By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 24 October:
Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani has reaffirmed his support for the recent military action against Bani Walid, arguing that it is consistent with the “application of Resolution No. 7 of the National Congress, which represents the highest authority within the state”.
In a statement released by his office, the cleric warned that “bloodshed will not cease as long as those wanted for justice, those outlaws, those accused of killing innocent people remain at large”.
Earlier today, government spokesman Nasser Al-Manaa claimed that more than 100 people had been arrested from Bani Walid, out of a total wanted-list said to be some 1,000 names long.
“Resolution [No. 7] demands the handover of those in Bani Walid wanted for justice”, Ghariani said, “even through the use of force if need be.
“Thus, the government, the national army, the chief of staff directorate and all revolutionaries are under an obligation to implement this resolution.”
The grand mufti underpinned his statement with verses from the Quran, warning that “all those, therefore, who protect or harbour any of those wanted in any way, and prevent by force justice from taking place in any part of the state, such persons indeed are transgressors and GOD will indeed take care of them.
“On the other hand, whoever takes the legitimate state side, fights the transgressors alongside the supremacy of the state, he is indeed fighting a legitimate fight ordained by GOD and should he die in the process, he would be considered a martyr if he died with the right intention.”
Ghariani warned of divine retribution, however, against would-be looters or anyone otherwise seeking to exploit the situation inside Bani Walid for personal gain or to wrongfully persecute the town’s residents.
“In the case of those trying to implement this resolution in order to gain the spoils of war, or to violate sanctities or to loot using the legitimacy of the state, he shall be surrounded with the torment of theft, and would face the punishment and the wrath of GOD, according to the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.”
The mufti said he recognised that many Bani Walid residents were victims of events beyond their control, reiterating a statement made recently by National Congress President Mohamed Magarief that the town had, to a great extent, been taken hostage by pro-Qaddafi elements and other “criminals”.
Nevertheless, he said, “if Bani Walid… is not outside of the state’s authority, as claimed by those who are against the implementation of the GNC resolution, why then are state assigned forces prevented from arresting those wanted for justice? How can Bani-Walid be under stated legitimacy and yet the state is prevented from entering the town!”
Ghariani concluded by dismissing the claims made last week by government and Congress officials that Khamis Qaddafi had been killed in the fighting and some of his associates arrested. “These things are nothing but part of the cold war of spreading rumors which is itself part of the war.”
Today, the government retracted its earlier claim regarding these particular events, and apologised if any Libyans had been wrongful misled thereby.