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Friday, February 3, 2012

Shed Massacre Witnesses: el Goula/Algala

February 3, 2012

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

This sub-post is to address three witness names/images in detail to clear up a spot of confusion between them. The family name similarity and brotherly captivity details suggest there are only two escapees described between the three names,  But the imagery of them raises enough questions I'll hold off deciding how to mergethese

The El Goula Brothers: an early account
Lindsey Hilsum reported for ITN News, on August 26, from the Mansoura district of northern Tripoli (video). A day before any other video reports on survivors of the Khamis Brigade shed massacre, and not even clearly described yet, she heard from two brothers at the apartment (flat) of the el-Goula family (phoenetic spelling, not typed on-screen).

Only one of these spoke to ITN - a heavily-bearded and traditionally-dressed  "Munir" (first name only typed). Hilsum related Munir's story of being “arrested last Saturday night [the 20th] and interrogated for three days, but then released [sic] by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Munir’s story is almost too raw to relate.” He weeps. The locale isn’t specified, but the date is right (Tuesday the 23rd implied). The high number of dead and the use of grenades that he describes suggests 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.” [ITN] 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.
Abdullah apparently perished, or at least hadn't been heard from by the 26th.

Munir El Goula’s silent, unnamed brother who sat for the interview was apparently not Abdullah,who implicitly died, or was missing, this brother was also shown on ITN. This brother is shown limping stiffly into the room, as if slightly injured. Hilsum said "two sons are still missing. Two have returned from a horrific ordeal.” The singular form of “ordeal” suggests he survived and escaped the same massacre as his brother. He looks nothing like his brother, with the burly build, shaved chin, and muttonchop sideburns.

Amr Dau Algala, 34, Former Police Officer: A Late Account
The name alone wouldn’t be clear, but the details, especially on brothers (see above and below) suggests this newly discovered witness is the same person as one of the above, and the first name doesn't sound like Munir. Amr Dau spoke to Kim Sengupta at the Independent, reported only on September 10, two weeks after Hiulsum's invterview above.
Amr Dau Algala was picking through the ashes with a stick when he came across the charred and broken bones. A little later he found the buckle. "Only my brother was wearing a belt in our group. This looks like my brother's," he whispered, looking down at the twisted piece of metal.
Around 60 men, prisoners of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, died when guards first opened fire and then tossed grenades into the warehouse where they were being held. Among them was Amr and three of his brothers. They ran for their lives amid the flames, noise and confusion and escaped. A fourth, 25-year-old Abdullah, is missing.

"The last time I saw Abdullah was there, sitting in that corner," said Mr Algala, pointing at a blackened corner of the metal box, around 25 feet long and 20 feet wide, into which more than a hundred captives had been crammed. "He is young and looked very scared that morning. When the guards opened fire I started running. I looked back, but there was too much smoke, I could not see my brother. Some people got away after us, we are really hoping Abdullah was one of them, but we don't know." 
Hmm... He wasn't one of those neutral "rebular" Libyan guys, but neither exatcly a fighter, he says.

