Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The neighbors enter the "massacre" site

May 8, 2012

<< The Tripoli Massacres
     << The Khamis Brigade Shed Massacre

As more evidence emerges, the Khamis Brigade shed “massacre” site is starting to look more and more like Schliemann's Troy – which turned out to be but one of nine different archaeological layers spanning three millenia.

There seems to be three different "massacres" or episodes of violence that differ by location, ethnic makeup, and level of decomposition of the bodies. One of them is the charred bodies in the shed; most likely a morgue. Another layer are the black bodies outside the shed.

The recently discovered amateur video from the shed compound adds a third layer, which may represent the very last chapter in the violent events at the shed.

The video is filmed on August 26, in the twilight, a few minutes after sunset at 19:40 local time. It shows a group of local people from the neighborhood exploring the compound. None of the people are armed, one man in a traditional dress is carrying a pickax, evidently for self protection. A fire is seen still burning in the side chamber of the shed.

The atmosphere must be extremely tense; not so because of the smoldering bodies in the shed, but because of the two fresh victims that lie in the center of the compound and thus dominate the scenery. The men are clearly civilian, they carry none of the visual indications or uniform that would label them rebels or loyalist soldiers. In fact, their dress suggests they are two locals unfortunate enough to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These two victims  represent an urgency and immediacy not seen in any of the other evidence. If the two men were shed massacre victims, as the rebel narrative would suggest, why were they not carried back into the shed along with the other escapee bodies and burned with the rest?

The two men are never seen in any of the media reports from the shed; they appear in a set of three photographs by Seamus Murphy (available trough photo agencies) as they are being loaded on a flat-bed truck in the morning of August 27th, and are possibly briefly seen in the background in the Sky news report by Stuart Ramsay, as the truck speeds away through the open gate.

From the state of the bodies – As seen on the August 26th video – it is possible to reconstruct the preceding events and deduce who killed the two men, when and how.

Victim number #2, The Crawler lies in front of the shed.
He may be dead, but he has yet to bite the dust. 

A young man lies in the sand in front of the shed – identified as #2, The Crawler in the list of exterior victims. He is still holding his body upright by his upper arms. His head is resting atop his right forearm. In the sand we see signs of crawling. A path of footsteps is just starting to form around him.

From the position of the body alone, it is possible to see that his death happened recently, possible less than an hour ago. He may be dead, but he has yet to bite the dust.

In the photos from the morning of August 27th we see that his face is all covered by sand, the result of a long contact with the ground.

The body is totally undisturbed. The locals have not checked if he was still breathing. If he was shot by someone in control of the shed compound – who ever that was – he has not followed through on his intentions and checked if the man needs “finishing off.”

The position of body is another clue. He is lying right in front of the shed, nearly blocking access to it. If any activity was still going on at the shed after his death – killing, burning, moving of bodies – he would have hindered this activity. Yet, no one has kicked him over to his side.

Victim number #3, The Runner has collapsed while
running toward the gate. He has lost both his sandals.
Another victim, a middle aged man wearing a traditional white shalwar khameez – The Runner, #3 in the list – is lying on the ground some 30 meters away. He has been shot mid sprint, losing his shoes just before losing his balance. One sandal has been thrown several meters, the other is still besides him.

It is not clear what he is running away from. What is clear however is where he is running: toward the gate. Why there, when he could have sought shelter among the numerous vehicles or tried to climb over the wall as all the other alleged shed massacre escapees did. Did he expect the Gaddafi guards to just open the gate for him? Nobody else tried that.

There is only one conclusion that can be drawn. When the man was shot, the gate was open!

In all the war footage we see from Libya, almost every body has been covered by some canvas or cloth by the time it gets captured on film. With all the trash lying around, there certainly was not a lack of covering material. Unattended bodies point to a no man's land. The only explanation that can be given to the two bodies is that they were killed by someone who was not truly in control of the shed compound, most likely from outside the perimeter walls.

