Volcanic crater of Wau al Namus, (Wau means hole, so Wau al Namus is “hole of mosquitoes”).This massive (and apparently dormant) volcano can be easily be seen in satellite views of Southern Libya, as a large black smear in the wind-scoured sands of the Sahara. The inner crater is bordered by a chain of small salt lakes. Outside the outer rim of the crater are small black dunes of windblown volcanic residue.
An Islamist militia was driven out of the city of Benghazi early on Saturday in a surge of anger against the armed groups that control large parts of Libya…
A spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia, which some U.S. and Libya officials blame for the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last week in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed, said it had evacuated its bases “to preserve security in the city”…
The invasion of Ansar al-Sharia’s compounds, which met little resistance, appeared to be part of a sweep of militia bases by police, troops and activists following a large demonstration against militia units in Benghazi on Friday.
Demonstrators pulled down militia flags and set a vehicle on fire inside what was once the base of Gaddafi’s security forces.
Hundreds of men waving swords and even a meat cleaver chanted “Libya, Libya”, “No more al Qaeda!” and “The blood we shed for freedom shall not go in vain!”
“After what happened at the American consulate, the people of Benghazi had enough of the extremists,” demonstrator Hassan Ahmed said. “They did not give allegiance to the army. So the people broke in and they fled.
“This place is like the Bastille. This is where Gaddafi controlled Libya from, and then Ansar al-Sharia took it over. This is a turning point for the people of Benghazi…”
Libya’s government had promised Washington it would find the perpetrators of what appeared to be a well planned attack on the U.S. consulate, which coincided with protests against an anti-Islam video and the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks…
Although Ansar al-Sharia denies any role in the consulate attack, the latest events in the cradle of Libya’s revolution appeared at least in part to vindicate Obama’s faith in Libya’s nascent democracy.
RTFA for a great deal of detail, chronology of events.
This revolutionary period still runs the risk of being subverted by thugs loyal to Gaddafi’s tribe and ideology. There is the danger of pro-government militias run by Islamists and even al Qaeda attaining positions of political power.
A period of immediate post-revolutionary turmoil is rife with opportunities for agents provocateur as well as the standard flavor of political opportunists who flock to a moment of critical change like greed-driven lemmings.
I wish those folks truly dedicated to building a better Libya nothing but the best.
Four flag-draped coffins bearing the bodies of the Americans killed in Libya arrived in the United States on Friday for their final journey home as President Obama said the victims “laid down their lives for us all” and vowed to honor their memory by never retreating from the world.
In a solemn ceremony at Joint Base Andrews outside the capital, Mr. Obama and his national security team stood at attention as the coffins were first carried by Marine honor guards off a military plane that had flown them home from Libya and were later lifted into four hearses while a military band played “America the Beautiful.”
The arrival, broadcast live on news channels, proved an emotional culmination to an episode that has rocked Washington and American embassies around the world. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looked stricken and seemed to be fighting to control her emotions as she and the president addressed an audience of family, friends and colleagues inside a hangar at the air base. Mr. Obama, himself somber, put his arm around her shoulders in comfort.
“Four Americans, four patriots — they loved this country and they chose to serve it and served it well,” the president said. “They had a mission, and they believed in it. They knew the danger, and they accepted it. They didn’t simply embrace the American ideal; they lived it, they embodied it.”
Also on hand for a ceremony the likes of which has been a painful ritual for Americans over the years were Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Ambassador Susan E. Rice and former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
When the official video is available, I’ll post a link to it. The whole ceremony was pretty moving.
Yeah – Colin Powell was the only Republican officially attending.
After four decades of tyrannical rule by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, financed largely by our country’s oil wealth, Libyans have taken steps this summer toward a true democracy. Last month, we got to vote in legislative elections, and this month we experienced the first peaceful transfer of power, from the Transitional National Council to a new national assembly, in our country’s modern history.
While we are grateful to the Western countries that helped us topple Colonel Qaddafi last year, something perverse is happening in those countries now. Oil industry lobbyists are using their influence in Washington and Brussels to try to undermine transparency measures that could help prevent future tyrants from emerging. That must not be allowed to happen…
If we are to transform Libya, we must not only investigate the past but also reform the whole relationship between the energy industry and our government. We need to ensure that bidding is fair and open, that deals are transparent and aboveboard and that revenues are used properly. Public disclosure and legislative oversight of contracts and payments are crucial.
We cannot meet these goals without help from abroad. Colonel Qaddafi’s rule depended on the collusion of powerful foreign allies who would turn a blind eye to blatant corruption deals involving international oil companies and his regime.
Results from Libya’s first elections since the overthrow of Col Gaddafi have shown gains for an alliance of parties seen as broadly secular…The National Forces Alliance, led by ex-interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, has won 39 out of 80 seats reserved for political parties…The Muslim Brotherhood’s party has gained 17.
The 200-member General National Assembly will also include dozens of independent candidates…The overall orientation that the assembly will have is so far unclear.
What remains to be seen is who, if anyone, will lead the assembly by majority, the BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli reports…
The current interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib said the announcement of the results was “a time of celebration”.
“Everybody in Libya is happy. And we are thankful to those partners and friends who have helped us to get to this point,” Mr Keib said.
The assembly will have legislative powers, though it is unclear what role it will play in drawing up the country’s new constitution. The assembly is expected to be in place for at least a year.
It will choose the first elected government since Col Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969…The last fully free parliamentary election was held soon after independence in 1952. The last national vote was held in 1965, when no political parties were allowed…
Bravo – and good luck. The road to democracy is long and difficult. Some of us haven’t mastered it after trying for over two centuries.
The controversial report from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has remained secret for five years because, until now, no-one had permission to publish it.
The Sunday Herald and its sister paper, The Herald, are the only newspapers in the world to have seen the report. We choose to publish it because we have the permission of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing, and because we believe it is in the public interest to disseminate the whole document.
The Sunday Herald has chosen to publish the full report online today to allow the public to see for themselves the analysis of the evidence which could have resulted in the acquittal of Megrahi. Under Section 32 of the Data Protection Act, journalists can publish in the public interest. We have made very few redactions to protect the names of confidential sources and private information.
The publication of the report aGdds weight to calls for a full public inquiry into the atrocity – something for which many of the relatives have been campaigning for more than two decades…
The SCCRC rejected many of the defence submissions but upheld six grounds which could have constituted a miscarriage of justice. The commission made clear that, had such information been shared with the defence, the result of the trial could have been different…
Megrahi was convicted of murder by Scottish judges sitting at Camp Zeist in 2001. He unsuccessfully appealed in January 2001. He dropped a second appeal shortly before the decision to release him on compassionate grounds in August 2009. He was expected to die from cancer within three months.
Critical portions of the evidence used to convict Megrahi of the Lockerbie bombing were not only flawed; but, contradictory and possibly contrived. No one doubts or denies the complicity of the Libyan government of Muamar Ghaddafi in the terrorist bombing. But, the uniform condemnation of Megrahi and the possible reasons for the Scottish government allowing his release has been another holy crusade by politicians and pundits unaccompanied by facts.
Which is why this police report, the result of several consecutive examinations and re-examinations of the evidence surrounding Megrahi’s trial, has been kept secret. In my opinion, because publication would show up once again that political decisions have been more important to verdicts of guilty or innocent – than justice. Resulting from pressures from the United States at least as much as anything else.
In addition, a criticism of prosecutors that never seems to end appears in this document. Prosecutors deciding which evidence will be allowed to the defense. Instead of free access to all the evidence collected – the prosecution decides some must not been seen for whatever reason.
Nicholas Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, who were working for Iran’s English-language Press TV, were detained on Feb 22 by the Swehli brigade, one of the dozens of militias which last year helped force out Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Earlier this month, the Swehli militia said the Britons, initially detained for illegal entry into Libya, were suspected of spying. They were transferred to the custody of the government last week however.
Speaking on BBC 5Live following their release, Mr Montgomery-Johnson said: “We’re pleased to be back with our own families because they’ve been through a similar ordeal. While we were there we were given no information at all. Now we’re overwhelmed and thankful.”
They said five days after they had been taken, the militia had gone to their hotel to find footage and began looking through equipment and the archive material.
“My father, who’s a nurse, had given me some bandages in case we got into trouble. Some had Welsh written on and they thought this was Hebrew and we were Israeli spies,” he said…
This would be hilarious if these poor buggers hadn’t been in danger of losing their lives.
To a colorful group of Americans — the Washington terrorism expert, the veteran C.I.A. officer, the Republican operative, the Kansas City lawyer — the Libyan gambit last March looked like a rare business opportunity.
Even as NATO bombed Libya, the Americans offered to make Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi their client — and charge him a hefty consulting fee. Their price: a $10 million retainer before beginning negotiations with Colonel Qaddafi’s representatives.
“The fees and payments set forth in this contract are MINIMUM NON-REFUNDABLE FEES,” said the draft contract, with capital letters for emphasis. “The fees are an inducement for the ATTORNEYS AND ADVISORS to take the case and nothing else.”
Neil C. Livingstone, 65, the terrorism specialist and consultant, said he helped put together the deal after hearing that one of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, was interested in an exit strategy for the family. But he and his partners were not going to work for free, Mr. Livingstone said…
Mr. Livingstone, a television commentator and prolific author who moved home to Montana this year to try a run for governor, said…“The idea was to find them an Arabic-speaking sanctuary and let them keep some money, in return for getting out,” he said. The consultants promised to help free billions of dollars in blocked Libyan assets by steering the government into compliance with United Nations resolutions…
Now the confidential documents describing the proposed deal have surfaced on the Internet, offering a glimpse of how some saw lucrative possibilities in the power struggle that would end Colonel Qaddafi’s erratic reign. A Facebook page called WikiLeaks Libya has made public scores of documents apparently found in Libyan government offices after the Qaddafi government fell.
