The savage killing Thursday of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi served to underscore the criminal character of the war that has been prosecuted by the US and NATO over the past eight months.
The assassination follows NATO’s more than month-long siege of Sirte, the Libyan coastal city that was Gaddafi’s hometown and a center of his support. The assault on this city of 100,000 left virtually every building smashed, with untold numbers of civilians dead, wounded and stricken by disease, as they were deprived of food, water, medical care and other basic necessities.
Gaddafi was apparently traveling in a convoy of vehicles attempting to break out of the siege after the last bastion of resistance had fallen to the NATO-backed “rebels”. NATO warplanes attacked the convoy at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, leaving a number of vehicles in flames and preventing it from moving forward. Then the armed anti-Gaddafi militias moved in for the kill.
The death of Gaddafi appears to have been part of a larger massacre that has reportedly claimed the lives of a number of his top aides, loyalist fighters and his two sons, Mo’tassim and Saif al-Islam.
While details of the killings remain somewhat clouded, photographs and cell phone videos released by the NATO-backed “rebels” clearly show a wounded Gaddafi struggling with his captors and shouting as he is dragged onto the back of a vehicle. His stripped and lifeless body is then shown, drenched in blood. It seems clear that having first been wounded, perhaps in the NATO air strikes, the former Libyan ruler was captured alive and then summarily executed. One photograph shows him with a bullet hole in the head.
Gaddafi’s body was then taken west to the city of Misrata, where it was reportedly dragged through the streets before being deposited in a mosque.
The fate of the body is politically significant in that it was seized by a Misrata militia faction that is operating under its own command and has no loyalty to the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council (NTC), which Washington and NATO have anointed as the “sole legitimate representative” of the Libyan people.