Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi was reportedly captured and shot dead 20 October. As the evidence below shows the Libyan leader and his son Mutassim were summarily executed by the rebels, sharing the fate of so many Libyans in this conflict.
NATO have said that a French jet bombed 2 military vehicles in a convoy leaving the area of Sirte at 8.30 am local time. Other reports from the USA suggest a predator drone was involved. In addition, “Sky sources” claim that the RAF was involved in seriously injuring Saif al-Islam, also in Sirte. Reports suggest that the convoy which attempted to break out of Sirte consisted of around 75 vehicles and most of the occupants were killed, either in the air strikes, by AA guns fired by the rebels or by summary execution after being captured and in some cases put on display.
NATO issued a statement about the incident saying:
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 manoeuvring 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.
Human Rights Watch visited the site where Muammar Gaddafi was captured, and found the remains of at least 95 people who had apparently 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 appear to have been executed at the site with gunshot wounds to the head and body.
The death of Muammar Gaddafi
Video evidence shows Muammar Gaddafi was alive, although perhaps injured, when captured and surrounded by a rebel mob:
The last words of Colonel Gaddafi on the video were “This is wrong, this is against Islamic law,” and then he said to his abusers: “Do you know right from wrong?”
More mobile phone footage makes it clear that he has been shot shortly after he was captured. This graphic footage shows him wiping the blood from his eye:
And this footage, taken on another phone, shows a gun being brandished in Muammar Gaddafi’s face:
Now new footage shows the scene of the leader’s last moments and those on the scene more clearly:
Yet more horrific footage:
New video shows a clearer view of the whole scene:
Other footage shown on the International Business Times site indicates that Gaddafi was sodomised with an object shortly after being captured.
Muammar Gaddafi’s body was taken to Misrata. It has become pretty standard practice for the rebels to kill their prisoners, particularly those with darker skin, a trend set in the early days when prisoners were massacred and the crime blamed on loyalist forces to provide propaganda for a NATO intervention. Evidence seems to be emerging about the precise motivations for the killers, including a claim (which hasn’t been verified) by rebel Samad Al Saleh Al Arabi ( (Sanad al-Sadek al-Ureibi?) to have shot Gaddafi after disagreeing with the decision to take him to Misrata.
Rebel eyewitnesses in Sirte claimed to Sky News that they shot Gaddafi in the stomach with a 9mm revolver. The late assertion by the NTC that Gaddafi was killed by a shot to the head during a firefight between the rebels and his supporters after he had been loaded onto a vehicle on the way to hospital is typical of the attitude of the rebels toward the truth.
Mutassim Gaddafi alive after capture
Muammar’s son, Mutassim Gaddafi was captured at the same time as his father and video shows him still alive after capture, drinking water and smoking a cigarette:
and also in this video:
NTC statements regarding Mutassim’s death
On the death of Mutassim the Mahmoud Jibril said:
“As for Mutassim there is a wound in the head and a break in the skull and five bullets in the back and one in the neck.”
Mohamed Leith, an NTC field commander, told AFP:
“We found him dead. We put his body and that of (former defence minister) Abu Bakr Yunis in an ambulance to take them to Misrata,”
Here is graphic video footage showing Mutassim’s body after he was killed, with rebels celebrating. There is a serious wound to his upper chest which was not there in the earlier video:
The abuse of corpses
Muammar Gaddafi’s body was later filmed being dragged through the streets of Misrata and then put on display in a supermarket freezer in Misrata for people to photograph with their mobile phones. This is a familiar scene for those who have watched earlier rebel atrocities, some documented by HRI, such as the lynchings at the rebel HQ in Benghazi. others too appalling to show.
The killing of captives and abuse of corpses are war crimes; ones which have been practiced on a large scale by the Libyan rebels, since the beginning of the rebellion, with the full approval and participation of their leadership as we have seen in numerous videos including this one:
According to a rebel commander, the news of her father’s death was broken to Aisha Gaddafi in the following fashion:
‘Aisha called her father’s satellite phone and one of the revolutionaries who had captured him answered her, he said, “It’s over. Abu Shafshufa died.”‘ (Abu Shafshufa being an insulting term with various translations including old crazy hair, old fuzzhead or old afro hair).
(update 25/10) The bodies of Muammar Gaddafi, Mutassim Gaddafi and Abu Bakr Younis were removed from the market where they had been displayed on Tuesday 25th and reportedly buried at night in a secret, unmarked grave in the desert, much against the laws of Islam – but in accordance with Libyan rebel practice.
The laws of War
Under Rule 47. Attacking persons who are recognized as hors de combat is prohibited.
A person hors de combat is:
(a) anyone who is in the power of an adverse party;
(b) anyone who is defenceless because of unconsciousness, shipwreck, wounds or sickness; or
(c) anyone who clearly expresses an intention to surrender; provided he or she abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.
Regarding the treatment of dead bodies:
Rule 115. The dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained. [IAC/NIAC]
In the case of Muammar and Mutassim Gaddafi the bodies should be treated with respect, in accordance with Islamic custom.
Reaction of human rights bodies
Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Office have said that it is essential to conduct a full, independent and impartial inquiry to establish the circumstances of Colonel al-Gaddafi’s death but the current international practice, of course, is one law for NATO’s adversaries and no law for NATO and its proxies.
It has been reported that, according to Mahmoud Jibril the International Criminal Court initially asked that one of its forensic investigators be allowed to examine Muammar’s body but then decided to accept the post-mortem report provided by the NTC.
Hillary Clinton the US Secretary of State, in imperious mood, reportedly quipped “We came, we saw, he died.”
Lessons for human rights activists
The barbaric deaths of Muammar and his son at the hands of the NATO-backed rebels are only a surprise to those who have depended on the mainstream media and the NATO propaganda machine for their information on this conflict.
There needs to be a full inquiry by human rights activists into how the media, people across the political spectrum and humanitarian organisations were hijacked into supporting or remaining silent in the face of the NATO bombing campaign, the ethnic cleaning and atrocities committed against black people and the subversion of democratic, civilised discourse which the Libyan conflict marks.
(updated 21,22,23,24,25,27 October)