Libya Woes Continue As Tribal Elders Launch Initiative

From my report last night on Libya for VOA.

“The slaying of a Libyan government minister – the first killing of a top official since the ouster two years ago of dictator Moammar Gadhafi—is adding to alarms about Libya’s future. Three days of ethnic clashes in the south of the country and a prolonged standoff between Libya’s parliament and Prime Minister have prompted tribal leaders to unveil a ‘Save Libya’ plan but some observers question whether they have any authority left to impose order.”

Full article here

Stevens Part II: An Inside Job?

“After his men had tied up the morgue supervisor, who had refused to hand over the body, Febrayir, fearful of an attempt to snatch the corpse, ignored instructions about what route to follow to the airport and misinformed his superiors with false updates. His caravan traveled fast, driving straight onto the runaway. Six Americans approached. “They looked totally fatigued. Their faces were blackened,” Febrayir says. “I think they had been in the consulate. One of them clambered onto the back and uncovered Stevens’s face and started to cry.”

From the second part of my Stevens’ investigation for Newsweek. Read here.

Bani Walid: Violence Over Reconciliation

Bani Walid

On Eve of Eid: Bani Walid refugees near the town of Tarhuna

Slow in blogging this but this from my Daily Beast report on October 24 on the fall of Bani Walid after nearly a month-long siege and four days of fierce fighting and bombardment.

“Militiamen in pickup trucks poured into the wrecked and smoke-filled center of the desert hilltop town of Bani Walid, home to one of the country’s biggest tribes, the Warfalla, amid cries of “Free Libya” and “Allah Akbar” in scenes reminiscent of the uprising against Col. Gaddafi.

They waved the post-Gaddafi tricolor flag of red, black, and green and claimed they had routed the late dictator’s diehard followers and saved the revolution. But they admitted many hardcore Bani Walid fighters had slipped away during the night.

Bani Walid’s leaders argue that Misrata was engaged in an exercise in collective punishment with their assault as punishment for the town having sided with Col. Gaddafi during the uprising.”

You can read the full report here.

And more pictures from Bani Walid below:

Afternoon of October 24 Bani Walid Burns

 

New Uniforms: Libyan Shield on the outskirts of Bani Walid

 

Heading Home

Heading Out: Misrata Militiamen flicks victory sign as he pulls out of Bani Walid with dusk approaching

Thousands Fleeing Bani Walid

Near Bani Walid

“For three days now, Bani Walid—one of Gaddafi’s holdouts during the rebellion last year—has come under intense assault, and defenders inside the town say by phone that they fear government-backed attackers are preparing to storm them on today in a bid to vanquish them on the first anniversary of the rebels’ triumph over Gaddafi.” My Daily Beast report near the besieged town.

A Year On And Problems Crowd Libya

I examine in the Daily Beast where Libya is a year on from the fall of Col. Gaddafi, noting that 12 months ago in Benghazi, as cheering onlookers waved the country’s new red, black, and green flag, one rebel leader told the crowd: “Raise your heads high. You are now in a free Libya.” Exactly one year after that historic day, heads are not being held as high in Libya.

A Series On Christopher Stevens And Ansar al-Sharia

Tripoli

Under the pressure of events and filing a couple of stories a day on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and its aftermath I have neglected sadly my personal bog. Below are the links to the series of articles I filed for the Daily Beast and Voice of America between September 12 and September 18.

September 12

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three State Department officials were killed last night in a targeted rocket attack, after riots over a U.S. film depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud.

September 12

Despite President Obama’s pledge that the violent assault on the Benghazi consulate that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens would not “break the bonds” between the U.S. and Libya, it would appear to have weakened them. A U.S. official told The Daily Beast on Wednesday that U.S. diplomats are to be evacuated in the coming days. It was not clear whether a skeleton staff would remain, and the embassy could not be reached for comment.

September 13
Heavily-armed assailants waged a five-hour firefight against Libyan and American guards—at two locations. Fury over a film or a planned mission?

September 13

For many Libyans the deaths are shocking enough—and apologies are spontaneously offered to Americans—but underlying the condolences is a fear that the U.S. will reduce its commitment to the Arab Spring.

September 14

Shifting explanations from Libyan officials and contradictory recollections by survivors and witnesses are hampering U.S. officials’ efforts to reconstruct the night of the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

September 15

America and Libya should share responsibility for the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, according to the spokesman of Libya’s new Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur. He says that so far no evidence has turned up that suggests al Qaeda had a hand in the attack.

September 17

An amateur video appearing to show a motionless but apparently still alive Ambassador Christopher Stevens was posted Sunday on YouTube. The video focuses on a window of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where some members of a crowd—it is not clear if they are protesters, looters, or nearby residents drawn to the scene after the attack—discover the mortally injured Stevens and celebrate that he’s still alive.

September 17

Another day and more clashing explanations from different Libyan officials about who was behind the assault on the consulate in Benghazi that left U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens dead along with three other Americans. Not only are the accounts of what happened and who was involved contradictory, so too now are the number of arrests made and whether they are real arrests or just questionings of people known to have been at the protest before the shooting started.

September 18

Senior U.S. security and intelligence officials met secretly on Monday with Libyan counterparts to share information that the Americans have gathered, through electronic surveillance, on the assault on the U.S. consulate that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

September 18

Sharp disagreements between senior Libyan officials over who was behind the U.S. Consulate assault in Benghazi are a sign of a “leadership deficit” in Libya that’s undermining the credibility of the newly elected authorities, diplomats and analysts warn.

And Voice of America

September 13

The call to prayer sounded over a subdued Tripoli Thursday as residents of Libya’s capital tried to understand the killings of the U.S. ambassador and three diplomats during the storming of the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Torture: And Who Are We?

From my Newsweek/Daily Beast coverage today of a major report detailing what happened to 15 Libyan opponents of Col. Gaddafi when they fell into the hands of the CIA:

“One former detainee alleged he was water-boarded while held at a CIA-controlled prison in Afghanistan and another described to HRW undergoing water torture but without a board being used. The testimony contradicts claims by Bush administration officials, who told Congress only three men had ever been water-boarded while in U.S. custody. The two Libyans were not among those named by Michael Hayden to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5, 2008, raising questions about whether the then CIA director misled Congress or was lied to by his subordinates.”

Libyan Politicians Haggle Over Who Will Be Prime Minister

TRIPOLI —”In the dimly lit gardens and sumptuous restaurants of the city’s Rixos Hotel, Libya’s newly minted politicians are bargaining furiously over who will be the country’s first elected prime minister since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.” Read my VOA story examining who might be Libya’s first post-election prime minister.

Libyan Salafists Turn Attention To Women — Demand Segregated University Classes

Egged on by a Saudi preacher “Salafists behind the recent wave of sectarian bombings and the destruction of historic mosques and shrines—say they aim to rid Libya of all Sufi landmarks by the end of the year. Now they are turning their attention to women, posting flyers at universities and private schools, insisting male and female students be segregated.” My latest for Newsweek/Daily Beast on Libya’s difficult transition to democracy.

Trying Saif al-Islam

“After nine months of preparing a case, Libya still appears ill equipped to give Saif al-Islam, the 40-year-old son and accomplice of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, a fair trial.

The trial is slated to take place in Zintan, two hour’s drive from the capital, instead of Tripoli itself, part of a deal with the obdurate town’s militia that captured Saif…The fact that the trial will be in one of the strongholds of the revolution is adding to alarm, prompting further questions about the credibility of the procedure.” See my piece in the Daily Beast.