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Reply #30: The Surreal Ruins of Qaddafi’s Never-Never Land [View All]

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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-21-11 10:48 PM
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30. The Surreal Ruins of Qaddafi’s Never-Never Land
Edited on Wed Sep-21-11 11:15 PM by tabatha
On the evening of Aug. 23, during the final hours of the battle for Tripoli, a 26-year-old lawyer named Mustafa Abdullah Atiri was lying, exhausted, against the back wall of a filthy tin-roofed warehouse crammed with 150 prisoners. He had been beaten and tortured every day since Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s soldiers arrested him four days earlier. It was just after the muezzin’s first call to evening prayer — about 10 minutes before 8 — when a pair of guards walked to the door, raised their AK-47 rifles and began spraying the men with bullets. Another guard threw a grenade into the densely packed crowd. Bodies fell on top of Atiri with the first fusillade, protecting him from the blast. Then the guards opened fire again. Blood began seeping down from the bodies above, soaking his jeans. As the officers walked back across the yard to reload, a guard named Abdel Razaq, who had shown the men some small mercies over the previous days, went to the door and shouted at the survivors: “Run! Run!”

I first met Atiri four days later. He was standing in the yard of the prison he had escaped from, a big man in a sweaty orange polo shirt with enormous, haunted eyes. It was noon under a blazing sun, and the smell of rotting corpses was stifling. Three men lay dead on the ground at our feet, their bodies bloated, dried blood pooled around them. Acrid smoke was still rising from the dark interior of the warehouse where Atiri and his fellow prisoners had been held. I walked over to take a look. I have been to a number of war zones, but nothing prepared me for what I saw. Dozens of skulls and twisted skeletons lay in a charred mound, surrounded by bones and bits of old, burned tires. There were at least 50 human remains there, and probably many more. Atiri, standing behind me, had known these men, some of them just teenagers. One was an imam who led them in prayer, he said. Atiri’s eyes roved wildly around the prison yard, his face contorted with grief. It was only after the massacre, he told me, that he realized the significance of something he saw two hours before it all began, as the guards were moving him across the prison yard. An officer had arrived at the prison’s front gate, flanked by aides. A guard whispered to Atiri that it was Khamis el-Qaddafi, the dictator’s youngest son, a military commander known for brutality. “The guard told me, ‘Khamis is signing the orders for your final release,’ ” Atiri said as we stood by the fire-blackened warehouse. “And he laughed.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/magazine/the-surreal-...

Amazing read.
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