Libya militias taking law into own hands
Many of the fighters that pushed Muammar Qaddafi from power have refused to stand down. Now, some of Libya militias are allegedly stealing and targeting Qaddafi supporters for revenge.
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“We believe in negotiating first and fighting only as a last resort,” says Omar Dougha of the Jadu brigade, who explains that things didn’t go as planned. “But then several thousand fighters from Zawiyah showed up uninvited. They forced our hand.”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Qaddafi's last stand
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Zawiyah fighters had a score to settle with the Warfalla. When the Qaddafi regime crushed the uprising in Zawiyah in March, Warfalla made up the bulk of the attacking force.
There are no signs of executions of Qaddafi supporters in Bani Walid. But like Sirte, the town was thoroughly destroyed and looted by the fighters from Zawiyah.
A huge graffiti mural in downtown Bani Walid spells it out in plain English: “Zawiyah are thugs.”
“We won the fight, but we won it in a bad way,” says Mr. Dougha.
The vengeance and arbitrary killings and arrests have many in Libya worried about what the future holds.
“I believe that if we don’t announce a general amnesty the country will never have peace,” says Dougha.
The anonymous activist evokes Iraq, where de-Baathification, a policy that banned all government employees associated with Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party from future employment, helped spark a vicious civil war.
“I have spoken to many people from Sirte and Bani Walid who say: ‘If you cast us aside, if you make sure that our children will have no opportunities in the new Libya, then you leave us no other choice than to fight you.’ ”
Why disarming is hard
Attempts to disarm the militias have failed miserably so far. Mr. Jibril’s call last month for the militias to surrender their weapons went unnoticed.
The new prime minister, Abdurrahim El-Keib, is an unknown figure who has spent much of his life abroad.
When Abdelhakim Belhadj, an Afghanistan veteran and the self-proclaimed leader of the military council of Tripoli, ordered the militia to leave Tripoli last month, the Zintan militia responded by issuing a warrant for Mr. Belhadj’s arrest.
“We are waiting for the right man in the right place,” says Kor of the Zintan Brigade.
Even the law-abiding Jadu Brigade is on the fence about disarming.
“It’s not that we don’t want to,” says Dougha, on his bed in one of the designer bungalows in the Rigatta compound.
Jadu and Zintan are close neighbors in the western mountains and also in Tripoli, where they each control half the beachfront compound.
Dougha points at a flier posted on the wall asking all Jadu fighters to prepare to leave Tripoli by Oct. 28, a date already three days in the past.
The problem, says Dougha, “is that we can’t disarm unless Zintan does the same.”
Jadu is a Berber town and Zintan is Arab. Three generations ago, Zintan fighters chased Jadu fighters from the area until they were able to fight their way back.
“We fought as brothers against Qaddafi, but we don’t entirely trust them. Zintan with heavy weapons and Jadu without weapons is simply not an option,” says Dougha.