Libyan rebels rounding up black prisoners suspected of working as mercenaries during last year's uprising against the Ghdaffi regime. Florent Marcie/AFP PhotoLIBYA-Footage showing several black detainees locked in a zoo-like enclosure with their hands bound and green flags stuffed in their mouths was circulating via youtube and a number of news outlets last week. As a crowd surrounding the enclosure jeers at the men inside, the photographer is heard shouting in Arabic to the captives "Eat the flag, you dog! God is great!".
While it's still difficult if not impossible to verify the authenticity of the video, it's widely believed it originated from Libya and that the black men in the video are accused of fighting for the fallen Ghdaffi regime as hired mercenaries.
Although Ghdaffi reportedly hired a number of African mercenaries to try and crush last year's uprising that ultimately toppled his regime, shopkeepers, migrant workers and construction laborers from sub-Saharan Africa have resided in Libya decades before the uprising.
With no formal court or police system in place throughout much of Libya after the fall of the Ghdaffi regime, it's thought that the revolutionary brigades still have nearly ¾ of their captives from the civil war still in custody. So far, the fledgling Libyan Ministry of Justice has taken charge of eight detention facilities thought to contain around 2400 inmates.
BENGHAZI- A British military cemetary housing the remains of some 1200 soliders and airmen outside the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi was vandalized last week. The spree was caught on video by one of the offenders as a crowd of men systematically knocked over about 150 headstones and smashed a large sandstone cross with sledgehammers.
The cemetery outside the Libyan second city, the headquarters of anti-Gaddafi forces during last year’s revolution, is the final resting place of more than 1,200 soldiers and airmen who died serving under Montgomery in the war in the desert.The desecration comes less than a year after Libyan rebel fighters had begged the outside world- including NATO and the United Kingdom- for military intervention as Ghdaffi's forces were preparing to crush the remaining rebel forces in Benghazi.
Many of them were members of the 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats, who helped turn the tide of the war in their struggle for control of north Africa against Rommel’s forces between 1941 and 1943.
The vandalism, last week, is thought to be part of a wave of attacks on western targets across the Islamic world in apparent retaliation for the burning of Korans at an American military base in Afghanistan.
It is suspected that members of a Salifist militia, followers of an ultra-purist interpretation of Islam already responsible for destroying several tombs to Muslim holy men in Libya, were behind it. The transitional Libyan government has apologised and pledged to bring those responsible to justice.
The footage shows a crowd of young men wearing scarves, many of them in military-style fatigues with rifles slung over their shoulders, making their way along the rows at the cemetery kicking and wrenching headstones from their footings.
A voice behind the camera can be heard casually muttering “Allahu akbar” – meaning God is Great – as each headstone is dislodged.
At one point a man can be heard saying: "This is a grave of a Christian" as he uproots a headstone with a cross on it. The camera focuses on a Jewish serviceman’s gravestone, bearing a star of David and a Hebrew inscription, as it is attacked.
ALGERIA- Algerian security forces have reportedly discovered 43 anti-aircraft weapons that went missing after the fall of Ghdaffi's regime last year.
The weapons cache was said to have been buried in the sand near the Algerian-Libyan border and consists of SA-24 anti-aircraft missiles as well as the shoulder-fired SAM-7.
According to the U.S., Libya amassed some 20,000 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons, the largest such stockpile in a non-producing country.According to a French language Algerian newspaper, authorities acted on a tip from smugglers who operate in the region.
In October, the U.N. Security Council urged Libyan authorities to do all they could from keeping their enormous stockpile of shoulder-fired missiles from falling into terrorist hands.
It is feared that terrorist groups might use the missiles to attack civil aviation.
Thousands of the weapons are believed to have gone missing when militias overthrew the Gadhafi and helped themselves to government stockpiles.
Algerian authorities have long warned that weapons from Libya’s civil war could call into terrorist hands, including the local branch of al-Qaida, which is active in northern Algeria as well as in the desert wastes straddling the borders to the south.
CYRENAICA- Tribal leaders in Eastern Libya have declared semi-autonomy from Tripoli at a meeting in Benghazi this week.
They say the move is necessary as the region, once known as Cyrenaica, has been neglected for decades.Under the Ghdaffi regime, residents of eastern Libya were resentful that Tripoli spent most of the money for develoment and infrastructure on the western part of the country while Benghazi was neglected. The Emirate of Cyrenaica was an independent nation recognized by the UK in 1949 before becoming part of what constitutes present-day Libya. Ahmed al-Senussi- the great-nephew of King Idris, Libya's only monarch- was announced as the head of Cyrenaica. Al-Senussi was arrested by the Ghdaffi regime in 1970 and not released until 2001.
But the move has caused tension with the governing National Transitional Council (NTC) in the capital Tripoli.
[T]he declaration has significant popular support among people in Benghazi, the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Libya's second city reports.
The document has no force in law but is a declaration of intent by the local leaders, our correspondent adds.
Hundreds of people attended the Congress of the People of Cyrenaica, held in a hangar on the outskirts of Benghazi.
The conference announced that it wanted to have its own parliament, police force, courts and capital - in Benghazi. Foreign policy would be left to the federal government in Tripoli, it said.