Friday, 26 August 2011

Foreign workers prepared to be evacuated Thursday on the first International Organization for Migration boat to dock in war-torn Tripoli, as relief mixed with sadness for many of those leaving.

Posted On 07:45 by El NACHO 0 comments

Gleeful children played on the oily wooden deck as their parents piled bags on pallets and headed up to the passenger area on the ship due to take 250 foreigners away from the fighting to the rebel center of Benghazi to the east.

“I’m happy to go home to the Philippines,” said 9-year-old Arjan, whose mother worked at Tripoli’s main hospital. “I was frightened by all of the bang-bang.”

The boat, which waited offshore for two nights for the security situation to improve as rebels battled Moammar Gadhafi loyalists around the capital, was due to take out Filipinos, Egyptians, Canadians, Algerians and Moroccans.

A handful of Filipinos were the first to board, their names noted and passports checked. Some were happy, some sad, but all were relieved.

Construction foreman Ramil Nyala, 45, complained that he was leaving Libya empty-handed, without the precious remittances that are key to the Filipino economy.

“I was being paid $600-800 a month, it’s high. But they refused to pay me. I haven’t had work for four months, and I have to pay $350 a month in rent, so my savings are all lost,” he said.

“Libyans are the priority. We couldn’t sleep at night because of the shooting everywhere. I’m happy to go and join my family.”

Dr. Yussef Biuk asked those boarding if they had any diseases or special medical needs for the journey, and gave everyone a seasickness pill.

The chartered Turkish ship, a river ferry, was expected to make the journey in 36 hours instead of the usual 20.

The ship only has four cabins, so most people will make the journey sitting down, armed with the food packages they’ve been given.

“We’re two doctors on board, so I might stay behind to treat people at the hospital. I have friends and relatives here,” Biuk said.

Some of those fleeing Libya said they intend to return, while others were leaving their entire lives behind.

“I’m not sad to leave because I’m coming back,” said fire alarm engineer William Doctor. “I’ll be back in November. Now I’m going to have a little holiday,” he smiled.

Julie, whose husband worked as a “senior production coordinator,” said she was sad to leave after living here since 1982, almost half her life, because “we love Libya.”

“Our children were born and studied here, they speak Arabic and they want to come back.”

Martin Jerrett, IOM head of office in Benghazi, from where the ship’s passengers will travel on to Cairo and elsewhere, said the ship aimed to spread the message that foreigners could get out.

“This journey is to establish our presence, there will be bigger boats coming tomorrow and in two days time, each for 1,000 people,”

“We’re concerned about sub-Saharan Africans because of the perception that they’re mercenaries [who are working for Gadhafi]. They’re the most frightened and least likely to move,” Jerrett said.

Egyptian consul Mohammad Zeid said that 150 of his country’s nationals were expected to travel on the first boat out.

faithful dog has refused to leave the side of his Navy SEAL owner after he was killed in Afghanistan, lying beside his master's coffin at the funeral.

Posted On 07:43 by El NACHO 0 comments

The heartbreaking image of loyal Labrador Hawkeye lying forlornly in front of the coffin of Jon Tumlinson, 35, has made its way around the world since it was posted on Facebook by Tumlinson's cousin.
Petty Officer Tumlinson was one of 38 killed when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan early this month.
"I took this picture and that was my view throughout the entire funeral. I couldn't not take a picture," Lisa Tumilson told US television network ABC News.
"It took several attempts since every time I wasn't crying and could focus on taking it, there was a SEAL at the microphone and I didn't want to take a picture with them for security and respect reasons. Our family is devastated to say the least."
Hawkeye led his family down the aisle into the funeral service in Rockford, Iowa, and followed his friend Scott Nichols as he rose to deliver a eulogy, television network MSNBC reported.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

£1 million bounty was placed on Gaddafi’s head, soldiers from 22 SAS Regiment began guiding rebel soldiers after being ordered in

Posted On 22:05 by El NACHO 0 comments

£1 million bounty was placed on Gaddafi’s head, soldiers from 22 SAS Regiment began guiding rebel soldiers after being ordered in by David Cameron.
For the first time, defence sources have confirmed that the SAS has been in Libya for several weeks, and played a key role in co-ordinating the fall of Tripoli.
With the majority of the capital now in rebel hands, the SAS soldiers, who have been dressed in Arab civilian clothing and carrying the same weapons as the rebels, have been ordered to switch their focus to the search for Gaddafi, who has been on the run since his fortified headquarters was captured on Tuesday.
Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) said Gaddafi was wanted “dead or alive” and promised an amnesty to any of his inner circle prepared to betray his whereabouts.
Nato still has no idea where the despot is holed up, and yesterday he taunted his opponents by claiming in a TV interview that he had secretly toured the streets of Tripoli without being spotted.

Libyans stormed Col. Moammar Gadhafi's fortress compound, the strongman took to the airwaves from an unknown location to call on Libyan residents to "free Tripoli,"

Posted On 09:33 by El NACHO 0 comments

A day after rebel fighters and thousands of ordinary Libyans stormed Col. Moammar Gadhafi's fortress compound, the strongman took to the airwaves from an unknown location to call on Libyan residents to "free Tripoli," even as the rebel-led council planned to move to Tripoli as early as Thursday.

Pro-Gadhafi regime's loyalists continue to fight on the outskirts of Libya's capital, and two big explosions were heard in Tripoli, according to news reports.

Col. Gadhafi, in a speech aired Wednesday by the local Al-Ouraba TV, sounded subdued and without his usual fiery rhetoric, the Associated Press reported.

Addressing the people in Tripoli, Col. Gadhafi asked: "Why are you letting them wreak havoc?"

Libyans poured into streets surrounding Moammar Gadhafi's fortress-like compound in Tripoli, after rebels captured it following fierce street battles against forces loyal to the longtime ruler. Jeff Grocott has the lastest on The News Hub.

The pro-Gadhafi TV channel earlier quoted the Libyan leader as saying he had left the compound in a "tactical move" after 64 North Atlantic Treaty Organization airstrikes turned it to ruble, according to news reports. He vowed martyrdom or victory in his fight against NATO aggression.

A regime spokesman, Ibrahim Moussa, said thousands of pro-Gadhafi fighters have started to enter Tripoli and will be taking action at the right time. In a televised phone interview with Al-Ouraba, Mr. Moussa said more than 6,500 volunteer fighters have entered the capital.

"We are able to fight, not for days or months, but for years... And we have put plans and alternative plans in this regards," he said.

Meanwhile, the leader of Libya's National Transition Council said the council will move its headquarters from the eastern city of Benghazi to Tripoli, though he added Libya won't be considered as liberated until the capture of Col. Gadhafi, who he speculated may be in Algeria.

"The NTC will be gradually moved to Tripoli as of the day after tomorrow," NTC leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil told France 24's Arabic channel early Wednesday.

More than 400 rebel fighters died and over 2,000 injured in the fight for Tripoli, while short of 600 Gadhafi loyalists had been captured, he said.

Mr. Jalil, who once served as a justice minister under Col. Gadhafi's regime and was among the first ex-Gadhafi officials to defect to the rebels' side, said the new Libya "will hold special relations with all countries that helped in liberating the country."

"I see Libya in the future as a Muslim, organized state and in control with peaceful and amicable ties with its neighbors," he added.

There were reports of continuing battles here, underscoring the chaos that hangs over this city of two million people. Fighters loyal to Col. Gadhafi blockaded foreign journalists in their city-center hotel Tuesday. Witnesses told Al-Arabiya television that pro-Gadhafi forces fired several Grad missiles into the capital, and west of Tripoli, loyalist forces continued to shell the towns of Zuara and Ajelat, according to residents and news reports.

The capture of Col. Gadhafi's complex, already heavily damaged by NATO airstrikes, stands as one of the rebels' highest moments in their six-month battle to topple the world's longest-tenured current ruler. But the failure to find Col. Gadhafi indicated that the rebels' mission of liberating Tripoli remains unfinished.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, who represents rebel leadership as the deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in New York that he expected Col. Gadhafi, his family members and other high officials to be hiding in private homes or in the city's underground tunnels, which he said had been built by the Libyan leader for security purposes in recent years.

Libyan oil production could ramp up much faster than initially expected as the Gadhafi regime crumbles and rebels consolidate their control over the country. Guy Chazan has the story on The News Hub from London.

Rebels had said the compound contained the largest remaining concentration of his loyalist forces, making its capture a major step toward securing Tripoli. But even though Col. Gadhafi's tenure has functionally ended, a core of loyal supporters has continued to battle in pockets throughout the city.

Rebels said they expected trouble securing two of Tripoli's most densely populated neighborhoods, the southern slums of Abu Saleem and Hadba, which have long been known as pro-Gadhafi strongholds.

U.S. military officials said that while the situation remains fluid, they believe the rebels control most of Tripoli.

In Dubai on Tuesday, U.S. and British diplomats huddled with rebel representatives to put the finishing touches on a post-Gadhafi stability plan crafted by the Libyans with Western help. Officials said the U.S. and its allies are advising the rebels on how to quickly restore basic government services and protect critical infrastructure, including oil assets.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Tuesday said the Obama administration was "working urgently" to release an initial $1 billion to $1.5 billion of Gadhafi-regime assets frozen by the U.S. since February. The frozen assets, totaling some $37 billion, are intended to be used to support Libyan government institutions and for reconstruction efforts, officials said. One of the officials said the U.S. hopes to release that first chunk of money later this week.

Also Tuesday, several international journalists remained pinned by pro-Gadhafi forces inside a hotel in Tripoli, where reporters have stayed throughout the conflict.

"We're very concerned about the situation at the Rixos, and we're monitoring it closely," Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told CNN. "We will do what we can from the position that we have, and from our aerial assets, to try to protect those in the Rixos Hotel and elsewhere."

The attack on the Bab al-Aziziya compound began early Tuesday, led by rebel fighting units from western Libya. Nearby streets rang with mortar, heavy machine-gun and cannon fire as rebels besieged the fortified gates to the compound that sprawls over an area the size of several square city blocks. Rebels said they used a bulldozer to breach the compound's walls.

People in Benghazi, Libya, celebrated news of the reported capture of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam.

By late afternoon, the guns quieted, and black smoke billowed into the air. The deserted streets around the compound slowly filled with residents coming out to witness the sight, long unimaginable, of a liberated Gadhafi complex.

Families and young children thronged an overpass that moments before had sheltered rebel forces from incoming fire. They cheered.

Among the fighters was Fathi Mohammed, who came by boat with a group of 150 rebels from the city of Misrata, putting ashore Saturday night in the rebel-dominated Tripoli suburb of Tajoura. On Tuesday, he returned from the front line for a rest and a drink from a juice box.

"When Gadhafi's mercenaries were shelling my city months ago, I promised then I would come to Tripoli," he said. "Now I am here, and now we are finishing him off for good."

Thousands filed into the compound's leafy grounds, rifling through offices, residential buildings and an arsenal. Several hundred locals made off with assault rifles, Beretta submachine guns, AK-47s and sparkling sniper rifles, many of them apparently new and still in their hard plastic cases.

The proliferation of weapons in Libya has already raised international concerns. European Union foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters Tuesday that the EU was committed to sending medicine, fuel and other aid to Libya, as well as easing what is shaping up as the country's biggest immediate worry, security.

"How do you ensure that so many guns and weapons are brought under control in a country without a tradition of keeping guns under control?" she said.

At the Gadhafi compound, Abdel Aziz, a Tripoli resident who was carrying two AK-47 assault rifles and a sniper rifle, made his own pledge. "I will fight for my country and turn them back into the government when we are free," he said.

Celebratory gunfire was constant and ear-piercing. Strangers embraced and kissed.

The Bedouin tent where Col. Gadhafi used to entertain visitors smoldered on the grassy lawn after rebels torched it. Groups of young men climbed up the sculpture of a clenched fist holding a U.S. warplane—a shrine constructed by Col. Gadhafi to commemorate his survival of a 1986 U.S. bombing of the compound.

Inside the Gadhafi compound late in the day, the tenuous peace was shattered. Around nightfall, the masses inside the compound made a panicked scramble for cover, when mortar rounds and gunfire rained down on the compound. Amid the chaos and confusion and volleys of celebratory fire, it wasn't clear who was firing, or from where.

"I'm not convinced," said Hamza, 23 years old. "Maybe Gadhafi's family will still come and get me."

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

David Letterman has mocked the threat made against his life during his first TV appearance since the warning was posted on a jihadist website.

Posted On 19:04 by El NACHO 0 comments

The Late Show host made light of the situation, beginning by thanking his studio audience for being there.
He told them: "You people are more to me, honestly, than an audience - you're more like a human shield."
He added: "Backstage, I was talking to the guy from CBS. We were going through the CBS life insurance policy to see if I was covered for jihad."
Until Letterman delivered his jokes, his situation seemed no laughing matter.
Last week, a frequent contributor to a jihadist website posted the threat against him.
He urged people to "cut the tongue" of the late-night host because of a joke and gesture the comic had made about al Qaeda leaders on a show that was broadcast in June.
"A guy, a radical extremist threatened to cut my tongue out," said Letterman, who then referred to his disastrous stint hosting the Oscars in 1995.
"I wish I had a nickel for every time a guy has threatened that. I think the first time was during the Academy Awards.
"And so now State Department authorities are looking into this. But they could save themselves some trouble. Everybody knows it's Jay Leno."

Demands for the jailing or extradition of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Pan Am 103 bomber

Posted On 19:02 by El NACHO 0 comments

Al-Megrahi was released from prison in Scotland two years ago as he fought what was then considered terminal cancer. When he returned home to Libya, he was publicly celebrated and given an audience with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, enraging many Americans.
The bombing, which struck a flight bound for New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, killed 270 people, mostly Americans, including 35 students from Syracuse University in New York state.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat, called al-Megrahi’s appearance alongside Gaddafi last month as “another slap in the face not just for the families of the Lockerbie victims, but for all Americans and all nations of the world who are committed to bringing terrorists to justice.
“The transitional government should immediately seek justice and hold this terrorist accountable by sending him back to prison. If we’re ever going to win the fight against international terrorism, the rule of law must hold strong.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, another New York Democrat, said that a new Libyan government “should seek to undo the injustice of al-Megrahi’s release by returning him to the jail cell where he belongs”.


SAS troopers help co-ordinate rebel attacks in Libya

Posted On 19:00 by El NACHO 0 comments

The Guardian has learned that a number of serving British special forces soldiers, as well as former SAS troopers, are advising and training rebel forces, although their presence is officially denied.

The Guardian has previously reported the presence of former British special forces troops, now employed by private security companies and funded by a number of sources, including Qatar. They have been joined by a number of serving SAS soldiers.

They have been acting as forward air controllers – directing pilots to targets – and communicating with Nato operational commanders. They have also been advising rebels on tactics, a task they have not found easy.

For the SAS it is a return to old stamping grounds. In one of their first successful missions in the second world war, they attacked airfields in Libya, destroying 60 aircraft. SAS battle honours include Tobruk in 1941 and a raid on Benghazi in 1942.

They returned to Libya in February this year, even before the UN mandate urging states to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces. Shortly afterwards, a group of SAS soldiers were seized, though quickly released, by nervous rebels south of Benghazi when their Chinook helicopter landed two MI6 officers with communications equipment.

SAS soldiers later advised Misrata-based rebel forces who secured the port city and helped to pass on details of the locations of Gaddafi's forces to British commanders in the UK and the Naples headquarters of Canadian commander of Nato forces, Lt Gen Charles Bouchard.

In what is hoped to be the endgame in the Libyan conflict and the fight to oust Gaddafi, a number of SAS soldiers are now advising the rebels as they storm the capital, Tripoli.

France is understood to have deployed special forces in Libya and Qatari and Jordanian special forces are believed to have also played a role.


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