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The Sirte Massacres {masterlist}

Caustic Logic

December 3, 2011

October 15, 2011
(incomplete, last updates Dec. 1)

A Prelude
My Situation in Sirte article chronicled the plight of a holdout city subjected to a total and medieval siege. Many of the refugees, some cited at that link, complained of the situation in the city at the hands of the rebels they were effectively surrendering to. To rebuke from the bearded, heavily-armed, and brutal "Government forces" in control of them, they tried to tell journalists how they had suffered heavy random shelling and bombing, with thousands of killed, mostly civilian, and the rest left without electricity, water, medicine, fuel, or food. The evidence backs them up that everything possible was denied to underscore the message of surrender or die.

But one particular man mentioned none of these problems to his new rebel overlords and the gathered media. Instead, to the UK Telegraph, he described a whole seperate class of atrocities unfolding, all the fault of the Gaddafi loyalists and due to a lack of rebel control.

"The situation isn't great," said one resident who did not give his name as he left the city, where he said Gaddafi's forces were moving "like gangs" through the streets. "There have been executions," he said, naming two men who he said had been executed on Thursday. He also said he had witnessed executions in front of the house of a local family, whose name he gave as Safruny.
For a while now there's been a reported pattern of brutal Gaddafi atrocities right before a rebel conquest, with the results found just after. In reality the massacres often seem to happened just after as well, despite the rebel stories (consider the Abu Salim trauma hospital). Further, Libya has proven itself full of people like this unnamed witness ("for fear of reprisal," to be sure, even in mid-October), and it's not surprising that even in Sirte there would be one waiting to crawl out with tales like this.

Even the well-armed NTC commander involved in seeding this story to the Telegraph fears retribution, it seems, and was less than forthcoming with his identity.
An NTC commander on the outskirts of Sirte, separately showed Reuters a handwritten list of families whose members were said to have been executed in Sirte. The list, which he said he compiled with information from people inside the city, included the Safruny family.

The commander gave his first name as Saleh but declined to give his family name. He said other attacks on suspected NTC sympathisers had been carried out. "One man, they cut him like this," Saleh said, dragging his finger from the ends of his mouth across his cheeks. "Another, they cut his lips."
Now any of the corpses just found that are defaced in such a way will be "proven" regime loyalist crimes. Take note and sharpen your knives. Also, don't expect many public records to help verify identities to have survived rebel - er NTC - destruction over the past six months. It seems to have become a free-for-all.

A Promise
On October 12, TeleSur's correspondent in Sirte, the brave Diego Marin reported on the rebel push into the city's center and its methods for clearing Sirte, house to house. (Youtube posting):
"The procedure by which [captives] are being processed is not very clear. ... Our worst suspicions were confirmed by rebel soldiers here who told us that who will be found with weapons, there is no doubt that he will be executed. This situation is worrying us."
If they're armed, there's no doubt they'll be shot dead, even if captured alive. If they have no weapons, it depends, apparently. There are a lot of armed loyalists inside.


42 at Mutassim's House
This story emerged along with the alleged capture of one of colonel Gaddafi's more prominent sons and national security adviser, Muttassim. Once again, it was a rumor. The victories may be largely fake (for both sides), but the brutality is real.

Possibly Some of the 42
(currently included in the above post, but to be split-off) CNN has Dan Rivers there, who apparently didn't get the same memo Marin did. Rivers, who has been shown executed "Gaddafi victims" a time or two before, reports (a Youtube posting) on a number of bound and executed men shown piled next to a wall (see image below). Are they following through on what they told Marin? A rebel-affiliated "hospital official" named Abdullah al-Manghoosh told CNN:
We're here to check. We don't know what happened. We don't know the story. But clearly they [the victims?] are revolutionary fighters.
It's not clear who they are. They were captives, bound with plastic ties, piled helter-skelter, mostly face down. There were a total of 42 of them, arrayed in the areas right around what's said to be the home of the Libyan leader's son, Muttassim Gaddafi. It seems more than likely they were killed just as or shortly after the rebels took control of the area. Again the victims we can see are mostly black, and some of them were horrifically burnt alive. 

10 Victims, Burnt, Run Over, Burnt Again 
(also possibly part of the 42 at Mutassim's, but already split-off)
A real horror show, from what's called Hay al Dollar, or Dollar neighborhood. Some of the 10 (or perhaps 11 originally) victims were apparently both run over with trucks and also burned to skeletons. Others, primarily black-skinned, were found just just piled by a wall on October 12, when rebels said they'd just taken the area. These were then slightly burnt sometime before filmed again on the 14th. Hmmm...

Hospital Dead: About 35
I mention these in case the rebels are again using death by neglect in a hospital to cover for their brutal massacre within a hospital. From Global Post:
Dr Hesham Alhooni, a pediatric surgeon from Tripoli, said a further estimated 35 bodies were also found at the Ibm Sena Hospital in Sirte ... [including] "a small baby, who died before we were able to get access to the building because there was no one to treat them."
[...]
"They were not the bodies of patients. They looked like rebel fighters," said Alhooni, who has been treating patients still trapped inside the hospital for the past two days. "We found them in a closed off ward. Some were tied, some not."

On Friday, a Gaddafi loyalist that was captured by revolutionary troops confirmed that rebel prisoners were being held in the hospital in a secret prison.

Alhooni said these men may have been executed some time ago.
More at Home: ??
Again from Global Post:
There had also been many bodies found inside homes within the area, [Alhoony] added. These too had been executed with their hands tied behind their backs.
30 Wrapped Bodies in District Two
30 more victims,all executed by loyalists, say NTC people. Found in the blasted-apart rebel stronghold, all were wrapped in plastic sheets. There are few details reported, and no photos, even of them wrapped. Were they killed before or after rebels took the area? Clues vary. I'm going with the latter. Why were they wrapped?I have a couple of guesses. See the link.

Executions in the Capture of the Gaddafi Convoy
Apost for executions of the anonymous guards and other patriots who were needlessly slaughtered. For those of greater fame:
The Sirte Massacres: Leader Muammar Gaddafi
The Sirte Massacres: National Security Adviser Mutassim Gaddafi
The Sirte Massacres: Defense Minister Jabr

53 Executed Loyalists: the Mahari Hotel Massacre
Peter Bouckaert, the main investigator here for Human Rights Watch said on October 24 after seeing the Misrata Brigades'work. "If the NTC fails to investigate this crime it will signal that those who fought against Gaddafi can do anything without fear of prosecution."

10 in the Water Basin, 13+ Others
Another grisly scene, reported in late October by Human Rights Watch. In just-taken district two, ten badly decomposed bodies had been tossed into a stagnant pool. There's also a video of three of them, two of which are clearly beheaded.

Two others at least at the end of this video apparently filmed November 4 - one is slaughtered in much blood, another obscured, apparently with a bandaged head.

Running Death Toll (updated Dec. 1)
17 filmed by CNN
10/11 in Hay al Dollar
42 by Mutassim's house (may include the 17 and/or 10/11)
30 in district two
0-35 at the hospital
Unknown, executed in homes (insert 2-20, arbitrary)
At least ten following Gaddafi killing (insert 10-50, arbitrary)
At least three: Muammar and Mutassim Gaddafi, Defense minister Jabr
53 at the hotel Mahari
23 known in district two
two others...

The total number of suspicious, likely NTC, executions in Sirte is a reasonable range starting at 162, and having an upper end of something like 286 shown or reported to us, so far.

The Mass Grave
The mass grave of nearly 300 victims, including the 53 from the hotel and probably all or most of the others mentioned, emerged next. Only some of these dead (10%? 75%?) were obviously executed. CBS News, October 25, reports on the aftermath in Sirte, the mass execution at the hotel, and this mass grave. There's some confusion over the separate "invaders' cemetery" mentioned in that report, but this passage is interesting:
The new government has been slow to confront allegations of atrocities by rebel fighters, despite repeated calls for them to do so.

"You have to bear in mind that these young man have seen their friends killed in front of them, who saw their cities burned, who saw their sisters raped. I am amazed at their self-restraint," said Ali Tarhouni, oil minister.

The evidence indicates that little restraint was shown.
More information and links will be forthcoming on this mass grave and related thoughts, and later a split-off post. The initial number suggested the number of unclaimed dead, mostly loyalist, partially executed, perhaps tortured, was not much higher than what they'd already told us about. It suggests few surprises. But that was on October 24, before the real clean-up started.

Images of the (Mass Grave?) Dead: 390 or More
If I'm not mistaken, the mass grave internees were given numbers and photographed prior to burial. What seems to be, purportedly, that set of photos has been made available on-line, on Facebook. Libya S.O.S. has the links, and explains:
More than 400 people were killed and thrown into sewer in Sirte

We apologize for the horrible scene, but to be honest, must be published as long as the image features as well as not to be more because the bodies were mutilated and decomposing and non-clear
DISTURBING IMAGES , WATCH THEM IF YOU NEED TO IDENTIFY SOMEONE
In case it gets pulled, I've saved at least the thumbnails, as multiple screen captures. I will have some notes on what they reveal fort hose curious, but not enough to look. To start with, the number is now larger than the "nearly 300" announced on the 25th. The numbers shown run, with some gaps, up to #390. Some faces show water-related decay to varying degrees up to near-skeleton, others nothing obvious at all. Other faces have severe burns/melting or bizarre distortions I can't explain, and stuff coming out of their mouths, amid more human-looking faces of pain and horror. They seem to all be of fighting-age males, some hospital patients, a roughly equal mix of black, lighter-skinned Arabs, and mixed-race people. These are head-shots, so anyone beheaded (with the head missing) is not included, surely explaining at least some of the numerical gaps. If the body is missing, the head may be shown. I'm not sure if any of the photos shows that. There do seem to be several eye-gouging victims, and at least one eye-popping victim.

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