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Surviving in Libya

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LIBYA VOICES

Post by Kitkat on Mon 01 Sep 2014, 13:52

LIBYA VOICES:  This blog is a collection of the experiences of individuals who experienced the Libyan Civil War first hand.

Kevin Dawes, from San Diego, California travelled to Libya in June 2011 as a photojournalist, and almost immediately became involved with assisting rebel medics on the Dafniyah-Misrata frontline, and eventually ended up fighting alongside the rebels in Sirte, where his time in Libya came to a sudden and violent end.  He filmed much of what he experienced in Libya, and has uploaded around 300 of those videos onto his Youtube Channel.

Read more here:  Kevin Dawes Part One - Arrival
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Fri 26 Dec 2014, 10:48

update   The title of this thread (Surviving in Libya) has taken on a whole new meaning.

I wonder if people even realise just how much this means to the rest of the world ....


People forget so easily. (Out of sight - out of mind?)   We should all be reminded:

See the short video report here  arrow   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29639420

Three years after the revolution that drove Colonel Gaddafi from power, is Libya on the verge of becoming a failed state?

The country's elected parliament was driven from the capital Tripoli earlier this year by militants and is now based in a hotel in the eastern port of Tobruk, from where it is desperately trying to hold the country together.

Tim Whewell is one of the few foreign journalists to reach the city.


And ... a news report from today:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30602882
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Tue 20 Jan 2015, 10:56

So, Libya is now back full circle to exactly how I remember it when I was there (1993-94).

20 years on ............


Libya is a deeply disturbing country at present.

To get around as a foreigner, you need the support and assistance of one or other of the main armed groups.

Passing through the endless roadblocks is a frightening business. Everyone seems to have a gun.


The only way you can get to Libya now is by road from its neighbours, or by boat from Malta.


readmore  arrow   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-30876573


All that loss of life, livelihood, turmoil, grief and despair ..... for what?    For WHAT ? ... Evil or Very Mad
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Egypt strikes IS in Libya, pushes for international action

Post by Kitkat on Wed 18 Feb 2015, 16:55

Egypt bombed Islamic State militants in neighboring Libya on Monday and called on the United States and Europe to join an international military intervention in the chaotic North African state after extremists beheaded a group of Egyptian Christians.

The airstrikes bring Egypt overtly into Libya's turmoil, a reflection of Cairo's increasing alarm. Egypt now faces threats on two fronts — a growing stronghold of radicals on its western border and a militant insurgency of Islamic State allies on its eastern flank in the Sinai Peninsula — as well as its own internal challenges.
Islamic State group weapons caches and training camps were targeted "to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers," a military statement said. "Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield to protect and safeguard the security of the country and a sword that cuts off terrorism."

The announcement on state radio represents Egypt's first public acknowledgement of military action in post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya, where there has been almost no government control. Libya is where the Islamic State group has built up its strongest presence outside Syria and Iraq. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is lobbying Europe and the United States for a coordinated international response similar to the coalition air campaign in those countries.

"What is happening in Libya is a threat to international peace and security," said El-Sissi. El-Sissi spoke with France's president and Italy's prime minister Monday about Libya, and sent his foreign minister, Sameh Shukri, to New York to consult at the United Nations ahead of a terrorism conference opening Wednesday in Washington.

The bombs were dropped by U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets that left Egyptian bases for targets in the eastern Libyan city of Darna, according to Egyptian and Libyan security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk the press.

The strikes came hours after the Islamic State group issued a grisly video of the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians, mainly young men from impoverished families who were kidnapped after travelling to Libya for work. The video shows them being marched onto what is purported to be a Libyan beach before masked militants with knives carve off their heads.

Thirteen of the 21 came from Egypt's tiny Christian-majority village of el-Aour, where relatives wept in church and shouted the names of the dead on Monday. Babawi Walham, his eyes swollen from crying and barely able to speak, said his brother Samuel, a 30-year-old plumber, was in the video his family saw on the news Sunday night.

"Our life has been turned upside down," he told The Associated Press. "I watched the video. I saw my brother. My heart stopped beating. I felt what he felt." Libyan extremists loyal to the Islamic State and some 400 fighters from Yemen and Tunisia have seized control of Darna and the central city of Sirte and have built up a powerful presence in the capital, Tripoli, as well as the second-largest city, Benghazi. Libya's internationally recognized government has been driven into the country's far eastern corner.

Without publicly acknowledging it, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates carried out airstrikes against Islamist-allied militias last year, according to U.S. officials. "We will not fight there on the ground on behalf of anyone, but we will not allow the danger to come any closer to us," said one Egyptian security official, who claimed that intelligence recently gathered in Libya suggests advanced preparations by Islamic State militants to cross the border into Egypt. He did not elaborate.

For now, any foreign intervention should be limited to air strikes, with political and material support from the U.S.-led coalition staging airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, the Egyptian official said. Egypt already has been amassing intelligence on extremists in Libya in a joint effort with the Libyan armed forces and West European nations, including France.

Insurgents in Egypt's strategic Sinai Peninsula who recently declared their allegiance to the Islamic State rely heavily on arms smuggled from Libya, which has slid into chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled Gadhafi's 41-year rule.

France, a lead player in the campaign to oust Gadhafi, has campaigned for months for some kind of international action in Libya, and announced a deal Monday to sell fighter jets to Egypt. French troops are already in place near Libya's southern border in Niger as part of a counterterrorism force.
French President Francois Hollande's office said he and al-Sissi both "stressed the importance that the Security Council meets and that the international community takes new measures to confront this danger."

Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, meanwhile, said in an interview published Sunday in the Il Messaggero daily that her country is ready "for geographic, economic and historic reasons" to lead a coalition of European and North African countries to stop the militants' advance in a country less than 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Italy's southern tip.

