The following will be the bulk of sub-section 3.4 in the report A Question Mark Over Yarmouk, regarding the fake "Holocaust" tale of the Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre. I must say "hidden" isn't really the best word for it, but it helps to make it seem like there's some friggin' mystery being solved here.
Tweets and E-Mails
The first clues of the mass-killing at Yarmouk ostensibly came in from escapees , in accounts first publicly mentioned on August 25th. At uncertain daylight times less than 48 hours after the event. Munir El-Goula and his brother (Amr Dau Algala?) of Mansoura, Tripoli, and Abdulatti Musbah Bin-Halim of Zlitan, spoke to Channel 4 and the Telegraph, respectively, in pieces published late on the 25th but since becoming obscure. Their accounts are conveyed in some detail in sub-section 2.2. But an unusual, and perhaps the first version of the witness story came with a message first tweeted by “dovenews Libyan™” at 7:05 am on the 25th:
“Gaddafi forces executed 170 detainess [sic] in #Alyarmook military base, only 4 detainees mangd 2 escape 2 from #AzZwayia & 2 from #Hey#Alforjan” [DNL]The number 170 is fairly close to the 180 dead that Bin-Halim would report that day, and he was among four alleged escapees being treated for injuries at Tripoli Medical Center. But three of these were from Zlitan, and none from Zawiyah. “Hey Alforjan” refers to the neighborhood (Hey/Hay/Haya) of Khellet al-Forjan, in which the Yarmouk base is situated. There are no locals from there specified among the escapees. At least three escapees are from Az-Zawiyah (“Mohammad,” Hussein Al-Lafi, and the person who’s gone by Mohammed Bashir and Bashir Mohammed Al-Sedik/Germani and ”Omar.”)
This early report of 170 dead was echoed by one Joanne Leo, as found in a compilation of tweets and other messages at the Libyan Uprisng archive (generally the source for the messages cited below). As luck would have it, this pro-rebel info-activist was able to add a fifth escapee from her own knowledge. She listed the same four “Plus 1 another: My uncle (from Alziziyah) who escaped from Yarmook CONFIRMS this, he said at least 150 massacred.” [LU] Alzizyah may refer to Al-Azizyah, a town just southwest of the airport, 10-15 miles from Yarmouk. This is another hometown not specified in later accounts; it was mostly Zlitan people.
Later in the day “Free Libya,” an apparently affiliated account, shared “Some bittersweet news” that “my uncle from my mum’s side has escaped from the Yarmook Military camp prison, badly tortured.” But that was followed shortly with “my family in Hadba are all free. The FF came and liberated them completely last night: Allahu Akbar” [LU] Al-Hadbah is a long road, but part of it passes in front of the Yarmouk base.
Between the witnesses and the tweets, these earliest reports would be the grimmest. There were as many as 200 original prisoners, as few as four escapees, and no more than 18 who survived. These stories were first widely circulated only the following day, along with the Amnesty International report issued early on the 26th specifying 23 known escapees. From there the story took its current form with more witnesses, more press reports and, by the 27th, photographs and video.
But there was one other earlier version yet, with the massacre first learned of from direct discovery of the bodies by people under the banner of the Misrata Military Council. Since just after their mid-August elimination of black Tawergha, the MMC’s information center briefly updated the media with Twitter messages, or tweets from ICFMMC. According to the account’s activity page, this practice ended after five days and 36 tweets, and never resumed. The last entry of August 23 announced the return of some prisoners to Misrata. [ICM] By the morning of the 24th they instead sent their heavier new information by e-mail, sent to the UK Daily Telegraph and apparently to no other media. The Telegraph’s “as it happened” log announced at 6:15 AM, ten hours after the alleged massacre:
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. [T1]While the location of this find wasn’t specified, the use of grenades in a prison and the approximate number of dead both matches only with the Khamis Brigade shed massacre. "Cells" in a jail are mentioned, as opposed to an open hangar, requiring quite a few grenades, and there is no mention of these found corpses being burned, to the bone or otherwise. However, the eerie similarities forced the CIWCL to follow the thread of this find as far is it could.
By the evening of the same day, the Misratans were adding information to the picture with what seem to be tweets “frm Misrata military council” (but from no still-available channel of their own). A sequence of four messages were re-sent by a Jess Hill/Jessradio, from about 8:17 to 8:22 pm on the 24th. [JRT] Compiled together, they read:
1/4: "We have found possible mass murder in Tripoli prison. We believe event happen abt 4 days ago." 2/4:"Drs at main Tripoli Hospital know more. Prisoners were locked up, grenades thrown into their rooms." 3/4: "So far only retrieved 13 bodies. All badly burnt. Trying to get understanding from city morgue." 4/4: "A survivor we believe took the cloths of dead man & played dead for 10 hours until FLF free him." [JRT]
Four days prior would mean the 20th, putting the massacre three days before the discovery suggested by their previous e-mail. The fourth tweet adds “a survivor,” the first one mentioned, just about 24 hours after the now-accepted massacre date, and four days after by their reasoning here. How he was saved within ten hours is unclear; that’s the time-span between the Aug. 23 massacre and the first rebel e-mail, not between the Aug. 20 event and anything yet known.
If this first survivor is added to the previous revelations, as many as six escapees were already mentioned, with perhaps none of them being among those later publicized and examined in this report. On the following morning, at 9:40 AM, the Telegraph had a more detailed update with a second e-mail building on the flashes Jessradio passed on:
A [rebel] 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." [T2]
As late as the 26th the Telegraph reported on “unconfirmed reports of as many as 140 bodies being found at one of Gaddafi’s notorious prisons,” adding that “a spokesman for an opposition group said the bodies had been burnt but showed signs of having been killed at close quarters possibly by a grenade.” [TME] With these updates, the MMC’s information center helped clarify this is almost certainly the same mass-execution the world would soon be hearing a different version of. Besides the number and blasted state of the bodies, there are few others among the Tripoli massacres that featured any burning of bodies. What “recovered” means here (pulled out of the shed?), and why only 13 had been, is unclear. How many of the others were burned, how badly, and when they had been burnt is also unstated.
With this dispatch the Misratans claim to know almost nothing, and hoped the hospital (presumably Tripoli Medical Center) looking at the survivors, and/or the morgue which presumably had the 13 recovered bodies, would be able to tell them what happened. If these early messages referred to a separate massacre, there was no further news on what the experts said, and the story of the 140 corpses ended abruptly, with a major Gaddafi crime fading to total obscurity just as the very similar Yarmouk massacre came to the fore. The CIWCL finds that rather unlikely.
The ten or less survivors were never heard from, unless they’re the same as the witnesses emerging of the shed massacre. But that would mean the rebels had found the remains - which were ostensibly in the loyalist-held base - almost three days before they would later acknowledge being able to do any such thing.
Echoes Across the Gap
Between that first story cut short on the morning of the 25th, and the full emergence of the case under study on the 27th, was a short, awkward period that was not quite silently awkward. One disjointed yet useful insight on those days comes from rebel commander Jamal Al-Ragai/Rabbani (see sub-section 1.4). He told Robert F. Worth of the New York Times he was transferred from Yarmouk to the prison at Qasr Ben Ghashir, escaped from there on August 21, left the area, and re-grouped with his troops in Tajoura, to the east. He says he spent those days nowhere near the site of the Yarmouk and Qasr Ben Ghashir massacres, but once the city was mostly liberated, Worth wrote “Ragai’s own concern, he told me, was to free the 150 prisoners at Yarmouk.” [RWN]
His convoy of fighters finally drove southwest to rescue the prisoners, by best reading, on Thursday the 25th. “At about midday,” Worth writes, “Ragai said, he got a call from one of the other fighters on his cellphone. The man had reached the Yarmouk prison and seen the deserted grounds. “It’s too late,” the man said. “Everyone is dead.”” [RWN] In crafting this story either from memory or from things he knew, it made sense to have the shed site accessible by mid-day on the 25th. Apparently he just didn’t realize that was still too early to match with what others were saying. If it was deserted and the shed was accessible to a single man, why were armed rebel forces still fighting for another day or longer to be able to do the same?
From the 25th on, Yarmouk was widely named as the place where 150 were killed with grenades, with no mention of conquest, body discovery, or burning. But another version surfaced on the 26th, with NTC commander Abdel Majid Mlegta, “head of operations for the takeover of the capital,” telling AFP it happened inside Muammar Gaddafi’s compound. In reference to what could only be this massacre, he said “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.” [FP2]
Interestingly, the compound was a place that was acknowledged as overrun by rebels on the 23rd or earlier and thus, arguably, it was the place those 140-150 bodies were found, after some earlier massacre. There is no mention here either of burning, and again, there is no mention after this of any 150 blasted bodies there, or anywhere else, except behind the Yarmouk base.
While none of these early witnesses mentions the victims being torched, dead or alive, one line in Andrew Gilligan’s report for the Telegraph, August 25, stands out. “Rebels said Gadhafi troops later tried to burn the bodies to destroy the evidence.” It’s unclear how they would know that so early. In fact, the best estimates have the bodies were burnt primarily on the 25th or even later, quite possibly even after this report. As covered in the previous article, the Misrata Military Council first introduced the notion of burning late on the 24th, with only a first 13 seemingly charred.
These first mentions sound greatly different from what would later be shown. “Tried to burn” and even “badly burnt” are not the same as successfully charred to skeletons. If these are the same batches, as logic strongly suggests, it seems they were burnt yet further while under rebel control. And it’s therefore worth wondering why they failed to mention the initial burning upon first discovery of the semi-charred bodies.