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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Tripoli Massacres: Early Shed Massacre Reportage

December 8, 2011
last edits, re-named Dec. 14

<< The Tripoli Massacres
    << The Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre

Dec. 8: To Start With: The August 24 First Draft
This just sent a chill down my spine enough to give it its own post for now. Maybe I'll leave it up, but later I'll work it into my post The Tripoli Massacres: Shed Massacre Chronologies. It may in fact revolutionize that post and confirm one of my core suspicions. My regular readers will get the significance of this already, and anyone else who scans the article linked there should be able to get it too. For anyone else, I'll explain briefly:

The UK Telegraph's "As it happened" daily summary for August 24.
06:15 The Information Center For Misurata Military Council claim to have found 140 bodies in a Tripoli prison. They claim the prisoners were killed by grenades thrown into their cells. So far 13 bodies have been recovered.

I know of no other "prison" massacre anywhere in Tripoli with a death toll quite in that range aside from the Khamis Brigade shed massacre. Briefly, that's the alleged slaughter of about 153 detainees, by gun and grenades, by the vanishing Khamis Brigade fighters of the Yarmouk military base, at sunset on August 23. Apparently burned on about Aug. 25, 53 of their remains were found charred and still smoldering in the shed behind the base, filmed starting August 27, and burning anew late on the 28th. (these and about 100 other bodies were all located and removed by the end of the 28th.

The main difference setting these massacres apart is the reference to "cells"in this "prison" (the shed does have two halves, both with burnt dead within, but that isn't the same thing), a slightly lower number of dead (maybe they hadn't found all their enemies' bodies yet), and most obviously the lack of reference to burning. And that the rebels don't acknowledge controlling the base until the 26th or 27th.

But if they aren't the same corpses mentioned, the 140 prisoners story just faded away with no further coverage I'm aware of. Unlikely. At the very least, the parallels are too steep to ignore. We may be seeing two different cover stories for the same batch of human-tissue evidence of war crimes. It looks like, as I suspected, the "freedom fighters" who made a show of taking the base on the 26th and/or 27th actually took the base at something more like sunset on the 23rd. And had their first story ready before the sun was up...

The addition of fire, a few day's delay, and a few too many escaped witnesses apparently defined the later version.

Dec.13: Draft 1.5

A follow-up from the Telegraph, morning of Aug. 25. Apparently they had the connection no one else did. This time, burning is mentioned, but again, more than a day before they later acknowledged taking the base:
09.40 Damien McElroy, our reporter in Tripoli, has the latest on the reports of a massacre at a Tripoli prison.
Libya rebels claim to have uncovered the remains of scores of prisoners killed when the guards threw grenades into cells where they had been crammed.
A statement said: "Over 140 were killed, no more than 10 survived. Doctors at main Tripoli Hospital know more. Prisoners were locked up, grenades were thrown into rooms that contained many of them. This was followed up with many gun firings. So far only managed to retrieve 13 bodies. All badly burnt. Unclear if this was main cause of death [was because of] grenades. Potentially many prisoners were burnt alive. Unclear at the moment. We are trying to get understanding from city morgue."
Yeah, ask the morgue people to explain what happened to the soldiers you killed and burned. That's a good start towards understanding. They can shrug their shoulders, look back and forth between you, and say "I don't know... I guess, maybe, Gaddafi loyalists did this?"

This last suggests that these 140-ish blasted and largely burned bodies had been handed over to a hospital and/or the morgue. That means either the bodies found a couple days later were a different batch after all, or that the suggestion those bodies had been passed on was a false lead, and in reality they stayed at the base, just carted out back and burnt. I'm going with the latter.

Dec. 13: Not A Tweet
I think I will leave this post up in case this sub-issue develops any sub-issues to work out. In comments below, we learn this message from the Misrata Military Council was among the first in a while they chose not to send by Twitter, and they never started again,even after their capture and execution of Muammar Gaddafi himself. That suggests a possible change of thinking right about then, and tells us who was responsible for any rebel carnage there. It was from the Misratan side, not the Zintani side.

Dec 13, later: Mlegta's Version
Just as odd, if not as temporally revealing, as the MMC's efforts is this other reference to now "more than 150" prisoners, killed by grenades and guns, inside Bab al Aziziyah, six miles north of the Yarmouk base. I had read this before and included it in a post, but only now do I realize the absurdity that the rebels couldn't figure out, at first, how to frame this story in any one consistent way.

AFP, August 26:
“There were instances of revenge in the last few hours before the fall of the regime,” said Abdel Nagib [sic - Majid] Mlegta, head of operations for the takeover of the capital.

In Bab al-Aziziya there was a mass murder. They killed more than 150 prisoners. The guards did it before running away. They threw hand grenades at them.”
Really, that as well can only refer to this one incident. The number has grown to its full proportions, the blasted remains suggesting grenades (or NATO bombs maybe) were still mentioned, Gaddafi was still blamed, and the burning of the bodies was still not a factor. And this is no ill-informed hick speaking, but the top guy coordinating the takeover and info-war. He's got all thedetails the Misratans had spoken of, but in a completely different locale.

Dec. 13: Amnesty for Made-Up Stories?
I somehow also managed to never re-visit Amnesty International's take on the shed massacre, published just as rebels acknowledge taking the base, on the 26th. A day before HRW and any media coverage, they had already spoken to survivors, two named: one of these (Lafi) I've cited and the other (Akram Mohamed Saleh) I had missed after countless revisions (yes, another one to add...).
Eyewitness testimony from escaped detainees described how loyalist troops used grenades and gunfire on scores of prisoners at one camp [...] Detainees who escaped from a military camp in Khilit al-Ferjan in south-western Tripoli described how, on the evening of 23 August, about 160 detainees began to flee the metal hangar they were being held in. Two guards had told them that the gates were unlocked.

As the detainees barged through the hangar gates, two other guards opened fire and threw five hand grenades at the group. It is unclear how many survived, but to Amnesty International’s knowledge, at least 23 detainees managed to escape, including four who received medical treatment at a Tripoli hospital.
Already on the 26th, they had all 23 known? That's just damn insane. And they took it seriously?

Dec. 13: The Ottawans: Darrat and Okok
Another odd point I'll have to work in somewhere is one of those who didn't escape, and was found among the dead, named as a onetime Canadian citizen who'd been abducted in May.
Ottawa Citizen, August 26:
The body of a former Ottawa resident was found [and identified-not burnt] this week among over 150 others in a Tripoli warehouse, members of Canada’s Libyan community report.

Abdulhamid Darrat, who first came to Ottawa in the early 1980s, ran a successful Internet company in Libya called Baitaslxams. He was taken by government officers along with five co-workers and shoved into the back of a van, while at work in May. His daughter, Khadija, 16, said the last time she saw her father was at 3 a.m. on May 19 before he headed into the office for the day.
Consistent so far. Some said they'd been there about three months before the day in August when they were killed at their highest density. But it continues:
Khadija said Libyan officials led the family to believe that Darrat was taken out of Tripoli in order to do some sort of Internet work for the government. She said relatives with contacts in the Gadhafi regime told them Darrat was well looked after and doing well.

However, Khadija said Usama Okok, a family friend who worked with Darrat and was also taken captive in May, [somehow escaped and] told them a different story. Apparently Darrat was beaten and killed only a few days after he was taken captive.

“They did stuff that no human being would do,” Khadija said. “Nobody would even have done that to an animal.”
So... they had long-dead people mixed in with the shed massacre victims? This story is just bizarre in every way. I'm not at all sure what to make of it. Anyone else?

Dec. 14: Two Brothers "Escaped Somehow" From the First Draft Massacre
Lindsey Hilsum, reporting for ITN News, via PBS, August 26. Video - segment starts 4:35.
“We went to the flat of the El Goula family. Two sons are still missing. Two have returned from a horrific ordeal.” Singulaar suggests they both survived the same thing. All four brothers were “arrested last Saturday night [the 20th] and interrogated for three days, but then released by Gaddafi’s soldiers." Promised freedom, then killed on the 23rd, along with the soldiers, by African mercenaries. "Munir’s story is almost too raw to relate,” and his hulking, limping brother doesn't even speak. Munir speaks much and weeps.

