Video: Meet the man who took Tobruk from Gaddafi; Update: Gaddafi threatens to treat “unauthorized” journalists as AQ terrorists

posted at 11:36 am on February 24, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The city of Tobruk evokes memories of epic battles between the forces of utter totalitarianism and freedom from the previous century.  Perhaps with some luck and fortitude, especially by younger Libyans, it might represent the same kind of victory for freedom in this century as well.  Fox News correspondent David Lee Miller speaks with the young man who directed the liberation of Tobruk from forces loyal to dictator Moammar Gaddafi yesterday, Mahtoub Hussein Mahtoub:

Miller reports that the military has begun to desert in Tobruk, casting off their uniforms and joining Mahtoub and his fighters instead to oppose Gaddafi. Mahtoub himself appears to have been educated in the UK, and speaks of liberation and freedom. He also understands the stakes involved, telling Miller that “it’s either us or Gaddafi,” and describing horrendous war crimes by Gaddafi’s forces.

Mahtoub isn’t alone in that assessment, as CNN reports:

But the capital, Tripoli, was a different story. Sounds of gunfire erupted at dawn Thursday as chanting crowds fled. Government security forces tightened their grip on the Libyan capital, according to sources. In one of the neighborhoods, no one was allowed in or out.

“There’s nobody walking in the street, nobody is trying to get out, even to look through the window,” a resident who did not want to be identified for security reasons told AC360. “It’s a little scary.”

While Gaddafi controls Tripoli, at least for the moment, he has lost the other major cities:

Misrata — also spelled as Misurata — is now in the hands of the opposition, who have driven out the mercenaries, according to witnesses and multiple media reports.

Witnesses and multiple reports also said that the town of Az Zintan was under opposition control.

The opposition also controls Libya’s second-largest city, Benghazi, where crowds cheered as international journalists drove through the city. The only shooting that could be heard was celebratory gunfire.

Will Mahtoub and his Western influence herald a democracy movement in Libya, or will the country end up in either Islamist control or fall into tribal disunity, creating another failed state in Africa? We can certainly hope for the former, but it will bear close watch. In armed insurrections, the odds of liberal democracy arising from the ashes are long, but not non-existent. It would be nice to see Tobruk be a symbol of real and lasting freedom for the people of Libya as it was for the people of Europe seven decades ago.

Update: Miller and his colleagues had better take care, as Gaddafi moves to silence the rebels:

Senior Libyan officials are warning foreign journalists who have entered Libya without proper government accreditation to cover the violent unrest sweeping the country that they will be considered Al Qaeda collaborators and subject to immediate arrest, the State Department said Thursday.

In meetings with U.S. diplomats, Libyan officials said their government would not be responsible for the safety of those journalists, the department said in a statement. The officials said all journalists now in the country must be part of government approved teams and will be prosecuted on immigration charges if they are working independently, according to the department.

“Be advised, entering Libya to report on the events unfolding there is additionally hazardous with the government labeling unauthorized media as terrorist collaborators and claiming they will be arrested if caught,” the department said in a notice to news organizations.

In other words, cover the rebels and we’ll kill you.


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Speaking of Gaddafi, guess who was friendly with him?

amerpundit on February 24, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Well, that explains why Obama is taking a pass.

A Balrog of Morgoth on February 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Time for Barry to send a harshly worded letter to Mahtoub to tell him to butt out.

Knucklehead on February 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM

“Two Brick”? “To Brick” “Too Brick”?
Wow… to be relevant look like I really need to work on my Libyanese…

Amendment X on February 24, 2011 at 11:45 AM

If the tribal breakdown is a problem, someone should look into setting up a federal system and breaking the country into states.

Count to 10 on February 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Much more detail here.
http://blogs.aljazeera.net/africa/2011/02/23/live-blog-libya-feb-24
Protestors fighting back with hunting rifles.

a capella on February 24, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Now the media can run back and hide under Barry’s Skirt.

portlandon on February 24, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Bush took a media beating over “blood for oil” in Iraq. So why not do what we were already accused of? A Marine Expeditionary Unit could establish air superiority, secure the oil fields and evacuate westerners wanting out. Better we burn the oil in our cars than K’daffy burning it at the well head.

cartooner on February 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM

So now we’ll see the courage of journalists like Ed Shultz, Rachel Maddow, Chris Mathews and Keith Olbermann and others like dKos Markos and Arianna Huuff&Stuff on the ground to report the goings on there, even with the dangers now posed by Q-daffy?

catmman on February 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM

I didn’t expect to see a 20 something guy speaking the King’s English. Hopefully that’s an encouraging sign fro how this will end up, but who knows. Anybody know which mosque he attended in England?

forest on February 24, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Better we burn the oil in our cars than K’daffy burning it at the well head.

cartooner on February 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Better the locals get something in exchange for it rather than a smoke cloud.

Count to 10 on February 24, 2011 at 12:02 PM

I didn’t expect to see a 20 something guy speaking the King’s English.
forest on February 24, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Wasn’t there a Monty Python sketch about that kind of thing?

Count to 10 on February 24, 2011 at 12:03 PM

“Protestors fighting back with hunting rifles.” The most celebrated American sniper in Vietnam, Carlos Hathcock, used a deer rifle with a scope.

tommyboy on February 24, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Just send a couple of jets over to bomb and kill Gaddafi. He’s got American blood on his hands.

rbj on February 24, 2011 at 12:03 PM

I have no idea what is the tactical situation on the ground in Libya, so I don’t know how powerful are the rebels. However, in the end for Hitler he was making up armies that didn’t exist and planning for counter attacks that couldn’t happen. Then he would yell at this generals and dogs blaming them.

