Proving once again the old adage, it's an ill wind that blows no good, Michael Ledeen shares an email he received from a Libyan indicating the cartoon riots there, ginned up by the government, have turned into anti Qadhafi riots.
On February 17th, 2006, the Qadhafi regime orchestrated a demonstration in front of the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Publicly, the regime claimed the demonstration was against an Italian minister's support for the Danish cartoonists. In truth the demonstration was orchestrated to intimidate the Italians who had pledged to re—open the investigation of Imam Musa Sadr disappearance. Mr. Sadr is a Lebanese Shiite cleric, who disappeared in 1978 during a visit to Libya.
The demonstration deviated from the script that was defined by the regime, when the crowed reacted negatively after a regime operative began reading a statement in support for the Global Leader of the Revolution (Qadhafi). The crowed drowned the speaker with noise, then they headed toward the Italian consulate, where a Libyan security officer, shot and killed a 14—year old boy, who climbed to consulate roof to take down the Italian flag. At that point, the demonstration evolved into a riot for the poor and impoverished against the Libyan regime. In addition to torching the Italian consulate, rioters also torched police and security cars, the treasury and social security buildings and headquarters for the police and the Revolutionary Committees. The rioters also stormed the detention centers and forced the Internal Security to free those it arrested. In an effort to isolate Benghazi and prepare for an eventual violent assault, text messaging was disabled and phone communication to the city was also disrupted. It was reported that rioting has spread to the coastal cities of Tubroq and Derna.
The official count for the dead is 13, but doctors at Benghazi hospitals say the total number is much higher. The Qadhafi regime has been applying impoverishing and extreme force to pacify and intimidate the people of Libya 's second largest city, because the cit y has been the source of continued opposition. As a result it was natural that the demonstration turned into a riot of the impoverished and oppressed.
In the past 15 hours, there have been multiple and authenticated accounts that Benghazi is under siege by Qadhafi's security and units of Commandoes and a violent assault is in the planning stage. Mussa Kussa who is the head of Libyan External Security Organization is leading the efforts to crackdown and eventual violent assault on the city. Kussa is well known to Libyans as a ruthless killer who does not hesitate to use extreme force. He is famous for ordering the murder and mutilation of dissidents in Libya and abroad. He is also famous for orchestrating the bombing of Pan—Am 103. In addition Kussa was also instrumental in using the Libyan Islamic Call Society to lead subversive efforts in West Africa and else where.
I fear the worst, because Kussa is taking a leading role in subduing the city of Benghazi. I fear for the safety of the un—armed civilians who are standing up to a dictator who has been oppressing them for 36 years. I hope that America takes note and breaks its silence about the violent practices of Qadhafi.
Clarice Feldman 2 22 06