"If in Afghanistan we sent 5,000 men, in a country like Libya which is much closer to home, and where the risk of deterioration is much more worrisome for Italy, our mission and commitment could be significant, even numerically," she was quoted as saying.

A NATO official who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with NATO practice said "there is no discussion within NATO on taking military action in Libya." However, Allies consult regularly on security developments in North Africa and the Middle East and we follow events in the region closely," the official said. "We also stand ready to support Libya with advice on defense and security institutions-building."


http://www.mail.com/int/news/world/3359712-egypt-strikes-libya-pushes-international-action.html#.3360808-rightcolumn-mostviewed1-3
__ Michael reported from el-Aour, Egypt. Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield in Rome, Maamoun Youssef in Cairo and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.




Related headlines

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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Fri 27 Feb 2015, 18:33

From my favourite writer, Brendan O'Neill, in this week's publication of Spiked :

The best reason to kick Cameron out? Libya

Why the hell of Libya isn't on the election agenda. Why it should be.

There are many good reasons to boot David Cameron out of Downing Street in May. Here’s one of the best: Libya.

In September 2011, Cameron, flanked by then French president Nicholas Sarkozy, gave a speech in Benghazi at which he congratulated both himself and the Libyan people — but mainly himself — for liberating Libya. NATO airstrikes, which had started six months earlier, had helped rid Libya of Gaddafi and created the conditions for ‘building democracy’, said Cameron. Where Gaddafi had threatened to turn Libya ‘into a hell’ and a ‘failed pariah state festering on Europe’s southern border’, our airstrikes saved it, unleashing a ‘new era’, Cameron trilled — to the cheering not only of Gaddafi-hating rebel groups, but of the British press, too. The Guardian congratulated Cameron for ‘changing the course of history’. ‘It is [now] difficult to argue with the stance Britain and France took on Libya back in March [2011]’, said its chief political correspondent.

And now? Three-and-a-half years on, how’s life in the nation which, according to Conservative Party insiders, the PM thought of as his ‘happy place’, the one unquestionably good thing he did in power? It isn’t happy, that’s for sure. It’s a disaster zone, a deeply divided, collapsing state in which vast swathes of territory are controlled by Islamists and even groups with links to the Islamic State. It is, in short, the very thing Cameron said he’d prevent it from becoming: ‘a hell’, a ‘failed pariah state festering on Europe’s southern border’.

readmore arrow  http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-best-reason-to-kick-cameron-out-libya/16725#.VPC0f-Er5u0


And another article from a previous recent edition of Spiked.  (Don't know how I missed this one):

Written by Henry Williams, from Spiked:

Is ISIS going to invade Europe from Libya?

(Makes for interesting reading ...)

link   http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/is-isis-going-to-invade-europe-from-libya/16727#.VPC13-Er5u0.
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Wed 11 Mar 2015, 13:29

Who wants what in Libya?  


'Islamic State (IS) militants are said to have kidnapped nine foreign oil workers in a raid in Libya, when they reportedly beheaded eight guards.'

link   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31802393


Analysis: Rana Jawad, BBC News, Tripoli:
Libya is getting more dangerous by the day. As with the attack on the Mabruk oil field last month, the guards at al-Ghani were brutally killed, the foreigners were taken, and the local staff allowed to leave.

The only information available is from shell-shocked witnesses lucky enough to have been allowed to live. We are told that the assailants did not linger around.

These latest attacks do not bear the hallmarks of militias driven by local grievances or political rivalry, as seen in the past.

Instead, their wider aim appears to be to instil fear, mark territory and demonstrate the capacity to wreak havoc.


Abdul Rahman Al-Ageli: Fear of military dictatorship:
(Abdul Rahman Al-Ageli was born in Libya but moved to the UK as a child.
He returned to fight against Gaddafi in 2011, and ended up working for the prime minister until 2014 when he left, frustrated by the tension between rival groups):


"There is an Islamist versus non-Islamist agenda. You have the IS issue, the al-Qaeda issue, the Muslim brotherhood issue, you have moderate Islamists, hardliners, you have a revolutionary versus counter-revolutionary narrative.

"And you have also a very interesting social dynamic which is non-Bedouin Arab versus Bedouin Arab."

In the first election post-Gaddafi, an Islamist party did well. Its main agenda was to exclude anyone who had worked for the Gaddafi regime.

But it soon lost support, and was heavily defeated in the House of Representatives elections.

Those voted out disputed the legitimacy of the results, and refused to step aside.

So there are now two bodies claiming to be the government; one in Tripoli, the other in the east. "Each side fears that their opponent will exclude them if they were to take power."



and finally, a telling resumé as journalist, Mary Fitzgerald, sees it:

(Mary Fitzgerald has reported on Libya since the Arab Spring and spent last year in Tripoli. She says Islamic State's involvement was inevitable.
Mary Fitzgerald believes Islamic State is well placed to exploit Libya's fragile state)


IS exploiting Libya to taunt Europe
"Since late 2011, hundreds of young Libyans have gone to join anti-regime forces in Syria and many of those young Libyans ended up with Islamic State.

"Last year, a number of the Libyans who had gone to Syria and Iraq and joined Islamic State there started returning home, and around the same time Islamic State sent some key ideologues and planners to Libya to assess Libya's potential."

Libya is an appealing target:

"You're talking about a country with porous borders, vast ungoverned spaces and right now a political and security vacuum.

"All of these factors make it very conducive indeed to Islamic State expansion to Libya."

IS claims to control three provinces in Libya, though Mary Fitzgerald thinks they are exaggerating, in order both to attract foreign fighters, and to entice local men away from other militant groups.

These include Ansar al-Sharia, one of Libya's best known extremist organisations which was listed as a terrorist group after the US ambassador to Libya was killed.

"This is a large part of the radical landscape in Libya, this issue of what you could call brand rivalry."

Mary Fitzgerald describes a youth subculture rooted in radicalism, which IS exploits through social media and gruesome videos, like that showing the Egyptian Christians' murder:

"What was quite striking were the references to Rome in that video. With the killings of the Egyptians, they were obviously targeting Cairo, but they were also taunting Europe.

"Remember that Libya is about 200 miles from Malta, an EU member state."
(my bold & emphasis)


link   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31815616
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BBC Documentary from 2008

Post by Kitkat on Thu 12 Mar 2015, 13:55

Storyville - Mad Dog: Gaddafi's Secret World

Colonel Gaddafi was called Mad Dog by Ronald Reagan. His income from oil was a billion dollars a week. He washed his hands in deer's blood. No other dictator had such sex appeal and no other so cannily combined oil and the implied threat of terror to turn Western powers into cowed appeasers.

When he went abroad - bedecked in fake medals from unfought wars - a bulletproof tent was flown ahead, along with camels that would be tethered outside. His sons lived a Dolce & Gabbana lifestyle - one kept white tigers, while another commissioned a $500 million cruise liner with a shark pool.

Like other tyrants, Gaddafi used torture and murder to silence opposition, but what made his rule especially terrifying was that death came so casually. A man who complained that Gaddafi had an affair with his wife was allegedly tied between two cars and torn in half. On visits to schools and orphanages Gaddafi would tap underage girls on the head to show his henchmen which ones he wanted. They would be taken to his palace and abused. Young boys were held in tunnels under the palace.

Yet because of his vast oil lake there seemed no limit to Western generosity. British intelligence trapped one of his enemies overseas and sent him to Libya as a gift. The same week, Tony Blair arrived in Libya and a huge energy deal was announced.

Filmed in Cuba, the Pacific, Brazil, the US, South Africa, Libya and Australia, the cast of this documentary consists of palace insiders and those who gave shape to Gaddafi's dark dreams. They include a fugitive from the FBI who helped kill his enemies worldwide; the widow of the Libyan foreign minister whose body Gaddafi kept in a freezer; and a female bodyguard who adored him until she saw teenagers executed.

Gaddafi was a dictator like no other; their stories are stranger than fiction.

 Watch on BBC iPlayer    arrow HERE

Available for a further  
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Mon 09 Nov 2015, 14:58

The real force behind all governments is Private Central Banking. The Federal Reserve runs our government, not the Clowns we supposedly elect. Saddam and Gaddafi wanted gold or euros for their oil instead of the Petrol Dollar. All Wars are Banker's Wars. 

"I don't care which puppet makes the laws as long as I control the currency" Nathan Rothschild

Watch what this video has to say (I recommend you watch all the way through) - and decide for yourself .....


I know for a FACT that what has been said in this video about concocted news stories and film showing "unrest" etc in Tripoli during the "No-Fly-Zone" period - is absolutely true.  The exact same thing was happening during the previous UN sanctions-imposed no-fly-zone period in Libya (regarding Libya's alleged involvement in the Lockerbie bombing).  I know that because I was there (1993-1994).  Green Square was a 10-minute walk from where I worked in the heart of Tripoli -and visited often for the excellent under-cover market just off the Square.  News reports would be aired in "the outside world", the western media, depicting scenes supposedly occurring in Green Square and other parts of Tripoli at that time which simply were not true - some of us were there at the source at the very time that these things were supposed to be happening, and saw a different scene altogether.  The fact is that old film coverage was being used over and over again by the media and the stories that went with it were simply untrue and factually incorrect. ~ KK




Some further viewing:

In 2009, Gadaffi made a one and a half hour speech to the United Nations Council.  Much of what he said in that speech was cut or dubbed out of the televised airing.  Here is the full uncut translation:

Uploaded on 4 November 2011
(These are the printed words of the uploader):

In some ways this speech is prophetic , as Gadaffi identifies the very inequities inherent in the UN that were to become the instruments of his murder & the annihilation of Libya.

The control & abuse of the 'security' council & 'permanent member' status by a small number of countries which have granted these special powers to themselves!

The repeated use of the UN security council to commit wars of aggression which serve only the interests of the small number of powerful groups controlling the UN.

Colonialism continues to this day & is enabled by a corrupt & captive United Nations & enforced by it's NATO thugs.

In other ways, this speech is naive in his open hearted acceptance of Obama who had just come to power.

The official translation of this speech was appalling so I have uploaded this version which I found on an archive of Gadaffi's own website which was attacked & taken down.




Truth Exposed: Muammar Gaddafi: The Real Reason Why Lybia Was Attacked:

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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Jamboree on Thu 12 Nov 2015, 01:46

Very interesting.  Hmm
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UK pushes for leading role in Libya ...

Post by Kitkat on Tue 19 Apr 2016, 14:35

Upon reading the BBC headlines today surrounding Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond's visit to Tripoli
UK pushes for leading role in Libya
extract:
After playing a leading part in the Western air campaign that helped to oust the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Britain is once again pushing to play a leading role in bringing stability to Libya's shattered society.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond's visit to Tripoli is intended to provide visible international backing for the fledgling Government of National Accord.

He also arrived with further practical assistance; £10m-worth of aid, in part intended to combat people smuggling and terrorism.

I am minded to draw attention to another story recently covered by the BBC:

Control and crucifixions: Life in Libya under IS

Here is the gist of it (though the full details can be gleaned from the link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35325072) - with a warning of extremely disturbing and graphic visual images.)
Five years after the violent uprising that brought down Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, fighters from so-called Islamic State (IS) have established a base in the coastal city of Sirte.

With an estimated 1,500 fighters in the city, they have started to impose their own rule of law, with dress codes for men and women, segregation in school classrooms and the establishment of a religious police.

Punishments inflicted on residents, for crimes ranging from theft or alcohol production to "spying", include imprisonment, amputations, public crucifixions and beheadings. The group has set up its own "police force" and is reported to be carrying out house to house searches and forcing people to attend Islamic re-education classes.

The head of intelligence in nearby Misrata says most of the IS fighters who control Sirte are foreigners - from Tunisia, Iraq or Syria.

Access to the city is dangerous for journalists and there is limited communication with people who live there - often for fear of retributions. We spoke to people who have been forced to leave the city, to escape Islamic State.

Islamic State has taken over key locations in Sirte

'Bint Elferagani' - children's doctor

says:
"I blame regional countries for IS. I hate hearing names of certain countries now: Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar, Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria. We Libyans, would have sorted our problems by ourselves if they had left us alone.

There are Libyans amongst them (Islamic State) like the Benghazi and Derna jihadists. Libya is a small place, we all know each other."

Public crucifixions


'Al-Warfali', from Sirte

says:
"I left Sirte back in early December. Islamic State fighters took over the city in February 2015. It wasn't an invasion per se. It was a combination of local jihadi fighters (Ansar Al-Sharia) declaring their allegiance to the Islamic State group and later being joined by fighters fleeing or beaten by the forces of General Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi.

There are also other nationalities in the ranks of IS that we either noticed from their accents or looks. They included Tunisians and Egyptians. They were not just Arabs. In April 2015, there was a special parade welcoming people they said were Boko Haram fighters from Nigeria.

IS was quite laid back at the start in terms of implementing their harsh interpretation of Sharia, or Islamic law. You get the feeling that they were focussing on building loyalty and allegiances from the tribal society of Sirte.

It was only in August when Islamic codes of dress and behaviour began to be implemented more noticeably. It was also then when crucifixions and lashings began to be meted out to anyone convicted. These usually take place after Friday prayers.

Until I left in December with my family, going in to and leaving the city was quite routine. The only people experiencing problems when it comes to their freedom of movement is anyone associated with other fighting groups or suspected of being a "spy".

Most foods and items at the shops are slightly more expensive. But there hasn't been any petrol available for a year and a half. People who still receive their public sector salaries from Tripoli choose to stay. Leaving simply does not make economic sense for most people."


'Re-education' courses


Leaflets and letters have been distributed to shopkeepers and public sector workers inviting them to "re-education" courses run by Islamic State.

IS have their command centre next to the domed, marble-clad Ougadougou Conference Centre - built by Muammar Gaddafi to host pan-African summits.

The centre is now used for courses where IS members instruct employees in the importance of adhering to their version of Islamic law.

The letters warn: "Whoever does not attend will be liable to questioning."

'Ibrahim' from Sirte

says:
"I'm originally from Sirte. I was self-employed but I left the city with my family on 17 July last year, some time after the arrival of IS.

I was of course also scared for my family. We still have relatives and friends inside the city. We now live in Misrata.
When we escaped, they left people alone to come and go as they please. I'm hearing from friends people can still leave if they wish to.

We're also hearing that medicines at hospitals are almost non-existent. Food is available, but via 'war profiteers'. As far as we know, there's no petrol left.

They must have taken the city with the help of pro-Gaddafi people. The pro-Gaddafi lot came in initially under the pretext of kicking out the Misrata fighters from Sirte. There's no way these foreign IS fighters would have known their way around the city without help from locals. The city is tribal and loyalties are divided.

They started crucifying people at entrance to the city two months into their rule. Their "crime" was being spies for "Libya Dawn" fighters. The location of the crucifixion is at the entrance to the city.

I saw at least one myself being crucified. Later, I heard and read about 17 more, including my friend Sharaf Aldeen and his brother (the salafi cleric) sheikh Meftah Abu Sittah. Both were killed then crucified."

Sharia law in Sirte


Billboards instructing women how to dress according to Sharia were erected in Sirte in July 2015. The poster reads:

Instructions on wearing the hijab according to Sharia

1. It must be thick and not revealing
2. It must be loose (not tight)
3. It must cover all the body
4. It must not be attractive
5. It must not resemble the clothes of unbelievers or men
6. It must not be decorative and eye-catching
7. It must not be perfumed.

'Khaled' - oil facility worker

says:
"I'm originally from Ras Lanuf and have studied at university in Sirte.
I'm now in Sidra (174km east of Sirte) where I work and where Daesh are trying to take over the oil port but the Petroleum Facilities Guards have so far repelled their advances. Their last major attempt was on 4 January. They set off a car bomb at the gate just outside the port where the guards where stationed.

At least seven guards and several IS members were killed. IS later went round us at Sidra to make their way to Ras Lanuf, 15km away. They took over a military area between Ras Lanuf and the industrial zone.
Daesh attacks have never stopped. They know they don't have the resources to overpower the oil port. So they're resorting to hit and run tactics, including setting fuel containers on fire. Their very last attack was on

Saturday (30 January).
We're not living in a state of full war, yet it's not completely peaceful. People are trying to live some sort of normal life. That's why schools have reopened after they were closed at the start of January.

I was in Sirte myself in late December. I still have friends there. Communication is hard because lines have been cut. Those who left went out through the west of the city towards Misrata.


The route is open and safe that way. Eastwards towards the Sidra oil port, for example, is dangerous as there's still clashes. I know local fighters from Ras Lanuf are preparing a counter attack on Sirte."

Islamic State in Libya


Libya was thrown into chaos after Nato-backed forces overthrew its long-serving ruler, Gaddafi in 2011.

Elections were held in 2014, but those who held power in Tripoli refused to give it up, another rival faction set up its own parliament elsewhere and other armed groups have been fighting for control of cities and what remains of the country's infrastructure.

