Axis of Logic
Dawn revealed an extraordinary sight in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte on the morning of 20 October 2011 – “extraordinary” that is if you disregard the fact that nothing could have been ordinary in a once beautiful city that now lay in ruins after weeks of continuous bombing and shelling by Nato and its surrogate rebel forces. Stiff resistance by loyalist snipers together with a clear lack of coordination and divisions among rebel forces at the front had effectively halted the rebel advance.
The rebel force, little more than an assembly of armed street hooligans, was rife with internecine disputes, untrained in tactics, and adept only at firing their weapons into the air and praising Allah, when not actually shooting each other, Although loyalist forces were encircled in a residential area of about 700 square yards, about 150 loyalist army snipers supported by armed civilian volunteers were directing accurate fire at the rebels from surrounding buildings. In an illustration of how fiercely defended the loyalist position was, it took the anti-Gaddafi rebels a full two days to capture a single residential building as the Nato-backed rebels continued taking heavy casualties.
Nothing short of a tactical nuclear weapon would have been able to dislodge the firmly entrenched loyalist resistance, and that would have entailed unacceptable civilian casualties or “collateral damage” as the military fondly refers to it. In sum, the rebels were unable to capture Colonel Moammar Gaddafi or defeat remnants of the Libyan Army and its high command. The battle of Sirte was at stalemate, preventing Libya’s new leaders from declaring full victory in the eight-month civil war and causing significant military and political embarrassment to Nato.
But now, on this fateful morning of 20 October, white flags are flying at multiple locations across District Two of the besieged and devastated town, signifying at least a temporary unarmed truce. In the preceding days loyalist commanders and tribal elders, with the knowledge of rebel commanders, had been negotiating a safe passage for loyalist forces and families from Gaddafi’s tribe, who make up the majority of Sirte’s population, to leave the battered and besieged city.
The only precondition for this to happen, according to rebel commander Touhami Zayani of the El-Farouk brigade leading the attack on Sirte , was for loyalists to lay down their arms. Since nobody could move freely or safely around the embattled city, the negotiations would have been conducted mainly by satellite phone, meaning that Nato intelligence, through its electronic surveillance and communications interception systems, would have been fully aware of the negotiations and the truce terms under discussion.
According to Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam as quoted on the official resistance website Libya SOS, the last time he contacted his father a few hours before the convoy was attacked, his father assured him he had received assurances “from Americans” allowing him safe passage out of Sirte to the south of Libya without prosecution or bombing. We may never know for certain what exactly happened next, but the official version released by Nato from its operational base in Naples the following day reads as follows:
At approximately 08h30 local time (GMT+2) on Thursday 20 October 2011, NATO aircraft struck 11 pro-Qadhafi military vehicles which were part of a larger group of approximately 75 vehicles maneuvering in the vicinity of Sirte. These armed vehicles were leaving Sirte at high speed and were attempting to force their way around the outskirts of the city. The vehicles were carrying a substantial amount of weapons and ammunition posing a significant threat to the local civilian population.
The convoy was engaged by a NATO aircraft to reduce the threat. Initially, only one vehicle was destroyed, which disrupted the convoy and resulted in many vehicles dispersing and changing direction.
After the disruption, a group of approximately 20 vehicles continued at great speed to proceed in a southerly direction, due west of Sirte, and continuing to pose a significant threat. NATO engaged these vehicles with another air asset. The post strike assessment revealed that approximately 10 pro-Qadhafi vehicles were destroyed or damaged.
At the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Qadhafi was in the convoy. NATO’s intervention was conducted solely to reduce the threat towards the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate. As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals.
We later learned from open sources and Allied intelligence that Qadhafi was in the convoy and that the strike likely contributed to his capture.
NATO does not divulge specific information on national assets involved in operations.
That’s the official version. The unofficial version, less bland and based on information less widely circulated at the time, is somewhat more revealing.
A total of 50 private security personnel, including 19 South Africans, had been recruited to travel to Libya on instructions to neutrally escort Colonel Gaddafi and his entourage from Sirte to southern Libya or over the border to Niger. On arrival in Libya the contract personnel – some would say mercenaries — travelled by road from Tripoli in a column of about 25 vehicles to rendezvous with Gaddafi and his entourage at a specified location in Sirte, without once being stopped or questioned at rebel roadblocks or security checkpoints.
A South African member of the neutral escort, in interviews with the South African Afrikaans language newspaper Rapport on 24 and 29 October, described how he and other private security personnel forming the escort had been given the impression that Nato “wanted Gaddafi out of Libya”, as part of a negotiated peace deal; but as things turned out, it became clear to him that Gaddafi had been set up as a target for assassination.
The neutral and unarmed convoy had assembled at the rendezvous point during the night of 19/20 October, but as dawn broke the vehicles came under Nato air attack. This was not a sustained attack but more in the nature of a warning shot across the bows, to remind the convoy commanders they were under constant surveillance. The Canadian commander of Nato operations Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard later admitted Nato’s concern that the departing loyalist force from Sirte would “join with the remnants of forces from Bani Walid and move into another desert area”, meaning apparently an area not earlier agreed upon in the truce conditions.
About 20 minutes after Nato’s aerial warning shot, the convoy commanders decided to take advantage in the lull of Nato air activity and make a run for it – only to again come under fire at a traffic roundabout on the outskirts of the city. As Bouchard later described it, this attack was designed to break the convoy into “manageable chunks”. And so it did: the convoy split up with vehicles heading in separate directions before coming under a third and final air attack. The vehicles in which Gaddafi and his closest advisors were travelling headed straight into the arms of the waiting rebel Misrata brigade.
Human Rights Watch visited the site where Muammar Gaddafi was captured, and there it found the remains of at least 95 people who had died that day. The vast majority had apparently died in the fighting and Nato strikes prior to Gaddafi’s capture, but between six and ten of the dead appeared to have been executed at the site with gunshot wounds to the head and body. Some of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition. Nato never did explain why only about 25 damaged or burnt-out convoy vehicles were found at the sites of the attacks, whereas earlier Nato had publicly claimed the existence of 75 vehicles in the convoy. But then Nato never has been noted for accuracy or for setting the record straight.
Astonishingly, according one of the private security personnel who survived the attack, the rebel forces regarded captured members of the escort amicably as “allies”. All the surviving contract personnel were released immediately after the ambush while one of the escort party who had been wounded in the ambush was swiftly transported to Cairo for medical attention. Significantly, this was at a time when real or perceived “mercenaries” elsewhere were ruthlessly being hunted down and slaughtered by rebel forces.
National Transitional Council (NTC) spokesman Ibrahim Betamal, in an interview with GlobalPost after Gaddafi was executed, stated unashamedly that Gaddafi had been “shot by one of his own snipers. He died from these wounds. They killed him to protect secrets … I believe this sniper was placed with Gaddafi to kill him if he was captured.” NTC leader Mustafa Abdel-Jali, addressing world media, repeated more or less the same grotesque claim that Gaddafi had been killed by his own people. Abdel-Jamal’s version differed only to the extent that Gaddafi had been killed “during the clashes with his supporters while arresting him.” The NTC had “formed a committee to investigate how Gaddafi was killed,” Abdel-Jali informed the world media. This so-called committee never did materialize.
There was neither examination of ballistic and forensic evidence nor any identification of objective eyewitnesses. Gaddafi’s body was buried at a secret location somewhere in the desert, and many unanswered questions about his death remain buried with him to this day. But one fact is indisputable: the colonel was sadistically tortured before being killed. Cell phone videos taken by bragging rebels at the scene, and which soon found their way onto the news website GlobalPost, showed a blood bespattered Gaddafi, barely alive, being barbarically raped with a stick or knife by his captors. Then he was wounded at close range with a gunshot to the stomach, and died some time later of a gunshot to the head.
The mainstream media, while exultantly parroting the official version that Gaddafi had been killed “by his own supporters while attempting to escape”, was careful not to mention anything about an unarmed truce, about torture by rape, or about the convoy travelling in broad daylight whereas it is common sense that any bid to escape would have been carried out under cover of darkness to avoid detection. Nor was there any photographic evidence or any other convincing evidence of the convoy having being “armed” as claimed falsely by Nato and dutifully regurgitated by the media.
None of the media queried how 50 foreign contract security personnel traveling in convoy from Tripoli had managed to avoid being challenged at roadblocks and security checkpoints along the way, and then cross the frontline at Sirte and openly assemble in a free-fire zone subject to continuous Nato air and satellite surveillance. The fact that these issues are not public knowledge says a lot about the mainstream media.
Nor did the mainstream media ever bother to remind anyone that a white flag is meant to signify to everyone concerned that a truce is called and an approaching party is unarmed, as prescribed in the Geneva and Hague protocols of international humanitarian law, which prohibit the killing or injuring of persons outside of combat and doing so constitutes a major war crime.
Almost everything reported hysterically by the mainstream Western media about the Libyan civil war has been proved wrong, in particular the media myth emanating from NTC sources that opposition to Gaddafi was a peaceful movement when “10,000 opposition protestors were killed in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s government.” The reality, as established independently by Amnesty International, was that the rebellion, far from being a peaceful movement, had been armed from the very first day of the uprising; and 10,000 people had not been killed in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s government at that time but 110 killed on both sides at the outset of hostilities prior to NATO’s intervention on the pretext of “protecting civilians”.
There are a few others things about Gaddafi that are either studiously avoided or grossly distorted by a Western media long obsessed with demonizing the colonel — their favourite pejoratives being “tyrant”, “despot”, “ruthless dictator”, “demented terrorist”, “embezzler” and so on. They purposefully ignore what this despised “tyrant” really gave to Libya. He had inherited the poorest country in the world and turned it into one of the richest in Africa, providing the country with the highest Human Development Index on the continent. He provided Libyans with free electricity, with literacy and free education, and paid for university grants. Ten percent of Libyan students studied abroad, paid for by the Libyan state, board and lodging included. He granted gender equality to Libyan women; gave every newly married couple US$50,000 to set up home; paid for half their first car; provided interest-free bank loans; provided free medical assistance; built the world’s most advanced water supply and irrigation system; and provided farmers with land, seeds, tools and instruction.
Gaddafi helped free Africans from foreign domination, exploitation, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and racism; he supported generously the cause of pan-Africanism through funding of the Organisation of African Unity; he financed Africa’s first communications satellite, the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization (RASCOM) satellite, thus freeing Africans from exorbitant payments to western communications monopolies; he approved equitable foreign loan agreements so that Africans could be freed from paying excessive interest to foreign banks; he paid annual revenue from oil directly into the bank accounts of ordinary Libyan citizens.
That’s what the tyrant Gaddafi did for Libya and for Africa.
It did not endear him to the West nor to Islamic fundamentalists and some of the Arab world’s more autocratic and ideologically backward reactionaries.
In the meantime, until America, Britain and France declassify secret intelligence documents detailing the sequence of events leading up to and including the assassination of Colonel Gaddafi — and they are unlikely to do so in the foreseeable future — we will never know the full circumstances of the “tyrant’s” capture, torture and execution. In the meantime, the contents of this present article are no less suasive and somewhat more inclusive than what has been selectively spoon-fed to us by the Western mainstream media and by Qatar’s al-Jazeera in their conduct of crimes against reality.
Rebel casualties, stalemate, siege of Sirte
Sirte, truce negotiations
Rapport newspaper, 29 October 2011
Convoy composition, intelligence sources quoted, 3 November 2011
NTC spokespersons Betamal and Abdel-Jalil, after Gaddafi execution: Guardian online, 24 October 2011
GlobalPost, 22 October 2011
Torture by sodomy, rebel video: GlobalPost 24 October 2011
Nato commander Bouchard quotes: Al-Jazzera 24 October 2011