Libya’s La Terreur Metastizes by Franklin Lamb

Posted: November 13, 2011 in Uncategorized
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France’s early September 1793 to late July 1794 Reign of Terror, the period of violence following the initial “success” of the French Revolution was incited by conflict between rival political factions and was marked by mass executions including “disappearances” of perceived enemies of the revolution.

Libya has entered its own La Terreur which is spreading inexorably and is aided by NATO member states including American, French and British SAS units known locally as “disappearance squads”. This is one of the rapidly developing consequences of the UN’s rush to “protect Libya’s civilian population” last spring.

And it is why human rights investigators are arriving in Benghazi Libya this week.
“Approximately 600 miles from Cairo to Benghazi”is what the lovely travel agent who works off Tahir Sq reported, as she cajoled this observer to take a fancy, double decker luxury bus to Benghazi, where I was headed from Cairo. In the end I settled for a dump truck at one-third the cost across the Egyptian and Libyan desert to Benghazi. It didn’t seem such a bad idea following meetings in nearby countries especially considering alternative routes which would have involved flying to Tunis, then another flight to Jerba and then the six hours jammed service ride to Tripoli. I needed to leave right away to meet some prisoners being held in one of Beghazi’s teeming jails.
Until the NTC announced changes yesterday, anyone bearing an American passport did not need a visa to enter Libya so grateful has been the NTC for all the financial help that American taxpayers, largely unknowingliy, have supplied to NTC officials in addition to presenting them with a country with vastoil reserves and zero national debt.
One of the fortunate language usages in this part of the World is the liberal transliteration applied to Arabic, which helps those challenged by the language. But one has to listen carefully in Libya these days to grasp the important distinction between certain English words when referring to the fate of increasing numbers of supporters of the Gadhafi regime.

In the current atmosphere one often hears that someone “has disappeared.” Depending on one’s political views, that is usually good news. It means the person is in hiding or left the area or fled the country to safety. Alternatively, it might be said that a person “is disappeared” meaning that she or he was caught by the new regime and is gone, probably forever, without a trace for loved ones to pursue.

Based on meetings with Libyan evacuees (disappeared) from NATO’s nine months of bombing who are now refugees in nearby countries, as well as meetings inside Libya with incarcerated former officials and family members, and fugitive opponents of the new “government,” it is clear that the current period is cascading into paroxysmal revenge attacks and political cleansing.

Those increasingly being targeted by “disappearance squads” are family members and even former domestic employees such as gardeners, handymen, and household staff of former regime affiliates. Homes, cars, furniture, of former regime affiliates are being systematically confiscated (looted). Torture has become the normal means to elicit information regarding the whereabouts of individuals thought to still be supporting the former regime.The reason, according to one former Libyan official who barely escaped one of the French squads and who now resides in Egypt, “is the same reason drones are so popular with your US military, torture works. Not 100% but it’s better than the other options.”

There appears to be a Tell Tale paranoia settling in among some members of the NTC, who believe that if there is one Gadhafi supporter left in Libya it might mean the return of his ideas for Libya’s role via a vis the West’s plans for re-colonizing Africa, controlling Libya’s natural resources and its relations with the rapidly changing Middle East.

Even Libya’s NATO managed NTC members are worried that they may be investigated by the International Criminal Court after its prosecutor said crimes committed by NATO in Libya would be examined “impartially and independently.” Some western lawyers, currently in Libya to help victims of NATO crimes, are oddly being approached by members of the new regime to discuss the possibility that the ICC may come after them. This is also one of the reasons why rumors that Saif al Islam is about to surrender to the ICC are false.

Saif is being advised to wait, because the ICC case is expected to collapse as more facts of NATO crimes surface. Former Libyan officials in hiding are also well advised to stay safe if possible as time may be on their side.

Government officials of countries bordering Libya are being advised to allow sanctuary for supporters of the former Libyan government and to refuse extradition requests because activity currently taking place in The Hague may well pre-empt a war crimes investigation.
There’s one exception. Tunisia is under great pressure from NATO not to decline the NTC extradition request for Libya’s former Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi. NATO is concerned because American lawyers recommended last month that Baghdadi apply for U.N. political refugee status with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to try to prevent his extradition from Tunisia. On 11/11/11 the UN acknowledged receipt of Dr. Baghdadi’s petition.

Other reasons the NTC and NATO are concerned is that the Hague is currently reviewing all incidents in which NATO bombing or NTC actions caused civilian casualties. An American team is nearing completion of its six month investigation which is expected to be forwarded to the ICC and made public soon.

A main reason interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril resigned recently, and others will, is the pressure from Islamists who remember his record as the former   Minister of Justice and Jibril’s concern that he may be investigated himself by the ICC for decisions he made over the past eight months that are now coming to light.

Following his nonsense statement about how Muammalr Gadhafi was killed after he was taken into custody alive, which constituted a clear war crime, Jibril is now claiming that it was not him who gave the order to assassinate Gadhafi or even his former friend, General Younnis. Rather he explained at a news conference, amid snickers from assembled journalists, that “a third party– maybe a State, or a President or leader– who wanted Gaddafi killed, so as not to reveal the many secrets that only Gaddafi could have known.”

Jibril did not have to mention that Gadhafi knew many secrets about himself and other NTC officials. He is not alone among NATO and NTC officials in fearing an ICC investigation.
It is this atmosphere that is significantly fueling La Terreur across Libya.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He is reachable c\o fplamb@gmail.comHe is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon. Dr. Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut Board Member, The Sabra Shatila Foundation and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Beirut-Washington DC
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp
Beirut Mobile: +961-70-497-804
Office:  +961-01-352-127

 

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