The Islamic State group is estimated to have no more than 2,000 to 3,000 fighters across the country, according to a United Nations report published in December 2015. Their fighters are mainly split between Derna and Sirte - with around 1,500 of them in Sirte - where they have taken control of the state-run radio station and broadcast speeches by IS religious leaders.

The Head of Intelligence in nearby Misrata, Ismail Shukri, says most of the IS fighters are foreign. Although the majority are from Tunisia, he says senior IS figures from Iraq and Syria are also taking refuge in Libya.

IS numbers in the capital, Tripoli, are believed to be marginal - with only 12 to 24 operating as a cell in the city, the report suggests. However, they have been able to carry out high-level attacks, including a strike on the Corinthia Hotel in January 2015, which left eight people dead, and an assault on a prison inside Tripoli's Mitiga airbase in September.

IS militants having been trying to push eastwards from Sirte and have carried out a number of attacks on the oil facilities at Sidra and Ras Lanuf since the start of January 2016.
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Letter from Libya (9th May 1993)

Post by Kitkat on Tue 11 Jul 2017, 14:45

My cousin, here in London, on a recent going-through and clear-out of his deceased mum's (my aunt) bureau, came across this letter from me, which was written on the day after my arrival in Libya, to work as a secretary in the Tripoli-based head office of Agip, one of the major oil companies.
Goodness knows when that letter would have arrived here in London, as of course there was no internet in those days, no mobile phones, and the postal service there was virtually non-existant.  If you did manage to send a letter by post, it could take anything from 3 weeks to 6 months (yes, really!) to arrive at its destination - if at all, and if/when it did arrive it would have been heavily censured with thick black marks all over and holes cut out here and there with a scissors.  Sending photos was a no-no as they would have disappeared by the time the envelope arrived also.
So, what the expats used to do was whenever anyone was going home on leave you gave them your letters to put in a postbox when they reached England.  Also the address of where/who they were staying with in England and the dates they would be travelling there were made known to the folk/family/friends of people who wanted to write to you, so they could send letters to that address so the person on leave could smuggle them back into Libya when they returned and pass them on to their intended recipients (along with other smuggled-in newspapers, magazines, etc).  Because of the sanctions at the time, Libya was a no-fly zone and travel there had to be overland through Tunisia (or alternatively by rat-infested tin-can boat from Malta to the port of Tripoli).  No English-speaking material was allowed (newspapers etc) and would be instantly confiscated if discovered on your journey.  Cameras and photos were also looked upon with suspicion and were often confiscated also.

Anyhow - this is the unearthed letter.  On reading it, I felt as though I was back there and re-living it all over again.  The memories came flooding back:

Tripoli, Libya
Sunday, 9th May 1993


Well here I am- just about.  I'm a bit like a walking zombie at the moment, haven't had much sleep for a week really.  I got to bed (a lovely comfortable KING-SIZE bed!) at 1:30 this morning, and had to be up for the company minibus to collect us at 10 o'clock (it's usually 7 o'clock but they let us have a lie-in the first morn!)  The journey into Tripoli takes about 20 mins / half an hour.

The journey here was a bit like Hungary, only all that "holiday" rolled into one!!
[Hungary:  what my then partner referred to as "the holiday from hell" - to me was an adventure (ok, not one that I'd wish to repeat, but an adventure all the same) - but that's another story for another time .....]

I met Lesley on the plane - she's nice.  There must have been about a dozen of us on the plane which was great because we could spread out.  We had a lovely breakfast on the plane.
Got to Geneva - and of course I had problems.  That Excess Baggage thing - they didn't give me the slip I was supposed to have for onward to Tunisia, although Lesley had hers.  It was lucky we had about 2 hours or so at Geneva Airport because they had to telex to London Airport and send over a copy of Lesley's details which should have been the same as mine - lucky she was with me.  So we went off to get a coffee and a Toblerone and I had to come back to them in an hour to see if everything had been sorted out. We went to change some money and Lesley told me that Daphne (the one that I couldn't get through to when she was on leave in England) had advised that if possible we get Dollars, preferably $100 notes as there is a very strong Black Market here, they're mad for Dollars and to change them in Libya means you can get DOUBLE their worth in Dinars.  We had to hide the Dollars though going through and if asked just say we had nothing or a small amount of Sterling.  I gave £70 for $100 (which included two commisions because they had to change it to Swiss Francs first).  Apparently you can't really live too comfortably off what we get here unless you do that.  Everyone does it.  (25% of our salary is paid to us in cash (Libyan Dinars) and the rest transferred directly into our Bank back home - & which is virtually unobtainable till we get home on leave, as with the sanctions currently imposed here by Britain, France and the U.S. (over Lockerbie) no banking facilities here at all to speak of).

Anyway the telex sorted everything out and we were on the plane again.  Another lovely meal.  Although I couldn't put a name to the meat (I daren't!), but was quite delicious.  Apparently they eat camel a lot in Tunisia - and in Libya.  The butcher shops here have big lumps of meat hanging up and you just point to what you want, but apart from the lamb you can't really tell what you're getting at all.  I'm turning vegetarian!  The potatoes here (as well as all the vegetables) are excellent too (all being 100% organic) - so I'm quite happy.

Anyway it suddenly turned VERY COLD on the plane and I looked out the window and realised we were right over the snow-covered Alps.  It was quite scary really because we were so close you could nearly touch them.  Very exhilirating though, and all that journey we passed over the most beautifully breath-taking scenery - especially actually coming in to Geneva.

Arrived at Djerba (desert island off Tunisia). 



