Submit Press release  eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Libya travel agency owner speaks to eTurboNews from Tripoli after husband murdered

Libyan speaks out about brutality and current life in Tripoli under Gaddafi

Juergen T. Steinmetz & Linda Hohnholz, eTN  May 02, 2011

According to a Libyan government spokesman, Muammar Gaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab, was killed during a NATO airstrike on Saturday, April 30. It was reported that three of Gaddafi's grandchildren were also killed. Gadaffi was not harmed.

In an exclusive interview with eTN, a Libyan travel agent spoke with publisher Juergen Thomas Steinmetz about the incident and about what life has been like in Libya since February 25 when political unrest broke out in the country. eTN is not naming the agent. The agent is known to eTN and has been a reader of the eTN newsletter for many years.

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz (eTN): Hello there. How are you? There’s a lot of news in Libya. I hope you're fine and healthy.

Travel Agent (TA): I am not sure if this chat is not monitored as well.

eTN: If you're not in Libya, you should be fine. If you're in Libya, it's very difficult to control SKYPE on a satellite , it's not like SMS.

TA: Let me tell you something - are you in Libya or not anymore?

eTN: I am in Hawaii, USA.

TA: Oh, okay, that’s good then.

eTN: I heard Gaddhafi’s son was killed today. It's a difficult situation.

TA: There is no Internet in Libya, just in one place to show the media that life is normal. In Libya, the Rixos hotel only has Internet.

eTN: Ok. I did not know. Is your family ok?

TA: Libyans do not believe this story. He [Gaddafi] is doing that to make the world be sorry for him.

eTN: Really? How does it look for Libya?

TA: My family is not ok. My husband died in a protest after Friday prayer.

eTN: I am so sorry for all of this.

TA: Okay, let me start from the beginning. [On] that day, I went out in Tripoli. The streets were very strange. Gaddafi’s people [were] everywhere with his pic and some of them [were] hiding their faces with the green flag.

eTN: How did it develop from there?

TA: On February 18, 2011, my husband came laughing about what Gaddafi is doing. He [was] giving everybody, put[ting] his pic on cars. We were hearing about Benghazi, and we were feeling so sorry about it; people were boiling. We heard that Saif al-Islam will talk, so we said okay, it might be good news. We waited for about 2 hours for his speech, which came late at night after midnight, and all the people were disappointed. We thought he'll say that my father has done mistakes, and I'll solve it out, but he didn’t.

[On] that day, Libyans in Tripoli, they got crazy. [On] that day, at night, they burned tires, and they [took] Gaddafi’s pic down. The strange thing [is] that nobody came to them. They let them do what they want. But this is not in the city center (Green Square). My husband went to the city on Friday, February 2, and he told us that he can see spires over the buildings there.

eTN: This must have been strange.

TA: Yes, it was not only in Tripoli, [but] everywhere in Libya they let them do what they want. But [on] February 19, we heard about Zawya and how Gaddafi’s militias and people went to it, but people were scared because there is no media, and his people are everywhere in Tripoli.

eTN: Okay, I‘ll let you type and not interrupt till you let me know.

TA: It is ok, you can ask, and sorry, my spelling is not that good.

eTN: Go ahead it's very interesting. You did not know what happened? What happened next?

TA: People were waiting for next Friday. So after praying, they'll go out asking for stopping all that blood[shed] in Benghazi. After that, we heard the media is coming. We were very happy, but at that time, every day in Tripoli there is protests and there are people [who] got killed. They don’t use normal guns or gas or anything like that. They use [the] kind of weapon that when it enters the body, it explodes.

[In] Souq Al-juma'a in Tajura, [there was] blood everywhere. Once, he used ambulances to put his militias in, and in front of the hospital, they came out with their guns, and they killed everybody there. And we heard about prisoners [who] escaped from prisons, but at last we found out that he released them and gave them weapons and he told them, go do whatever you want.

When the people heard about the media, they were very happy. My husband was one of them. Everybody was talking excitedly. We thought that it'll happen like in Egypt, but it didn’t. The media came on Friday, February 25, 2011. My husband went to the city center to pray there and go in a protest there with hands empty, and they were there in the protest in a place called Maidan Al Jaziar by the mosque, and maybe after 3 minutes, they came to them with no talking, [and] they shot the people and ran away, as they [would] have killed a bug. So that Friday was a bloody Friday - not as everybody thought.

I was lucky that I found my husband’s body, because Gadaffi’s people are picking up bodies and cleaning the place, so when the media comes, they [will] find nothing. I'll tell you something you won’t believe. The body at that time costs 10,000 Libyan dinar, which is around US$8,550.

eTN: Please explain; I don’t understand.

TA: A friend of mine, her cousin knows people with Gaddafi, so they called him, and they told him come, we'll give you a weapon, and every person you kill, you bring him, [and] we'll give you 10,000 Libyan dinar for him.

eTN: That’s very sad.

TA: At that time, we heard that in Tripoli hospital, bodies of normal people have disappeared. Check points [were] everywhere in Tripoli after every 3 or 4 km. Checkpoints [had] people [with] the green flag, holding weapons in their hands at night. It was normal to hear gun shots, and you don’t know Tripoli.

Tripoli was one of the safest places that you can ever see. You [can] walk on the street at any time [and] no one will talk to you, but not anymore. When you go in the streets, you can feel that there is something wrong. Everything got expensive. Faces of people look not normal. When you meet a friend in the street, you tell him, how are you? You can see that he is scared, and he tell you, thank God, I'm fine, but, in fact, he is not. He is scared. We hear about girls disappearing from in front of their homes.

The people said about Friday, February 25, [it] is the angry Friday, but, in fact, it was the bloody Friday. Everyone got scared [on] that day. In Tripoli itself, more than 55 persons have been killed. So after [this], Tripoli got quiet, but full of anger and scared at the same time.

There was no gas; you had to wait hours to get it, and now after I left Libya, we called a person we know. He stayed for 24 hours waiting, and when we called him, he said there [are] more than 10 cars before him.

If you have questions, you can ask now.

eTN: It’s very difficult for you. What about hotels, are they open? Who is still in Libya from outside? how are they protected? What about children, are they safe? What do people think? Do they want to have a new government, or do they want to have Gaddafi stay?

TA: We send our children to school, and we are scared. They pick up children from schools, and they take them in front of Gaddafi’s place without permission from their family to show the media that people love Gaddafi.

And the government hotels are open, but for nobody. The Rixos hotel does work, because the media is there.

People do not like Gadaffi.

In the past, we feel that we are shy to say we are Libyan because of him. Every person deep in his heart hates Gadaffi. He killed a lot of people, not just now but [for] around 42 years. [Everyone thinks] Libyan people have to be rich people, because they have oil, but we are not. Even the people who were with Gadaffi in the past, they can’t leave him now, because they are scared that he'll kill them.

By the way, if you write this news, don’t put my name or my company name. I want nothing. I want to show the world what is going on in Libya and that’s it.

eTN: I won't put your name, and I really appreciate your input. It's very helpful. I wish you the very best of luck. I am sure the times will be a lot better soon.

TA: If you want more information you can ask.

eTN: How do you see the future? How is everything changing now?

TA: I'll tell you about our feeling. The strange thing in the past [is], if we see Libyans, we pretend that we didn’t see them. But now when we hear somebody talking [with] a Libyan accent, we smile and say hello, and we talk about victory [coming] soon. Gaddafi is not easy; he got crazy now, and he is going to kill and rape and burn, but at last we know that we'll be free. But what I'm sure about is that this is not [going to happen] soon. Because this won’t happen [unless] he dies.

eTN: Is there any indication he will be defeated?

TA: Sorry, what does defeated mean?

eTN: It means his leadership will end.

TA: No. He'll be there, as he said, until the last drop of his blood.

eTN: Even the international world cannot do anything with the air support? What is your fear that he would do, if it gets more difficult for him?

TA: He'll kill more and more, and he still has the chemical weapons. He didn’t use them yet.

eTN: You think he will use chemical weapons? What makes you think so?

TA: He still gets Africans to Libya to use them.

eTN: He has African soldiers from other countries?

TA: In back of every Libyan soldier, there is an African. If the Libyan didn’t want to shoot, that African will shoot him and take his place.

eTN: That’s crazy. What do the people think?

TA: Scared - that's all I can say – scared. You cannot expect what he'll do. On February 25, he came to the Green Square, and he said: Libyan people - sing and dance and get ready. Anybody will come after me, he'll find nothing; everything will be done.

eTN: What do you mean, everything will be done?

TA: That means that anybody will come [after him], they will need to rebuild the country, because he'll destroy it.

eTN: Do you think the air bombing helps?

TA: Yes, but when the USA was with them at the beginning. Otherwise then all the Libyans in Benghazi should be dead, but now since 3 days, they are better again.

eTN: This is so crazy. I am so sorry. Does the situation in Tripoli indicate the rebels are making progress?

TA: They should give them weapons so they can fight for this country.

eTN: How can the rebels give them weapons?

TA: I'm talking about the west and the states - they should give the rebels weapons.

eTN: I understand. How are the children in Libya?

TA: It depends on where. In Tripoli, kids are safe, but they are not allowed to go anywhere.

eTN: Good. Are the hotels open? Who is protecting the hotels and guests?

TA: Everybody after school (that [is] if they send them to school), they stay at home. Everybody is forced to work. If you don’t go to work, that means that you are against Gaddafi. So you are not allowed to stay at home.

eTN: I understand. Is there anything the media is not seeing or is not telling foreign media, like CNN?

TA: As I told you, kids are not safe 100% if they go to school. They might take them to a protest with Gaddafi. As I told you, the killing in Tripoli - the media didn’t see it or hear about it

eTN: Is it still going on?

TA: Every Friday, people got killed.

eTN: Are there still protests on Friday, or are people scared to protest?

TA: Anybody [who] tries to say, I'm against Gadaffi, they kill him, and as I told you, they clean the place immediately. In some areas, from time to time, they try, but it is hard. Tripoli is surrounded.

eTN: How is it in other cities?

TA: For example, Zuwarah is surrounded as well, because they bombed them one month ago, and they took a lot of people and killed some of them. So everybody is hiding in his house.

Zawia, he destroyed it.

eTN: Overall in Libya, do you think it’s about 50% Gadaffi and 50% rebel?

TA: Three days ago in Tripoli, people saw a lot of doves carrying the new Libyan flag, and suddenly, Gaddafi’s soldiers came, and they started shooting their guns to kill the doves and scare the people.

eTN: What can the international community do to help more?

TA: 90% rebel, 6% are scared or happy because they abuse the country, and 4% believe him. They give weapons to the rebels. NATO should make more work in Surt and in Tripoli and Misrata

eTN: I am so sorry to hear all this. Thank you so much, for talking with us. I will talk to you soon. Stay safe.

TA: Thanks.

In light of the deteriorated conditions in Tripoli, Libya, Marriott International suspended operations of its 370-room JW Marriott Hotel Tripoli indefinitely as of Friday, February 25, local time. As a result, all expatriate employees and 3 remaining guests were safely evacuated to Amman, Jordan, via a charter flight and were provided with onward transportation to their home countries. The hotel currently remains closed.

Libyan speaks out about brutality and current life in Tripoli under Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi / Image via

Source: eTN

Premium Partners