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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"The Qala'a Massacre" {masterlist}

Or More Accurately: The Qawalish Tree Farm Massacre
August 9, 2011

last update Sept 19

Note Aug 16: I just changed the title, only by adding quote marks and a by-line. The Qala'a massacre is the name I chose for this slaughter of 30-34 civilians, but also the name chosen by Shabbab Libya the same day when asking for a probe. As shown below, however, it's located much closer to Qawalish, the significance of which is accidentally explained up front. Thus I quote them on the more famous "official" title of what I'll otherwise call the Qawalish tree farm massacre.

Note August 20: I've moved the original discussion to its own dedicated post, for reference only. This post will eventually summarize the findings of this investigation and provide links to the sub-posts that cover certain aspects.

The links so far for the Qawalish tree farm massacre,
one of the most underreported war crimes of the Libyan war:

Video Postings and Posters - information on the different versions of the single video we have so far, most citing it as another Gaddafi massacre. Patterns of information management, damage control, unlikely claims of familial knowledge, and possible conspiracy emerge.

The Victims - 34 people cut off from life, all - or most - clearly civilian. Here I give each a number and a scan for clues. Who were they and who killed them? Why are so many local villagers black and dressed in sporty "mercenary"clothes? And why do some wear army fatigues?

Mass Grave Locale - A fascinating confusion of names (al-Mal'ab, Almliab, Alumblyab), satellite imagery, desert and tree farms, Gaddafi forces previously reported hiding in one possible match, not in the other. Again, rebel sources aren't helping sort this out. Only this blog and one intrepid reader (so far) are.

The Victims, Exhumed - A great update on the September recovery and supposed identification of the victims, buried in as positioned on video, and then dug back out. The location is still vague, but about where I have been saying. There's lots of talk of just how and where Gaddafi's guys did it - they had mercenaries with tribal scars, and lots of people witnessed lots of things at that "scouts base." The coffins are displayed,one too many, with all the black victims apparently left unidentified. Hmmm...


  1. Well done, good analysis. I think you really found the spot were the crime took place.

    I found a better coppy of the video, posted by Misrata rebells four days ago. They accuse the libyan army for the crime of course.


    Just today the NYT brought a story about the rebel-agression against the Mashaashia tribe, that also lived in Qawalish and to which the victims shown may belong.


    I think most probably the crime was conducted in the beginning of june, when fighting took place in the Qalaa region.


    Last but not least: This press release oddly shows how the rebbels beg the NATO to bomb loyalists in the forests close to Qalaa the same days:


  2. The press release from the rebels is important of course. But it is mysterious that they first called for investigation and international attention two month after the crime and some days after the video was published. I think if this was realy done by loyalists, we already had heard much more about this crime from the rebels, the human rights organisations and the media. Now it looks as if they just only react on the publication.

    You have to check the links in the update once again, some are not the right ones. I supose these are those you found:




    1. FreeLibyanman FreeLibyan
      most of #Gaddafi forces that shellingthe cities of #Nafousa e.g #Kikla 2day, are based in #Goalesh & #Almaleeb i.e on the open @NATO


  3. I can take this up in comments for the moment. Damn, really wish I had more time.

    IF the people were killed weeks or months ago (I'm not sure of that yet), your point is excellent. Why would soldiers film this, let it sit on their phones until news was breaking about various rebel atrocities in the area, then let the rebels take their phones, find the horror, and publish it just AFTER -
    ah, on checking, just BEFORE Libya SOS... part of my point fell apart in mid-sentence. Fine. I'll follow this wherever it goes. If the gov. did this, well, they're under a lot of pressure, but it's not cool. A major allegation of abuse and evil would finally be true.

    Calling for an investigation is odd. Have they ever done that before? The answers are always clear, the solution always more weapons and help getting rid of Gaddafi. Never to investigate. Not that a TNC probe would mean a damn thing, but this shows their openness to an "investigation" which might be an answer to their earlier bulldozer work. They fear the truth, I suspect, hence the show of not seeming to fear it.

    Will now check for any news.

  4. Fixed the links - thee bad out of four, now none bad out of three. That was sloppy.

    At this video u8iLkPQiv4Y
    Anti-Nazi Hippy argues this isn't Qala'a at all, but Dafnya. Dunno.

    I see one of the rebel versions has subtitles. I'm checking those out. Will try and report back tonight.

  5. Yeah, I'm not so sure of the location - might be a hilltop, could possibly be somewhere else entirely. I didn't compare carefully enough before - will update that as well in time.

  6. The rebels themselves gives the date of june 2nd in their press release which sounds serious for me because that were the days of figthing in the Qualaa area. If the video realy is from there, I don't know if there are similar sandy forests elsewere in the region.

    The rebels also say the area is mined now so it's possible that tey dont realy want a fast examination.

    Due to the subtitles, the filmers speak army slang if they really call the killed rats. But that doesen't mean much, even then it could be a propaganda orchestration. It's probably easier for the rebels to imitate army slang than to get fiting uniforms.

    My feeling says the crime happend two month ago and the rebels made a propaganda video but then dicided better not to publish it. But then, a copy was published unarranged (perhaps by Misrata rebels ?) and the Nafusa rebels had to react on that.

    But of course there are other oportunities. And it is not less important to analyse the crime if it was done by the army. But this is hard to belive for me because the whole scene looks more like ethnical cleansing than execution of captured fighters.

  7. Very good thoughts. You seem to be far more on this than I. I'll try and catch up. Give me a few more days...

  8. I agree the talk of mining sounds like a possible dodge, by the way. Doesn't seem all that vital an area to mine.

  9. I found an other copy now that seems to have a higer resolution:


    also from august 5th, so that one from Misrata is probably a copy of this one.

  10. ok, you found the best one;)

    Some remarks by the moment: There maybe a dirt track passing by in north and east (the guy with the AK47 at 0:23 stands perhaps in the middle of that track)
    Moreover the garbage gives a hint on a nearby road or frequently used track, that's quite typical for north african roadsides.
    I think a plane is passing by (starting at 0:40). But this last point will not be very helpfull according to the number of NATO sorties.

  11. Thanks becouse you will help to show the truth. And thanks becouse you finded exactely Profil who reported video on The LibyaSOS chanel.
    We added this link and link to your story on post.
    Profil who reported by video on TheLibyaSOS chanel uploaded the same video with tittle "Civilians 34 from the city of Qalha executed by soldiers of Gaddafi". --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpiqwUPmIYE

    Much better analysis about this video you can read on blog
    The Libyan Civil War: Critical Views -> http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2011/08/video-study-qalaa-massacre.html
    We hope that you will be succesfull, and you will find who killed this Libyans.
    Thank you and all the best.

  12. S.O.S., so cool how you can be a "." Thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay.

    Which profile? What was it that happened? Could use more info there.

    I'm still confused by this evidence, but getting surer, for one thing, that this isn't the Qala'a area. I suppose there could be spots like this, maybe, but it's only a nook a few miles wide and I've been all over it in Google maps.

    Why get the area wrong? Mistake? Misdirection? Or am I still wrong somehow, missing the one flat little grove that explains it?

    And the speaking - what do you make of the transcript provided (above)? As an Arabic-speaker, can you are anyone you know make a detailed trasncript in Arabic text, actual words spoken? Break down the different speakers, etc? This would help a lot - I can get auto translations even, plus you could translate it yourself, and we'll have both to ensure transparency and invite better translations.

    This one is worth that level of scrutiny. Will send this in a youtube message too.

  13. In the press release from aug. 9th the Nafusa rebels gives an hint on the location that we didn't realise yet. There they claim:

    "2. Providing de-mining experts to clear mines from the Al-Mal’ab Forest area. This will allow for the investigation team to carry out their work to discover the mass grave (s)."

    If the graves are in al-Mal'ab forest, the video probably was recorded there also.

    The exact location of an forest called Almliab (most probably the same one, I think) is given in an other press release dating from june 3rd:


    The place was a retreat area of loyalist at that time. Maybe not only soldiers, but also civilians?

  14. In the arabic comment of the video copy posted by algelawy2009 he describes

    مزرعة المليعب = the Farm Alumblyab
    (translated with Google Translator)

    as the location of the crime. That is probably the "Almliab scouting camp and agriculture centre" mentioned in the press release from june 3rd.

  15. or perhaps not...
    Wikimapia gives a small forest a few kilometers to the west for مزرعة المليعب


  16. Damn, I should have caught that already, either from looking closer at the text or less close at the map.

    It's outside the immediate area I was searching, but only about ten miles away, no long drive from Qala'a and closer yet to other places. It does look like a possible match in all regards. I might be able to pinpoint a couple of precise spots it could be.

    And maybe we cannot call the wrong location a clue. In fact, I recall that and will update with this great new find.

    The flat-packed, rutted, trenched, randomly worked-looking soil fits the idea and what I see. I suspect the farm/forest confusion is from that this looks more like a tree farm than a real forest, and locals would know that. Being out in the desert, it can't really be natural. It's irrigated somehow, etc.

    On gov. presence there - that explains the dumping. I was wondering why not the desert? Who cares where? That PR is creepy BTW. Really creepy. Updates coming...

  17. Fine, all the tracks merge now. I'm curious if you'll find the spot.

    And it will be time to rename the massacre then.

  18. Hello again,
    1. Translation of video on http://libyasos.blogspot.com/2011/08/battle-for-libya-rebels-fab17-demonic.html

    People teach how to use camera?! You can hear clear how one of them said CANON.

    2. If theh are Libyan Army, why they don't want to Why can not hide from NATO aviation
    but they filmed, standing, walking calmly?

    3. I watched video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8iLkPQiv4Y
    I see translation.?!?

    3a* Rebels are calling Libyan sodliers rat and dogs you can see this and on any page of "rebels" on facebook espetialy on page of Libyan Youth Movement - and you can read my article about this persons fromm Europe who cal themself Youth http://libyasos.blogspot.com/2011/06/nato-matrix-or-disneyland-part-ii.html

    3b* IMPORTANT! I watched many videos from this war but I remeber the scene when rebels speak THE SAME SENTENCE with the SAME spitting!
    Yesterday all day I try to find this video... and today I will try.. If I find it will be good. If I can not find .. you will beleive on my word ( if you want ) or no (if youdon't want)
    But I remeber this!
    I was appalled, stunned that some of the dead man can spit. Is it not enough - the fact that he is dead

    4. and maybe is important ... Libyan soldiers are always in green uniforms.

    5. They have left the sound of airplanes and nasnimili voice from another video with dead Libyan Black soldier and this is spaek of rebels who splittin on soldier

    6. I hope you understund my english ...

    Wish luck to our - now I will go to continue my search.

    Al the best and thank you

  19. These facts are perhaps not so important, but we should keep them anyway, who knows...

    This is the link posted by the Facebook administrator of BCfPL on aug. 6, 12:13 p.m.:


    There we can see the linked video was deleted because ImazighenLibya claimed to have the "copyright" on it.
    That deleted copy was most probably that one Libya SOS had made, but it had to vanish because it had the "wrong" explanation for the crime.
    Libya SOS claimed algelawy2009 to be responsible for the deleting, the comment is still on his youtube-chanel.

    Indeed there is another copy of the video on the ImazighenLibya channel:


    This channel is worth a closer look, it seems quite professional (who helps here?) but contains a lot of racist stuff. For example "corrupted African black tribes & mercenaries" are blamed to support Gaddafi in the historical overview on the left. By the way: The "mercanaries" and killed soldiers shown in the videos from al-Qawalish always wear uniforms.

    And finally another copy here, also from aug. 5th:


    But this one seems not to give any new information. I think it's quite sure know that the video was published aug. 5th by the Nafusa rebels and spread quickly the same day.

  20. Peet, you're awesome. I've changed the title just enough. As you can see, I might've been looking in the wrong area, and at the moment, I'm nut up to specifying a locale - it's basically like analyzing hairs and small bald patches, seen from perpendicular viewpoints. Any of the three tree farms around there could work so far ... next I wonder are there olive trees visible too? If so, we're maybe at the edge, next to an oilve grove.

    I'd also like to highlight this comment from above:
    "It's probably easier for the rebels to imitate army slang than to get fiting uniforms."

    This is another aspect I'd like to consider more - these "Gaddafi soldiers." For one, what do you think of me hearing "Muammar Gaddafi?" Is that my imagination? It sounds remarkably like how Libyans tend to pronounce it. I don't know if real soldiers go around naming the leader all the time, but the ones that seem like rebel fakers do it regularly.

  21. All the trees I can are some kind of pine or cedar I guess, because of the thin straight trunks. I haven't seen the short, massive, branched trunks of olive trees yet in the video. So I don't think thre are olive trees, but I'm not an expert on that.
    I can hardly hear "Muammar Gaddafi" at the concerned scene, but I am absolutly not sure about that. We would really need a native speaker for to get further information about that.

  22. I looked again, and I see a different type of tree, but I don't know my trees. It's not olive, I guess. Just a glimpse, at app. 0:45 (depending on the version). Split trunks, to the northeast (by the directions I'm using), to the right of "soldier" #4, the guard. Could be nothing, mixed planting... I won't add it to the post unless it helps somehow.

    I need to get a translator ... some new possibilities are opening up now.

  23. Apologies to both Peet and . Two comments were marked as spam and I didn't catch it 'til now. I was wondering why it had gone quiet! Have reviewed, and will respond later on.

  24. I have found a video from the funeral of the victims http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuW_yWNnW2o&feature=channel_video_title
    The location Alumblyab-Forest http://wikimapia.org/#lat=31.9812698&lon=12.5988293&z=12&l=5&m=b
    And a screenshot of the copyright claimed by ImazighenLibya http://urs1798.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/neue-ubersetzte-berichte-von-leonor-welche-sich-seit-langerem-in-libyen-aufhalt/

  25. Wow, thanks! This investigation has been paused for a while, but I will check these out now.

    The video is good evidence to add, if not reliable. The rebels in charge took the bodies back to Qala'a and claimed them as their own, with photos of them alive and dead. Hardly any faces were visible, and I don't know who those people were. I'll have to look more later. The 20-ish photos show about one black face (forehead only). The victims were about half black. So that's maybe odd. The framed screen grabs from the Facebook video has other images to the right I'm curious about. Who else filmed this, I wonder?

    The other things aren't new. The mapia find was very useful the first time. The screenshot might be helpful in case that changes. Didn't think to take one. I will update things soon.

  26. I am bookmarking a reference here, in case this is not linked elsewhere.
    The Blaze: Libyan Mass Grave Uncovered

    1. @Petri - The Blaze artcle, Libyan Mass Grave Uncovered: Bodies of Blindfolded Detainees Slain by Gadhafi’s Military is identical to another AP piece from earlier in the day in the Huffington Post, Libya: Mass Grave Reportedly Reveals Bodies Of Slain Detainees by Karin Laub,

  27. @Petri
    Also handy for the curious case of the Khoms Containers. (I guess that's how you found it...)
    Stange how everything starts turning up in late August: the Qalaa bodies are found and exhumed from 20 August onwards. And of course the survivor who can identify bodies.
    A day after the Galaa burial,[7 Septmber] another search team found 18 bodies near a road construction site dozens of miles away ..back to 2 surivors now,not 3. Who is Abrahams?? And as ever the survivor,somehow, Geography student Mohannad (sic) Berfat who is not among survivors listed elsewhere.

    The Khoms story stinks to high heaven.

  28. al qalish soldiers/ tuaregs/6 july 2011


    قتل المرتزقة الظاغية في معركة القواليش اليوم

  29. urgent , pls screenshot : man with rifle or rpg @ 023


    1. August 9, 2011 (the guy with the AK47 at 0:23 stands perhaps in the middle of that track)

      [never saw this post before , excellent work]


      1:34 - "This is the fate of rats." [#3, clearly saying more than this]

      According to some sources, the men and boys were arrested by Gaddafi Regime troops on June the 2nd 2011.

      The fate of criminals attacking our people in Yefren and Kala'a


      Uploaded on Jun 3, 2011


      3:13 - "This is from Pakistan?
      2| Pak-Gulf Security Ties /CPGS

      Source: The main rebel groups are from Libya, Pakistan and from Tunisia.

      # 3 wears sandals


      Qatar – yellow flak jackets with brown patches, known as "chocolate chip"

      libyaoutreach Libya Outreach
      Qatari weapons reaching Freedom Fighters in Libyan mountains goo.gl/0T5A2 #Libya #FF #Zintan

      New recruits in Al Qalaa june Uploaded on Jun 5, 2011
      6 with uniform regular army , probably defectors


      closer yet to other places. Like al-Gawalish/Qawalish;
      no more than three miles down the road is the town where rebels are known to stash their dead just outside of town. 


  30. Libya, Al Qawalish, 6 July 2011, Nefusa Western mountains. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=El-Gawa...

    Libyan Freedom Fighters from city of Zentan & Imazighen-Berber fighters, hands in hands, launch their assault on the key town of al Qawalish.

    After a six-hour battle against Gaddafi's militias and black African mercenaries (Ali Kanna brigade mainly from Niger), freedom fighters liberate the city and are able to move closer to liberate next objective, the city of Gharyan and thereby cut definitively the supply route to capital Tripoli.


  31. Here you can see the qatari uniform


    In picture taken Wednesday Sept 7, 2011,
    Libyan men show the site in a wooded area where bodies were unearthed from a mass grave of 35 men, outside of Galaa, Nafusa mountains, 120 kms from Tripoli, Libya.


    10 jun 2011

    4Adam Adam AlJazeera: #FF from #Qalaa:
    most of Gaddafi’s heavy military presence is southern region of #Yefren in Alaawinya and Alme’aaeb Camp. #Libya

  32. http://ph.news.yahoo.com/photos/picture-taken-wednesday-sept-7-2011-libyan-men-photo-150753249.html

    @ 2.21 scout camp area ?

    1. scout camp area

      sorry meant this link :


      القواليش 7 6 2011

  33. @ 0.38 capture alkhal

    @ 0.50 capture alkhal


    A mass-grave of alleged pro-Gaddafi soldiers has been discovered in a rebel-controlled area in Libya, according to British newspaper The Telegraph.

    The location was swiftly bulldozed after the discovery, suggesting an attempt to cover-up the killings. The bodies were reportedly mutilated, adding to the recent concerns of human rights abuses by rebels


    Mohammed Ramadan al-Barghout, 34, a physics teacher, told Human Rights Watch on September 10 that he had been detained by Gaddafi loyalists at his house
    in Umm el-Jershan in early June and taken to the Scouts base

    A shocking instance where a crime had been committed by the rebels surfaced hours before HRW rolled out its sensational findings.

    In the zone between the Um al-Jersan and Qawalish villages,

    five bodies decomposed beyond recognition were unearthed from a deep concrete basin linked to the region’s water pipeline, with cloth bindings scattered around, which provides evidence that the people had had their arms and legs bound.

    Judging by remnants of military uniforms, the dead had been the government army’s servicemen.
    Pistol and rifle cartridges were also littered on site.

    Local residents pointed to heaps of rock and freshly turned dirt where, as they said, other dead bodies were rotting

    .http://peoplewithvoices.com/2011/07/17/libyan-rebels-guilty- of -human-rights-abuses-says-human-rights- watch/


    Twenty-seven of the 34 bodies were subsequently identified.

    The exhumed bodies were blindfolded with hands tied

    The discovery of bullet casings at the site suggests the captors shot the men with automatic gunfire before burying them in a shallow common grave

    Near the mass grave is a separate grave containing three more bodies that have not yet been exhumed, but have been tentatively identified based on footwear and other physical evidence.



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