Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Jersey Links to MLK's "I Have a Dream" Speech

                                    Clarence Jones standing behind Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Local New Jersey Links to MLK's “I Have a Dream” Speech

By William Kelly (billkelly3@gmail.com 609-425-6297)

Maple Shade, Cape May and Longport, New Jersey don't have the same connotations to the American Civil Rights movement as Memphis, Selma and Birmingham, but events took place there that had a major impact on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the moving speech he gave at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington fifty years ago.

The first incident occurred in sleep Maple Shade, a primarily residential Camden County community intersected by a number of major highways.

On June 10, 1950, a quiet Sunday afternoon, Martin Luther King, Jr., a student at Crozier Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, was driving around with his fellow student Walter R. McCall, and their dates, Pearl Smith and Doris Wilson after attending religious services. They pulled into Mary's Cafe on Main Street, just off the jug handle on Rt. 73, parked, went inside and sat down at a table.

There were a few local customers sitting at the bar, including a black man, but after reviewing the menu for quite some time, no one waited on them. After awhile, King got up and approached the bartender, Ernest Nichols - a big, German, who insulted King. After King and his companions complained about not being served, Nichols took out a gun from behind the bar, opened the door and shot the gun into the air.

King and his friends got the message and left, but before they left town they filed a formal complaint with the local police, and Nichols was later arrested and there was an official court hearing in which Nichols was fined $50 on a weapons charge.

Although not a well known incident in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is listed in the chronology of his life, and it is cited as the one event that radicalized him to make civil rights a political issue.

After King became recognized as a leader in the civil rights movement, in June 1958 he was asked to address a convention of Philadelphia area Quakers meeting in Cape May, New Jersey, where King gave a not well known but important speech in which he articulated the idea that the civil rights movement was not just for blacks but for all people, and that to be successful, violence would be counter-productive and non-violent civil disobedience must be practiced.

At Cape May King said the civil rights movement was part of a “worldwide revolt against slavery and the oppression of colonialism and imperialism.”

The third significant incident that contributed to the inspiration of the “I Have A Dream” speech too place in the early 1950s in Longport, New Jersey, an upscale beach resort on the south end of Absecon Island, which includes Atlantic City. Among the rich residents was the Lippincott family, original Quakers who owned the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall (Now Resorts) on the boardwalk in Atlantic City and other Philadelphia and South Jersey area businesses.

The Lippincotts employed some domestic servants, whose young son Clarence Jones, had looked forward to spending a summer at the Jersey Shore, and as soon as he got there he began exploring the neighborhood on his bicycle.

When he encountered some other local youths however, they harrassed him, and he was shocked at what they called him “nigger,” “honkey,” “monkey” and “boogaloo,” things he had never heard before.

Having been educated in a private school by Catholic nuns and raised in the home of the upper crust Lippincott family, young Jones had never heard such language and was understandably repulsed.

Jones later recounted that, when his mother found him crying, and he told her what happened, she made him look in the mirror asked what he saw – telling him “you are the most beautiful thining Go;s creation,” and from then on such taunting no longer affected him as much as it did that day in Longport.

The nuns, Jones said, taught him well, and after graduating from Columbia and obtaining his law degree and license, Jones moved to California, where he intended to become a prominent and prosperous attorney for the rich and famous.

Then one day in 1960 a visitor arrived at his front door – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was scheduled to give a sermon at Jones' church that evening. King asked Jones to go back east with him and work on the civil rights movement, as a young lawyer was needed. Jones declined, saying his wife was pregnant and he had to take care of his new family. King understood, but later that night King devoted part of his sermon on the responsibility of black professionals to stand up and take the lead in the movement that was then primarily young black radicals, liberal white college kids and old black ladies like Rosa Parks.

Also berated by his wife, Jones reconsidered and joined King's legal team, eventually becoming one of his most trusted aides. Jones helped compose parts of the “I Had a Dream” speech, ensured it was copyrighted and tells the story in his book, “Behind the Dream – the Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation.

Jones can also be heard interviewed on NPR radio program - .

So MLK at Mary's Cafe in Maple Shade, his Cape May speech and Clarence Jones' bike ride in Longport, New Jersey may not rank with such major civil rights events as those that happened in Selma, Birmingham and Memphis, but what transpired in New Jersey at those times and places changed the minds of men and effectively brought about major changes in the civil rights of all people.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Al-Sharia Militia Is Back and Bigger

The Al-Sharia Militia Responsible for Assassinating Chris Stevens Is Back.

They have expanded beyond Benghazi and are bringing Social Services with them – including an Emergency Room

While the security situation continues to worsen in Libya, over the past few months, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya (ASL) has been taking advantage of the lack of state control by building local communal ties, which is strengthening its ability to operate in more locations than Benghazi. Although Benghazans protested against ASL in response to the consulate attack, which led many in the media, commentariat, and government to believe it had been outright discredited, contrary to this narrative that formed that ASL was marginalized and kicked out of the city, in fact, it is thriving and expanding.

Following the September 11 attack, many Libyans, especially in Benghazi, were embarrassed that the operation on the consulate that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other Americans occurred. Many believed Stevens was doing a great job and helping out the local community. As such, citizens went into the streets to repudiate these actions and called for stripping weapons from militias. They also stormed ASL's base. While this might have been a short-term set back, ASL has since been able to alter perceptions of its intentions even if it has not fundamentally changed its ideology. 

Unlike Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST), which has been a national movement from its inception, ASL originally only organized and operated in Benghazi. ASL first announced itself in February 2012. The group is led by Muhammad al-Zahawi, who had previously been an inmate of former President Muammar al-Qaddafi's infamous Abu Salim prison. In recent months, though, ASL has been able to expand its scope beyond Benghazi through its dawa (missionary work), coordination with local leaders and businesses, and programs that are beneficial locally.

In the aftermath of the consulate attack, a major rebranding began by changing the group's name from Katibat Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi to Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. Though at the time ASL was only active in Benghazi, the group changed its name to try and signify it was a national movement as well as no longer primarily a fighting force since katibat means brigade. ASL also began a rigorous rehabilitation process through focusing on dawa activities to garner more support and alter local perceptions.

The use of dawa has been a key evolution in jihadi organizations over the past few years. In light of the excesses in Iraq, global jihadi theorists like Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and later al Qaeda ideologues began calling for a more comprehensive program to gain power and then instituting their interpretation of sharia. By focusing on dawa groups would be able to consolidate gains instead of only attacking all types of enemies, which would only lead to short-term gain, but not long-term progress. Both ASL and AST have exemplified this change over the past two and a half years.

Although media reports originally suggested that ASL had left Benghazi following the consulate attack, in actuality, it only left its base within the city, but did not leave the city itself. Rather, members melted back in with the population and bided their time. It did not take long for good news to appear for ASL. Only 10 days after the September 11 attack, doctors and nurses at al-Jala' hospital that ASL was guarding (prior to the attack and had been relieved of duties in light of it)highlighted that its services were missed.

Since mid-October 2012, ASL has gradually done more and more outreach and social service type of activities under the rubric of its dawa campaign. These activities include religious lecture series for the youth, fixing and cleaning roads, night patrols on the outskirts of Benghazi, confiscating drugs and alcohol, providing slaughtered sheep to needy families for Eid, sending aid to Syria and Gaza, Quranic competitions for children, maintenance of houses of the poor, cleaning schools, garbage collection, and fixing bridges, among other things. Beyond this, ASL has been able to provide tangible services to the community. It has opened a medical clinic for women and children, an Islamic Center for Women, an Emergency Room, as well as a religious school named Mirkaz al-Imam al-Bukhari Li-l-‘Ulum al-Sharia.

As a result of these activities and services, it has been able to gain goodwill within society. For instance, the Central Blood Center (CBC) in Benghazi now partners with ASL for urgent blood drives. The CBC even presented ASL with an award for its help on July 25. ASL has also coordinated lectures with the Social Security Fund Benghazi Branch and cleaned roads in cooperation with the group Tajama' al-Qawarshah al-Khayri wa-l-Da'wai and the electrical company. Additionally, in January, the schools administration at the Turkish School called "July 23" asked for help with securing and cleaning it. The administrators claimed that they asked the National Security Directorate, the local council, and the competent authorities to provide security, but they did not. The school had allegedly been taken over and used by some youth who made it a place to sleep, eat, drink, use drugs and liquor, and breed animals.

The most successful project that ASL has undertaken is a vigorous anti-drug campaign in cooperation with the Rehab Clinic at the Psychiatric Hospital of Benghazi, the Ahli Club (soccer), Libya Company (Telecom and Technology), and the Technical Company. This suggests that there is buy-in at a town level. It also highlights the goodwill and positive force some see in ASL for society. Throughout May, ASL put on a lecture series nine times with the slogan "Together For Benghazi Without Drugs." One of the lectures was in Tripoli in cooperation with the Qaduti Foundation, highlighting that ASL's message was gaining positive resonance outside of Benghazi.

Two months earlier, signs of its growth and outreach beyond Benghazi started becoming evident. A delegation of unidentified tribesman from the southern town of Ubari came up to Benghazi. The purpose of this trip according to ASL was for the tribesman to get to know its organization. This potentially hints at more nefarious aims of ASL that it does not publicize. It is believed by French intelligence that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has had people stay in Ubari. There are alsoreports that Mukhtar Bilmukhtar, who was responsible for the In Amenas attack in Algeria earlier this year, was working with actors in Ubari as well.

Comparing ASL's two annual conferences can also show the scope of its growth. There was an increase from the first iteration in early June 2012 and the one at the end of June this year. An estimated few hundred members attended ASL's first conference. Whereas, around two thousand people were present this year, though ASL claims 12,000 people came.