The locale isn’t specified, but the date is right. The number of dead and use of grenades suggest it could only mean the shed massacre. “He says somehow he escaped,” but doesn’t explain how, and he “believes 20 soldiers and more than a hundred prisoners were killed.” As translated, he said:
When they opened the gate, mercenaries came and pushed the soldiers back into the jail. They shot an old man in the leg. I didn’t think they would kill us, but the mercenaries entered the jail and shot the prisoners in the legs. One took a grenade and threw it in. Five times they opened the door, shot inside, and threw a grenade. A lot of people died. My brother Abdullah was behind me.
It already sounds more like a common area, whether jail or shed, as opposed to cells. And we need to add two more lucky, light-skinned escapees, and two more poetically lost brothers who perhaps never existed in the first place.


  1. Strange, the last of only 30 plus tweets from the Misurata Military Council was made on 24 August, and rather than being about the 140 bodies but concerned released prisoners returning to Misrata. Strange that sudden end of tweets - they had much more to relate like the arest of Muammar Gaddafi.

  2. The last day they Tweeted - privileges pulled? The tradition only goes back two weeks, to the conquest of Tawergha and the confirmed death of Khamis, who would be killed again at the end of the month and who I suspect might still be alive. It ends actually on the 23rd, possiblyreferring to another cover yet for these same dead, first 75 ... they were freed (from life) and sent to (mass graves in) Misrata. Nah, that wouldn't work. Too many. Must be dealt with on-site...

    Seems this message about the 140 dead was by means other than tweets.

    But yeah, I'm pretty sure this is the same incident here, and that makes it extremely important to this #1 war crime even the UN Secretary General had to go and see. Suckers come in all sizes...

  3. Seems ICMMC were later sending emails around , certainly on the date of the alleged capture of Gaddafi...
    Cells? Grenades? That's a lot of grenades,very time consuming. Not the real story I feel, or a parallel cover story as you say.

  4. :) Looks like the fog is beginning to dispurse and the real lay of the land is finally coming into focus. Just to add to this, remember the other grizzly find after the airport was taken. More burnt bodies with CNN's female correspondent to cover that story too...a few days before army base massacre was covered.

  5. EWO, yes. :)

    A few quick links for my own reference later:
    (wrong photo)

    And a Mother Jones link I will not click on or even copy again- frozen my internet twice now.

  6. Abdel Nagib Mlegta,head of operations for the takeover of the capital, is actually called Abdel Majid Mlegta

    Here is a photo of Mlegta, referred to as Abdel-Majid.

    Who told Reuters that Muammar Gaddafi was dead? Mlegta. Who said on 27 October that Saif Al-Islam wanted to go the Hague? Mlegta.

    More about Mlegta's role in regime change in the Reuters articleSpecial report: The secret plan to take Tripoli, Sept 6 2011.

    Incidentally the Telegraph blog picked up the story reported to the Washington Times: Retreating Gadhafi forces slay detainees at two sites:Prisoners killed this week ahead of rebel advances by Ashish Kumar Sen. Sen says 182 people were killed at the shed at Khillit-al-Ferjan. In addition he cites 6 people (out of 70 detained, allegedly) at a cinderblock hanger in Guser Bin Gashir, 20km south of Tripoli, being killed with Kalashnikovs. The witness is one Mahmoud Okok,29. Quite why 64*** were not executed is not clear,and why the guards allegedly fled is also unknown. The location was at the site of a Brazilian road construction company.
    ***"They managed to break out of the prison." (somehow, as usual...)

  7. Notice the recurring name Okok....

    More about Mr Darrat's death here from the Canadian journalist Kelly Roche for the Ottawa Sun also on 26 August(!!) That's quick ID work in the shed!
    A former west-Ottawa resident is one of at least 70 people found killed in Tripoli, Libya...The electrical engineer, a Canadian citizen, once attended the University of Ottawa and ran a Tripoli-based telecommunications company, providing IP addresses for Internet users.

  8. These things add things that annoy me with confusing new details. I'll be able to deal with it soon enough, but I just noticed it giving me the start of a headache at the moment. New dead, two close, related, similar, confused sites, new numbers, sliding all over... is it a shell game at work, or just standard "fog of war"?

    On the links I meant to look at:
    Adds nothing but another source for the Mlegta story.

    Yep, another witness -Says 20 soldiers, more than 100 prisoners, killed by mercenaries, in a jail, with grenades - five times, the door opened each time. His brother Abdullah died, "he says somehow he escaped." Munir el-Goula. Starts 4:36. He has a brother who also apparently escaped, two still missing. Promised freedom right before killed. Sugg. date, the 23rd.

    This isn't confusing - it's great. I want the list to get up to 35, 40...

    Also, other interesting bits in that segment - the killing of three rebels, as told, and the giant blood smear at the sports stadium -refrigerated truck...

  9. I can only get a talkie version from Hilsum on your link,Adam. However, there is a video at this page - especially from 0.42 onwards, which shows the area around the alleged incident at the bus stop checkpoint in Mansoura district of Tripoli. Plus for good measure, shots of a sports centre next door where the 10 bodies were found in the refrigerated truck.

  10. PBS is American, so maybe they don't have the video for "outsiders." Luckily, that one you linked works.It works here, too, and it's the same report (the PBS version had another ITN report before it, and some studio talk in between). That's three more survivors identified in the course of looking further back. Those brothers are from Mansoura - were they claiming to be held there, orin Bab al Aziziyah? It's not clear, but clearly the same basic story the rebels were to use for their find at Yarmouk.

    I think this post will host my explanation why these early reports and the later ones must refer to the same thing. That's not totally obvious, and needs explained before I can safely lump all the reports together. I don't think there's much chance I'm wrong.

  11. btw it is Lindsey Hilsum, but often wrongly quoted.
    Amnesty International also picks up the Qasr Ben Ghashir story on 26 August: Libya: Detainees killed by al-Gaddafi loyalists
    The second incident took place five km (three miles) away at Qasr Ben Ghashir military camp Wednesday when loyalist guards shot dead five prisoners being held in solitary confinement.
    Former detainees later told Amnesty they had heard guards opening five of the cells before gunshots were fired shortly afterwards.

    ... the same incident as cited by Sen in the Washington Times, but calling the district close to the airport Guser Bin Gashir. قصر بن غشير in Arabic. There is apparently no video evidence of such an act.

    The refrigerated truck has echoes from elsewhere: a Dr Essam Ben Masoud reported to Rick Gladstone of the New York Times following the fall of Bab Al- Aziziya:
    The next day “we found a refrigerator truck — like a refrigerator for transporting cheese — with 28 dead bodies in it,” Dr. Masoud said, suggesting that the Qaddafi forces had killed people in the street and hid the bodies

  12. Lindsey, huh? Well, just this once, I'llleave it just to spite you, you pedantist. :) Just kidding.

    This Mansoura stuff is all new to me-ripe for an addition soon to the Tripoli Massacres and a new post, maybe one for all of them. Still in crunch time somewhat 'til Sunday night probably, then some kick-ass days planned before Christmas.

    What I wish I could find is Arabic-language sources on this massacre. I need an Aranic reader, because all my Google-based efforts fail-grenade becomes bomb, I get a million blog re-posts of unrelated things, it's all gibberish til I auto-translate... But I suspect more incongruous details dwell in there somewhere, and probably six more survivors, at least.

  13. Oh, I just changed it. I even looked to check if "Hilsom" was right, but didn't bother to check the first name. :)

    Oh and re: the middle part, thanks for the assessment of these new-to-me claims.

    Re; para 3 Aranic is not a new language.

