Foreign Dispatch: Happiness & Horror in Tripoli

by Fox News Radio’s Alastair Wanklyn

Everyone wants to shake your hand.

“Britain! America!” grins one rebel gunman, testing his English.  “Thank you for free!”

There’s a honeymoon feel to Tripoli.  Baghdad felt like that too, for a few months in 2003.

Tripoli is in better shape than Baghdad.

There’s little looting; there’s no sectarian divide; there’s a smaller population to share a hefty oil wealth.

Libya might escape Iraq’s fate.  But I wouldn’t put money on it.

Too many people have guns.  I saw mountains of brand-new ammunition cases, marked “Tripoli/Bengazi” in red lettering, apparently supplied since the uprising began.

I watched two pre-teen boys posing for photographs with shouldered AK-47′s.  They could barely lift them.

Like Saddam’s baathists, Muammar Qaddafi’s supporters were lying low.

But on some walls they expressed their silent presence with graffiti declaring loyalty to “God, Muammar, Libya only”.

And within days of fleeing, Qaddafi declared in a phone call to a TV network that tribes loyal to him would unleash an insurgency, burning the ground wherever the rebels were in control.

He’ll never return to power.  There’s nothing left of his military.  Armored troop carriers lie charred outside his leader’s compound; his offices are destroyed.

And Libyans won’t tolerate again Qaddafi’s brutality.

I saw two apparent execution sites.  At one, adjacent to Qaddafi’s compound, I watched local residents pulling half a dozen putrid corpses from a dry riverbed.

They gave me a face mask, but it did nothing to sanitize the smell or the horror.

The other site was more shocking.  The charred bodies of perhaps 40 or 50 individuals lay in a metal shed, a makeshift detention center according to locals.

Troops executed the men by tossing in grenades then opening fire, a survivor was quoted saying.  They then burned the dead and injured.

Plastic zip ties lay on the ground, as if sliced from prisoners’ wrists.  And the soil adjacent to the shed was disturbed.  We guessed further victims lay beneath it.

Human-rights groups will probably document this site in detail.

Libyans knew such atrocities were happening; they won’t tolerate another regime that retains power through fear.

But don’t assume this revolution will have as neat a plot as those in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia.

Listen HERE to a slice of Alastair Wanklyn’s reporting from Tripoli:

Audio clip:




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