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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Shed Massacre Witnesses: Abdulatti Musbah Bin-Halim

February 25, 2012
last update April 15, 2012

<< The Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre
      << Shed Massacre Witness List

Alleged escapee Abdulatti (or Abdul Arti) Musbah (or Mosbah) Bin-Halim (or Haleem), aged 43, a cement buyer (or construction worker) from Zlitan, was one of the first to speak up about the fabled shed massacre of August 23. After barely survivng it, within 48 hours, he was at Tripoli Medical Center, photographed by Heathcliff O'Malley with a bandaged right lower leg. (the photo appears in small form here, and larger but stamped form here, and mega-stamped here. He's given as "Abdul Arti Mosbah bin Halim, a construction worker that survived a massacre of up to 200 inmates at Yarmouk prison..." His lower right leg is bandaged, ankle area apparently still bleeding, but nothing else on him seems terribly injured from the machine guns and grenades that allegedly killed a now-accepted 106.

He's confirmed by an Arabic list on Facebook as among three freed rebel prisoners in Tripoli “injured but in good condition at Tripoli Medical Center.” Another of the three is Mohammed Gibran Ahbich.

Also on the 25th, he spoke to Andrew Gilligan of the UK Telegraph as Abdulatti Musbah Haleem. This was before the media rush of the 27th-29th, making him either the first or the among the very few who spoke to the media this early. As with all the witnesses to follow, he apparently spoke before the details were all worked out.

The article in question is obscure now. The telegraph never seem to have had it on their site at all. A Canadian re-posting has been pulled down. A few copies remain at message boards and a rebel news aggregator site. Most of these were dated August 26, but one re-posting is from 2:15 am that day, linking to yet another Canadian version no longer available, and headed so:
Andrew Gilligan. “Children 'among 180 slaughtered' in Libya.” The Daily Telegraph. August 25, 2011. Extended citations (actually the whole thing, in chunks) follow.
A group of about 180 civilian prisoners, seven of them children, were massacred by Gadhafi forces earlier this week, one of the survivors has told The Daily Telegraph.

The slaughter took place on Tuesday at the al-Yarmouk military base in the suburbs of Tripoli, according to the survivor, Abdulatti Musbah Haleem.

Gadhafi troops and Tuareg mercenary fighters attacked a group of 200 prisoners with rifles, machine guns and hand-grenades, he said, leaving the bodies on the ground.
Rebels said Gadhafi troops later tried to burn the bodies to destroy the evidence.
200? That's a large number. Most witnesses that would come forward say there were about or exactly 153 prisoners to begin with. The location is given correctly for, I believe, the first time (see Shed Massacre Chronologies for details on the following). Amnesty International would report it the same way on the morning of the 26th. The mysterious Misrata fighter dispatch of dawn on the 24th (140 bodies found, killed with guns and grenades) gave no locale. Munir el Goula had just spoken to Channel 4 on the 25th, apparently saying the massacre (120 or more, guns and grenades) happened in Mansoura, near Bab al Aziziyah. The next day, the 26th, rebel militia leader Mletga would say it happened inside Gaddafi's compound (150, guns and grenades).

The last part there, about burning the bodies, is interesting. The 24th dispatch about 140 massacred prisoners mentioned no burning, but the follow-up message of the 25th (app. 9:30 am) mentioned that at least some were badly burnt. They acknowledge no awareness of the burnt bodies in the shed until taking the base on the 26th. The burning had to have happened well after the witnesses had gotten away from there, so how else could they know this early unless they were there when the burning happened?

Mr Haleem, a 43-year-old cement buyer from Zliten, near Misurata, said he was captured by Gadhafi forces near the town last week. He was carrying a gun for protection but was not fighting, he said.

While in captivity in Zliten, he was subjected to days of torture, with burns and the marks of shackles clearly visible as he lay at the Tripoli Medical Centre hospital.

He said he was transferred by the Gadhafi forces to the military base last week.

“There were about 200 of us in a hangar at the base,” he said. “There were seven children and a number of pensioners. We were all men and boys. The youngest was 14 and the oldest was 70. We were kept there for days with virtually no food and water.

