By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli and Tunis, 24 July 2017:
A new execution video has emerged in which 20 captives in Guantanamo-style orange jump suits are seen to be gunned down by masked men under the orders of a man who appears to be Mahmoud Warfali, a controversial Saiqa Special Forces commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA).
The footage comes in two parts. In the first, 18 hooded men in orange jumpsuits arranged into four lines can be seen kneeling in a sandy area. The man resembling Warfali stands to the side and orders five of his men, some in balaclavas, to stand behind the captives. On his command they then shoot their victims in the head, thereafter firing into their bodies. When it comes to the second row, the gunman closest the camera is still firing when the others have ceased and he then forgets to copy them by turning smartly on their heels and marching out of camera. Another set of killers in then ordered up.
The man who looks like Warfali, clutching some sort of white paper document which he has been consulting, then walks up with two other gunmen. They shoot the last three in the head. The commander uses his left hand to fire his pistol. Warfali is left-handed and in past videos in which he has been identified by UN human rights investigators, he fires weapons with that hand.
The video then cuts to another two militants kneeling in the sand, their faces covered and again wearing orange jumpsuits. Bizarrely, the theme tune for The Pirates of the Caribbean film plays in the background while they are shot.
This is the fifth execution video in which Warfali has seemingly appeared, though the first in which the victims were dressed in orange jumpsuits. But there is something odd about the footage. One of the victims nearest the camera in the penultimate row first falls on his head when he is shot and then topples to his left, revealing a spreading pool of blood in the sand. However, it is not obvious that the other victims were also bleeding after they have slumped forward. At the same time, with each of the many rounds fired there is a clear impact in the sand in front of the kneeling men.
In May, Warfali offered his resignation after the publication of the first three videos in which he was widely identified. However, this it was rejected by Saiqa Special Forces commander Wanis Bukhamada who instead promoted him from captain to major.
Last week the UN called for Warfali to be suspended while the LNA carries out the investigation into the footage which the LNA says it has mounted. The LNA’s response to the UN call was to say that every solider was innocent until it found him guilty.
Human Rights Watch today demanded an immediate investigation into the latest footage. “This latest mass execution, if confirmed, would be one more in a string of atrocities committed by members of the Libyan National Army forces and is yet another manifestation of how its members are taking the law into their own hands,” Eric Goldstein, Middle East and North Africa deputy director for Human Rights Watch told Reuters.
It is unclear who the latest victims might have been. Saiqa Special Forces have been involved in the final stages of the fighting in Sidi Akribesh which was still continuing today, nineteen days after armed forces commander-in-chief Khalifa Hafter announced on television the final victory over the Benghazi militants.