News / Middle East

Libyan Opposition Leader: Military Siding with People

Residents stand on a tank inside a security forces compound in Benghazi, Libya, February 21, 2011
Residents stand on a tank inside a security forces compound in Benghazi, Libya, February 21, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Cecily Hilleary

A former Libyan army officer and head of a leading opposition group says he knows of growing defections among Libya’s military not just by individuals, but in some cases, entire units. Ibrahim Abdulaziz Sahad is the Secretary-General of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, or NFSL, which was organized in in October 1981 by a group of former military officers, diplomats and businessmen with one goal - to end the regime of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. He spoke to VOA’s Cecily Hilleary from his base in the United States.

Cecily: Mr. Sahad. You are a former member of the Libyan army and the Air Force. We are hearing reports of real atrocity committed by the Libyan army against protesters. And we are also hearing reports of members of military defecting. What is going on?

Sahad:  The scenario started.  In Benghazi, the demonstrators could not be in a peaceful situation until a unit from the army moved and took over the barracks which contains another battalion of Gaddafi security.  That battalion used to shoot against the demonstrators, used to send mercenaries, used to do all kinds of harm [against] the demonstrators - even the inhabitants of Benghazi. 

But when that army unit moved and took over that barracks, Benghazi started to breathe.  It is also, in many other places, military units joining the people,  like in  Misrata,  the Air Force Academy joined the people.  Also some units in Misrata, some units in Az-Zawiyah.

Ibrahim Sahad
Ibrahim Sahad

Now one thing I would like to say here, in Gadhafi’s 40-year rule, he emptied the army of it strength, so that you will see only  the units that can move, which have weapons, which have  ammunition, can do something to help.   Others will be hesitant.   But I am getting information that many officers are joining the demonstrators, refusing the orders of Gadhafi to shoot at the people.  Two pilots landed yesterday in Malta because they refused to take the orders and raid the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli.  They left Libya, they went to Malta, they are asking for political asylum now.

Hilleary:  Two pilots is a long way from an entire military.  Do you believe there’s a chance of the military completely siding against Gadhafi?

Sahad:  I am sure the other pilots refused and were under arrest.  Other pilots went and they threw all what they had - bombs - they threw them in the desert and they came back.  We have these reports from inside, that these two pilots were asked to go and bomb Benghazi.  They left until they found themselves away from the radar and away from the air defense system, and then they changed the course to Malta.     

It’s not easy in Libya.  Forty years of tyranny, of oppression, of fear - I mean,   a person will feel frightened, even in his home.  This is the situation which Gadhafi brought on this country, and I am telling you, what you are seeing, those people who go into the streets are very, very brave. They know what’s waiting for them.  

Hilleary:  What would you like to see the U.N. Security Council do?

Sahad:  The Security Council should take all measures to protect the civilians by all means.  We are seeing a government using all kinds of weapons against its own people, using mercenaries against its own people.

Gadhafi himself should be brought to trial.  He is now committing crimes against humanity, crimes of war, and that should be brought to justice.

Third, in Libya there are very urgent needs for medical supplies, medicines, doctors - for even hospitals.  We are getting very, very alarming reports from the hospitals in Benghazi, in Tripoli, in almost every place in Libya. They are in need of basic first aid.  Also there is a shortage in food.  It has started to run down.

I would like to see the international community start shipping aid to Libya. It can use the Egyptian border.  It can use the Tunisian border. They can use the harbors of Libya on the Mediterranean. Every hour delay, more souls will be lost, more blood will be shed, and more massacre will be taking place in Libya.

Hilleary:  What would you like to see from the United States?

Sahad:  Ma’am, I would like to express and convey to American people the disappointment, the bitter disappointment of the Libyan people from the stand [sic] of the United States of America, from the stand of this Administration. The stand of this Administration is very devastating to the Libyan people, even though we expected that the United States would stand for its values in support of democracy, freedom, human rights. But what we’ve seen from the Administration is nothing.    

Even the Security Council meeting could have [taken place] two, three days ago. The delay here, I could not understand.  It does not add up.   

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid