21 Oct 2011

Game over for Gaddafi and his golden gun

I’ve spent much of today with the Al Ghiran brigade, the fighters from Misrata who caught Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday. They are proud of themselves, writes Lindsey Hilsum.

I’ve spent much of today with the Al-Ghiran brigade, the fighters from Misrata who caught Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday. They are proud of themselves.

These men did not kill Gaddafi, they say.

Omram Sheibani told me that at first, they had walked past the culvert where Gaddafi was hiding. There was firing all around but as they were walking back the same way they realised there were people underground. They started firing at them and Gaddafi’s guards came out saying: “We surrender, we surrender”, Omram told me.

He said: “I saw him face to face. He was bleeding and not fully conscious. I took my Kalashnikov and said Allahu Akbar (God is great) and jumped on top of him. I captured him in seconds. For the first time in my life I saw Gaddafi in the flesh, after nine months of war in which so many died.

“He sounded just like he does on television, and he said: ‘What’s happening, what’s happening?’”

Omram told me there were about eight or nine people in the drainage ditch. “One of them said: ‘I have a broken leg.’ And he told me: ‘Gaddafi is here and he is injured.’ I started to say Allahu Akbar.”

These men are clear that Gaddafi was alive when they put him in the ambulance. And they say they don’t know how he died.

But to be honest, I’m not sure they care much either.

While international human rights bodies are very concerned that this was an extrajudicial execution, the fighters who caught him are just happy that he is no more.

They took me to see some of the things that they had taken from him – his shoes, his assault rifle, and his solid gold pistol.

I picked it up and was amazed at how heavy it was. The inscription said: “The sun will never set on the Al-Fateh revolution.”

That’s the revolution – or rather the coup – that brought Gaddafi to power in 1969. Well, the sun has set. And Libyans are grateful that those days are over.

This morning I spoke to Huda Abuzeid, whose father was murdered by one of Gaddafi’s hit squads in London. Huda was only a child, and she was the one who found her father’s mutilated body. Yesterday, she saw Gaddafi’s body.

She cried as she said to me: “I realise I hadn’t seen a body like that since I saw my father. Gaddafi looked so small. I felt nothing. In the end she was just a man. And now, thank God, it is over.”

They showed me a satellite telephone that they found on the Brother Leader. They said that after they had captured him, a call came in from a woman in Syria, but they would not tell me who the caller was.

Gaddafi was also carrying an amulet, a kind of witchcraft good luck charm. But his luck had run out.

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