It has been more than two years since the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator whose reign subjected an impoverished people to four decades of murder and terror.
When the bedraggled former leader was hauled out of a drainpipe and shot in October 2011, his death ended the bloody Nato-led civil war that had ravaged the country since the start of that year.
The full horror of his brutality has been slow to emerge, with many Libyans still fearing retaliation by those who continue to be loyal to their late leader. But it can now be revealed that the most heartbreaking of Gaddafi’s victims include hundreds, possibly thousands of teenage girls who, throughout his 42-year reign, were beaten, raped and forced to become his sex slaves.
Chilling: This is the bedroom in Gaddafi’s ‘sex dungeon’, decorated in 70s style with brown walls and a double bed, where he would take girls as young as 14 and sexually abuse them against their will
Degrading: This is the fully-fitted gynecological suite where young girls would be placed in one of the two beds and checked for STDs before they were sent in to the waiting dictator
Many were virgins kidnapped from schools and universities and kept prisoner for years in a specially designed secret sex lair hidden within Tripoli University or his many palaces. In the 26 months since he was deposed, Gaddafi’s den – where he regularly raped girls as young as 14 – has remained locked. But today its gaudy interior, where the colonel brutalised his victims, can be seen for the first time in photographs from a hard-hitting BBC4 documentary.
Inside the small, nondescript single-storey complex, the girls were forced to watch pornography to ‘educate’ them for their degrading treatment at the hands of Gaddafi. And even those who did manage to escape were often shunned by their deeply religious Muslim families who believed their family honour had been tainted.
When the dictator’s body was dragged through the streets by a baying mob, just hours after he was beaten and shot in the head, the hastily convened transitional government moved swiftly to seal off the sex dungeon. They feared the full extent of Gaddafi’s debased and lewd lifestyle would horrify the Western world and cause deep embarrassment to Libya.
One of the rooms holds little more than a double bed, lit by an orange lamp. Its 1970s decor and grimy Jacuzzi – all left exactly as they were when Gaddafi last used it – give it a seedy and gloomy air. But even more chilling is the clinical gynaecological suite in an adjoining room. It was here, on two beds fitted with stirrups behind a table laden with surgical instruments, that Gaddafi’s young victims were examined to ensure they had no sexually transmittable diseases. And here they were forced to undergo abortions if they became pregnant.
‘Sexual deviant’: Colonel Gaddafi kept hundreds of girls as sex slaves during his years at the helm of Libya, but also kept a ‘harem’ of young boys
They, however, were the lucky ones. Other young victims were so badly abused that they were dumped in car parks and on waste ground, and left to die.
Gaddafi’s modus operandi was to tour schools and universities where female students were invited to his lectures.
As he spoke before his hushed audience, he would silently scan the room seeking out attractive girls. Before leaving he would pat those he had ‘selected’ on the head.
Within hours his private bodyguards would round up those chosen and kidnap them. If their families tried to keep them from Gaddafi’s clutches, they were gunned down.
One teacher at a Tripoli school recalled how the girls were all very young. ‘Some were only 14,’ she said. ‘They would simply take the girl they wanted. They had no conscience, no morals, not an iota of mercy even though she was a mere child.’
One mother, whose daughter was a student, said the community around Tripoli University lived in fear when a visit from the colonel was announced. ‘The girls he wanted would be rounded up and sent to him,’ she said.
‘One just disappeared and they never found her again, despite her father and brothers searching for her. Another was found three months later, cut, raped and lying in the middle of a park. She had been left for dead.’
Even today, the Libyan people are afraid to speak openly about Gaddafi’s depravity, fearing reprisals from his former henchmen.
But one woman – who was repeatedly raped by the despot over seven years from the age of 15 – has anonymously spoken of how he terrorised and abused her. She had been chosen to present the colonel with a bouquet when he toured her school in his home town of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, 350 miles east of Tripoli.
When he patted her head afterwards, in an apparently paternal gesture, she thought she had pleased the man she and her fellow Libyans were forced to call ‘the Guide’.
The next day three woman dressed in military uniform arrived telling her parents she was needed to present more flowers. Instead, she was driven at high speed to Gaddafi’s lair. Once there, he barked at his women soldiers: ‘Get her ready.’
The girl was stripped, given a blood test and shaved of all but her pubic hair. She was dressed in a G-string, forced into a low-cut gown and had thick make-up plastered on her face. When she was shoved into Gaddafi’s room, to her horror he was lying naked on the bed. When she tried to run out, the women soldiers grabbed her and flung her back on the bed.
She was raped repeatedly during the seven years she was held captive, eventually escaping when a door was accidentally left unlocked.
Fuelled by cocaine and alcohol – and often Viagra – Gaddafi abused her horribly. ‘I will never forget that first time, that moment,’ she says. ‘He violated my body and pierced my soul with a dagger. That blade will never come out.’
It took the documentary-makers months of negotiations to be allowed access to information on Gaddafi as Libya remains secretive and hide-bound by bureaucracy.