  14. It seems there was an operation going on in Tripoli to identify the alleged 150 victims of this "shed massacre" even before the shed and the "victims" were found. See these photographs by Ron Haviv dated August 27th:

    Image number: 00109574
    Image number: 00109211
    Photos of victims of a massacre, allegedly committed by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, are scattered on a table in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 27, 2011. The victims were summarily shot and then burned in a warehouse near the Khamis Brigade compound.

    Can we identify the man holding the photos?

    Image number: 00109572
    Image number: 00109209
    A photo of a young boy killed during a massacre, allegedly committed by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, is seen in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 27, 2011. The victims, some as young as 14-years-old, were summarily shot and then burned in a warehouse near the Khamis Brigade compound.

    1. On 27 aug they had the photo's of the burned people ready :


      Photos of victims of a massacre, allegedly committed by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, are scattered on a table in Tripoli, Libya, Aug. 27, 2011. The victims were summarily shot and then burned in a warehouse near the Khamis Brigade compound.
      27 AUG

      Bashir Own 1.14 “volunteer” : helding the papers of people of whole libiya

  15. That is some damn quick photo collection work, identifying victims, contacting families... but then, 23 survivors, may of whom claim they lost family, were already going public seeking justice through Amnesty Int'l by the 26th... It goes in the chronologies, along with the Telegraph update, the Murphy photos, Thomson's "bodies all over" on Aug. 31...

  16. what amazes me about the shed event of which is said the take over was 26 or 27 aug :
    I cant find photo's or vids of what happened there, just hearsays, vids and reports after. Wasnt a journo present while the rebels took over the shed?
    9 months filming the smallest movement of the heroes and now nothing?

    Another amazing thing for me : from 22 august they said holding the city,some press is reporting this date too .

    What vids you see of taking tripoli :
    rebels stay coming inside the city till 27 aug/gathering on massacre green sqare,
    shooting on bab al zaziya, what in reality long time was abandoned [19 or 20 aug] and some vids with shooting on houses in abu saleem , the latest with dates as 25 august

    fact is that on 20 august thousands of jihadi's with small boats landed on the coast, there also were more than 5000 qatari's and sudani's on the ground, there were special army forces, carefully hold outside the reach of camera's.
    There were bombing and apache strikes day and night.

    So it seems there were two take overs :
    1 recorded and 1 unrecorded with different dates.

  17. what I want to admit :

    GREEN piece of cloth ON 1 .08 / al furjan shed

  18. Thank's to felix for the link.

    Remembering Ottawa’s casualties in Libya>Remembering Ottawa’s casualties in Libya
    Witnesses say that while at work in May this year, Mr. Darrat and five co-workers were arrested by government officers and shoved into the back of a van. On Aug. 25, his body was discovered in a warehouse among over 150 other bodies.

    Again, this seems like another reference to the August 23th "mystery massacre." 150 bodies in a warehouse would be highly notable, but we never see any followup to the story.

    Who identified the body? Was it ever sent to Canada for burial?

    It is more likely that someone in Libya saw, or more likely, imagined a warehouse with "150" bodies. They then went on with identifying the "victims" with names of disappeared people. In true Dr. Salim style, if it is not a camel bone, then it must be a victim of Gaddafi.

  19. Already, I notice, the TVE1 (Spain) video Encuentran más de 200 cadáveres en un hospital al sur de Trípoli, donde siguen los combates uploaded 26 Aug, has the text from Anmesty, translated to read..En un comunicado, AI ha relatado el testimonio de detenidos que se escaparon del campamento militar Khilit al Ferjan en Trípoli donde, según han descrito, el pasado martes las tropas de Gadafi han lanzado granadas y han disparado contra grupos de prisioneros.

  20. The UK Telegraph's "As it happened" daily summary for August 24.

    06:15 The Information Center For Misurata Military Council claim to have found 140 bodies in a Tripoli prison. They claim the prisoners were killed by grenades thrown into their cells. So far 13 bodies have been recovered.


    Mohammed Ali Abdallah from NFSL talks about possible massacre at Tripoli prison Abu Saleem


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