Atrocities Being Committed By Libyan Rebels Against Black Libyans

Reports are coming out of Libya that paint the Libyan rebels in a very unkind light.

Rick Moran writes today about a story that hasn’t gotten much attention amidst the backslapping and glad-handing that’s been going on over the victory of the rebels in Libya, a victory that remains incomplete due to the fact that Muammar Gaddafi remains at large. It’s a story that isn’t getting much attention in the American press, but it deserves as much attention as the stories from back in March about supposed atrocities against civilians by the Libyan government that were used to justify the United Nations Security Council Resolutions that led to the US/NATO mission.

In a piece at FrontPage Magazine, Moran writes about the horrible treatment being received by black Libyans by the rebels due to their perceived support for the Gaddafi regime:

Chaotic conditions in post-Gaddafi Libya have led to a breakdown in security that threatens hundreds of thousands of sub-Saharan black African migrant workers. Reports from Tripoli indicate that the rebels who took control of the city last week have been rounding up people described as “mercenaries,” but who appear to be innocent residents caught up in a racial dragnet, with the soldiers and their neighborhood council adjuncts arresting and detaining almost all males with a black face.

There is no firm number of blacks being held in Tripoli, but one rebel commander said that about 5,000 prisoners were being detained in several locations around the city. Human rights groups believe the number is much higher and have raised the alarm about the conditions in which prisoners are being held, as well as concern over the safety of all blacks in Libya. The African Union has withheld recognition of the National Transitional Council, taking them to task for what they view as a racist detention policy. And the NTC has rejected a UN offer of peacekeeping troops to “monitor” the situation.

This isn’t the only report out there about disturbing behavior by the Libyan rebels in the wake of their victory. Al-Jazeera has reported in recent days about rebel forces hunting down refugees from the Taureg, a tribe of nomads, that live in the vast deserts of the Libyan south, and Amnesty International has called on the rebels to put a halt to the mass arrest of sub-Saharan blacks that have followed in the wake of the fall of the Gaddafi regime. Amnesty International  also says that the rebels have tapped into “existing xenophobia” that apparently pervades Libyan society. There have been “racist overtones”, but the racism of some of the Libyan rebels has sometimes been explicit, and manifested itself in violence. A slogan used in Misrata while the fighting raged in that city gave homage to  “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin”.  There have been mass arrests and gruesome murder, all of which have been cataloged by human rights organizations. Right now, rebels are threatening to launch an indiscriminate assault on the city of Sirtre, a Gaddafi stronghold, using language that is strikingly similar to the words Gaddafi himself used when he was threatening an assault on the rebel stronghold of Behghazi in the weeks before the UN/NATO intervention.

The rebel leaders are claiming they are trying to control their troops and discourage retribution, but they are also blocking UN observers and being openly hostile toward international human rights organizations. As Moran notes, the prospect for something truly ugly happening in Libya seems fairly high and, if that happens, then the entire moral facade of the Administrations “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine, which served as the basis for the intervention in March, will be revealed for the fraud that it is, and the presumption that the mission in Libya was any kind of success will be revealed as a sad joke.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jay Tea says:



  2. We haven’t cared who’s run any of these countries since the 70s. We propped up Noriega until he became inconvenient, then waxed him without blinking. We were always at war with Eurasia.

    We don’t care if their leaders are despots, as long as they’re *our* despots.

  3. Wayne says:

    It wasn’t unexpected to most that had a clue. Hopefully it won’t last long or at least at the level which it was prior to the revolt.

    Yes unfortunately there are times you must choose the lesser of two evils. Also there is a matter of those reaching power for the right reasons but end up being corrupted once acquiring power. If a government becomes corrupted enough, revolts will happen.

    That is one of the reasons I believe in term limits. Not that our corrupted politicians are at the same level of some other countries but we should limit corruption as much as is reasonable.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    It goes without saying that o course OTB has linked to none of the many, many confirmed stories of atrocities committed by Gaddafi.

    And of course, Doug, you’ve basically shown that you’ll publish anything on this story that makes the NTC look bad so as to justify your initial opposition to the intervention, without regard to balance or even to truth.

    That said, this could be the start (or continuation) of something very bad. It could be an atrocity in the making. Let’s hope not. And let’s hope the fact that we have some influence over the NTC — whereas we had none over Gaddafi and his forces — will keep this from becoming a real horror.

    But to pretend that the possibility of an atrocity proves that our intervention to stop an atrocity is wrong, is mangled logic. In fact it doesn’t prove anything one way or the other. It’s like claiming that Hiroshima proves we should have let the Japanese have Pearl Harbor. It does not compute.

  5. @michael reynolds:

    There were plenty of posts about that leading up the the UNSCR’s. As an apologist for the rebels, you must’ve forgotten.

  6. Tano says:

    he entire moral facade of the Administrations “Responsibility To Protect” doctrine, which served as the basis for the intervention in March, will be revealed for the fraud that it is,

    How does that work? How do the alleged incidents happening now render the effort to protect civilians from Quaddaffi a fraud?

  7. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    TRIPOLI, Libya — Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya’s former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.

    The Bush CIA was apparently using Libya to commit torture. Using the man responsible for Lockerbie to commit crimes against humanity. If knocking Gaddafi off proves something about the Obama administration, I wonder what that proves about the Bush administration.

  8. @michael reynolds:

    You really don’t think I’m going to defend the Bush Administration, do you?

  9. Jay Tea says:

    I’m trying to remember the last time you did defend a Republican, Doug. You seem to have the “bash Republicans at every opportunity” niche pretty sewn up.

    But this does remind me that the one thing I asked when we first went to UnWar in Libya… “can anyone give us any assurances that the guys we’re helping would actually be BETTER than K-Daffy?”