No-one asked us about Dollars or Sterling or anything else.  No trolleys.  We really struggled through those Customs - luckily didn't have to open anything although lots of others not so lucky.  The Libyan minibus driver from Agip met us and told us we'd have to wait another hour and a half for Yvonne, who was coming from Manchester, via Brussels.  We couldn't buy a coffee or anything because they wouldn't take Sterling and I was very reluctant to change in the Bureau de Change because I thought we'd be "done" left, right & centre. This was now 3:30. (we had put our watches forward one hour).  Yes, I have a watch now.  I really do need one here, bought it on the plane.  The cheapest Swiss Swatch there but it is a nice one £21).  They had some beautiful Swiss watches there but even though Duty Free, still extremely expensive.

The other newbie, Yvonne, arrived at 5 o'clock.  She's a case.  She's from Manchester and she has the real Coronation Street accent and humour.  We went out to our minibus, which had been sent from Agip to drive us through Tunisia, across the border into Libya and on to Tripoli.  There were 5 drivers (obviously only one driving - they've got 23 drivers altogether working for Agip), the others were cadging a lift back to Libya, which is now a total no-fly zone due to the sanctions recently imposed by Britain, France & America over the Lockerbie bombing).  Only one of them spoke English - the one who met us, Adel - he studied in the U.S.
No-one had any idea how long the journey would take (maybe 8 hours, maybe 14 (?) .... Insha'allah!) 

We had the Arabic music blaring the whole way.  We were on the road but 5 or 10 minutes when we got stopped - for speeding!  I don't know what he was doing but it was a 70 kph speed limit.  (That turned out to be just the first of many stoppages along the way - for various [inexplicable at the time] reasons, by either police, army, security checks, other(?) .... most of the journey was mainly desert with the odd village here and there to break the monotony.
Every few kilometres we had to stop at these Police Controls which we called the "Hello Stops".  We asked what they were all about and Adel said "Oh we just have to stop at them and say Hello and so long as you smile at them we'll be alright" ...

We had loads to eat and drink.  They kept stopping every now and then to get bags of sandwiches, drinks, sweets and chewing gum.  All free for us.  Then they stopped at this Hotel kind of place and said if we wanted to go to the "Rest Room" we'd better do it now because we had a long, long way still to go and there was nowhere after that.  We all trooped out, went in and got stared at by a weird group of all men drinking coffee (and probably eating camel sandwiches) - and found that the one toilet was "mixed".  I decided I didn't need to go.  Apparently there was no flush on the toilet and the floor was up to your ankles in "water".  We were (us girls) all getting a bit irritable and tired at this stage.  We had yet to come to the Libyan border.

Much later we arrived at the Border.  Adel went in with our passports etc (which we'd already had to show about 10 times along the way).  They decided we had to get out and come into the Hut, they wanted to see us.  Three or four very "official" looking guys in uniform sitting at desks barking at this poor man, the TV was on and two of the guys were transfixed to the screen - Guess who was on it shouting away (my friend you know who).  EVERYWHERE you go here his gigantic framed picture is loomin down at you - even in the Butchers).  Anyway one of the guys started barking at Lesley for some reason.  The other man at this stage was trying to explain that he was in fact the German Ambassador but they weren't taking any notice of that.  (I wanted to say to him "just smile at them and you'll be alright").  They were really scaring Lesley, and all the time sifting through our passports (she actually had a stamp on hers where she had recently been in America - it's only dawned on me now - that's what the 'problem' was).
They were fine to me and Yvonne.  We had to leave our Green Cards there, and then we 2 were dismissed back to the minibus, with the "main official" still sneering at Lesley ... "So you want to work in Libya, eh?"... We waited anxiously for some time out in the bus for Lesley to rejoin us.

That part of the journey took 5 hours.  We finally arrived at our company-provided flats - villas actually.  Our accommodation turned out to be an expat village - and at first glance, quite BEAUTIFUL.  'Regatta' (locally known as Friendly Village), a vast expat compound (a one-time holiday village similar to Butlins holiday camps) with its one (mostly bare-shelved) shop, a Tunisian-run restaurant and its own little private bit of fenced-off beach.   We drove through these huge majestic gates (above which hung another giant hoarding of "the leader" his ever-watchful eye seemed to follow our every movement)  with security huts on the door, 4 or 5 security men inside.  More checks, more "hello", but too tired to manage the "smile" part at this stage.  Tired, hungry, hot and dusty, we just wanted to have a shower and collapse.  It was 10 o'clock.

Daphne (expact secretary in the Personnel dept) had the keys to our villas so we had to stop outside her place first.  Gave us our keys, dropped off our respective luggage and insisted that we come and have a "cup of tea" at hers.  Very welcome idea.  We got inside - "home from home".  She's been here 18 months, has her cushions from home and everything.  There were 2 other girls there, both employees of Agip (Eileen and Sue) and a guy who I gathered was the boyfriend of one of them, doesn't work for Agip.  "So", Daphne said,"you can have tea, coffee, vodka, rum & coke or wine" ... and I've a nice bit of bacon here if anyone fancies a sandwich .....   !!!

We really couldn't believe we actually had to start work the next day (today - Sunday), but yes, 'fraid so.  We were told our journey from Djerba was "uneventful".  The previous 2 new girls who got here a month ago (there's 3 more to come) didn't arrive till 2 in the morning.  The minibus was involved in an accident - knocked a guy over and they ended up in the Police Station in Tunisia.

Apparently there's gatherings and parties here every night, certainly no lack of booze. One of the girls invited the 3 of us over to her place this evening but we are all so tired - and there's so much "work" to be done in the accommodation.  Yvonne is right next door to me, we are in the centre, just near the shop and the restaurant (the minibus picks us up for work in the morning just outside there at 7am and then goes to another pick-up point over the other side of the complex to pick up 2 more that live further away.
Lesley's place is a few blocks away from ours. Right now everywhere is so dusty(sandy) & dirty.  We had to unpack all our new stuff out of their boxes (provided by the company) - ironing board, iron, vaccuum cleaner, pots, pans, teapots, crockery, cutlery, table cloths - all brand new.  6 of everything, evenplace mats matching the tablecloths.  But really, first, the cupboards and floors and everything have to be thoroughly cleaned before you put anything away.  My toilet doesn't flush - I have to pour buckets of water down every time. Yuk.  Apart from that, it's a lovely flat. Huge sitting room, comfortable 3-piece suite, big cabinets, wardrobes, loads of storage.  I've no carpet in the bedroom, only sort of marble flooring, but I've a brand new big rug to unwrap and put down there.

No telly.  Most of the "old ones" have satellite.  You have to apply for it if you want one and it could be months before you get it.  There's a phone here - I found it in the drawer, but it's not connected, and even if it was you can only use it to phone around the"village".  Big procedure to go through to get it connected.

We 3 were picked up at 10am this morning to go in to work, our first day, but we just spent all day sitting in Daphne's office drinking coffee and signing forms and more forms.  We had to book our phonecalls home (from the office) - which we mostly do on a Sunday as it's easier to get the lines free then) - and when the operator gets through (which can be anything from half an hour to 5 or 6 hours!) they put it through to us and we have to fill in more forms and it's deducted from our salary at the end of the month.  Apparently the first month's salary is always delayed.  Could be 6 weeks, could be 2 months! before it goes through (Insha'allah!) (God willing ...)  Then it all goes in together.  I just hope the Bank understands isha'allah.

We still don't know who we're actually working for yet.  We might know tomorrow, but then again - insha'allah ....
As soon as I know which department I'm in and have my own office (it's a HUGE place), I'll let you know the extension and you'll have to ask for the extension on the switchboard.  No-one in the Telephone Room speaks English, so the extension number is all they have to go on.  Saturday might be the best day as I work on Saturday and it's cheaper all weekend from London to phone - or maybe every 2nd Sunday we can do it.  Sunday will be my day to make calls anyway.

That's where the letter finishes, there's obviously at least one page missing afer that.  Hopefully cuz will find the missing pages and maybe even some more letters.  I sent loads from there.
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I like it!

Post by mac on Tue 11 Jul 2017, 20:29

I haven't visited here for quite a few days and as it's customarily summer quiet in the online forum world I was looking for something interesting and stimulating - I found it in your letter!  Quite an adventure for you it seemed.  I remember Lockerbie and Yvonne Fletcher being shot and killed outside the Libyan Embassy nearly a decade before.  I was 46 in 1993 and had been made redundant from a well-paid job with a big national.  With a very young child our life was in a major period of change. 

Your letter was very entertaining but, oh, what a different world it was from what we now live in!  Phones that worked sometimes to call home provided you'd booked your slot!  Now we expect to contact anyone, any time, anywhere.  Well young uns do and some not so young who've been similarly seduced by the telecom industry into parting with huge amounts of money to be able to text, chat and post on Facebook.  If I were conventionally religious I'd be thanking god I play no part in that guff!

How old were you when you were in Libya and how long did you work there?
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Wed 12 Jul 2017, 20:00

That was just the start of the adventure, mac ...  the year that I worked there (I think I did mention at the beginning of this thread that I just went for a one year contract) was a year packed full of adventure and memorable experiences. Indeed, I could fill a book with that year alone (might even just do so some time). 

One of my memorable (but perhaps best forgotten! .... one-off) experiences there was the time a small group of us decided to hold a séance gathering, with a DIY ouija board setting.  It was my first (and LAST!) time ever to experiment in such.   This was all long before my proper introduction into Spiritualism and the like.  A new person that arrived there a few months after me turned out to be a practised Spiritualist medium (originally from the Isle of Wight, but had been living for some time in the Cotswolds.  I so wish now I could remember her name.  Her first name might have been Patricia, but I'm really not sure.  I will call her P for now.)  I remember when we first met she told me that I had a load of 'lights' around me, but I didn't fully understand at the time what was meant by that. She also at that time gave me an impromptu reading (for free) and the things she had told me were just spot on (one thing in particular that was highly prevalent at the time and absolutely no-one but the deceased person she spoke of could ever have known such detail). 
P arrived there in the middle of Ramadan, when most of the other expats were away on leave.  It was a very quiet time on the compound (and at work) with not much going on. A few of us who got together some evenings for a meal in the compound restaurant had been talking for some time - in a purely fun way, just something to do type of thing - about holding a Ouija evening on the next full moon, but each time that arrived there would be some excuse as to why we couldn't do it at that particular time (I must admit, the excuses often came from me!).  The main question we had to decide on was where we were going to be having this session.  Whose gaff?  Who would be brave enough to actually host it in their own living quarters .....  (not me What a Face ...).  No-one wanted to volunteer their place.  One of that group worked for a different oil company (NOC) and when one of her colleagues was finishing his employment there and leaving Libya altogether to go back home, we decided that was our perfect opportunity - we would do it in his place on his last day there (with his permission and his attendance also).  He was travelling the next day and the flat would be empty.  I mentioned it to P at work the next day, and asked if she would like to join with us.  I felt so much more at ease knowing we would have someone with us who actually knew what she was doing and so it would all be done 'properly'.  She agreed, but not before insisting on my assurance that the other attendees were all "good people", i.e. no murderers amongst them or anything like that!  lol - I assured her that all three were good friends, "good" people that I had got to know quite well while I had been there.  I knew them all quite well, apart from the guy whose place we would be going to, it would be my first time to meet him.

Cutting it short - as much as I can.  I had brought a candle along with me, and for some reason felt very strongly that we needed to have a lit candle while all this was going on.  We took turns on who would sit out of the 'circle' to write down the letters that the glass went to.  We were using scrabble tiles for the Alphabet lettering arranged in a circle with the numbers 0 to 9 cut out in squares of paper and each of us had one finger lightly touching the top of the upturned glass.  For some time the glass was just going to random letters and spelling out gobbledigook and I was actually starting to get bored.  It was our P's turn to be sitting out and writing down the letters.  We had been doing this for a while at this stage and I was just thinking what a load of old blarney this was - when suddenly it hit! Everything changed!  I knew the exact moment that this happened because something that I can only describe as like a bolt of lightning had suddenly shot right through me, entering like an explosion through my head and right down to my toes.  This all happened in a split second and from that moment on it was like the glass took on a life of its own.  It began whizzing with such force - and speed - from one letter to another.  IT had control of US - it was most definitely not the other way around ...  The letters spelt out I A M I N H E L L .
Then someone said I can smell burning.  OMG!  Turned out my hair was on fire!  With the force and speed of following the glass around, stretching backwards & forwards and from side to side across the table, my long hair had somehow caught on the candle.  Between us we managed to douse it out and at the same time blew the candle out to stop it happening again.  The glass immediately started going crazy again. 
L I G H T [pause] then N E E D T H E L I G H T.   The candle was hastily lit back up again but moved away from the table out of the way.  Then the messages came fast and clear, clearly spelt out for one particular person at that table - the guy whose flat we were in, the guy who was travelling the next day.  His name was spelt out and there followed more names and explicit details, all of which was making sense to him, but meant nothing to the rest of us.  After some time of this, when it eventually came to an end, I looked at P.  She was as white as a sheet and visbly shaken.  She said I don't like this.  This has never happened before.  She spent a little while performing some kind of closure/cleansing procedure (which scared me a bit, as it looked to me as though she was shaking something away through her fingers sort of thing).  We were all pretty much shaken, but even moreso when the guy (very much in shock) went on to explain to us some of what it had all been about, how his mother had murdered his father! stabbed him to death when he and his sister were both quite young - and his messages had something to do with all this.  There was a load more stuff involved ... but you get the gist(?) 
To think that these Ouija things are sold and marketed as a popular "game" which many young people mess about with as a form of "entertainment"...

As for the other part of your question (how old was I when I went there?) ... TMI .... judge  That would be telling - giving away my age now shtum .  My lips are sealed on that subject cheesy - although I did once unintentionally let slip a telling clanger clue somewhere here in one of the threads some time back (which someone here was quick to jump on and sussed it out! cyclops ).
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by mac on Wed 12 Jul 2017, 20:45

Thanks for the account.  It made interesting reading and illustrates why Ouija Boards shouldn't be used as play things and/or by the inexperienced.  Scary stuff in the wrong scenario.

It's not important about your age.  I'd guess you were in your 20s when you worked out there so you're a lot younger than I....  I've not been sensitive about my age since I saw how obvious it was that I was an old dad when I started taking our daughter to school.  

Mothers - it was almost exclusively females who took their kids to school - looked like the kids' sisters to me!  Then I started working there and used to get the kids to work out my age by setting 'em various maths 'games' to work it out.  The kids loved the game of working out my age and, naturally, didn't respond to my age other than sometimes saying "My grandad's the same age as you."
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Wed 12 Jul 2017, 23:41

Nah, I'm not at all sensitive about my age, mac.  It's really not all that important. In the great scheme of things, 'Age' is simply a number .... 

You're not a very good guesser though. That's all I'm saying ..... innocent
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by mac on Thu 13 Jul 2017, 07:19

@Kitkat wrote:Nah, I'm not at all sensitive about my age, mac.  It's really not all that important. In the great scheme of things, 'Age' is simply a number .... 

You're not a very good guesser though. That's all I'm saying ..... innocent
I was being polite in case you were very sensitive about your age.  In reality I'd put you much closer to me but didn't want to upset you by saying that....   cheesy

It's true that age is just a number when you state it baldly but we know from expereince what a number can signify in terms of physical and mental changes.  

And I love to say that unlike fine wine we don't improve with age.  schaterlach
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Sun 16 Jul 2017, 23:08

@mac wrote:And I love to say that unlike fine wine we don't improve with age.  schaterlach
Hmm I have to disagree with you there, mac. I can think of many different situations where a person can beneficially improve with age.
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by mac on Mon 17 Jul 2017, 06:53

@Kitkat wrote:
@mac wrote:And I love to say that unlike fine wine we don't improve with age.  schaterlach
Hmm  I have to disagree with you there, mac.  I can think of many different situations where a person can beneficially improve with age.  
Let me change that slightly then "....unlike fine wine I don't improve with age." jocolor
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Re: Surviving in Libya

Post by Kitkat on Thu 07 Sep 2017, 22:52

Libyan migrant detention centre: 'It's like hell'
By Orla Guerin BBC News, Tripoli

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-41189247

Many trying to reach Europe have ended up inside Libyan detention centres

Hennessy was given a fake visa to fly to Tripoli, but on arrival he was arrested by a militia and taken to a detention centre near the airport.
"There were daily abuses," he said. "If people make noise, or rush for food, you get beaten."
The weapon of choice for the guards was a water pipe.
Some of his fellow detainees outlined other hazards on the migrant trail through Libya - being bought and sold by militias, used as slave labour, and forced to bribe guards to be released from detention centres.





More on this story:

African migrants soldin Libya 'slave markets'

A Nigerian's nightmare failed bid to migrate to Europe

Agadez: The start of the desert trek from Africa to Europe

Why is Libya so lawless?

Migrant crisis: On rescue patrol in the Mediterranean

    Current date/time is Wed 22 Nov 2017, 01:57