Coerced: Gaddafi had a private all-female guard, some of whom he allegedly also abused, having ‘selected’ them from schools and universities across the country (file picture)
Ultimate terror: When a girl had been ‘selected’, Gaddafi’s guards would kidnap her from her family, take her to the dungeon, where she would be stripped, checked for STDs, shaved of all but her pubic hair, plastered in makeup and sent in to Gaddafi, a witness has said
But they also established that Gaddafi set up a ‘murder for hire’ team run from Havana to rid him of enemies around the world. In a secret interview from Cuba, former CIA agent Frank Terpil said: ‘I would say [it was] Murder Incorporated . . . murder for hire. Gaddafi thought that anybody who was a dissident, they [should be] eliminated, he had contracts out on a bunch of people in London.’
He often stored the bodies of those killed in Libya in freezers so that he could regularly view them.
If Gaddafi was power-crazed, he was also paranoid. A Brazilian plastic surgeon found himself escorted deep inside a bunker in Tripoli in the middle of the night in order to remove fat from Gaddafi’s belly and inject it into his increasingly wrinkled face.
Despite the pain, Gaddafi refused a general anaesthetic, fearing he might be poisoned – and because he wished to remain alert.
Halfway through the operation, he stopped to have a hamburger.
He also created an elite squad of bodyguards – all female – whom he used for sex and forced to watch multiple barbaric executions.
For decades Gaddafi surrounded himself with these beautiful young women. Dressed in close-fitting military uniforms, with manicured nails and perfectly coiffed hair, they exuded glamour while toting guns.
But they were little more than disposable prostitutes used and abused by Gaddafi and his family.
Known as ‘the Haris al-Has’ – the private female guards – almost all were coerced into joining his cadre. One of them, who admits she had ‘once adored him’, recalled the horrific treatment they had to endure. ‘Early one morning, at 2am, we were taken to a closed hall,’ she said. ‘We were to witness the murder of 17 students. We were not allowed to scream. We were made to cheer and shout. To act as though delighted by this display. Inside I was crying. They shot them all, one by one.’
According to Benghazi-based psychologist Seham Sergewa, who interviewed scores of the girls for the International Criminal Court, there were about 400 members of the elite squad over the years.
‘A pattern emerged in their stories,’ she explains. ‘The women would first be raped by the dictator then passed on, like used objects, to one of his sons and eventually to high- ranking officials for more abuse.
‘In one case a girl of 18 said she was raped in front of her father. She kept begging her distraught father to look away. Many of the victims say they contemplated suicide many times. Doubtless there were some who took their own lives.’
It has also emerged that teams of boys were sent to Gaddafi’s sex den, where they too were abused. Former chief of protocol Nuri Al Mismari, who was at Gaddafi’s side for 40 years, adds: ‘He was terribly sexually deviant. Young boys and so on. He had his own boys. They used to be called the “services group”. All of them were boys and bodyguards . . . a harem for his pleasure.’ One of the few Libyans who was prepared to be named and talk about the horrors Gaddafi inflicted on his people was Baha Kikhia, the widow of Libya’s former foreign minister with whom Gaddafi had a frosty relationship.
When her husband vanished one evening, she confronted Gaddafi about his whereabouts. The colonel insisted he was being kept alive but, to Baha’s horror, his body was one of many found in freezers after the regime fell.
‘He liked to keep his victims in the refrigerators to look at them now and again,’ she says haltingly. ‘He would visit his victims.
‘It was as though they were some sort of macabre souvenirs. Something that he could look at and touch to remind himself of his omnipotence. Some had been there as long as 25 years.’
The Libyan people had always known Gaddafi to be violent and unstable, but it was only after he was accused of perpetrating the Lockerbie bombing on December 21, 1988 – in which 270 American and British lives were lost when Libya blew up the Pan Am airliner on which they were travelling – that the West was prepared to take any action.
Strict sanctions were applied by America, although according to Gwenyth Todd, the former National Security Council Director for Libya at the White House, Western leaders – including Britain’s then Prime Minister, Tony Blair – eventually sought to have them lifted and Gaddafi’s reputation restored.
In 2001, Libyan Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing and jailed for life.
But eight years later, seriously ill with cancer, he was controversially released by the Scottish legal system on compassionate grounds –although many including Jim Swire, the father of one of the victims, maintain he was not guilty of the bombing.
The BBC4 documentary also suggests the Lockerbie jet was not the only one Gaddafi’s regime blew up. Ali Aujali, Libya’s former ambassador to Washington, insists Gaddafi was responsible for bringing down a civilian aircraft in 1992 within a day of the fourth Lockerbie anniversary, killing all 157 on board.
‘Gaddafi shot down a Libyan jet just to send a message to the world that sanctions had hurt Libyan lives,’ Aujali says. ‘It was his way of showing the world how sanctions were affecting life in Libya – making it look as though the plane crashed because it needed spare parts which weren’t available. It was 100 per cent down to Gaddafi.’
Storyville: Mad Dog – Gaddafi’s Secret World will be shown on BBC4 at 10pm on February 3.
h/t The DailyMail
This is sure to be a big talking point over the next few days with Republicans pulling their facts out of the air and Democrats getting their facts from the actual record.