From this visual evidence it is possible to reconstruct the preceding events. The fire and the burning bodies alerted the locals to situation in the shed complex. Some came to investigate, possibly along with some rebel entourage. It is likely that the rebels or the group of locals themselves became the target of loyalist snipers in some counteroffensive. Some parts of the Khamis Brigade base are said to have been in loyalist control up to the evening of August 26th. There are a number of places that could have been in loyalist control and give a line sight into the shed compound.

Who ever did the shooting, it clearly caused the party to scatter, leaving behind these two dead.

Media reports

The shooting incident was in fact reported by the media, in a report by Evan Hill for Al Jazeera published at 18:44 GMT on August 26th, 2011.

Rebels tighten grip on Tripoli

Evan Hill in Libya – Last Modified: 26 Aug 2011 18:44
By late Friday, rebel troops using automatic weapons and trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns and field artillery had control of the Abu Salim district and was pushing further south, into the Salaheddin and Tartouk areas.

The fiercest remaining pocket of resistance was in Tartouk, around the barracks of the Khamis Brigade, considered Gaddafi’s best-trained fighting force.

At around 7 pm, a crowd of civilians and rebels near the barracks scattered under rifle fire coming from nearby residential buildings.

Rebels responded in force, turning their guns in the direction of suspected snipers and blasting chunks out of the buildings' concrete facades.

More loyalist fire came from other directions and the barracks, indicating that rebels were still battling for control of one of the final bastions of Gaddafi's military power in the capital.

The report does not specify the exact location “around the barracks,” but the “crowd of civilians” could only have been drawn to this danger zone by the smoldering bodies.

The event is also described by Salem al-Farjani, vice chair of the Libyan "National Missing Persons Commission" in his cameo role as shed massacre witness Dr. Salim Rajub. "Dr. Salim" must  be considered an extremely unreliable witness. Unless he truly happens to live 200 meters away from the shed, his testimony amounts to perjury. What he seems to be doing, is repeating and translating testimony of genuine witnesses and alleged escapees, and passing it on in first person as his personal experience. As with any oral tradition, the story may be accurate in its details, but the general context, in this case the dates, may be totally wrong. One would expect that previous nights shooting incident and the two victims would weight heavily in what the locals have to say. Yet, when retold by Dr. Salim none of this seems to make it into the narrative.

To get to the bottom, one must twist Salim's words to extract from them the original survivor testimony. This is how I interpret Dr. Salim Rajub.
We're but 5, 10 people, we, we want to come here to see what's happening. And then when we just come by near, we found some snipers there, above that (pointing) and they're start shooting. So we went back, right? after one hour or so, everything is quiet. And there were about three people, injured.

Next day morning [August 27th] we are tried to come. We find some [rebel] militias here who are carrying this guns on the cars and then they told us please go back or otherwise we will search you
Salim Rajub is pointing at the batching tower in the ARA cement factory across the street. This must be the testimony of someone who was in the shed compound at the time of the shooting. If he had only seen the shooting from some other vantage point, it would be difficult for anyone to point out the structure with such confidence.

In the end we may never know who was shooting and from where. This becomes irrelevant. What is important is that we can identify the victims and their time of death.


...to be continued.


  1. Hey cool! Your own pictures and everything, is very nice.

    One point I could start with: I was with you on the Evan Hill report, but it sounds like he refers to something he saw (detail: "blasting chunks out of the buildings' concrete facades"). I think this is the shooting he witnessed on arrival, which was about 7pm, with the report 3-4 hours later (why so slow, I don't know - talking to sources maybe).

    If that's so, he wouldn't be taken to the shed ahead of schedule. Morning was apparently decided on and the set was still being prepared an hour later.

    You wrote:
    the “crowd of civilians” could only have been drawn to this danger zone by the smoldering bodies.
    Civilians could gather for the attack, or to watch it, or to talk to the Al Jazeera journalist, besides gathering at the shed. Food for thought.

    1. You are trying to explain events with the help of some evil master plan – a "conspiracy" – when in fact there is no need for one.

      You may be wondering why Evan Hill did not report on the massacre if he visited the shed site on August 26th. For two very simple reasons.

