Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Slain Libyan leader’s son demands justice | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Libyan rebel National Transitional Council [NTC] yesterday faced the anger and ire of the family and tribe of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, the commander of the Libyan rebel forces army, after he was killed by unknown gunmen last week. Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, who was the Gaddafi regime’s Interior Minister, before he defected to join the Libyan rebels, was recently killed in Benghazi under suspicious circumstances. The Younis family has today decided to break its silence over the death of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, expressing outrage at the manner that the NTC has dealt with this crime, and revealing some of the latest developments in the investigations surrounding the assassination of this senior Libyan figure.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, the youngest son of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, Muatasim Younis, stressed that “if the commission of inquiry fails in its operations, and fails to investigate this serious issue [the death of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis], then we – the Younis family and the Obeidat tribe – will ask for assistance from the International Criminal Court [ICC].”

Muatasim Younis made this statement following a meeting with members of the Obeidat tribe, which is one of the largest tribes in Benghazi, and which Major General Abdel Fatah Younis was a prominent member of.

NTC leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil had announced the establishment of a special commission of inquiry into the assassination of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, whose death represented a huge blow to the Libyan rebels who are trying to bring down the Gaddafi regime.

Abdul-Jalil had vowed that the maximum punishment would be brought against those responsible for this crime.

The NTC sought to contain the anger felt by the Younis family and the Obeidat tribe by issuing statements calling for calm and the completion of the investigation into the killing of Abdel Fatah Younis. Reports indicate that the NTC is seeking to uncover a pro-Gaddafi fifth column in Benghazi which is clandestinely working to undermine the rebel’s efforts. However the NTC has failed to control the familial and tribal tensions raised by the death of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, who represented one of the most prominent military and political figures in the anti-Gaddafi ranks.

An NTC spokesperson informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “we should not be dealing with this issue [the death of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis] through the media. Only our enemy benefits from the emergence of different points of view or misunderstandings [within the rebel ranks], namely the Gaddafi regime.”

The NTC spokesperson also stressed that neither NTC, nor any of its members, benefit from concealing information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis, and called on the Younis family and the Obeidat tribe to stay calm until the investigations have come to an end.

Muatasim Younis also told Asharq Al-Awsat that he does not believe the Gaddafi regime’s version of events, blaming the Al Qaeda organization for the death of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis. He also denied claims that his elder brother, Ashraf Muatasim, had raised the green flag of the Gaddafi regime during his father’s funeral. He stressed that “these reports are false, my father was loyal to the Libyan people’s revolution, and we – the Younis family and the Obeidat tribe – are with the 17 February revolution. We have not changed our loyalty…we are with our people against tyranny!”

The youngest son of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he and his family first heard of his father’s death after the news was reported by satellite television channels. He added that “we got the initial news from television. This, of course, was the greatest shock and tragedy that my family and I have ever experienced.”

Muatasim Younis also told Asharq Al-Awsat he had spoken to his father via telephone just prior to the attack, and that Major General Abdel Fatah Younis had not expressed any concern or fear. Muatasim Younis revealed that “the last communication [with my father] took place at 2 am on Thursday. He told me: I am here with the people who have come from Ajdabiya. He said that he would switch off the phone and phone me back, but I did not speak to him again. That was the last time I spoke with him.”

As for whether his father had expressed any fears or concern about this meeting, where he would later be gunned down, Muatasim Younis stressed that “he reassured me [that everything was fine]. No, he did not believe he was in danger or would be killed, he was very relaxed, and he said that after he finished meeting with these people he would call me back.”

Muatasim Younis revealed that he was not content with the version of events being put forward by the NTC surrounding his father’s death, including the claims that Major General Abdel Fatah Younis had been recalled to Benghazi from the frontline in Brega and Ajdabiya after receiving reports that the rebel forces were running out of ammunition. Muatasim Younis told Asharq Al-Awsat that questions remain with regards to the circumstances surrounding his father’s death, adding that there is a wide suspect pool. He stressed that “we are waiting for the results of the investigation, and if this does not have satisfactory results, then we will take action.”

Muatasim Younis also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “five days have passed since my father’s death, and we have not received any sign or indication that the perpetrators are any closer to being brought to trial. The process is moving extremely slowly, and that is what is worrying us.”

Muatasim Younis also confirmed a report previously published by Asharq Al-Awsat which claimed that his father’s killer was a man who goes by the name “Abu Khatalla”, and who is a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that has joined the popular revolution to bring down the Gaddafi regime.

Asked whether this report was true, Muatasim Younis told Asharq Al-Awsat “Yes, this figure has been arrested and is being questioned, and there are other figures [who are suspected of being involved].” However he added that “we do not just want to bring to trial those who killed the martyr Abdel Fatah Younis, but those who planned and ordered this attack…they are all responsible.” Muatasim Younis also revealed that “the suspect pool is extremely wide, and I cannot point the finger at any single suspect and know for certain that he is responsible or not… [Major General Abdel Fatah] Younis was killed and suspects must be brought to trial.”

The statements made by the youngest son of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis represent the first official accusation that any member of the Libyan revolution was responsible for this assassination, and that this killing was part of inter-revolutionary violence.

As for whether the statements made by Muatasim Younis represent his own personal opinion, or whether he is speaking on behalf of the Younis family or indeed the Obeidat tribe, Asharq Al-Awsat spoke with Major General Abdel Fatah Younis’s cousin, Fakhri al-Obeidi. Al-Obeidi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is certainly not just his personal opinion; this is the opinion of all of us. Those who killed Younis must be brought to trial without delay. We are concerned about what is happening, the NTC is talking about a one-week period to investigate what happened…however 4 days have passed and nothing concrete has been achieved.” The NTC one-week investigation period ends on Friday.

One of Major General Abdel Fatah Younis’s sons, speaking to international reports on the condition of anonymity, had previously stated that “the way he was killed looks like a betrayal, so until now we are trying to calm and control the youth of the tribe, but we don’t know what could happen.”

Following a meeting of the Obeidat tribe, this son – who claimed to speak on behalf of the Younis family – claimed that his father’s assailants were rebel militiamen allied to the rebels in their struggle to overthrow the Gaddafi regime. He stressed that “they (the tribal committee) will investigate who issued the arrest warrant and who sent whom to arrest him, [and] how he was lost. They [the NTC] said he was dead, but they couldn’t find the body, so how did they know he was dead if there was no body?”

He added “if the NTC doesn’t bring us justice, and if the (international) judiciary doesn’t bring us justice, then we will leave it to the tribe to bring us justice.”

He stressed “what we cannot take by law, we’ll take by arms.”