By Tim Whewell
Leaders of one of Libya’s largest and most powerful tribes have told BBC Newsnight that they will take their own revenge on the killers of the rebel commander, General Abdel Fattah Younes, if the country’s new rulers fail to solve the case.
Elders of Younes’ Obeidi tribe said senior officials in the National Transitional Council (NTC) conspired with Islamic extremists to kill the general, whose mutilated body was found along with those of two senior aides in a valley near the rebel-held city of Benghazi on 28 July 2011.
Several of his fingers had been cut off, one eye gouged out, his stomach cut open and his body burned.
The day before his body was found, Younes – the most senior defector to the rebels from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government – had been arrested on NTC orders, apparently over suspicions that he was failing to pursue military operations with sufficient vigour.
In an interview with Newsnight Libya’s new leader, NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, strongly denied any suggestion of conspiracy:
“There were some administrative mistakes by the executive cabinet. They have been investigated – and in the light of this we have decided to reshuffle the cabinet. These mistakes had nothing to do with the subsequent killing,” he said.
However, senior members of the Obeidi tribe disagree. Othman Atia, a tribal elder in eastern Libya told Newsnight:
“The conspiracy was concocted at the Executive Council – and they know who is behind it. They issued a summons to General Younes, they lured him, lay in wait for him – and then they did what they did to him.”