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Monday, April 23, 2012

The Khamis Brigade morgue?

Posted by Petri Krohn
April 24, 2012

<< The Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre

This post will discuss the evidence that the Khamis Brigade shed was primarily a morgue and not a prison.

The fact that a number of bodies are discovered inside building is prima face evidence of a morgue, not of murder. For the site to be a massacre site there would have to be other physical evidence of violence used to kill the people at the site; weapons, bullets, shrapnel, shell casings, a bloody knife or some visible sign of struggle. None of this is present at the shed. All the evidence of a "massacre" consist of testimony of self claimed "survivors."

Apart from the claimed massacre victims there are other sources that could account for the under 50 bodies in the morgue. Libya was in a civil war with the estimates of people killed ranging from 50 to 100 thousand. The Khamis Brigade base saw a fierce battle sometime between August 23rd and August 26th, with a stated number of around 50 loyalist dead. None of these bodies have ever been located or identified. In the area around Khamis Brigade base the CIWCL can count around 30 unidentified bodies, almost exclusively Black, most likely victims of the ongoing persecution of Libya's African migrant workers.

The shed does not have doors that could be locked to hold in prisoners. There is no running water or sewage. There is trash at the site, including empty water bottles, but not the amount that could sustain a larger number of people for any extended period of time. The shed is perfectly suited for storing bodies, but not live beings.

Inside the shed the bodies are not randomly ordered as one would expect from the results of a killing spree, but neatly placed in rows and along the walls. The larger cluster of bodies in front of the door is less organized, but instead of facing the door – as if shot while trying to get out – most of the bodies are facing inward, away from the door. (face down, feet toward door.)

An alleged guard "Laskhar" testified (most likely under torture) that after he and his fellow guards had massacred the prisoners they carried out the bodies and later carried them back in to be burned. Any part of this testimony could be untrue; the killing part more likely then the "carrying in the bodies" part. Even if the story was 100% accurate, it would still rule out any possibility that the bodies in the shed could provide physical evidence of a massacre happening there.

The compound holds three refrigerated spaces that could be used for storing bodies. All three can be identified from the August 20th satellite image of the site, but except for the smallest one are missing from the July 26th image. The most notable is the large 40 foot shipping container in white Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) livery right by the gate. The white color indicates that it is a refrigerated container and not the standard container that comes in yellow.

In the row of trucks and vans parked against the low brick wall there are two refrigerated vehicles. In the shed end there is a Isuzu delivery wan with a white container identical to the one found on al Sarim Street in central Tripoli around August 24th, containing at least six bodies. At the other end there is a delivery truck in green livery with a blue logo containing the word  نجمة  – Star. The trademark possibly connects the truck to the al-Naseem dairy and ice cream factory in Misrata.

Among the four satellite images available through Google Earth from the period of the Libyan Civil War there are two cases that indicate possible loading or unloading of vans or hearses. In the May 14th satellite image there are up to seven vans and pickup trucks parked in a tight row in front of the shed, with their rear facing the shed, as if for loading or unloading of heavy items. The August 20th satellite image show what appears to be a flatbed pickup truck parked back-to-back with the "Star" refrigerated truck, again as if for loading something from the truck to the pickup or vice versa.


  1. Thanks for assembling this, Petri. It's a line of thought with some value, but I wasn't seeing it enough to justify the work. So I'm glad someone did.

    I've already shared some of mat arguments against this, which I'll get to But first, a couple of new points.

    1) There is some evidence of killing there-bullet holes all over. I have a draft post on these, some oddities. Chips in the wall could be from those bullets or from grenades. I haven't seen or heard anything about shell casings or shrapnel. That doesn't prove they weren't there, but it does kind of suggest it. Even to the extent these are present, doesn't prove much. A faked crime scene can be shot up and hanve grenades lobbed in.

    2) I think it's wrong to say there was no lockable door. See "c" - the lever attached to the bolt could easily be locked in place with some kind of padlock. So long as there are holes drilled, and I haven't seen a photo detailed enough to prove there aren't.

    Otherwise, spot on - not much of a prison. I'm almost surprised none of these corpses escaped just by falling out.

    Okay, if a morgue:
    - Loyalist run for loyalists? I can see the arrangement, somewhat. They'd prefer burial within 24 hours to storage in a shed or any refrigeration unit, being Muslim. But it's possible.
    - what caused the epidemic of missing feet, lower legs, and hands? The rest I can see-bomb and rocket damage, etc.
    - How about the close-up executions? How did the loyalists come to possess bodies like this, unless killing captives themselves somewhere?
    - Presumably the rebels, not the loyalists, burned the bodies, right? It's un-Islamic to burn bodies, and I can't see rebels or loyalists torching their own. I could see either possibly burning the other, out of hate, and intending to blame the other side. Sources say it happened on the 25th or 26th, sounds about right to me, and rebels were apparently in charge from late on the 23rd at the latest, re-smoldering the skeletons up until the 28th.

  2. Also, I liked the idea of that Star truck coming in with the rebels from Misrata. There is a possibly consistent vehicle there before that (if we knew what color the Start truck's top was, would help) but other consistent vehicles seem to have come and gone. AND, you might have the slots wrong. I'll share a graphic later, but I think the flatbed is lined up with the position to the Star truck's left - the one with the dark cab occupies its spot next to the little dark police van.

    So I'm still ambivalent on that point, and not bothering to do more than mention it for the report (not coming out in April either).

  3. a stated number of around 50 loyalist dead.

    Don't suppose youhave the source handy for that?Sounds like an interesting little clue.

    1. We figured out that was an overly-specific inference. One rebel fighter said 11 rebels died in the fight for the base, and a higher number, unspecified, on the other side. Quite possibly much higher.

  4. More on storing bodies in the freezer vans in this BBC interview, thank's to felix.

    Tripoli massacre 'was supervised by Gaddafi son'
    "the army officers who disobeyed orders were killed here and put inside that truck there which is a freezer"

    1. Yeah, but that's another cartoon villain allegation. In the loyalist morgue version, they're stuffing bodies in coolers prior to letting them rot and/or burn in a shed. And it's their own guys.

      This might add tom the idea of - hey, maybe they found refrigerate trucks there, decided on that site because all they'd have to dois re-park the truck after making their collection?

      I don't know. Sounds like an interesting program I might listen to and possibly cite. His whole executed soldiers narrative is unusual, and apparently the effect of talking to the wrong person making up the wrong story. A clue of something, perhaps worth mentioning.

    2. With the number of traitors in the loyalist ranks in Tripoli, I would not be surprised to find a whole truckload of executed brigadier generals.

      Special report: The secret plan to take Tripoli
      Reuters / Samia Nakhoul | Tue Sep 6, 2011

      Brigadier General Abdulsalam Alhasi, commander of the rebels' main operation center in Benghazi, said those secretly helping the rebels were "police, security, military, even some people from the cabinet; many, many people. They gave us information and gave instructions to the people working with them, somehow to support the revolution."

      One of those was al-Barani Ashkal, commander-in-chief of the guard at Gaddafi's military compound in the suburbs of Tripoli. Like many, Ashkal wanted to defect, but was asked by the NTC to remain in his post where, Alhasi says, he would become instrumental in helping the rebels enter the city.

      Executing traitors is not in itself a war crime. In most armies a general or officer caught red handed giving bombing coordinates to the enemy in the middle of an existential battle would be executed on the spot.

    3. Executed sure. The "world community" would call it a crime, as in insane gov't against its people has no rights to enforce anything. But of course it would be justified nor national survival. But why trucks?

      And why would the rebels torch the face off one of these guys found in the truck tortured to death? If there was a load of dead brigadier generals uncovered, it would be quite an open question of who killed them.

      The one guy you mention was probably the one in charge of the Al Mayah area base (is that Kilometer 27?). That was sold out by its commander, we heard, and so "taken" easily. He apparently was not executed in time, let his base fall into rebel hands on what, Aug.21 acknowledged? So possibly Aug. 19, as they said thanks for letting us in, killed anyone they wanted (might be no one), then staged deeper incursions from there to punish those less firendly.

    4. some truck bodies around that time :

      1.58 bodies killed loyalists taken to …?Aug 23, 2011
      Uploaded by GHSRMENA on Aug 23, 2011

      It's a truck, perhaps the one that was at Mansoura, with about five pretty rotten, squishy bodies inside... clearly FFs... why?

      @ 0.23 1 rebel, 2 loyalists
      يظهر في هذا الفيديو الشهيد البطل أسعد البولاطي و المعروف في زاوية الدهماني بأسعد الزقوزي وهو مبتسم بعد استشهاده بالزاوية

  5. Aleppo, Syria on August 3th, 2012:

    From the soundtrack at 0:56

    In a nearby location a Syrian Army officer showed us two burnt corpses belonging to other fighters. "Those are foreigners, because, when ever they have time, armed groups burn their dead, if they are not Syrian in an attempt to hide their identity."

    Syrian army trying to restore calm in Aleppo
    Published on Aug 3, 2012 by PressTVGlobalNews

    Quote: Our third day in Aleppo, Press tv team made a tour in the city of Aleppo, the traffic was normal, a very few checkpoints in our tour, and markets were opened. Later on we received a tip to move to Hretan area, an area where Syrian army had clashes during the night with hundreds of fighters belong to an armed group call themselves AlMithanna brigade. Upon our arrival to what was an area controlled by armed militias, Syrian army commander explained to us how did they free the area through intensify clashes during the night, assuring that these clashes resulted to killing plenty of armed group members and most of the killed were foreigners.


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