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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid