(The One with 53 Charred Skeletons )
August 31, 2011
last edits March 6, 2012
<< The Tripoli Massacres
Note Nov. 15:
This mess of a post is not yet worthy of this extremely interesting cluster of unexplained war crimes. It'll be re-worked some day. For now, take this text as an intro if you need it, or skip to the more worthy split-off posts, and then further thoughts, at the bottom.
A Last Act of Barbarism?
The latest Tripoli horror show left to us by the smashed Gaddafi regime, discovered by "freedom fighters" on August 26, is a mass of at least 150 dead, many mangled and blasted apart, at least 45 of those charred to a cinder. The massacre and fire happened in a farm shed behind the Yarmouk military base, a headquarters of the vilified Khamis Brigade, shortly before (or shortly after?) the rebel conquest of the base on the 26th (or was it the 23rd?). Around 100 more were rumored killed with them a few days earlier by the brigade, their whereabouts briefly unknown. At least 150 remains were reportedly trucked out on the 28th.
Self-described witnesses, about a million of them, have come forward to confirm that uprising supporters and mutinous soldiers and ordinary men were held there for days or months in appalling conditions. These men (actually about 20, and all light-skinned) said they were tortured, starved and denied water, and in one case beaten and slashed and left for dead for days. But they all made it out alive, hardly any of them hurt at all in the climactic massacre of August 23.
As their own end drew near, and their chances to practice evil threatened to expire, the Gaddafi soldiers just killed their wards, shooting the captives with machine guns and blasting them with hand grenades.
The remains were burned probably a couple of days later, the narrative runs, to conceal the nature of their crime. With all the skin and clothing gone, these bodies of light-skinned civilians could, for all we know, be mostly dark-skinned members of the Khamis brigade itself. Brilliant!
Too bad up to 30 light prisoners by some reports, one in five, managed to escape, and about 20 of these have already told their story about what happened. So that didn't work...
What Actually Happened?
My best guess, put briefly, is this: the Misrata brigades who "liberated" the base around sunset on the 23rd, following on NATO bombing, found a real mess inside. Blasted bodies, injured loyalists, and a few intact holdouts needed to be mopped up. In the end, they had what they estimated as 140 dead of various types, found dead, killed in fighting, and executed.
Eventually, the number rose to 175, and it was decided to deal with them all on-site and create a better story to explain these dead, half-black, obvious loyalists. Fire was decided on to erase identities, and paid/coached witnesses were found to create new ones. These were in place by the 27th, and so finally they acknowledged just taking the base, and brought the media in.
I plan to explain this all better once I'm more sure and have some more preliminary things figured out.
Time and Space
Base and Shed Location
Getting a spatial-visual bearing on just where this stuff happened is sometimes useful. No exception here
Shed Massacre Chronologies
Three different times given for the rebel conquest, all probably wrong, given the clues they took it on the 23rd. Other interesting patterns emerge.
Early Shed Massacre Reportage
Until I work these into the timeline, some oddities in the first reports, including my big clue they took the place no later than the night of the 23rd.
(early) Shed Massacre Tweets
An early video and its unique clues
Exterior Imagery Chronology
Looking at photos... important to clarifying the overall timeline.
The Hole in the Wall
A look mostly at the doors and locks, the perfect escape already having been covered.
Witnesses, Escapees, Survivors
Masterlist with numerous sub-posts.
Incomplete post covering patterns among what the various two-dozen or so witnesses have said about the massacre they swear happened. Several different times it must have happened, unfolding differently each time.
See-Through Salem: Dr. Salem al-Farjani Or, What Ever Became of Dr. Rajub?
Masterlist with numerous sub-posts.
One of the witnesses who helped steer the media towards reporting regime authorship of this rebel atrocity, Dr. Salem/Salim Raub/Rajip seems to be physically the same person as Dr. Salem al-Farjani/Ferjani. That's significant, as the latter is the rebel government's eventual head of locating missing persons and decider of who killed who during the whole war, nationwide. We might know just why he was hired for that job.
The Witness Recall the guards
Shed Massacre Witnesses: The Captive Soldiers "Confess".
Further Discussion on alleged witnesses
Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre: A Legacy of Mytholog...
The Death Toll
Update March 5: More recently, the official tally, that given to the UN Human Rights Commission, for example, has been whittled down from almost 150 to 106 out of 157, with "only 51" survivors confirmed. (see here)
The Charred Victims
A belated analysis of the 40 or so bodies I can single out, recognize, number, and analyze. The last has begun, but has a ways to go.
Charred Victims Imagery
The Dead Outside the Shed
Some pretty horrendous killings of eight men (six of them black) in the area right around the cinder house. These men's identities were not chosen for erasure by fire. Why? The one with the most clearly horrific (unexplained) injuries is claimed as another escapee from the shed.
The Yarmouk Mosque Dump
Another 22 dead men, reportedly all black, were found down a dirt road behind a mosque, 500 meters from the base, on August 28. A direct link to the shed massacre isn't proven, but is suspected.
Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre: Follow-Up Work
PHR Shed Massacre Report
The UNHRC Reports
The Local Fighters
Further General Thoughts:
Known credibility issues with rebel stories about charred bodies in places they just conquered
As I explain here, a previous case of mutinous soldiers, five in an army base they had just "liberated" was false. The rebels who showed the charred remains and claimed them as heroes neglected to mention they also captured five innocent men from Chad and burned them alive at the base that very same day.
So, they burn people sometimes and blame the regime. You can't tell they're lying just by looking at the bodies, because the main clues have been burnt away.