UPDATE: Eyewitness account describes the evidence that NATO’s invasion of Libya constitutes multiple war crimes. This is an email sent to Susan Lindauer.
Going Rogue: NATO War Crimes in Libya
By Susan Lindauer, former US Asset covering Libya at the United Nations
It’s a story CNN won’t report. Late at night there’s a pounding on the door in Misurata. Armed soldiers force young Libyan women out of their beds at gun-point. Hustling the women and teenagers into trucks, the soldiers rush the women to gang bang parties for NATO rebels—or else rape them in front of their husbands or fathers. When NATO rebels finish their rape sport, the soldiers cut the women’s throats.
Rapes are now ongoing acts of war in rebel-held cities, like an organized military strategy, according to refugees. Joanna Moriarty, who’s part of a global fact-finding delegation visiting Tripoli this week, also reports that NATO rebels have gone house to house through Misurata, asking families if they support NATO. If the families say no, they are killed on the spot. If families say they want to stay out of the fighting, NATO rebels take a different approach to scare other families. The doors of “neutral homes” are welded shut, Moriarty says, trapping families inside. In Libyan homes, windows are typically barred. So when the doors to a family compound get welded shut, Libyans are entombed in their own houses, where NATO forces can be sure large families will slowly starve to death.
These are daily occurrences, not isolated events. And Gadhaffi’s soldiers are not responsible. In fact, pro-Gadhaffi and “neutral” families are targeted as the victims of the attacks. Some of the NATO tactics may have occurred in hopes of laying blame on Gadhaffi’s door. However the attacks are back firing.
Flashback to Serbia
The events are eerily reminiscent of Serbia’s conflict in the Balkans with its notorious rape camps— Except today NATO itself is perpetrating these War Crimes—as if they have learned the worst terror tactics from their enemies.
Their actions would be categorized as War Crimes, just like Serb leader, Slobadon Milosevic—except that NATO won’t allow itself to face prosecution. According to NATO, International Law is for the other guy.
NATO is wrong. So long as NATO governments provide the funding, assault rifles, military training, ground advisers, support vehicles and air power, they are fully responsible for the actions of their soldiers in the war zone. Libya’s rebels are not a rag tag fighting force, either. Thanks to NATO’s largesse, financed by U.S. and British taxpayers, they’re fully decked out in military uniforms, parading through the streets with military vehicles for all the people to see.
And they do see. In Washington, Congress likes to pretend that America has not become involved in the day to day actualities of military planning. However refugees have observed U.S, British, French and Israeli soldiers standing by as rebel soldiers attack civilians.
“Rape parties” are the most graphic examples of NATO’s loss of moral control. One weeping father told the fact-finding delegation how a couple of weeks ago NATO rebels targeted seven separate households, kidnapping a virgin daughter from each pro-Gadhaffi family. The rebels were paid for each kidnapped girl, just as they are paid for each Libyan soldier they kill— like mercenary soldiers. They hustled the girls into trucks, and took them to a building where the girls were locked in separate rooms.
NATO soldiers proceeded to drink alcohol, until they got very drunk. Then the leader told them to rape the virgin daughters in gang bang style. When they’d finished raping the girls, the NATO leader told them to cut the breasts off the living girls and bring the breasts to him. They did this while the girls were alive and screaming. All the girls died hideous deaths. Then their severed breasts were taken to a local square and arranged to spell the word “whore.”
The grieving father spoke to a convention of workers, attended by the global fact-finding delegation. He was openly weeping, as all of us should. NATO’s offenses in Libya are as terrible and unforgivable as Syria’s castration and mutilation of the 13 year old boy that shocked the world. Yet so long as NATO’s the guilty party, the western media has looked the other way in distaste.
Some of us are paying attention— We can see that NATO has gone rogue in Libya. And the Libyan people themselves consider it unforgivable. Last week, 2000 Tribal Leaders gathered in Tripoli to draft a Constitution for the country, as demanded by the British government. Notoriously, British warships and U.S. drones pounded the streets of Tripoli with bunker bombs and missiles for days and nights close to where the Tribal Leaders were meeting. From Tripoli, it felt awfully like the British were trying to stop the Libyan people from bringing this Constitution to life.
Tribal Leaders Condemn British Aggression
Here’s what those 2,000 Tribal Leaders had to say about British aggression, in a statement approved unanimously on June 3. Sheikh Ali, head of the Tribal Leaders, delivered it to Joanna Moriarty and other members of the global fact finding mission:
“The Libyan people have the right to govern themselves. Constant attacks from the skies, at all hours of the day have completely disrupted the lives of the families of Libya. There has never been any fighting in Tripoli, yet we are bombed every day. We are civilians and we are being killed by the British and NATO. Civilians are people without guns, yet the British and NATO protect only the armed crusaders from the East by acting as their attack army. We have read the UN resolutions and there is no mention of bombing innocent civilians. There is no mention of assassinating the legitimate authorities in all of Libya.
“The Libyan People have the right to select their own leaders. We have suffered occupation by foreign countries for thousands of years. Only in the last 41 years have we Libyans enjoyed property ownership. Only in the last 41 years have we seen our country develop. Only in the last 41 years have we seen all of the Libyans enjoy a better life, and know that our children will have a better life then we have had. But now with the British and NATO bombings of our country, we see the destruction of our new and developed infrastructure.
“We leaders see the destruction of our culture. We leaders see tears in the eyes of our children because of the constant fear from the “rain of terror” in the skies of Libya from the British and NATO bombings. Our old people suffer from heart problems, increased diabetes and loss of vigor. Our young mothers are losing their babies every day because of the stress of the British and NATO bombings. These lost babies are the future of Libya. They can never be replaced. Our armies have been destroyed by the British and NATO bombings. We cannot defend ourselves from attacks from anyone.
“As Tribal Leaders of Libya, we must ask why have the British and NATO decided to wage this war against the Libyan people? There are a small percentage of dissidents in the east of Libya that started an armed insurrection against our legitimate authority. Every country has the right to defend itself against armed insurrection. So why cannot Libya defend itself?
“The Tribal Leaders of Libya demand that all acts of aggression, by the British and NATO, against the Libyan People stop immediately.”
Does that sound like NATO’s got a winning strategy? If so, they should think again. Even if Gadhaffi falls, NATO has no hope of eliminating the entire tribal structure of the Libya, which embraces all families and clans. Instead NATO is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the people with every missile that smashes into another building.
The Libyan people are fighting back. This report arrived from Tripoli today. It is not edited, and describes a backlash in tribal warfare from the City of Darna in the East, where the rebellion is supposed to be strongest:
“People found the body of Martyr Hamdi Jumaa Al-Shalwi in Darna city eastern Libya. His head was cut off and then placed in front of the headquarters of the Internal Security Dernah. That was after being kidnapped from a checkpoint complex Herich. In response to this Al-Shalwi family erected a funeral tent to receive condolences in which the green flag [of Libya] was raised.
“After the funeral the whole city of Darna rose up with all its tribes which include:- the Abu Jazia family, Al-Shalwi family, The Quba families, Ain Marra families. After that, Al-Shalwi family and Bojazia tribe attacked the headquarters of the Transitional Council and shot all the rats (rebels) and green flags were raised. Furthermore, the son of Sofian Qamom was killed, also two members of Al- Qaeda got killed by residents of the city of Darna. The flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya was raised above Darna after the clashes.”
CNN has reported none of this. The corporate media continues to lull Americans into false confidence in the progress of the Libyan War. Americans are way out of the loop as to the failures of the War effort. As a result, Libyans are losing trust in the potential for friendships with the West. An unlikely champion might restore that faith. Right now a team of international attorneys is preparing an emergency grievance on behalf of the Tribal Leaders and the Libyan people. The International Peace Community could contribute substantially to restoring Libya’s faith in the West by supporting this human rights action. Indeed, the Libyan people and Tribal Leaders deserve our support. Together we must demand that NATO face prosecution for War Crimes, citing these examples and others.
NATO governments must be required to pay financial damages to Libyan families, on par with what the U.S. and Britain would demand for their own citizens under identical circumstances. The world cannot tolerate double standards, whereby powerful nations abuse helpless citizens. The International Geneva Conventions of War must be enforced, and equal force of the law must be applied.
The Fight for Misurata
Though attacks are widespread, some of the worst abuses are occurring in Misurata. The City has the only mega port in Libya, and handles transportation for the country, including the largest oil and gas depots. NATO will stop at nothing to take the City.
Refugees report that the Israeli Star of David flag was draped over the largest Mosque in Misurata on the second day of fighting, actions guaranteed to humiliate and antagonize the local population.
NATO forces have cut off food and medical supplies throughout Libya. But the seas are plentiful with fish in Mediterranean waters. Brave fishermen have taken their boats out of port, trying to harvest fish for the hungry population. To break their perseverance, American drones and British war planes steadily fire missiles on the fishing boats, deliberately targeting non-military vessels to chase them out of the waters.
Yet for all of its superior fire power and tactical advantages, NATO still appears to be losing. According to the fact-finding delegation, reporting today, many rebels have left Misurata and have taken boats back to Benghazi. The big central part of Misurata is now free and under central military control. The Libyan people shot down two helicopter gunships near the town of Zlitan. And although Al Jazeera played a grand story about a major uprising against Ghadafi in Tripoli, one of the Tribal leaders’ wives lives on the street that claims to be the center of the demonstration, and declared that she saw no crowds out of her window. Buses pictured in Al Jazeera video do not run in Tripoli.
One has to ask: What kind of society does NATO think it’s creating, if in fact Gadhaffi can be deposed—which looks very unlikely? Have Washington and London learned nothing from their failure in Iraq? The cruelty and debasement of NATO’s forces is already fueling profound hatreds that will continue for the next generation.
Who could be proud of such “allies?” Not the Libyan people, surely.
NATO soldiers are no better than thugs. Anyone else would be labeled terrorists. Most worrisome, NATO’s actions are guaranteed to have serious consequences for long term political stability in Libya. Vendettas are forming between tribes and family clans that will carry over for decades. It is extremely short-sighted and self destructive.
NATO should take this warning to heart: Its soldiers are not legal-proof. The International Peace Community is already taking action to uphold Libya’s natural rights at the United Nations. Many of us in the International Peace Community shall defend Libya’s women. And we shall demand War Crimes prosecution and major financial damages against NATO governments, on behalf of the people.
Nobody’s fooled by NATO’s story that Gadhaffi’s the guilty party. We know that Washington, Britain, France, Italy— and Israel are the real culprits.
The murdered women of Misurata shall have justice. NATO can count on it.
This article can be reprinted in whole or part with attribution to the author.
Susan Lindauer covered Libya at the United Nations as a U.S. Asset from 1995 to 2003, and started talks for the Lockerbie Trial. She is the author of Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq.