Former Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi was killed by militia groups during a battle to take the loyalist stronghold city of Sirte, National Transitional Council (NTC) officials announced on Thursday. His bloody body was then reportedly dragged through the streets.
Conflicting accounts of what may have happened flooded the press in the early hours of October 20. Most reports suggested, however, that a convoy carrying a fleeing Gadhafi and his top aides was bombed by NATO war planes after revolutionary forces overran most of Sirte.
Citing a variety of rebel fighters and war correspondents, some accounts claimed the tyrant had been wounded but captured alive. Other narratives said Gadhafi died from injuries sustained during a battle. And a few reports even suggested he was alive and well, though several videos would appear to contradict the notion.
Footage posted online showed revolutionary fighters shooting bullets into the air and celebrating as a man resembling Gadhafi lay lifeless and covered in blood. Chants of "Allah akbar" reportedly erupted among revolutionary fighters across Libya.
After months of NATO and rebel claims that the end was near for the Libyan dictatorship of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, it appears increasingly likely that the brutal regime is on its last legs. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even praised “Libya’s victory.” But it isn’t over yet.
Even as the National Transitional Council’s (NTC) forces surrounded key loyalist strongholds such as the city of Sirte, pro-Gaddafi troops were reportedly putting up stiff resistance. Fierce gun battles were still raging even in the capital despite rebels having announced the “fall” of Tripoli months ago.
This week the NTC began stepping up house-to-house searches and road-block checkpoints in search of Gaddafi loyalists in the capital. Pockets of armed resistance in Tripoli, including pro-regime demonstrations, continue to pop up as well.
Several days ago Gaddafi supporters bearing weapons marched out into the streets of various Tripoli neighborhoods chanting pro-regime slogans, according to news reports. NTC troops shouting “Allahu Akbarr” rushed to the demonstrations and fired on the crowds, leaving multiple casualties on both sides.
On Wednesday, the trial of former Soviet military officer and arms dealer Viktor Bout, 45, opened in the U.S. district court in Manhattan with a strong assertions from Assistant Attorney Brendan McGuire.
“One hundred surface to air missiles, 20,000 machine guns, 20,000 grenades, 740 mortars, 350 sniper rifles, 10 million rounds of ammunition and five tons of C-4 explosives,” McGuire told the jury in his opening statement. “Viktor Bout wanted to provide all of it to a foreign terrorist organization he believed wanted to kill Americans. He had the experience to do it, he had the expertise to do it, he had the will do it. He wanted to do it.” McGuire asked the court, “Why — for the money?”
According to Viktor Bout’s own words, as recounted by the undercover DEA agent responsible for Bout’s capture, Louis Milione, in a television interview on the CBS show 60 Minutes, prior to his arrest Bout told Milione that he would be able to supply "anti-personnel mines. Fragmentation grenades. Armor-piercing rockets. Money laundering services. And all within the context of speaking about a shared ideology of communism and fighting against the Americans.” (Emphasis added.)
President Obama has created a secret death panel to decide which American citizens should be killed without trial by our own military, and he approved a secret legal memorandum from the Office of Legal Council (OLC) that tries to justify the killings, according to Reuters and the New York Times, respectively.
Of the death panel, Reuters reported October 5,
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House's National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
The Obama administration has refused to comment officially or publicly on the existence of the death panel.
New York Times reporter Charlie Savage described the legal memorandum in detail after lengthy, perhaps administration-approved, conversations with anonymous Obama administration officials. Savage describes the document as "a roughly 50-page memorandum by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, completed around June 2010," which means that it was drawn up about six months after the assassination list already existed. Savage continued:
According to a recent opinion survey, one in three U.S. veterans of the post-9/11 military believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not worth fighting, and a majority of those questioned said that after 10 years of military engagement in the Middle East, the United States should focus less on foreign wars and more on some of its own internal problems.
The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, reveals a number of significant findings. First, respondents revealed that they are proud of their efforts in the Middle East, but that they were greatly impacted by their time in war. Second, they seemed to believe that the American people do not have a significant understanding of the problems that wartime poses for military members and their families.
The survey also demonstrates that members of the military are more inclined to call themselves Republicans than Democrats, and to disapprove of President Obama’s job performance as Commander-in-Chief.
A Libyan Jewish man who fled the nation with his parents decades ago has become a celebrity in recent days for his quest to restore Tripoli’s main synagogue. But shortly after 56-year-old David Gerbi took a sledgehammer to the wall blocking the entrance, armed men threatened his life and forced him to abandon the project — for now.
Gerbi said he had obtained permission from members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) and a local leader to start fixing up the Dar al-Bishi synagogue, which was shut down and sealed off under the Gadhafi regime following a wave of anti-Semitic persecution in the late 60s. Most of the other synagogues in Libya were destroyed or turned into mosques as Jewish property was confiscated and Jews were expelled.
But Gerbi was hoping the rebellion would be a new start — that the exiled Jews could return to Libya if they chose to. He called the reconstruction effort a “test” of the new regime’s tolerance.
“I have read that Americans are peace-loving,” 58-year-old Pakistani writer Syed Zubair Ashraf told the Washington Post. “But their government has interfered in every country. Why?”
That is an excellent question, and one to which Americans ought to give serious consideration, especially as a presidential election approaches. Few Americans would consider themselves warlike. Who among us would choose to drop bombs on a foreign country at his own expense and risk? Yet the U.S. government, claiming to represent the American people, does so routinely — and then blames the inevitable retaliation on foreigners’ hatred of the United States’ liberty, not its government’s foreign policy.
Such “blowback” (as the Central Intelligence Agency, which isn’t so foolish as to believe government propaganda, calls it) may soon be coming from Pakistan. The Post reports that Pakistanis, fed up with U.S. policy and the suicide attacks arising in response to it, have come to “view the United States … as an enemy.” They have good reason to come to that conclusion, says the paper: “Since 2001, when Islamabad partnered with Washington to combat the Taliban and al-Qaeda, there have been 335 suicide bombings in Pakistan. Before 2001, there was one.”