Other signs of ASL's progress were its establishment of a second branch in Sirte on June 28 and a third branch in Ajdabiya on August 6. Based on the events ASL has put on in Sirte over the past couple of weeks, it shows that it had been preparing for its establishment ahead of time. For instance, ASL put on a Quranic competition for Ramadan between July 14 and 24 in association with the Office of Awqaf of Sirte, Radio Tawhid of Sirte, the Cleaning Services Company, and the University of Sirte. 

During Ramadan, ASL has also been assisting needy families with food for Iftar in Benghazi. It has been able to garner sponsorship of this drive from the Libya Company, Primera Gallery, al-Iman Foundation, Tajama' al-Qawarshah al-Khayri wa-l-Da'wai, and the Faruq Center. As such, it has allowed ASL to provide clothing and gifts to children on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr at the end of the month of Ramadan.

All of this points to ASL expanding in capacity contradicting some analysis that it was wholly discredited and destroyed in the demonstrations in Benghazi in the aftermath of the U.S. Consulate attack. ASL's overall influence should not be exaggerated or overblown, though. It is still a fringe movement, but similar to the group in Tunisia it is able to punch above its weight through public events and posting them onto its official Facebook pages. But unlike AST, which has only independently put on campaigns and events, ASL has been able to integrate within the local milieu beyond just its membership. This is in part precisely because of the total failure of the central government to deliver security or basic services. With the social service provisions and local cooperation, ASL will continue to expand and be an actor that cannot be ignored.

Aaron Y. Zelin is the Richard Borow Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and maintains the website Jihadology.net.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Militias Meet in Tripoli to Support Army

Forces from around the country head into Tripoli to defend it.
Tripoli, 11 August 2013:


More than a thousand vehicles belonging to the Libya Shield forces for Central and Western Regions are reported to have arrived in Tripoli over the past four days. The troops have been deployed to various military locations in and around the capital. The move is to defend it from forces causing instability or planning a move to impose their will on Congress and the government by force.

It is the largest mobilisation since the liberation and follows the decision by president of General National Congress (GNC) Nuri Abu Sahmain to order the Libya Shield to secure strategic locations in the capital and provide overall security there. The decision was authorised by the President of Congress as well as the newly-appointed Minister of Defence, Abdullah Al-Thinni, and the new Army Chief of Staff, Abdulsalam Al-Obaidi.

The Libya Shield forces for Central Region are under the command of Colonel Muhammed Musa and are usually stationed in Misrata. They have been deployed on numerous occasions in different towns including Kufra, Bani Walid and Sebha. However, the command structures of these umbrella brigades remain weak as they are formed of smaller brigades and units from many different locations and with individual commanders. The forces for Libya Shield for Western Region are already making their way into Tripoli and have also taken control of the much attacked military base named after General Abdul Fatah Younus, 27 kilometers west of Tripoli, after receiving orders from the Chief of Staff office.

Colonel Musa has mobilized roughly 1,200 vehicles from different towns including Zliten, Bani Walid, Khoms, Zawiya, Gharian, Tarhouna and Sabratha. But most of its firepower comes from Misrata –Colonel Musa’s hometown.

The new Chief of Staff and Musa have been in touch with the Supreme Revolutionaries’ Council (SRC) about the current mobilisation of forces and the general plan to dissolve all brigades, including the Libya Shield. The Executive officer of SRC, Muhammed Shaaban told the Libya Herald that there is consensus among all members of SRC to support the new Chief of Staff. He said, “We met Colonel Musa last night and assured him of all the support he needs. We agreed that the army should be the first priority now and that brigades would dissolve as soon as new Chief of Staff takes concrete steps towards forming a strong national army.”

Cable sent by the Chief of Staff ordering Libya Shield forces of the Central and Western regions to protect Tripoli
When asked why the SRC didn’t support the former Chief of Staff ,Yusef Mangoush, and resisted calls to join the army, Shaaban said that no concrete steps had been taken to build the trust in the revolutionaries.

He (Mangoush) was a nice man but was surrounded by people not sincere to the formation of army. The revolutionaries want to see trustable army commanders and not the people they were fighting against in the revolution,” he said.

However, Shabaan noted that situation was now different and his members would support any initiative by the Chief of Staff to build a strong army. He added: “The new Chief of Staff is a very respectable man. He is very committed to making a strong army and revolutionaries trust him as he is a real fighter.”
Shabaan defended the decision to bring Libya Shield forces into Tripoli and said it had stabilised power in the capital. He spoke of the threat of a coup.

It was timely to authorise the Libya Shield movement. The threat of a coup was very real and those informed know about its repercussions. It is not a move against Zintan or any other town. Colonel Musa confirmed that he received calls and assurances of support from Zintan. Many units that are part of the (Libya Shield) western forces are on their way to Tripoli now. We all know that Zintan has many real revolutionaries. It’s the political armed gangs based in Tripoli that are the problem.”

A senior security source who was present at the meeting between Abu Sahmain and the leaders of the revolutionaries also confirmed that, despite planning the mobilisation for some time, they had had to rush as there was a threat to Congress.

We knew about plans to undermine the GNC ,” the source said, “and we were coming up with a plan. But it all had to be rushed when we saw bolder moves in the Western Region including theft of military equipment.”

The source continued: “The initial idea was to authorise the ‘Revolutionaries Operation Room for Tripoli’ but it included some figures who are controversial and we feared it might be hijacked by people with certain ideas. So the head of the GNC rightly asked the Chief of Staff to mobilise the Libya Shield forces.”

The source also confirmed that the forces are made up from different parts of the country including units from Zintan.

All brigades and units from towns that fall under the Central and Western region are on duty. It is not a random move that all brigades would be coming to Tripoli. Only the ones ordered by the Commander are coming and they includes some units from Zintan,” he said. He also said that there are other proposals on the table on supporting the Chief of Staff on the formation of national army.

There is genuine desire to form the national army and support the Chief of Staff to make it happen. One suggestion is to appoint army commanders who were loyal to the 17 February revolution from the beginning as well as the defectors that parted ways with the (Qaddafi) regime after seeing the bloody crackdown – but not the ones that jumped from the sinking ship. These points would be accepted by all the revolutionaries as this has been their demand from October 2011. They can serve under such officers. The brigades would then be dissolved – because the main factor stopping them from joining the army would be taken care of.”

The Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Basit Zwai told the Libya Herald that the government would support Congress’ decision and this would improve the security situation. “The authorisation comes from the head of the GNC and the Libya Shield forces would reverse the deteriorating level of security,” he said, adding: “It would also help provide security to the diplomatic missions after recent attacks on the diplomats.”
The new Defence Minister, Al-Thinni, earlier announced that he as working on a security plan and by taking concrete steps, all brigades would be dissolved within six months.

Wave of Political Assassinations in Libya

Libya: Wave of Political Assassinations
Lack of Accountability Risks Escalating Violence


AUGUST 8, 2013
(Beirut) – At least 51 people have died in a broadening wave of apparent political assassinations in the cities of Benghazi and Derna in volatile eastern Libya. Authorities have not prosecuted anyone for these crimes, and have no suspects in custody, as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine.

The July 26, 2013, killing of Abdulasalam Elmessmary, was the first of a political activist since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted. The assassination appeared to signal a new turn in the violence with potentially serious implications for Libya’s stability. The other victims include two judges and at least 44 serving members of the security forces, most of whom had held positions in Gaddafi’s government. At least six were high-ranking officers under Gaddafi.

“What started as assassinations of members of the police, internal security apparatus, and military intelligence has been further aggravated by the killing of judges and a political activist,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The failure to hold anyone accountable highlights the government’s failure to build a functioning justice system.”

According to cases documented by Human Rights Watch, political assassinations in Benghazi and Derna peaked in the second half of 2012, and again in January and July 2013. While there have been reports of assassinations in other parts of the country, they have mostly been centered in the east.

Human Rights Watch interviewed relatives, friends or witnesses of eight of the victims. Relatives told Human Rights Watch that as far as they could determine, Libyan law enforcement officials had not conducted comprehensive investigations. They said law enforcement agents did not investigate at the crime scene, summon any potential witnesses, or provide information to the families about their investigations.

Law enforcement officials acknowledged to Human Rights Watch that they had not concluded any of the investigations despite trying to conduct investigations into the assassinations. They said they lacked sophisticated means to investigate, faced many obstacles due to the prevailing security situation, and lacked the means to summon witnesses without the use of force.

No groups or individuals have claimed responsibility for the assassinations. The only person known to have been arrested escaped.

On July 23, Interior Minister Mohammad Khalifa al-Sheikh said at a news conference that “people with a past criminal record,” were behind the killings. He said that some of their identities were known but could not be revealed since the information was classified, and that the government was investigating and collecting information.

On July 28, Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said the government was determined to bring to justice “those responsible for the assassinations” in Benghazi and Derna. He said the government would consider accepting the support of an international forensics team.

“Myriad armed groups and criminals with various agendas are benefiting from a weak and dysfunctional law enforcement system where they can kill even police and judges with impunity,” Stork said. “Unless the government takes urgent steps to actually turn its own pledges into action and make building its police and criminal investigation units a priority, there is a real risk of a further surge in violence.”

The Death Toll
In the absence of comprehensive official figures, Human Rights Watch has investigated and documented killings of 51 victims of apparent political assassinations, though the actual number is probably higher. The documented cases do not include assassinations of officers and members of the security forces committed during the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi. As far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, it is the only compilation of apparent political assassinations in Eastern Libya since the toppling of Gaddafi.

Human Rights Watch interviewed families, friends or witnesses of eight victims and reviewed information provided by activists, judges, members of the prosecution, and media reports. A local nongovernmental organization provided a list of 12 assassinations and 2 kidnappings of members of the Benghazi police force. Human Rights Watch could not verify ranks and affiliation to the state security forces of at least seven of the victims, or the dates of their deaths.