      1) Without the testimony of the "escapees" that appeared on the site on August 27th there is no proof or even indication of a massacre. What one sees is morgue set on fire and some rebel roadkill. Hill is a war reporter covering a major battle at a military base. What did he expect to see? Pink bunnies and streams of icecream soda? No, he was fully expecting to see piles of dead bodies. There is nothing news worthy in that.

      2) In case he did see something that resembled a massacre, he still could not report it – unless he was confident it was carried out by Gaddafi loyalists and not by rebels. He could not report about rebel massacres because he was embedded in a rebel unit. Even if he did, the editorial policies of his news organization would not allow it to be published.

    2. @Petri: Fair points.

      On a conspiracy, I think we can agree there was some level of one. Unless one believes all the witnesses, or thinks they came up with this loyalist massacre story with specific soldiers named, by accident getting the same day, sunset, grenades, etc. This is a conspiracy to fake a loyalist crime, at the very least. That's the main point for the soldiers sitting on death row, and now that I'm thinking about this, I have an insight for the report...

      Now, did they make this up just to blame the other side, when no crime happened? It's possible. That seems to be what you're arguing or at least exploring. And it's well worth thinking through.

      Or did they make this up to both blame the other side and to avoid blame for a real crime the rebels did? I lean that way because they killed those around the shed, and they do this kind of thing all the time. I also don't buy that it's more than faintly possible this is a loyalist-run morgue for their own dead (for the reasons offered at that post plus others I could think of). And it's quite likely the Contras wanted to hide the identity of those inside the shed. They did the burning after all, at least of #1's face and the re-smolderings of Aug. 28 and probably Aug. 27. Probably all of it, starting late on the 24th.

      I can see what you're saying about Hill not mentioning anything until given the Gaddafi story. But I think they would give that up-front if allowing him to see or even smell the site. And if they have no guidance, journalists will usually note the dead and say it's not clear how they got that way (consider the roundabout victims and the hospital). I think he was either at the front gate, or at some other nearby place altogether like Ezzedinin for Euronews was. A set like the massacre shed is best shown at the right time only, and not even smelled before that.

      But it's possible he was back there, didn't mention the bodies, the shed, the overwhelming stench of charred flesh, or anything at all, conspicuously awaiting rebel orders on what to say. But I hope you can see why that's questionable. I mean, why was he taken there at all then?

  2. Check this article of NYT - http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/in-libya-the-captors-have-become-the-captive.html?pagewanted=1

    It's a piece of Propaganda. Washing rebels Cruel Praxis.

    I remember this analisis of Dan Glazebrook

    Funny detail: they didn't show the Videos.

    1. Thanks! I've got a post all about it now, a mammoth pile of clues amidst some other icky stuff. I don't know about the videos, but a lot of familiar names pop up and even more red flags.

    2. Strange they come so late with captured loyalists:

      By ROBERT F. WORTH/Published: May 9, 2012 : 9 pages:
      I heard this story in early April from Naji Najjar himself

      graphics Jehad Nga for The New York Times

      while before so quickly with reporting :
      Robert F. Worth contributed reporting from Benghazi ,March 1, 2011 · World
      Kareem Fahim reported from Benghazi, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Tripoli, Libya. Robert F. Worth contributed reporting from Benghazi, Alan Cowell from Paris, Steven Lee Myers from Geneva, and Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul

      By ROBERT F. WORTH/Published: September 21, 2011

  3. want to repeat felix'link :

    The surprise was sad and very difficult. 20 bodies, including 4 children, were killed in four days and the smell of foul smell of the place. He said the truck driver who was preparing to transport the bodies to a hospital in Tripoli: "The al-Gaddafi, Thurs is that carried out this cowardly and shameful act. Have tied their hands and feet and then threw a shot, he said, adding that the victims were all civilians."

    LPC #Tripoli 6am: Men and boys, armed, chanting pro-Gaddafi slogans seen in streets of Hai Dubai, next to Salah el Din G. holdout area


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