By George Grant.
Tripoli, 1 October:
The commander of the Supreme Security Committee has been fired following the bungled operation in Brak between . . .[restrict]19-21 September, which left at least 22 people dead.
Abdul Latif Gadour, who helped lead the underground resistance against the Qaddafi regime during last year’s revolution, is to be replaced by Colonel Mohammed Abdullah Souissi.
The SSC’s deputy chairman, Tariq Zinu, has been appointed to manage and supervise the committee’s work during the interregnum.
“There was a major disagreement between Gadour and the Interior Minister over what happened in Brak”, said Ahmeda El-Madri, the former head of the Tripoli Military Council’s investigations unit, who is familiar with the case.
“The government’s view is that the SSC failed in Brak, and this is why Gadour has been replaced. It was on the orders of the interior minister himself.”
At least six people, mostly SSC members, were killed in the town on 19 September after fighting broke out following the killing of a local girl. Locals claimed shed had been shot by the SSC when they tried to arrest her brother at the family home.
Another 16 SSC members were killed and around 50 injured on 21 September in renewed clashes that damaged homes and forced many locals to flee to Sebha, some 80 kilometres to the south. The SSC subsequently withdrew from the town.
Fierce recriminations quickly broke out between the SSC and government over who was responsible for the fatally bungled operation, with the SSC complaining that they had been left under-resourced, isolated and without reinforcements.
The SSC ran out of ammunition during the clashes, with reinforcements and supplies promised from Tripoli never having been delivered.
The Interior Ministry is also said to have promised to send ambulances, but these too never arrived.
Having returned to Tripoli with the bodies of their dead colleagues, members of the SSC and their families threatened to attack the Rixos Hotel on 22 September following complaints that both the interior minister and the defence minister had refused to meet with them to discuss the debacle.
The SSC said that the clashes in Brak had been with Qaddafi loyalists after they had attempted to arrest a number of former regime supporters who had celebrated the anniversary of Qaddafi’s “Al-Fateh revolution” on 1 September.
However, sources in Brak informed this paper that the SSC were already deeply unpopular in the town on account of their reportedly heavy handed behaviour and arrogance towards locals. [/restrict]