Amr Dau Algala, 34, knew that he would receive particularly harsh treatment from the regime because he had joined the underground opposition in the Libyan capital while still a serving policeman.
He had done his bit to sabotage the machinery of state, he said, by destroying messages from embassies abroad he had been tasked to decode. But with Colonel Gaddafi clinging on to Tripoli, Mr Algala decided to play a more active part and started smuggling guns into the city.
"There were many, many police officers who were working in secret to bring down Gaddafi. But someone must have said something and there was a raid at night. They took me and my brothers away," Mr Algala recalled.
The Algalas were taken to Abu Salim prison, a place of fear where 1,200 inmates were slaughtered following riots in 1996. "We were beaten repeatedly there with sticks and pieces of hosepipe. They didn't even bother to question us much, they just kept hitting us," said Mr Algala. "After two days we were driven out of Abu Salim. I was put in the boot of the car and I wished that I would die there. I did not want to be taken out and tortured again. My hands were tied with wire, I could not move them, they swelled up."
Mr Algala and his brothers, among others, were locked up for two days and nights in a prison van at the "Khamis Brigade" headquarters. "I don't know how we survived that. But we were taken out and the beatings began immediately. Then we were put on chairs and given electric shocks. My whole body shook. I have never felt such pain. After that we were just thrown into the room and left there."
The maltreatment started again soon afterwards. One warehouse, with bloodstains on the walls and ceiling, coils of orange and green rope on the floor, was where prisoners had been strung up by their wrists [or ankles?]. "They were begging to be cut down, but the guards would not listen," said Mr Algala. "They really had no pity. One man had been shot in the leg. He was so thirsty that he drank his own piss. But still they would not give him any water. I believe he died before the guards started shooting."
Mr Algala recalled that one day the guards announced that Khamis al-Gaddafi was arriving himself and the prisoners would be free. "People got very excited and the guards started laughing. They said that being 'free' of this place meant that we will all be killed. We did not know whether to believe them or not."
The threat proved to be real the following morning when the murders began. "Three guards came to the doorway and started firing, they took turns to fire, then there were loud bangs. I realised they were throwing in grenades. We were all shouting and we ran out," said Mr Algala. "We climbed over that wall and we ran through the houses. They came after us, firing, and I saw some people fall. But others got away.
"Maybe my brother was one of them. Maybe he was injured and someone is looking after him. Maybe we shall hear from him soon."
So, anyway, theIndependent also had a photo of Mr. Algala inside the shed, and just outside it showing a scar on his wrist from the wire. The former was captioned "Amr Dau Algala stands in the the warehouse where Gaddafi loyalists slaughtered their rebel victims," and is cropped in the center below, flanked by the Elgoula brothers - Munir and... Amr Dau?
Too much forehead? Wrong hairline? Right weight? The sideburns and clean chin seen three days after the escape do suggest the style of a police officer, on an American TV show if not in Libya. The timeline suggests more than three days, doesn't it? At least an action-packed five days. Coincidental sets of four brothers with so many parallels and arguably consistent photos? A brother with a different story from his other brother's?

And which brother's belt buckle was that? Did it belong to Abdullah, or to the fourth brother no one talks about and we should presume dead?


  1. @caustic :
    this 3 looks more related than the al gala one ?

    the al goula family

    notable : I think the local computer engineer abdel hamid is also to be seen in the al goula marbouha : second fr right

    second fr right

    0.23 a local computer engineer abdel hamid shows ...

  2. @caustic, the al gala story seems the same as the al goula story, but his face is so different from the others. In Libiya almost no one had more wives.

  3. Hurriya pointed out this Reuters story from September 6th in another thread:

    Special report: The secret plan to take Tripoli
    "We didn't make it a secret," [August 20 date of attack] said Mohammed Gula, who led a pro-rebel political cell in central Tripoli and spoke to Reuters as rebels first entered Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound. "We said it out on the street. People didn't believe us. They believe us now."

    1. Thanks for bringing that over. I was about to do the same, and respond. It's an intriguing possibility, with only so many Gula/Galas to be expected. The name Amr Mousa isn't Mohammed, but these guys often have flexible names. Maybe he's the fourth brother? But the fourth brother implicitly died.

      Hmmm... well, it's on the table.

      Lot of comments lately. I'm nowhere near keeping up, but getting some other things done fairly well.

  4. Lindsey Hilsum ‏ @lindseyhilsum

    @AnnaBlundy just written a book on Libya in which I referred a lot to your father's great book on Gaddafi. Bought his selected articles.
    5:31 PM - 5 Mar 12 via web · Details

  5. http://i40.tinypic.com/10gfgcz.jpg

    look alikes

  6. Lindsey Hilsum interviewed during the evening, or early night of 22 August by Jeremy Brown for PBS News Hour in the USA
    "I am in the west of the city in a quiet area, all I can hear is a little bit of gunfire and the sound of NATO planes overhead" . Not with all the other journos at the Rixos.

  7. I am reading through the Kim Sengupta story in the Independent.

    Amr Dau Algala does not explain how he ended up from being locked up in a prison van for two days and nights to being in the massacre shed the same morning. Neither does Kim Sengupta, but he may not be fully aware of the timeline – maybe assuming that Algala spent more than the two days at the Khamis Brigade base.

    Amr Dau Algala says he was arrested with his brothers and first taken to the Abu Salim prison. From Munir's story we know this would be the evening of Saturday, the 20th of August. Amr Dau says he was driven out of Abu Salim after two days. This could be the 21st at the earliest, maybe the 22nd. Two nights in the prison van would mean the "massacre" happened in the morning of August 23th or 24th.

    From other more reliable sources (including BBC from March) we know that the shed compound was used for processing captives before they were moved to other more permanent facilities. These captives would be locked in the prison vans. If there is any truth in Amr Dau's story, the two prison vans must have been full of captives on August 23th. So far no one has explained how and when these captives were massacred. My best guess is that the 20 or so captives that would fit into the prison vans are the 20 or so witnesses who have emerged as "survivors" of the shed massacre.

  8. According to party coordinator Mohammed Ghula, Dr Sallabi will be a non-active member.

    There are many prominent people associated with the party including Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and current head of the Tripoli Military Council as well as Mahmoud Hamza, Ali Zeidan and Mansour Saif Al-Nasar.

    The formation of the new “Nation Party” (Hizb Al-Watan), a conservative force which has the backing of the prominent and respected Islamic cleric Dr Ali Sallabi, is to be announced on April 16.

    "We didn't make it a secret," said Mohammed Gula/GOULA , who led a pro-rebel political cell in central Tripoli ,/ acquaintance OF Mlegta

  9. Sunday, August 21, 2011 Rebel sources told The Times that they controlled most of Tripoli by Sunday night. Souk al-Juma, Mansoura, Dahra and Al Sreem neighborhoods near downtown Tripoli were all under rebel control.

    Mansoura is next to Bab al-Aziziyah, the military barracks that serve as the main base for Col. Gadhafi, his family and senior members of the regime.

    Rebels had surrounded Bab al-Aziziyah early on Monday and anticipated a tough fight.


    22/08/2011 Hisham Karmous lives in Tripoli, in the neighbourhood of Al Mansoura.
    This is close to Bab Aziza, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s headquarters.
    I have been hearing gunshots since this morning.


  10. Al Goula who escaped from a JAIL :


    @ 3.05 smoke of bombing?

    @ 4.16 sport center next to head quarter

    Lindsey Hilsum of ITN visited one area north of Gadhafi's compound where the casualties of this civil war have been especially searing.

    LINDSEY HILSUM: The war is still within sight of Tripoli's Mansoura district,
    and what happened here will never be forgotten.
    @ 5.36 the local mosque with the stolen goods and a big map with tripoli area's

    A local computer engineer, Abdul Hamid, showed me [ Lindsey Hilsum]
    where Colonel Gadhafi's neighborhood thugs had their headquarters.

    It was a place everyone feared. Decorated in the "Brother Leader"'s favorite green, it's a monument to his eccentricity and to the brutality of his rule.

  11. vid ; mounir's story is almost to raw to relate :

    @ 4.40 , 2 [ mounir + 1 brother]
    have returned from a horrific ordeal :

    last saturday night [ = 20 aug] they [ mounir & brother] were interrogated for 3 days
    [= 23 aug] and then released by khadafi's soldiers

    @ 4.50 goula tells the shed story as an eye witness , although he was released :

    "when they opened the gates , mercenaries came and pushed the soldiers back into the JAIL"

  12. Mounir : they shot an old man in the leg

    I didn't think they will kill us ,for the mercenaries entered the jail and shot the prisoners in the legs

    1 threw [?] a grenade and threw in

    5 times they opened the doors,shot inside and threw a grenade

    a lot of people died

    my brother abdullah was behind me
    he said somehow he [ mounir] escaped, but believes 20 soldiers and more than a100 prisoners were killed

