News / Middle East

Libyan Cities Struggle to Contain Crime Wave

A security officer patrols the city ahead of Libya's two-year anniversary marking the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, Benghazi, Feb. 12, 2013.
A security officer patrols the city ahead of Libya's two-year anniversary marking the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, Benghazi, Feb. 12, 2013.
Assailants recently invaded Ashraf Abdul Wahab's house while he was away and at gunpoint evicted his wife, two young sons, and 70-year-old mother. The seventh such house in this Tripoli district to have been taken over by petty criminals and drug-dealers, prosecutors say Wahab's is one of more than 100 similar home invasions citywide.
 
“I feel that Libya gets crushed in a wall because there is no security at the moment," says Wahab, explaining that he has nowhere to turn.
 
In addition to seeking help from police, the 47-year-old local journalist has even appealed to Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who this week himself asked Western and Arab allies at a conference in Paris for assistance with the country's deteriorating domestic security.
 
Struggling to contain a crime wave that is affecting everyday life, Libya's major cities have seen a rash of assassinations, kidnappings and carjackings. From the deputy head of the national Fire Service to the chairman of a major manufacturing company, the capital has been particularly hard hit by the abduction
 
In a post-Arab Spring Tripoli where insecurity is becoming a part of everyday life, the government has begun to rely on revolutionary militias — the same ones it pledged to disband after the fall of late dictator Moammar Gadhafi — to aid in a crackdown on crime.
 
But even that isn’t helping. While Zeidan ordered a roundup of the criminals who invaded Ashraf’s house, his family has not yet returned home and no arrests have been made.
 
“I spoke to Dr. Ali Zeidan himself face to face, alone in his office and I told him my problem," says Wahab. "He responded as I told you, but ... after that everything is as it is.”
 
Some Sedan’s government is at a loss, forced into a dilemma where crime-fighting militias are themselves contributing to insecurity.
 
The Nawaz militia, for example, a hardcore Islamist brigade, has been battling drug dealers, and their nightly firefights have been echoing around the capital's Ben Ashour district.
 
But the Nawasi brigade has also been accused of rounding up gays, and last year its members were involved in the illegal destruction of an historic Sufi mosque.
 
Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad Qaid, chairman of the parliament’s national security committee, says things will be better when the militias are integrated into the armed forces.
 
“The interior minister has a very ambitious plan: they plan to absorb all of these people you mention," he says.
 
But Qaid also urges patience, and says that establishing law and order will take time.
 
This isn’t music to Ashraf’s ears, who says he would return home but worries about his family.
 
“I am not afraid to get back, but I am afraid for my family because of the ... weapons around the country, somebody [could] shoot one of my kids or my wife or my mother," he says. "This is my problem now.”
 
It is also Libya’s problem.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
February 21, 2013 6:20 PM
Congratulations NATO, for bringing "freedom" to Libya.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid