Supporters of slain Libyan leader Moammar al-Gaddafi marked on Tuesday nine years since his killing in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.
Supporters recalled the last days of Gaddafi’s life and that of his followers as they came under NATO bombardment on their remaining forces in Sirte and Bani Waled, demanding that the location of the leader’s grave be disclosed.
The last spokesman of the former regime, Moussa Ibrahim, recalled the months they remained in hiding from drones before they received word of Gaddafi’s killing.
“It was the night of October 20, 2011. We were fortified in a neighborhood in Bani Waled. With our hands on our rifles, we had only a few bullets left, but a lot of perseverance. We were following Gaddafi’s orders to hold the front after the fall of the capital Tripoli,” he said.
Bani Waled resisted NATO strikes and the “brutality of its gangs,” he added, while lamenting the loss of several Libyan youths inside the city, including Khamis, Gaddafi’s youngest son.
In contrast, an official in the Misrata military council boasted to Asharq Al-Awsat of its role in “ridding” the country of the “dictator” Gaddafi.
“If time were to go back, we would do it all over again,” he declared, while urging Gaddafi supporters to “accept the new reality and overcome the past.”
The military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Gaddafi’s supporters are keen on turning back the hands of time and are grooming his son, Seif al-Islam, to become the country’s new leader.
“We won’t allow it,” he vowed, while refusing to disclose details about how Gaddafi was killed or where he and his other slain son, Mutassim, are buried.
Back to those nights in October 2011, Ibrahim said: “Bani Waled fell when our ammunition almost ran out and the drone strikes intensified.”
The defenders of the city scattered to various fronts, but Ibrahim and other supporters remained in the city.
“This was no act of bravery or military genius, but we knew that we were at the end of the road in this blessed city,” he said.
“Three days after Bani Waled fell, we received the harrowing news of Gaddafi’s martyrdom in Sirte and the national battle came to an end,” he added. “Grown men wept in Bani Waled and we then performed the prayers of the dead for him.”
“I have never seen them weep so violently, not even when the bombs tore apart their relatives,” he continued.
“After that, we remained fortified in Bani Waled until November. We realized that we had no choice but to confront the NATO gangs with what little ammunition we had left or wait for our death on the outskirts of our beloved city,” Ibrahim said.
“Dozens of our members were killed during the pullout operations from the city. We left behind a glittering history. Our president said he would die here and indeed he died in Sirte,” he continued.
Even though nine years have passed, some Libyan cities, especially those in the South, still mourn Gaddafi’s death. Many supporters are demanding that the location of his grave be revealed.
Gaddafi and Mutassim were killed in Sirte, but people from Misrata moved their bodies to their city before burying them in an unknown location. Since then, their supporters have been demanding to know the location and have filed legal suits, but to no avail.
While Gaddafi’s supporters continue to mourn, other Libyans find reason to rejoice his passing. They see in his death anniversary a reason to celebrate the “liberation” of the country. One MP said that October 20 marks the declaration of Libya’s liberation.