Remember the point in the second presidential debate where Mitt Romney found himself saying that President Obama did not refer to the Libyan attack – where four Americans were killed – by using the word ‘terror’? Well Romney swore that he was right in saying that President Obama did not refer to the attacks as a terrorist attack for “14 days.”
Fact is, the very next day after the attack, President Obama held a press conference in the Rose Garden and referred to what happened in Libya as something being done by terrorists.
Romney again was wrong – another deer in the headlight moment!
You may try, but you simply cannot change the facts.
The big story now, in the Republican circles at least, seems to be the tragedy that happened in Benghazi Libya on September 11th 2012 when four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed. The Obama administration originally said that the attack on the Embassy was the result of a hateful video against Islam, a video that caused violent uprising in many Islāmic nations.
After an investigation, it was determined that the American Embassy was the target of a terrorist attack. It was also revealed that the Embassy may have requested extra security before the attack happened.
Republicans led by Mitt Romney, saw some political benefit in attacking the Obama administration for not “providing the necessary security” the Embassy requested, and they have harped on this over the last few weeks. But a new report is shedding more light on this claim and the reason more security wasn’t sent to Benghazi.
It seems that Republicans, including the Republican vice president candidate Paul Ryan, voted to cut funding to the very department responsible for paying for extra security. The New York Times reports;
The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy, or maybe they do and figure that if they hurl enough doubts and complaints at the administration, they will deflect attention from their own poor judgments on the State Department’s needs.
But as part of the Republican majority that has controlled the House the last two years, Mr. Issa joined in cutting nearly a half-billion dollars from the State Department’s two main security accounts. One covers things like security staffing, including local guards, armored vehicles and security technology; the other, embassy construction and upgrades. In 2011 and 2012, President Obama sought a total of $5 billion, and the House approved $4.5 billion. In 2009, Mr. Issa voted for an amendment that would have cut nearly 300 diplomatic security positions. And the draconian budgets proposed by Mitt Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, would cut foreign affairs spending by 10 percent in 2013 and even more in 2016.
Moments after our Embassy was attacked in Libya and four Americans died, Mitt Romney was in front the cameras criticizing President Obama for the attacks. And now, in another feeble attempt to appear human, Mitt Romney has told a story about a Navy SEAL he claimed he met. As fate would have it, that SEAL was killed in Benghazi Libya last month. His name was Glen Doherty and he died honorably serving this country.
Mitt saw an opportunity to use Glen’s death as a political ploy and began using his meeting with the SEAL to gain votes. Said Romney, “…he came from Massachusetts, where I’d been governor, had family there. He also had skied in some of the places, snow skiing that I had found during the Winter Olympics in Utah, that I’d skied at. And we had a nice chat together.”
And you can imagine how shocked I was to learn that he was one of the two Navy — former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi, just a couple of weeks ago. And I read on CNN International that when the report came that our consulate had been attacked, that he and the other SEAL that was killed with him, that they were in a different place, they were about a mile away, an annex somewhere else in the city. And when they heard that the consulate was under attack, they went to the attack.”
Enter Barbara Doherty, Glen’s mom. And like all moms, her paternal instincts kicked in. Realizing what Mitt Romney was doing to the memory of her son, Barbara stepped up and demanded that Romney stopped using her son for his political gain.
“I don’t trust Romney,” Mrs. Doherty told Boston’s WHDH-TV. “He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda. It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.”
In a rare glimpse of morality, Romney’s campaign announced that they would stop using Glen for their cheap politics.
President Obama spoke today at the United Nations and discussed the unfortunate recent events Libya, where a mob attacked and killed four Americans including Chris Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
The attacks on our civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America. We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government and the Libyan people. And there should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice. I also appreciate that in recent days, the leaders of other countries in the region – including Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen – have taken steps to secure our diplomatic facilities, and called for calm. So have religious authorities around the globe.
But the attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded – the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; and that in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens.
Al-Bakoush told the Associated Press on Monday that Stevens was breathing, though his face was blackened and he seemed paralyzed.
A translation provided by The New York Times shows that one of the Libyans said: ‘I swear, he’s dead.’
Another man says: ‘Bring him out, man! Bring him out,’ another says.
There is hope as others are heard saying: ‘The man is alive. Move out of the way. Just bring him out, man.
‘Move, move, he is still alive!’
The crowd that had formed in the area then shouts: ‘Alive, Alive! God is great.’
Al-Bakoush said the crowd carried Stevens to a private car to drive him to a hospital, since there was no ambulance.
h/t The Daily Mail
President Obama used his Weekly Address to speak about the tragedy that happened in Libya where four Americans were killed. The President reassured Americans that as long as he’s Commander-In-Chief, he will do all he can to bring justice to the families of the four fallen heroes.
As we mourn their loss, we must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice. We will not waver in their pursuit. And we will never allow anyone to shake the resolve of the United States of America.
This tragic attack takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion – including Islam.
Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates. And so long as I am Commander-in-Chief, the United States will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans.