the victims were alive when burnt, is not the slightest bit clear. We do know protesters have no problem lighting government buildings on fires. LibyaFeb17.com hosted at least one recording of this atrocity exhibition. A few corpses are shown, extremely burnt, nearly skeletal, placed in body bags but re-opened. That’s all I could vouch for, but the rest of the world has taken it through the same distorted filter as they get everything about this war. It's obviously the work of an ever-insaner tyrant who really, really, really must go, quickly! The claim is widely repeated, including at MoD Oracle, a private site sort-of-linked to the British Ministry of Defense, mostly serving service-members with general military information.

Please also consider the above information next to this hyperventilating warning from the same IFHR who are the only ones vouching so prominently for the “killed for refusing” claim.
“New credible information, and sometimes still difficult to verify, regarding the murders of soldiers refusing to follow orders [...inter alia...] suggest that Gaddafi has effectively decided to implement a mass extermination of those participating in the protests and furthermore, the systematic repression of civilians. The intention announced by Gaddafi in a speech on Feb. 22, to eradicate the “rats” should be taken seriously." [emph. mine] [source, PDF]
And on the flip-side, obviously, we’ve seen an ugly dark side of the “rats” the world is so intensely interested in protecting on their march to control of Africa's greatest oil reserves. We have here good evidence we've all been hoodwinked and are blowing up Libya to help hand it over to – in part – radical Islamists, and uncivilized war criminals, with no compunction about using unnecessarily brutal terror tactics and fobbing it off on the enemy to help secure their continued tactical air support from the “civilized” world.

Question: does an unlawful combatant (aka rebel, bandit, terrorist) posing as, and among, peaceful protesters - and seizing control of cities full of them - constitute using human shields? Or only using the more potent "Human Rights" shield and its add-ons?


Grendal said...

Excellent work, Adam.

Caustic Logic said...

Heyyy, thanks. You were my first tip-off, and it took me too long to get it looked at. If only I'd acted quicker I might've been able to stave off this war, and force the world powers to use their muscle only to calm the situation down with minimal bloodshed and no suspicious gain extracted.


No, this got ideological and very much a crusade from the minute it started, and apparently even a few months before that (latest twist - rebellion planned in France with defector Mesmari - be sure to catch that if you haven't). It aims to maximize the kill and use everything, I fear. If Sarko blows that much French dough at this time, his people demand, he better bring something back for it. Others will concur. And considering the lean times, that plunder will keep us floating on through the summer at least.

Go team us!

Grendal said...

If the people of Britain, France and America had seen this footage when it was available then support for the bombing would have fallen to near zero. However,the footage was there to be seen and its hard to believe that our top journalists simply missed it. Even now I think it would be quite an eyeopener if it found its way into the mainstream. Do you have any contacts?

Caustic Logic said...

Not really, no. A few e-mail addys I never get responses from. I will try those, but it's out here now for anyone to find and take up.

felix said...

Excellent forensic work, Caustic Logic. All done in spare time while we pay others with our taxes to bomb, lie, distort, subsidise, aided and abetted by the mainstream media.

Caustic Logic said...

Thanks, Felix. I gather there are unspecified complaints that my singling out the whit guy as an outsider are unfounded. If so, I don't feel too dumb for thinking that. He doesn't look Libyan to me, but maybe those ex-pats are just very patriotic.

Whatever the case with that, the core issue is unassailable. There is a logical possibility the apparent video connection is a coincidence. But it's only that, a possibility of rather slim likelihood, all things considered.

And of course, as I found along the way, we have the issue of 130 soldier types killed by the regime in one version and about the same number killed by rebels in the other. Possible coincidence, but unlikely.

Put the two together, and it's spooky on multiple levels.

Caustic Logic said...

I just noticed my link to the February 17 "dying soldier" video no longer works. Have they pulled it, or did they just move it? Comments getting too smart?

Glad I saved a copy, plus the translation. Thanks, furtive and ill-conceived propaganda! Your legacy lives on, even if you don't.

- Caustic Logic

لقد لاحظت فقط ربط بلادي إلى 17 فبراير لم يعد يعمل "يموت جندي" الفيديو. وانسحب لكنها و، أو أنها لم تتحرك للتو؟ الحصول على تعليقات ذكية جدا؟

سعيد انني أنقذت نسخة، بالإضافة إلى الترجمة. ، وذلك بفضل الدعاية ماكرة وسوء تصور! إرث حياتكم، ولو كنت لا.

-- المنطق الكاوية

Caustic Logic said...

I was pretty sure that was the right link, and it moved. Wasn't pulled, comments all still there. Good on them. New url, also in the article now:

Anonymous said...






Caustic Logic said...

Thank you for that.

Mr. Gamatty (sp?) is quite transparent. His anger is hilarious. So many media outlets that will NOT put him next to a questioner, won't waste another second here. He did NOT want an answer to how one, Muslim or not, could question the obviously-inflated and alarmist 10,000 figure.

Well, I'll have to see the rest, curious how he explained it after the media pimp stormed off in a shrill huff.

Anonymous said...

Gamattys behavior shows us the sort of govt we can expect from the East Bengahzi tribe...and the stories of a racist pogrom taking place a disturbing


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. That video was posted on The Serbian page for support of Muammar al Gaddafi about a week ago, and the voices were pretty clear, but I don't understand Arabic. It is distinctive though, that those who are bullying the captured soldiers, are not soldiers themselves, but rather armed rebels. Once, this guy came to our page and posted a second edited video that showed only dead bodies on the ground and saying in description that those were the soldiers that refused to shoot at civilians. But I could easily reckognise those men from the original video as the same ones lying on the ground ( distinctive clothes, striped blouse, big dark coloured skin man in the green uniform etc)So I pointed that out to the person who posted the vid, but never got a responce. That is clear propaganda, and we Serbs are mostly imune to it, because the same was done to us some years ago to justify another illegal bombing. That is why there are so many supporters of Gaddafi and people who are against the NATO bombing of Libya, amoungh Serbs. Again, thank you for this!

brian said...

This from Blackagenda report:

'As the Globe and Mail wrote: “Paranoia about mercenaries remains strong among the rebels, despite assurances from human-rights groups that most of the fighters among the pro-Gadhafi forces are Libyan citizens.”

More accurately, racism against black Africans, including black Libyans, appears endemic in eastern Libya.

The same article shows convincingly that rebels executed more than a dozen captured government soldiers at the town of Darna early in the rebellion, then buried their bodies at a crossroads next to a wall on which it is written, “killed by Gadhafi.”

It is likely that scores of soldiers whose bodies were found in a Benghazi barracks, burned beyond recognition, met the same fate. Rebels initially claimed the men were killed by Gaddafi officers for refusing to fight their own people.'


brian said...

so the initial claim seems to be FROM the insurgents..a kind of PR to demonise the Libyan forces

Caustic Logic said...

Ana, thanks for the comment!

Now I'm "apologizing" for "Libyan" thugs, and getting kudos from "Serbian thugs." Greeeeat.

Kidding. I'm sure Yugoslavia was torn up for geo-political reasons, and the human rights angle heavily distorted to justify it (the skinny man "in the camp," the slaughters carried out by the PFLP-GC and al Qaeda, blamed on Belgrade, the human shields reportedly bussed in and chained at bombing targets, etc.). I was less sure before, but this pattern happening again makes it clearer.

I've written on that, mostly emphasizing the non-violent "spontaneous revolution" that capped it, with Otpor and the Bulldozer. That's at another blog, Guerillas Without Guns. I liked Milosevic's quote:
"They aren't attacking Yugoslavia because of Milosevic. They are attacking Milosevic because of Yugoslavia."
Replace Libya, or Libya's oil flow, and Gaddafi for Milosevic, and it's at least as accurate.

Sad world. All I can do is write about it between work shifts. Best of luck, until they decide Serbia itself is too big and needs to be split up.

Caustic Logic said...

more than a dozen captured government soldiers at the town of Darna early in the rebellion, then buried their bodies at a crossroads next to a wall on which it is written, “killed by Gadhafi.”

The barracks ones, these, the one t=at the hospital, the 22 shot dead, the fifteen hanged ... I suspect the total number is about 130.

so the initial claim seems to be FROM the insurgents..a kind of PR to demonise the Libyan forces

Sort of, it seems. IFHR are the ones making this claim, and they are comprised of hundreds of local rights groups. Libyan groups offered this info, and my guess is they're closely affiliated with the rebel struggle, so helped them re-brand their victims in a more politically useful story. And of course no one double-checked, because blaming Tripoli is the order of the day. Moral clarity, that's what a war needs, until it's over. Then, maybe some questions ...

Caustic Logic said...

Oh, and BAR artices just aren't appearing today, on my computer anyway. Had a similar problem last night, several decent sounding articles just refused to load. I found a re-posting of the Lynch Law piece that's readable, however. Chilling stuff.

brian said...


Caustic Logic said...

Thanks, Brian. I caught that the other (last?) night. Interesting development, interesting group.

The UN is also sending a three-person team (plus helpers, I presume) to investigate atrocities possibly committed by both sides.

Caustic Logic said...

The IFHR is actually a French-based group that calls itself the FIDH. I've just fired off a query that reads so:

doubts about a massacre

Greetings. My name is Adam Larson, a private researcher and blogger in the United States. I appreciate the work your organization is doing around the world, especially as of late in Bahrain and in Libya.

However, I write to express doubts about some of that work. I've taken an interest in the reported execution of 130 soldiers and/or mercenaries in the Libya uprising’s first days in the east. Recently I read an article citing an IFHR/FIDH finding about the death toll as of February 23:

"Paris - At least 640 people have been killed in Libya in protests against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi […] The figure [includes] 230 dead in the protest epicentre in the eastern city of Benghazi, the IFHR's Souhayr Belhassen told AFP. The Benghazi toll includes "130 soldiers who were executed by their officers in Benghazi for refusing to fire on crowds" of protesters, she said."

The claim is widely reported, but all of them cite only the IFHR/FIDH finding. Therefore, it is to the federation I turn my questions.

First, there is some vagueness and confusion as to the following:
1) Whether these were all in the city of Benghazi, or the whole eastern area.
2) If the 130 were killed en masse at one location or if the number is a total of smaller group executions.

Caustic Logic said...


Numerous media outlets and web posting have run an amateur video linked with that story. Many say that the video shows the 130 soldiers, but it only shows 22, bound and killed with shots to the back of the head. It’s widely cited as in or around al-Baida, about 100 miles from Benghazi.

The number 130 corresponds fairly well with the number of “mercenaries” in al-Baida apparently killed in fighting with rebels. A reporter from Time saw about 200 of them in captivity at Shahet, 5 miles away, and they said there had been 325 of them flown in from Sabha.

And most troubling, I’ve been alerted to and studied another video, shown on Libyan TV and nowhere else yet, aside from a Youtube posting.

It very much seems to show at least one, and as many as seven, of the 22 al-Baida victims prior to their killing. They are shown in the custody of what seem to be eastern rebel types as opposed to Libyan military.

I’ve assembled a fairly detailed essay explaining all of this, confusion included. So far, it has received a decent number of views by my standards (250 in just over a week). So I predict that as soon as a larger outlet is willing to pick this story up, it will make serious waves.

The most useful thing now, for myself and everyone else, would be understanding just how it was decided that government forces were responsible for these 22 or any of the reported 130.

Souhayr Belhassen cited “Libyan rights groups assessments in Benghazi and elsewhere” for the February findings. I understand vaguely that the FIDH is in part a collection of local groups. Is there any detailed report, primary evidence (written accounts, video or forensic evidence, etc.) which they provided that can be made public?

The next best thing would be a second-hand overview from someone like yourself who’s closer to that information. As one federation report mentioning these killings noted, the information is “sometimes still difficult to verify.” How would the federation go about double-checking a claim? And has this report, or collection of reports, been verified?

I also have a broader and hypothetical question for you or anyone qualified or willing to answer:

If in fact it turned out the 130 "executed for refusing to shoot protesters" and the app. 125 apparently killed by rebels, are the same number, and it was the protesters/insurgents who committed these summary executions and lynchings, what would or should be the FIDH position on that? Surely rowdy mobs of oppressed should be held to a different standard than well-armed state governments, but would it not be right to publicize that or at least set the record straight?

I am directing this to the North Africa/Middle East desks in Paris and Cairo. If it's decided to forward it to someone else, I would appreciate knowing who to follow up with. I do plan to mention this query and to cite any response, or lack of response, in a second article planned for wider publication.

Adam Larson
Spokane, Washington, USA

brian said...

FYI adam
this same story is now being used in Syria:


i smell another NATO airstrike coming on

brian said...

FYI people

free libyan girl's message to NATO http://www.mathaba.net/news/?x=626458

her name is Zuhra, i found it online