Note, as is common, the injuries he can show are from detention elsewhere - mostly Zliten - while the close assault with guns and grenades rarely leaves a mark at all, letalone a single missing arm or disfigured face.

The Attack:
“On Tuesday we were very excited to hear the news of the fall of Bab al-Aziziyah [Gadhafi's compound]. The guards told us that it was all over and we were going to go home that day. One of the guards was from Zliten and I knew him. He said he would unlock the door and all we had to do was undo the latch and then we could escape.

“We undid the door. The first of us went out and were met with a hail of bullets. We ran back inside the hangar but they followed us and threw in six hand grenades. Then they started spraying us randomly with gunfire, which lasted for several minutes.”

Mr Haleem was hit by bullets and shrapnel but managed to run behind a stack of tires which offered some protection.

The bullet and shrapnel injuries were stated. The shackle marks clearly visible. Why the difference?

Further notes forthcoming...

How he, and everyone, escaped

After the firing stopped he and about 30 others ran out through a hole they had made in the hangar wall.

“Some of us did not make it because they started shooting again.” He reached a nearby house, where he was given shelter by the residents.

“There were about 200 people in there and as far as I know only 18 survived,” said Mr Haleem.
If I did the math right, that's 30 people all escaping, all via the hole in the wall, which they somehow made all of a sudden and "ran" through, and none went by the door. None did the hole escape the smart way, instead doing like Bashir did (see the link) and choosing to stay in the compound and risk getting shot again. 18 of these survived, 12 died running, and we have at least 12 bodies outside the shed. That's everyone, leaving about 182 dead.

It all adds up. Too bad it's a crock of human excrement that produced it.

More thoughts later...

And the article's last line:
A doctor at the hospital said 163 people had been killed at the site. He said about 20 survivors had been treated.
"...there were about three people. injured, and they're escaped, okay, and they are now in Tripoli Medical Center." Dr. Salim Rajab, to Sky News, August 27. That's where Dr. Salem al-Farjani worked! What a coincidence!


  1. Richard Spencer (Telegraph, 28 Aug) thanks Gilligan for bringing his attention to the Khamis shed massacre, via this first witness to emerge, Haleem. Yet Spencer writes:
    For when the end came, the brigade ran away. "There was not much resistance," said Majid al-Fitouri, one of the rebels who swept into the barracks on Friday night. The defenders fled towards the airport, and then into the heat haze.

    The residents came out of their houses, and found the shed.

    Did Gilligan just keep the information to himself for several days? It is not credible. He has some explaining to do.

  2. His name seems to be Abdul Ati Mosbah bin Halim which transliterates to "عبد العاطي مصباح بن حليم". There is one Facebook post in Arabic that uses this for of the name:
    Zliten 17 Feb-2011
    تحقيق صحفي موجود في احد الصفحات مقتبس من صفحة daily record الانجليزية يحتوي على بعض الصور المؤلمة لمجزرة معسكر اليرموك والتي راح ضحيتها عدد كبير من السجناء معظمهم من مدينة زليتن ويحوي التحقيق على شهادة للاخ عبد العاطي مصباح بن حليم احد ابناء مدينة زليتن الذين نجوا من هذه المجزرة حول ما راى من فظائع من قبل كتائب القذافي فيها.

    It also has a link to this whatsonningbo page, that again is a copy of this article by Lesley Yarranton and Martin Frick for Sunday Mail, republished by the Daily Record
    Bodies of 150 rebels found torched in warehouse as Colonel Gaddafi's carnage is revealed
    Another slaughter took place at the al-Yarmouk military base in the suburbs of Tripoli. One survivor, Abdulatti Musbah Haleem, said Gaddafi troops and African mercenaries attacked 200 prisoners with rifles, machine-guns and hand-grenades.

    Haleem, 43, said 200 prisoners, including old men and boys, were told on Tuesday they would be freed after Gaddafi's compound was overrun.
    He said: "The guards told us it was all over and we were going home that day.
    "One of the guards was from Zliten and I knew him. He said he would unlock the door and all we had to do was undo the latch and then we could escape.
    "We undid the door. The first of us went out and were met with a hail of bullets."

    This seems to be a direct quote from the original (missing) Gilligan article.

    1. The Facebook page also has a list of "prisoners of the rebels Zliten who have been freed from detention by the tyrant in Tripoli":
      Zliten 17 Feb-2011

      Three names are of particular interests:

      - محمد عمران احبيش (مصاب وبحالة جيدة في مركز طرابلس الطبي)
      - احمد حديد (مصاب وبحالة جيدة في مركز طرابلس الطبي)
      - عبد العاطي مصباح بن حليم (مصاب وبحالة جيدة في مركز طرابلس الطبي)

      All three are said to be "infected" and in good condition at the Tripoli Medical Center. The names transliterate to:
      - Mohammad Imran Ahbich – حمد عمران احبيش
      - Ahmed Hadid – احمد حديد
      - Abdul Ati Mosbah Ben Halim – عبد العاطي مصباح بن حليم

      It seems likely the two others were also released from the Khamis shed compound. The witness list now has a Mohammad Jubran Ahbich as number 2 and a Ahmed Mohamed Hadid as number 16 in the possible escapee list.

    2. "Infected" suggests whole new things... However, isolating the word مصاب just means injured in this case. Infected itself translates over to بالعدوى

      This might be a good case, however, for bumping the two to the confirmed escapee list.

    3. I agree that it is very likely that the two were imprisoned somewhere at the Khamis Brigade base or the shed compound and were released around August 23th by whatever happened at the base on that day. It is unlikely that they saw or were involved in any prison massacre – at least they have never testified about it. It would be extremely interesting to hear what they have to say.

      So far it is only Abdulatti Musbah Haleem and people connected to him, that speak of a massacre.

    4. This Facebook page lists a "عصام جبران احبيش" from Zliten (transliterated to Essam Gibran Ahbich). He is also listed here as "missing" and lost at the Yarmouk prison.

      Is this the same person or a relative?

    5. This gets interesting...

      I did a search for "-محمد جبران احبيش", which Google translates to Jubran Ahbich or Gibran Ahbich depending on the context. One of the first pages to come up is this posting on the Zliten 17 Feb-2011 Facebook page:

      جزء من شهادة الاخ محمد جبران احبيش احد الناجين من مجزرة اليرموك حول معاناته مع كتائب المقبور.

      ...which translates to:
      Part from the testimony of the brother (of?) Mohammad Jubran Ahbich, one of the survivors of the massacre on the Yarmouk Brigades buried to his suffering.

      The post links to this video by 17LibyanFree on YouTube:
      شاب من زليتن يروي قصة معاناته ونجاته من الموت بعد محاولة اعدامه من الكتائب 01
      A young man from Zliten tells the story of his suffering and death after surviving an attempt execution of battalions
      Uploaded by 17LibyanFree on Dec 20, 2011

  3. I tried to find traces of the original Telegraph article. It is likely it never appeared in electronic form.

    The Ottawa Citizen has published a number of articles from the Telegraph on Libya, few of them seem to be on-line. Here is one from August 30th:
    Libyan rebels locate suspect in 1984 murder of British policewoman

    The original is here wit a different title:
    Libya: suspect in killing of WPc Yvonne Fletcher found by rebel government

    In some case an on-line version of the story is replaced my and updated story, with some of the original material omitted. This does not seem to have happened in this case. There are two articles by Andrew Gilligan available on-line from around this period:
    - Libya: Boy Scouts on the front line – 25 Aug 2011
    - Why the fall of Tripoli will not be another Baghdad – 28 Aug 2011

    All on-line references to the story are to the version hosted by the Ottawa Citizen. Here are some more references:
    - Disturbing Trend in Tripoli: Reports of Executions and Abandoned Bodies
    - Here are two more reports from Thursday – Democratic Underground, Fri Aug-26-11 01:15 AM
    - Allegation: Children 'among 180 slaughtered' by Gaddafi Forces in Tripoli – OpEdNews, August 26, 2011

    1. Thanks for that pattern assessment. It explains the obscurity of this piece without resorting to suggesting they were embarrassed by it. Should be, but the media know no shame.

  4. Abdul Ati Mosbah ben Halim

    Mohamed Ramadan Mustafa Ben Halim.
    Names of candidates running individual (independent) from the city of Zliten General of the National Conference :
    فبراير 2011 تعليقات


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