WTF? NATO Kills Civilians, US Spokesperson Disparages Democracy, Al Qaeda Praises Democracy, Warns against Terrorism

June 19th, 2011 - by admin

BBC & Associated Press & McClatchy Newspapers – 2011-06-19 00:49:35

‘NATO Bombs Civilians!’
Former US Representative Cynthia McKinney / Russia Today

NATO Raid in Tripoli Kills Five, Say Libyan Officials
Jeremy Bowen / BBC World News

(June 18, 2011) — At least five people have died in a NATO air strike that hit a house in the Libyan capital Tripoli, Libyan government officials say. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen saw a three-storey house badly damaged at the scene of the alleged air raid in the city’s Souk al Juma residential district [and] says he saw a body being pulled from the rubble.

Our correspondent was later shown five bodies at a Tripoli hospital. He says if proved to be a NATO strike, it will raise more questions about the alliance’s mission in Libya.

There has been no response yet from NATO, but it has acknowledged mistakenly hitting civilian areas in previous bombing raids.

Our correspondent was taken by Libyan government officials to a Tripoli hospital where he was shown the bodies of a dead woman, a dead man and a dead baby. The officials said they were members of a family killed in the alleged NATO air strike. Our correspondent was also shown the body of another man and a dead baby. He saw two of the bodies earlier at Souk al Juma — one being pulled from the rubble and another being placed in an ambulance.

Libyan officials say Sunday’s attack, in one of the city’s poorer neighbourhoods, happened shortly after midnight. Scores of men were working alongside the emergency services, pulling at sections of rubble and looking for bodies. Locals said an entire family had been killed, though our correspondent was unable to immediately verify this claim.

From Jeremy Bowen at the Scene
When journalists arrived at the site, rescue workers and local men were digging through the rubble, mostly with their bare hands, looking for survivors or bodies. The destroyed buildings were in Souk al Juma, a residential area, about a mile from a military airfield, which has often been targeted by NATO.

Neighbours said the explosion happened at just after one in the morning. The building [that] was destroyed seemed to have been a family home. It looked to be the result of an air strike or missile attack.

NATO’s mandate is to protect civilians. More questions now seem likely about what NATO is doing in Libya and what it is achieving — not least by NATO members who never agreed with the operation.

Afterwards we were taken to Tripoli central hospital. The dead bodies of a husband and wife and a baby were in the mortuary, along with another dead man. Medical staff said they were all killed in the attack. Another dead baby was brought in. Doctors were working on a man with a bad wound in his arm. Moussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman, said there were other casualties.

‘Seed of Hatred’
The level of damage, he adds, looked like the aftermath of an air strike, with concrete floors blown out on to the street. Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said: “NATO is planting the seed of hatred in the hearts of Libyan people for years to come. They won’t allow foreign armies to decide their future.”

What started as a peaceful uprising against Col Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year-rule four months ago has grown into a civil war. The rebels now hold a third of the country in the east and pockets in the west, including Misrata, although Tripoli remains under government control.

NATO has flown more than 10,000 sorties since operations began, including almost 4,000 strike attacks against government targets across Libya. On Saturday, NATO said one of its aircraft had mistakenly attacked rebel forces in eastern Libya during an air raid on Thursday. NATO said it had hit a column of military vehicles near the oil town of Brega, and that the rebels had said there were injuries but no casualties.

BBC News — Footage of NATO Attack on Rebel Forces
NewsEnterprise1 / BBC (April 8, 2011)

Diplomacy Stepped Up as NATO Bombs Tripoli
Adam Schreck /Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya (June 17, 2011) — Renewed diplomatic efforts to halt Libya’s civil war appeared to be gaining momentum Thursday as thunderous NATO air strikes once again hammered Moammar Khadafy’s stronghold of Tripoli.

Officials in the capital say they are open to international efforts that would bring an end to four months of fighting between forces loyal to the longtime leader and rebels who control the eastern third of the country along with pockets in the west. But they insist that Khadafy will not bow to international pressure to push him aside.

“We don’t accept anything that may be done against him. He is a red line in our discussions,” Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi said. Any deal that would partition the country is also unacceptable, he added.

One of Khadafy’s sons told an Italian newspaper that while his father would not seek exile, elections under international supervision could offer a way out. A vote could be organized within three months, he said. The son, Seif al-Islam, told Corriere della Sera that Khadafy would step aside if he lost, which the son said was unlikely. He acknowledged, however, that “my father’s regime as it developed since 1969 is dead.”

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland rejected the idea of elections in Libya. “It’s a little late for any proposals by Khadafy and his circles for democratic change,” she said Thursday. “It’s time for him to go.”

At least three NATO bombing runs shook the Libyan capital late Thursday. The targets were not immediately known and there was no report of casualties.

© 2011 Hearst Communications Inc.

Al-Zawahri Succeeds bin Laden as al-Qaida’s Leader
Saeed Shah and Jonathan S. Landay / McClatchy Newspapers

ISLAMABAD (June 17, 2011) — Al Qaeda moved Thursday to fill the leadership vacuum caused by the death of Osama bin Laden, announcing that his deputy has taken over. Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor familiar to the world from numerous video messages, was always the likely successor, but there had been surprise that al Qaeda was taking so long to confirm it, amid rumors of a split in the organization. But given the intense intelligence focus on al Qaeda in the wake of the death of bin Laden on May 2, the group may have found it difficult to consult senior members before making the announcement.

Saif al-Adel, also an Egyptian, said to be head of the al Qaeda shura council, had been acting as interim leader. Al-Zawahri and al-Adel, like bin Laden, are believed by U.S. intelligence to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan, where the al Qaeda leadership relocated in late 2001 to escape the U.S. onslaught in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The new al Qaeda leader, a 60-year-old jihadi veteran, will find it difficult to replace the charisma and undisputed inspiration that bin Laden brought to the terrorist organization. Al-Zawahri, a dry man with an academic style, given to lecture al Qaeda followers, is not universally popular even within the group.

“The general command of al Qaeda announces, after consultations, the appointment of Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri as head of the group,” it announced on an Islamist website. Al Qaeda will continue to try to hit the United States, and its ally, Israel, under the new leadership.

“We seek with the aid of God to call for the religion of truth and incite our nation to fight … by carrying out jihad against the apostate invaders … with their head being crusader America and its servant Israel, and whoever supports them,” said the statement.

A U.S. special forces team found and killed bin Laden in a large house in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan, on May 2. However, the operation did not involve Pakistan, and it wasn’t even warned in advance.

“There may have been disputes and conflicts within al Qaeda, including over his leadership, that Zawahri needed to resolve before formally taking over,” said Noman Benotman, a former close associate of al-Zawahri, who now works as an analyst at Quilliam, an antiextremist research organization in London.

“Zawahri’s first step as leader will be to try to decontaminate the group’s reputation in the Muslim world. Ever since the Iraq war, al Qaeda has been mistrusted by many Muslims and even by other hard-line Islamist groups for its killing of Muslim civilians,” Benotman said, in a statement.

Al-Zawahri, in a recent 28-minute video recording, his first pronouncement since the death of bin Laden, called on al Qaeda and its affiliates to stop blowing up public places. He also tried to embrace the pro-democracy revolutions sweeping the Middle East.

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