Rebels Committing Atrocities in Libya, Charges Ex-Lawmaker

Rebels Committing Atrocities in Libya, Charges Ex-Lawmaker

Story tools

A A AResize



CHICAGO ( - Former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney didn't want to be fooled again by the American media's bad track record of reporting the truth behind this government's military actions in foreign countries.

So when the U.S. government acted with NATO forces to bomb Libya under the guise of protecting civilians from Col. Muammar Gadhafi's 40 year reign, she wanted to see for herself. She wanted to know if the reports of atrocities committed by Col. Gadhafi's siege were true.

When she traveled to Libya on a two-week fact finding mission in Tripoli, the atrocities, Ms. McKinney said, were committed by NATO bombs dropped on civilians and war crimes were being committed against Black Libyans. “We were lied into Iraq and why not have us also lied into another war,” Ms. McKinney told a packed auditorium on the University of Illinois-Chicago campus June 22. “… Not only will our government lie to us, but the media are complicit in the government lies.”
Ms. McKinney was on a national speaking tour to bear witness to her recent travels to the North African country. The Nation of Islam and the Answer Coalition, an anti-war activist group based in Washington, D.C., participated in the tour that stopped in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York. She was joined on the dais by N.O.I. spokesperson A. Akbar Muhammad and human rights activist Pat Hill at the UIC event.

“The purpose of these meetings is to raise the awareness among the American people about a side of the Libya story that is not told, especially about the human suffering caused by the NATO bombing,” said Brian Becker, Answer Coalition's national director.

During the event, Ms. McKinney showed a video detailing some atrocities she said were committed by the rebels. She also spoke about crimes committed against Black Libyans, including a young man, who was tortured and lynched by NATO-backed rebels because of his darker skin.

She explained nearly half the Libyan population “look like me,” and they fear for their safety. This racial division pitting “Libyans against Libyans,” she added, is being stoked by the U.S.-NATO operation.

“So what does that mean for the future, if Libyans are going to turn on each other based on the color of their skin?” she asked.
Ms. McKinney's efforts to bear witness to the atrocities committed by those who, she says have misguidedly aligned themselves with NATO and its allies, seemed abbreviated. Her speech was interrupted several times by rowdy protesters in the audience.

The capacity crowd of nearly 100 shouted down the pro-NATO protesters with “Stop the war on Libya now,” as police escorted some out the auditorium. About two dozen protestors supportive of the military strikes marched outside the event.

Mr. Muhammad attempted to quiet the agitators to no avail. He urged them to respect the gathering and suggested that the group hold a separate meeting, invite the panelists and present evidence that Col. Gadhafi should be removed from power.

“A lot of things may be painful for you,” Mr. Muhammad told the protesters, “but you should at least show respect for the meeting. …We can't go on every time someone makes a point that you jump up. That is an old method of how to disrupt the meeting, and we're specialists on that.”

Ms. McKinney quickly pointed out that the protesters only interrupted when she took the podium.

“I think it is a shame that they would treat a woman like that, but wouldn't treat Akbar (Muhammad) like that,” Ms. McKinney said. “They didn't have the courage to interrupt Akbar, but they think they could interrupt me.”

One protester who identified himself as a doctor but declined to give his name out of safety concerns for his family, said Ms. McKinney's trip was misguided.

“I don't want to make any accusations. She is a good woman … but the problem is she is misguided. Her hate or mistrust of the U.S. government is what is fueling this. It has nothing to do with Libya.”

He added that Col. Gadhafi is bombing his own people and said he treated the victims at the Tripoli Medical Center. “I was working in the emergency room, so no one can tell me. You can show me emotional hijacking. You can show me these videos. I was there, and I know,” the doctor said.

Ms. McKinney said she is only presenting the facts as she saw it. She said during the first days of the bombing, Tripoli was besieged by 26-29 bombs and missiles that landed near schools and left the University of Al Fateh in shambles. She said the bombings left 4,000 Libyans dead. She expects that figure to rise “giving the kinds of bombing NATO is doing and with the continuation of violence between Libyans.”

“There is no part of the city that (does not feel) the reverberation of the bunker busting bombs that are being used,” she said, adding that there's also evidence that depleted uranium has been used in the bombing attacks.

Mr. Muhammad contended there is an objective to the U.S.-NATO backed action in Libya. That objective, he explained, is all about the oil.

“(President Barack Obama) is going along with NATO and European powers to really put Gadhafi down so that they can seize one of the richest oil fields and water sources in the world and that is Libya,” said Mr. Muhammad, an expert in Africa and Middle East affairs. “They have to have a man in power that is compliant to American and European ideals and not a Muammar Gadhafi.”

But Mr. Muhammad cautioned that President Obama had the most to lose allying himself with NATO. He said it could damage his reputation and credibility with other African countries that revere Mr. Obama. Mr. Muhammad contends President Obama has been coopted by NATO and “the U.S. industrial military complex people,” who profit from war.

Mr. Becker believes U.S. involvement in Libya is illegal since Congress did not approve military action. That fact was lost on Congress recently when it rejected a resolution to authorize military aid to NATO. Mr. Becker said the U.S. has “no right to carry out the bombing of a country that has not attacked the United States.”

He too echoed Mr. Muhammad's sentiment that the U.S. actions have nothing to do with protecting civilians but “to overthrow the government in Libya” to have a puppet state that will allow easy access to the country's oil fields.

When asked if Col. Gadhafi should be removed, Ms. McKinney said: “My concern is to stop the bombings and leave Libya to the Libyan people (and) let them solve their problem themselves.”