The papers contained a shock for the Americans: a three-page letter addressed to Colonel Qaddafi on April 17 by another partner in the proposed deal, a Belgian named Dirk Borgers. Rather than suggesting a way out of power, Mr. Borgers offered the Libyan dictator the lobbying services of what he called the “American Action Group” to outmaneuver the rebels and win United States government support.
Some of the American partners deny any knowledge of the lobbying part of the consultancy. Oh.
The other American partners – Neil S. Alpert, who had worked for the Republican National Committee and the pro-Israel lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Randell K. Wood, a Kansas City, Mo., lawyer who has represented Libyan officials and organizations since the 1980s – didn’t respond to requests for comment…
Of the $10 million fee the group sought, Mr. Borgers said, “The aim was not to make money.” On the other hand, he added, “If you want to put up a serious operation in Washington, I think you need at least $10 million.”
The Treasury Department is about as up to speed as you would expect. They say the group’s application to be paid by the now-disappeared Qaddafi government is “still pending”. Which would be laughable if it wasn’t so typically stupid.
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi died of wounds suffered on Thursday as fighters battling to complete an eight-month-old uprising against his rule overran his hometown Sirte, Libya’s interim rulers said.
His killing, which came swiftly after his capture near Sirte, is the most dramatic single development in the Arab Spring revolts that have unseated rulers in Egypt and Tunisia and threatened the grip on power of the leaders of Syria and Yemen.
“He (Gaddafi) was also hit in his head,” National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters. “There was a lot of firing against his group and he died.”
Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi, who was in his late 60s, was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked. He said he had been taken away by an ambulance…
His capture followed within minutes of the fall of Sirte, a development that extinguished the last significant resistance by forces loyal to the deposed leader.
The capture of Sirte and the death of Gaddafi means Libya’s ruling NTC should now begin the task of forging a new democratic system which it had said it would get under way after the city, built as a showpiece for Gaddafi’s rule, had fallen.
Police said on Friday they eavesdropped on thieves speaking Russian, Mandarin and Arabic to make the biggest identity theft bust of its kind in U.S. history against a $13 million crime ring specializing mainly in selling Apple electronics overseas.
Authorities said “Operation Swiper” indicted 111 people from five criminal enterprises in Queens, New York, the nation’s most ethnically diverse county, where 138 languages are spoken and more than half the population is foreign born…
A two-year investigation revealed the enterprises had ties to larger syndicates in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and eastern Asia, Kelly said. The crime rings ran nationwide shopping sprees in which “crew leaders” oversaw “shoppers” and thieves conducted their business from five-star hotels, renting luxury cars and private jets…
Police said they seized $650,000 in cash, Apple computer products worth tens of thousands of dollars, $850,000 worth of computer equipment stolen from the Citigroup Building in Queens, seven handguns and a truck full of electronics, computers, designer shoes, watches and identity theft equipment…
Bosses of each crime ring received blank credit cards from suppliers in Russia, Libya, Lebanon and China.
The bosses then hired “skimmers” who posed for jobs such as waiters and retail shop workers so they could use electronic devices to steal information from customer credit cards. That information was then sent to a “manufacturer” who programed the information into the magnetic strips of blank credit cards.
The crime rings also used card printing machines to forge credit cards and state drivers licenses to match them…
Police then said “shoppers” in the crime rings would use the forged credit cards and IDs to go on weekly shopping sprees around the U.S. at retailers such as Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Gucci and Best Buy and sell those items mostly to people overseas.
But by far, Gregory Antonsen said, thieves spent the most time buying computer products from Apple. “This is primarily an Apple case,” Antonsen said. “Apple is a big ticket item and a very easy sell.”
Antonsen added forged credit cards were easy for criminals to make here because U.S. credit cards are less sophisticated than those in Europe, where fraud of this magnitude would have been much more difficult…
The indicted individuals are charged with crimes ranging from identity theft and forging credit cards to robbery. Police said 86 of the 111 people indicted for the crimes are currently in police custody and the remaining 25 were being sought.
It starts with the simplest thing in the world. Always read the details of your credit card statement. Doesn’t matter if it belongs to the company you work for or if it’s your own. You’re the best person to catch the skimmer.
Cripes, the first time I caught someone doing it was in the late 1970′s at my [then] favorite Indian/Muslim restaurant in NYC. I saw dinner at the restaurant come through twice in a month – weeks apart – but, I’d only been there for a long weekend at a trade show. The style of theft ain’t any different – just the tech that makes it easier.