According to the information obtained by Human Rights Watch, 12 victims were apparently killed by explosive devices targeting their cars. The rest were shot, most in drive-by shootings, in front of their homes or workplaces, or in their cars.

The following are some of the most recent killings, in June and July. None of the assailants have been identified:
  • On July 30, Ahmed Farraj al-Barnawi, commander of the Benghazi Protection Force, was killed by an explosive device that targeted his home in Benghazi.
  • On July 26, Colonel Khatab Younis al-Zway and retired Colonel Salam al-Sarrah were shot to death in two separate incidents in Benghazi.
  • On July 8, in Benghazi, an explosive device targeted the car of Col. Fawzi Mohamed Ali al-Burki, a former internal security apparatus officer under Gaddafi, killing him.
  • On July 4, a drive-by shooting in Benghazi, an apparent assassination attempt on Col. Hamed al-Hassi, killed two men. Al-Hassi survived.  He was an air force officer under Gaddafi, and commands the military wing of the Cyrenaica Transitional Council, a movement that seeks greater autonomy for eastern Libya.
  • On June 26, an explosive device attached to his car killed Jomaa al-Misrati, a commander of an infantry brigade in the Libyan army who served as a military intelligence officer under Gaddafi. Al-Misrati’s car exploded 150 meters from his house in Benghazi.
In January, Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi, director of the Benghazi police Criminal Investigation Department, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Benghazi. His family told Human Rights Watch on June 3 that they have had no news of his fate. Al-Mahdawi was abducted one month after the department made its only arrest in relation to the political assassinations in Benghazi.

Police Failure to Act
The Criminal Investigation Department is tasked with conducting criminal investigations, collecting forensics evidence, identifying and questioning witnesses and referring case files to the General Prosecutor’s Office or the Military Attorney’s office for prosecution. But it has not concluded its investigations into any of these assassinations. Nor has it concluded investigations into the dozens of kidnappings, attempted assassinations, and attacks on police and military structures in Benghazi in 2012 and 2013 that appear to follow the same pattern as the political assassinations targeting mainly members of the security forces.

Human Rights Watch interviewed witnesses to the crimes and relatives and friends of eight of the men assassinated in Benghazi who had served in various security agencies under Gaddafi before joining the armed opposition in the 2011 revolt to oust him. Six of the families said that the police, the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the Military Prosecutor had failed to investigate, to conclude an investigation, or to let the families know what was happening.

The eight victims included Faraj Mohamed Idriss Drissi, Suleiman Bouzreidah and Mohamed Haddiya al-Fitouri. They were gunned down in separate incidents by masked assailants riding in cars, either while the victims were in front of their houses or walking on the streets, their relatives told Human Rights Watch. Two of the more recent victims, Jomaa al-Misrati and Fawzi al-Burki, were killed by explosive devices planted in their cars.

Izzeddin Abdelhafith al-Ghweili, acting head of Benghazi Police Criminal Investigation Department, told Human Rights Watch during an interview in June:
In the absence of functioning state institutions, amid a proliferation of arms and of various active armed groups, we cannot work according to our usual procedures. The main issue we face with witnesses is that they are scared and often do not show up if they’ve been summoned. All of these assassination cases remain unresolved. We do not know who our enemies are anymore – there are too many of them.
He said that Ali al-Fezzani, the only person arrested and detained in relation to the assassinations in Benghazi, managed to flee from prison in Tripoli.

Al-Fezzani was arrested on December 16, 2012, and initially confessed to killings including Drissi, chief of the Benghazi Security Directorate, and Jomaa al-Kadiki, an air force officer under Gaddafi. After al-Fezzani was detained at the Benghazi Criminal Investigation Department, armed protesters, angry over reports that al-Fezzani had been tortured by the police, attacked the department headquarters on December 20.

Al-Ghweili said that the attackers burned parts of the building and stole furniture and surveillance cameras. Four people were killed, including a police officer. The police hurriedly transferred al-Fezzani to al-Hadhba, a detention facility in Tripoli under the authority of the Justice Ministry and within the premises of the National Guard headquarters. Al-Fezzani escaped from al-Hadhba in May and remains at large.

On December 21, al-Marghani, the justice minister, announced at a news conference that the General Prosecutor’s Office would investigate al-Fezzani’s detention and torture claims. At the news conference, Khalid al-Sharif, head of the al-Hadhba corrections facility, said that he had seen no marks from torture on al-Fezzani.

A video posted online shows al-Fezzani being interrogated, apparently confessing to being an assassin responsible for killing several people, including Drissi, and knowing about the killings of several other officers. In the video, al-Fezzani says that commanders of Islamist militias operating in Eastern Libya gave orders for the killing of former officers and that they considered it acceptable as it was “halal” [permitted] to kill army officers and people affiliated with the current government.

A second video taken by unidentified people and posted online after he arrived in Tripoli shows al-Fezzani retracting his confession, saying he had not assassinated anyone and had confessed under torture.

Al-Ghweili denied al-Fezzani’s accusations that he had been tortured while in the custody of the Benghazi CID.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The fact that most of the attacks targeted Gaddafi-era officers in the Benghazi and Derna area and the planned and efficient manner of the killings suggest that they are related and part of a pattern or campaign against individuals with a particular political profile, Human Rights Watch said.

Mohamed al-Hizaji, official spokesman of the Benghazi Joint Security Operations, a security apparatus coordinating activities of the Army, Police and intelligence services, highlighted the problems the authorities face in investigating crimes since Qaddafi’s ouster. He told Human Rights Watch in July that the authorities “face many obstacles” when they “try to conduct investigations,” and had not been given the means to do so. He said the “types of criminals and methods used” had changed in recent months, and had become even “more dangerous.” The forces only recently began to receive means and equipment needed to conduct investigations, he said.

A prosecutor in Benghazi who did not wish to be named told Human Rights Watch the unresolved cases of unlawful killings were currently “stuck at the level of police investigations” and that prosecutors could only investigate if they had access to “evidence, and witnesses to question.” He confirmed the lack of an official “census” of these assassination cases and said they dated back to the beginning of the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, as the first such killing was committed in March 2011.

He said the prosecutor’s office dealt with cases on an individual basis and did not link the crimes unless they were carried out by the same person. “I cannot conduct my work according to trends – I need hard facts,” he said. The prosecutor’s office had very limited investigative resources and faced difficulties in expanding investigations and including forensic evidence, due to the lack of more sophisticated tools such as “DNA testing, which is only available in Tripoli,” he said.

On the prosecutors’ powers to summon and question witnesses, he said: “The reality is that while we can issue arrest orders, there is no one to implement them and to go and fetch someone for questioning. Who will do that? Our work depends very much on collaboration with the police, intelligence services.”

Broader Security Issues
The assassinations should be seen in the context of a general lack of security in Benghazi and the rest of the eastern region, particularly Derna.

Since the end of the 2011, conflict, Benghazi has experienced large-scale attacks by various militias on state security forces facilities and army positions, as well as armed clashes between militia factions and attacks on foreign diplomatic missions. On June 8, the most recent large-scale clashes in Benghazi resulted in the deaths of 32 people, most of them protesters, members of the Army Special Forces unit, and members of militias in what became known as “Black Saturday.”

Foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations have been the targets of violence since 2012. Most recently, in January, gunmen opened fire on the Italian consul’s car in Benghazi. In April 2012, unidentified assailants attacked a convoy in Benghazi carrying the United Nations Special envoy to Libya, Ian Martin, and in June 2012, assailants attacked a British embassy convoy.

In May 2012, the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were attacked. A militia, the “Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman Brigade,” claimed responsibility, accusing the ICRC of proselytizing for Christianity, including distributing Bibles. No one was prosecuted for the attacks.

And on September 11, 2012, armed groups attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his aides. As a result, diplomatic missions and international organizations withdrew their permanent presence from Benghazi. In May, the FBI released photos of six people present during the attacks on the US compound. No one is known to have been charged with the killings in Libya, though, and the General Prosecutor’s Office has yet to conclude its investigations into these cases. US news media reported on August 7 that the US Justice Department had filed murder charges in the case, but no arrests apparently have been made in Libya.

Some of the assassinations of officers between 2012 and 2013 appear related to the killing on July 28, 2011, of General Abdelfatah Younis, chief of staff of the anti-Gaddafi brigades, operating under the National Transitional Council.

A Benghazi Military Court judge who summoned Younis in July 2011 for questioning from the front lines over his alleged continued ties to the former regime was found dead on July 28, 2012, along with two of his aides. Jomaa Obaidi al-Jazawi, one of three judges investigating Younis’s death, was assassinated in June 2012 by unidentified assailants in front of a mosque in Benghazi.

Relatives of Bouzreidah, chief of military intelligence, and al-Fitouri, in charge of weapons and ammunition of the national army, said both men had been appointed directly by Younis shortly after the outbreak of the 2011 uprising. Bouzreidah was killed near his home in Benghazi in July 2012, and al-Fitouri was killed in Benghazi in August 2012.

The Military Court in Benghazi summoned the former chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdeljalil, to question him over his alleged role in approving the “arrest” of Younis. After widespread controversy, the court dropped the case against Abdeljalil and referred it to the Military Supreme Court. No further progress in identifying Younis’s assassins has been announced.

Accounts by Families and Friends
Lt. Col. Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi, 45, headed the Benghazi Police Criminal Investigation Department. Unidentified masked armed men kidnapped him on January 2, 2013, while he was driving with acquaintances down a busy street in Benghazi after work. Al-Mahdawi was the only member of the group pulled from the car and taken away to an unknown location. A father of three, al-Mahdawi, had worked in the investigations department for 10 years, and was appointed its head just four days before his kidnapping. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction and no one has been arrested.

