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.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8721573/Libya-August-24-as-it-happened.html
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.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.
“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.”
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.Already on the 26th, they had all 23 known? That's just damn insane. And they took it seriously?
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.
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.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:
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.
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.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?
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.”
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.