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Abdul Fatah Younis Killing: War Death or Assassination?

by Stephen Lendman Saturday, Jul. 30, 2011 at 9:43 PM


Abdul Fatah Younis Killing: War Death or Assassination? - by Stephen Lendman

On July 28, New York Times writer David Kirkpatrick headlined, "Death of Rebel Leader Stirs Fears of Tribal Conflict," saying:

The killing of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) military commander, Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis (Gaddafi's former Interior and Defense Minister) and two other rebel officers, "stirred fears that a tribal feud could divide" anti-Gaddafi forces.

On Thursday evening, NTC head Mustafa Abdul Jalil (former Gaddafi Justice Minister) announced it, saying Younis was recalled from Brega to Benghazi for questioning on the war's progress. He suggested pro-Gaddafi forces killed him, providing no further details, including why his body wasn't recovered.

Nor did he explain why soldiers from Benghazi's elite unit, 17 Brigade, surrounded his house earlier that day. In fact, ahead of his announced death, supporters said they'd use force to free him from NTC custody.

Reports last Sunday night said he died in fighting around Brega. It was retracted, however, when Younis was interviewed Monday, saying he was alive, well, and that rebels would prevail before Ramadan (around August 1). In response, TNC officials claimed someone impersonated him. Apparently, he was under arrest at the time.

Questions remain how a field commander, usually traveling in a heavily-guarded, multi-vehicle convoy armored car, could be easily gunned down with two of his aides.

Speculation swirled about whether Jalil either ordered him arrested or assassinated. Al Jazeera said he was "suspected of engaging in unauthorized communication with Gaddafi's representatives and had possibly even helped supply regime troops with weapons."

The latter comment is typical Al Jazeera, a mouthpiece for power, making uncorroborated untrue claims. As a result, its credibility is seriously compromised, a topic previous articles addressed.

Last April, however, Gaddafi's daughter, Aisha, suggested Younis remained loyal to her father, saying a former top regime figure was talking with government officials, with no further details.

London Independent writer Kim Sengupta said Younis supporters claimed "fellow revolutionary fighters" killed him, adding he was "either executed with a shot to the head or died under torture while being interrogated."

Others close to him said he'd been detained on suspicion of collaborating or having unauthorized dealings with Gaddafi ministers in Tripoli, and that members of his family remained close to the regime.

The same day, roadblocks were set up in Benghazi after Younis loyalists reportedly left the front lines and returned to the opposition capital.

In fact, his supporters stormed the hall where Jalil announced his death, spraying the room with gunfire. No casualty information was given.

Reports suggested hours before his announced death, Younis supporters knew it. As a result, it raises questions why it wasn't divulged earlier. Instead, Jalil waited until 10PM Thursday, issuing a short statement only without answering questions.

Gaddafi Opponents and Younis Defection

Most were self-serving opportunists. Stratfor's George Friedman described them as "consist(ing) of a cluster of tribes and personalities, some within the Libyan government, some within the army, and many other longtime opponents of the regime. (However), it would be an enormous mistake to see what happened in Libya (last winter) as a mass, liberal democratic uprising. The narrative has to be strained to work in most countries, but in Libya, it breaks down completely."

In fact, most opponents came from the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) and a group called the Islamic Emirate of Barqa (northwestern Libya's former name), composed largely of former Al Qaeda fighters. Together they became the NTC, backed by Washington and other Western nations as a tool to colonize Libya.

On February 22, Younis defected, appointing himself rebel military commander. However, longtime CIA collaborator Khalifa Haftar (another former Gaddafi commander) also claimed the top military post. As a result, the two men clashed after creating parallel chains of command, an untenable situation as it turned out.

Foreign Policy writer David Kenner headlined, "The strange, unexplained death of the Libyan rebels' military chief," saying:

Before defecting last February 22, Younis was one of Gaddafi's "most trusted lieutenants," often called his second in command. At the same time, internal rebel feuding was well known.

Moreover, New Yorker writer Jon Lee Anderson said, even after defecting, Younis was "distrusted by the shabab (Libyan youth) and by many council members."

According to Dartmouth Professor Dirk Vandewalle:

The TNC "military is in disarray. It has never been able to really define a clear command strategy and my hunch is that it probably never will, despite all of the aid it is getting....You're seeing in a sense a proto-state that has no reference at all, has no institutions to go by (with) self-appointed representatives in the TNC" with no legitimacy. "So there remains an enormous amount of chaos."

It makes sense given rebel fighters' ineffectiveness on the ground. In fact, without heavy NATO air support, they easily would have been routed quickly. Daily bombings and air cover made it possible for them to continue, with considerable supplies of weapons and training by US and UK intelligence and special forces operatives.

In the aftermath of Younis' killing, Kenner questioned Jalil's inability or unwillingness to answer questions about the incident, especially how a significant security lapse happened. "Whatever the case may be," he said, "the honeymoon with the rebels is over; bring on the politics."

A Final Comment

On July 29, reported "much shooting going on in (Benghazi after residents) came out en masse as the news spread." Reportedly, rebel-held prisoners were freed. People "also marched on the rebel (TNC) and attacked it and have made a new civilian leadership, according to reports received...." Moreover, "(t)he airport is back under popular control, as are the military bases."

On July 29, independent journalist Lizzie Phelan, reporting from Tripoli at 2:00 AM, said:

Before his death, Younis "gave a speech saying all he and his followers want is (the strategic oil city of) Brega, not Misrata or any of the west and that Gaddafi can take it."

She also concurred with Mathaba analysts that fighting among rebel factions forced NTC officials "to flee Benghazi and they closed all communications to" the city. A popular uprising took over Benghazi airport. "There are huge celebrations in Tripoli right now with fireworks and gunshots firing across the capital."

Mathaba also said pro-Gaddafi support "has grown to at least 80% of the population." It's unsurprising that Libyans angered by NATO bombings and rebel atrocities now strongly support their government, not cutthroat killers and their opportunist leaders representing Western interests, not theirs.

In addition, Mathaba analysts believe if conflict persists through Ramadan, pro-Gaddafi support may "rise to 95% and the active opposition will decrease below 1%."

Increasingly, NATO's Libya war looks lost, at least round one with likely more destabilization and perhaps future conflict planned.

For now, however on July 29, Financial Times writer Ian Bremmer may have headlined a sentiment official sources aren't admitting by saying "(d)on't start wars you don't know how to end," adding in the wake of Younis' death:

"NATO is unlikely to either force (Gaddafi out) or cut a politically salable deal with him anytime soon. Meanwhile, the opposition" is in disarray following their military leader's death. Going forward, "(t)he most likely outcome remains a country in pieces...."

Perhaps so, but if a popular Benghazi uprising grows, all bets are off on what's next. So far, things are fluid but bear close watching given the latest dramatic events.

A Final Comment

On July 29, Middle East/Central Asian analyst Mahdi Nazemroaya (from Tripoli) and Global editor Michel Chossudovsky headlined, "The War on Libya: Divisions within the Transitional Council and Rebel Forces," saying:

Younis' death "created a vacuum in the military command structure...." Short-run military weakening will also follow, affecting NATO operations. At the same time, his assassination "tends to reinforce US-NATO control over the Islamist faction of the insurgency," covertly supported by CIA and MI6, as it's been well before conflict erupted last winter.

"What is unfolding in Libya is the 'Kosovo Model.' The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was integrated by Islamic brigades affiliated with Al Qaeda (and organized crime. It's also been) supported by the CIA, German intelligence (BND) and Britain's MI6."

In 1999, it was a NATO "instrument" in its Serbia/Kosovo war, later heading "an independent 'democratic' Kosovo 'Mafia State.' "

In Libya today, "The Big Lie" is also in play as "the US-NATO 'on both sides' of their 'war on terrorism.' " They're also "on both sides of 'The Big Lie,'" supporting Al Qaeda against "Islamic terrorism."

In fact, the entire operation is a lie like all wars, fought for wealth, power, privilege and domination, not liberation, democratic values, or humanitarian reasons.

However, Nazemroaya also believes NATO may have bitten off more than it can chew. In his same day Global article, written before Younis' death, he headlined, "The War on Libya: An Imperialist Project to Create Three Libyas," saying:

Libyans "are prepared to fix their problems at home for the sake of saving their country, their society, and their families," unwilling to be colonized by Washington and other NATO countries.

As a result, they're determined even if Western forces invade or increase "bombings to devastating levels. Although the conflict is far from over, in the end history will judge the NATO war against Libya as a huge mistake and as the beginning of the end for NATO."

Established for offense, not defense, NATO's operated a US imperial tool. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter called it a "missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe." Strategically intervening under its control, it now threatens world peace and human survival.

As a result, hopefully Nazemroaya's right! Hope also Libyans manage to avoid the "Kosovo Model," or challenge and overcome it if it arrives.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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