His brother, Osama al-Mahdawi, told Human Rights Watch:

For six months, we haven’t heard anything. No one has called us. No one has made any demands… We went to the CID and filed a complaint and they formed an investigation committee, yet, to date, no one was arrested in my brother’s case. The armed groups are stronger than the courts.

Abdullah Dibus, a friend of al-Mahdawi who was in the car with him when he was seized, said:
After the incident, we [the two witnesses] went straight to the CID to report it. We were asked questions and the next day we were called back to the CID for more questioning. We were never approached by the prosecutor’s office. Although the family requested that the Ministry of Interior set up a committee to investigate the incident, nothing has happened so far.

Faraj Mohamed Idriss Drissi, 57, was the chief of the Benghazi Security Directorate and father of 11. On November 20, 2012, unidentified assailants gunned him down in front of his house in Sabri district in Benghazi. His family, hearing gunshots late at night as Drissi was coming home from work, rushed to the front gate, where they found his bullet-ridden body. He died on the spot, in front of some of his children. Under Gaddafi, Drissi was a colonel in the Security Directorate [police department] of Benghazi. After the uprising he became chief of the Security Directorate in Benghazi, a post he held until his assassination.

Drissi’s widow, Zainab Abdelkarim Mohamed, told Human Rights Watch that her husband had spoken several times with the media about his intent to empty Benghazi of illegal arms and crime. “This is when the threats started,” she said. “I begged him to retire but he refused.” Although neighbors called the police and other relevant authorities to report the killing, Drissi’s widow said she does not remember seeing any police or other security forces in in the area to conduct investigations or question witnesses.

Brig. Gen. Mohamed Hadiyya al-Fitouri, 63, was in charge of weapons and ammunition for the Libyan Army in eastern Libya under Gaddafi. Al-Fitouri retained his position after the 2011 conflict, according to his family, at the explicit wish of General Younis. Al-Fitouri was killed on August 10, 2012, during Ramadan, as he walked home with an elderly neighbor from a nearby mosque.

Al-Fitouri’s family told Human Rights Watch that a witness told them the attackers had first tried to push al-Fitouri into a waiting car, as they shouted “traitor” and “infidel.” When they failed, they shot him in the head, the heart, hand, and leg. He died instantly. His family said that no one has been arrested and the only witness to the incident – the neighbor – has not been questioned due to his fragility and advanced age.

“No authorities came here to ask us about the incident concerning my husband’s death,” Amal al-Barghatial, Fitouri’s widow, told Human Rights Watch in the family home in Benghazi in June 2013. “No one from the prosecution contacted us. We know of no investigation.”

Col. Suleiman Bouzreidah, 60, a father of 10, was killed on July 28, 2012, as he headed to a mosque near his home. He was the head of investigations in the military intelligence unit under Gaddafi, and later head of military intelligence for the rebels in Benghazi during the 2011 conflict, a role in which he continued until he resigned a month before his death. His family told Human Rights Watch during a visit in June 2013 that a car carrying several armed men, some of them masked, shot Bouzreidah in his cheek and forehead as it drove past, and he died immediately.

Bouzreidah effectively took over the position under the transitional council that had been held by Abdullah Senussi, Gaddafi’s chief of intelligence, who is in custody in Libya and is sought by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges during the 2011 conflict. Bouzreidah assumed the position of chief of military intelligence on February 23, 2011, just days after the uprising broke out and rebels took control of Benghazi. His family said that three witnesses to Bouzreidah’s murder gave statements to the police about the incident but that they knew of no arrests in the case.

Bouzreidah’s widow, said she had been afraid for her husband’s life after he accepted the position as head of military intelligence in February 2011, and was disappointed with the government, which “did not do anything” for the family, who  still do not know the killers’ identities.

Bouzreidah’s son, Yazeed, said the deputy prosecutor in charge of the case had told the family he was capable only of “collecting files [of the cases] at this stage” and did not have sufficient manpower to conduct any “proper investigations.” He said that a witness to the killing who had given a statement to the police was threatened in the street a short time later by unidentified men, who told him, “if you say anything at all [about the incident] then we will kill you”:

No one from the authorities came to the street where my father died to ask any questions, but instead we [the family] brought some of the witnesses to the CID to give their statements. On the third day of condolences after the funeral, one of the witnesses was threatened and told if he dared say anything about the incident he would be killed. Of course we suspect certain people affiliated with terrorist Islamist networks here in Benghazi to be behind this crime, but we have no evidence.

Anis Ali al-Gehani, 22, was a student and brother-in-Law of Naji Hammad, a police officer who started “Save Benghazi Friday,” a demonstration against militias in Benghazi soon after the attack on the US consulate. Al-Gehani was killed on December 3, 2012.  He had been staying with his sister, in Benghazi while Hammad was in Tripoli.

Hammad told Human Rights Watch in June that on the morning of December 3, 2012, al-Gehani was warming the car up to drop his sister off at work when he was shot by unknown armed men and died of multiple gunshot wounds in his  extremities, chest and head. One witness told the family he saw four masked, bearded men in the car, family members said. They said the police were investigating but that no one has been arrested.

Hammad said he believed his brother-in-law was killed by mistake, and that killers were trying to kill Hammad for his activism and outspoken stance toward the militias and Islamists.

To the government of Libya:
  • Establish impartial, transparent, and independent investigations into all assassinations committed in Libya after the end of the 2011 conflict to oust Muammar Gaddafi leading to the identification and prosecution of those responsible;
  • Ensure that anyone detained in relation to these assassinations has access to legal representation and is treated in accordance with international due process standards including prompt judicial review and prompt charging. Make public the list of those detained in relation to the killings;
  • Ensure protection of law enforcement agents during evidence gathering and the entire investigative procedures;
  • Provide adequate protection to witnesses, lawyers, judges, court officials and prosecutors. Provide judicial police and military police with adequate training and equipment to ensure security of all those involved in the judicial procedures both at civil and military courts;
  • Provide criminal investigation departments with sufficient means to carry out sophisticated investigations, including necessary equipment and adequate training;
  •  Provide criminal investigation agents with proper training to bring their performance into line with international standards; and
  • Seek financial and technical support from the UN and donor governments to strengthen criminal investigations for these and other crimes.

To the United Nations Mission in Libya (UNSMIL):
  • Publicly press the Libyan government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these assassinations.
To the international community – in particular governments of the US, UK, France, and Italy:
  • Provide technical support to criminal investigation departments to investigate the assassinations since the end of the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi, to ensure a credible and transparent process; and
  • Ensure financial support for rule of law and justice programs to ensure that courts are able to operate fairly and according to international legal standards.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

CIA in Benghazi

Exclusive: Dozens of CIA operatives on the ground during Benghazi attack

CNN has uncovered exclusive new information about what is allegedly happening at the CIA, in the wake of the deadly Benghazi terror attack.

Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.

Programming note: Was there a political cover up surrounding the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans? Watch a CNN special investigation — The Truth About Benghazi, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.

CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency's Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.

The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.

It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, "You don't jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well."

Another says, "You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation."

"Agency employees typically are polygraphed every three to four years. Never more than that," said former CIA operative and CNN analyst Robert Baer.

In other words, the rate of the kind of polygraphs alleged by sources is rare.

"If somebody is being polygraphed every month, or every two months it's called an issue polygraph, and that means that the polygraph division suspects something, or they're looking for something, or they're on a fishing expedition. But it's absolutely not routine at all to be polygraphed monthly, or bi-monthly," said Baer.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd asserted in a statement that the agency has been open with Congress.

"The CIA has worked closely with its oversight committees to provide them with an extraordinary amount of information related to the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi," the statement said.

"CIA employees are always free to speak to Congress if they want," the statement continued. "The CIA enabled all officers involved in Benghazi the opportunity to meet with Congress. We are not aware of any CIA employee who has experienced retaliation, including any non-routine security procedures, or who has been prevented from sharing a concern with Congress about the Benghazi incident."

Among the many secrets still yet to be told about the Benghazi mission, is just how many Americans were there the night of the attack.

A source now tells CNN that number was 35, with as many as seven wounded, some seriously.

While it is still not known how many of them were CIA, a source tells CNN that 21 Americans were working in the building known as the annex, believed to be run by the agency.

The lack of information and pressure to silence CIA operatives is disturbing to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, whose district includes CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
"I think it is a form of a cover-up, and I think it's an attempt to push it under the rug, and I think the American people are feeling the same way," said the Republican.

"We should have the people who were on the scene come in, testify under oath, do it publicly, and lay it out. And there really isn't any national security issue involved with regards to that," he said.

Wolf has repeatedly gone to the House floor, asking for a select committee to be set-up, a Watergate-style probe involving several intelligence committee investigators assigned to get to the bottom of the failures that took place in Benghazi, and find out just what the State Department and CIA were doing there.

More than 150 fellow Republican members of Congress have signed his request, and just this week eight Republicans sent a letter to the new head of the FBI, James  Comey, asking that he brief Congress within 30 days.

In the aftermath of the attack, Wolf said he was contacted by people closely tied with CIA operatives and contractors who wanted to talk.

Then suddenly, there was silence.

"Initially they were not afraid to come forward. They wanted the opportunity, and they wanted to be subpoenaed, because if you're subpoenaed, it sort of protects you, you're forced to come before Congress. Now that's all changed," said Wolf.

Lawmakers also want to know about the weapons in Libya, and what happened to them.
Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

It is clear that two U.S. agencies were operating in Benghazi, one was the State Department, and the other was the CIA.

The State Department told CNN in an e-mail that it was only helping the new Libyan government destroy weapons deemed "damaged, aged or too unsafe retain," and that it was not involved in any transfer of weapons to other countries.

But the State Department also clearly told CNN, they "can't speak for any other agencies."

The CIA would not comment on whether it was involved in the transfer of any weapons.
Have a tip? Go to cnn.com/investigate