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

  13. a prison near the compound :

    Gargur building/school execution/On Aug. 20 rebels arrived

    Osama Al-Swayi /Mansour al Hadi, who was freed on 20 aug and arrived on 24 aug in mitiga hospital told Human Rights Watch Twenty-five people were detained there, he said


    None were carrying identity cards, both he and a municipal worker who helped remove the bodies said.

    another prison near compound :


    AJE: Cracking Gaddafi's intelligence base , with prison inside

    Al-Zawiyah road,Tripoli , near to compound


  14. 23/08/2011,All Tripoli prisoners freed – Libyan rebels


    [Al-Warfali] We [the Libyan rebels] are in complete control of the situation; there are no Gaddafi forces on the ground.

    We are in control of Al-Sareem Street, which is close to Tajura, Fashloum, and Souk al-Juma.

    street Alsreem , Mansoura


    All of these areas are under our country.

    There are [also] no prisoners in any Tripoli prison, for all prisoners have been freed.

    We have also forcibly acquired arms and weapons from Gaddafi battalions.

  15. 23 August 2011 Overnight, Tripoli was pitch black.

    All the electricity got cut, we only just got power back.

    But to find a capital city completely in blackness, not one light, for miles and miles, it's an eerie thing.

    It is very unnerving.


    Bag said: “In Tripoli’s al-Mansoura district especially, there are intense clashes going on.

    This is because of Mansoura’s proximity to the towns of Muslin and Dahra, where the people support Gaddafi

    NATO warplanes are bombing Gaddafi-controlled parts of Bab al-Azizia,
    and Muslin and Dahra.


  16. http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/19/2463/

    August 19th, 2011 : State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Friday that U.S. officials in Benghazi have been working with the Libyan opposition "on exactly what it's going to look like post-Gadhafi."

  17. Mlegta and his companions :

    "We didn't make it a secret," said Mohammed Gula/GOULA , who led a pro-rebel political cell in central Tripoli ,/ acquaintance OF Mlegta


    Some residents, who had watched Libyan troop movements inside the city, noticed snipers positioned high in buildings and brought them food and water, pretending to be Gadaffi loyalists.

    “We wanted them to think we weren’t suspicious.

    But really we were just checking where they were so that we could kill them when the time came,” said Haitham Katib, 45.


  18. Some more noble knights :

    23 aug 2011 , Saleh al-Warfali,

    [Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you coordinating with the Libyan rebels outside of Tripoli?

    [Al-Warfali] There is significant coordination…there are, of course, communication [between the Tripoli rebels and the Libyan rebels outside of Tripoli].

    Attempts were made to coordinate our attacks between 2 and 3 am [on Monday] when they [the Libyan rebels outside of Tripoli] entered the capital.
    We [the Tripoli rebels] are affiliated to the [Tripoli] National Military Council.

    We also managed to capture a number of [military] vehicles and arms belonging to Hannibal and Muttasim Gaddafi [brigades].


  19. The noble :

    NSFL Buhagiar , the 50.000 dead man :


    TRIPOLI, LIBYA - AUGUST 22: Hisham Buhagiar, the commander of the 'Tripoli Brigade' oversees his troops takeover of a military academy in downtown Tripoli on August 22, 2011 in Tripoli, Libya.

    Rebel fighters have taken control of many of Tripoli's streets following their advance over the weekend. (Photo by Alfred de Montesquiou/Getty Images)



    Hisham Buhagiar, a senior official in the military body behind Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tripoli August 30, 2011.

    The rebels called their plan to take Tripoli Operation Dawn Mermaid.

    The operation took months of planning and involved secretly arming rebel units inside the capital.

    Those units would help NATO destroy strategic targets in the city.

    At an agreed time, the units would then rise up as rebels attacked from all sides.

    The seven member rebel planning committee included Buhagiar, a rebel colonel.

    Picture taken August 30, 2011. To match Special Report LIBYA/ENDGAME.

    1. http://www.daylife.com/photo/099x6fK3Gw4oS?q=Tripoli%2C+Libya


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