Do you think Gaddafi is doing the samething?

Oil Can on February 24, 2011 at 12:06 PM

oil can,
I think so.

rob verdi on February 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM

In other words, cover the rebels and we’ll kill you.

put that on the top ten list of things that the left would love to do to their opposition here in the US….

ted c on February 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM

cover the rebels and we’ll kill you.

Dumb question, but what is the US policy on reporters covering the Taliban or alQueda?

albill on February 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Maybe The Oprah will fly over there and tell them they must like her BFF Barry.

SouthernGent on February 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Dumb question, but what is the US policy on reporters covering the Taliban or alQueda?

albill on February 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM

With this Administration it’s “every man for themselves”.

Knucklehead on February 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Well, y’know… Faux News Liez… I’m sure we should’ve had an interview with this leader on CBS or CNN this morning…

Skywise on February 24, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Rush talking now about friendship between Jeremiah Wright, Mo-mo, and little Bammie…

slickwillie2001 on February 24, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Will Mahtoub and his Western influence herald a democracy movement in Libya, or will the country end up in either Islamist control or fall into tribal disunity,

If Mahtoub attended the East London Mosque, it is unlikely he will be trying to Westernize Libya. Please don’t be heartened by English speaking Muslims, it leads to disappointment.

Here is some of Obamas good work in Libya.

And while we are talking about American influence, how about this piece of democracy spreading in France? Affirmative action to get Muslims in their proper role of leadership! Heck of a job Uncle Sam!

BL@KBIRD on February 24, 2011 at 12:38 PM

I wonder if it helps the possible outcome that the instigators have lived outside of the Mid East.

Cindy Munford on February 24, 2011 at 12:41 PM

So, Gadhaffi has some difficulty distinguishing between journalists and fanatical liars who despise western civilization and would support any action, however vile, that would bring about the humiliation of the United States.

I’m no fan of Gadhaffi, but it’s not hard to see his point here.

morganfrost on February 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

If Mahtoub attended the East London Mosque, it is unlikely he will be trying to Westernize Libya. Please don’t be heartened by English speaking Muslims, it leads to disappointment.

BL@KBIRD on February 24, 2011 at 12:38 PM

The London bus bombers spoke very good ‘Queen’s English’.

slickwillie2001 on February 24, 2011 at 12:48 PM

If we had Smart Power we could send the United States Marines to the shores of Tripoli (or Tobruk) to see how we could help Mahtoub & Co. defend themselves from Gaddafi to the west and the Muslim Brotherhood to the east, or at least meet with them to see whether they’re a credible alternative.

But we don’t have Smart Power, we have Oblahblah Power and Judgment to Lead, while Sarkozy and Merkel evacuate their people before we do. Where are the Gipper (or even FDR) when you need them?

Steve Z on February 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM

If the tribal breakdown is a problem, someone should look into setting up a federal system and breaking the country into states. – Count to 10 on February 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM

I suggest that you go over there and tell them exactly what they need to do./sarc

SC.Charlie on February 24, 2011 at 1:00 PM

If we had Smart Power we could send the United States Marines to the shores of Tripoli (or Tobruk) to see how we could help Mahtoub & Co. defend themselves from Gaddafi to the west and the Muslim Brotherhood to the east, or at least meet with them to see whether they’re a credible alternative.

But we don’t have Smart Power, we have Oblahblah Power and Judgment to Lead, while Sarkozy and Merkel evacuate their people before we do. Where are the Gipper (or even FDR) when you need them?

Steve Z on February 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Well said. I find the parallels with Iran in the 70′s disturbing, meaning – a hostage crisis has been created by Obama – and his failure to evacuate Americans now.

And while many people think Obama delayed remarks until last night – fluffy nothingness and all – due to Americans trapped in Libya; I am convinced its the other way around.

By allowing Americans to stay there, its his “cover” to do and say nothing meaningful. We are talking about 500 friggin people waiting in a major international port, over a week now.

Odie1941 on February 24, 2011 at 1:01 PM

So who is the opposition? Is it some other party, parties, or political movement, or is it too random.
When they say the “opposition” has control, what does that mean, is there an alternative government we could recognize?

Iblis on February 24, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Dumb question, but what is the US policy on reporters covering the Taliban or alQueda?

albill on February 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Hasn’t changed since Hanoi Jane was made famous.

BobMbx on February 24, 2011 at 1:08 PM

If the tribal breakdown is a problem, someone should look into setting up a federal system and breaking the country into states. –

Count to 10 on February 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM

AH. The Biden Doctrine.

BobMbx on February 24, 2011 at 1:09 PM

By the way, a great interview.

SC.Charlie on February 24, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Am I the only one who remembers the reports from last week that some “democracy” demonstrators were SHOOTING other democracy demonstrators? Now what kind of people would shoot their co-demonstrators? Gaddafi may be bad, but he’s perfectly correct in accusing al-qaeda of leading the “democracy demonstrations”.
.
Why are so many of you apparently unable to see this? It will be the same throughout the Middle East – a tyrant, who has managed to contain the Islamists or the Islamists. That’s the only choice here. Islamists will keep shooting their fellow democracy demonstrators until there is no more opposition to their plans.

A recent survey showed 85% of Egyptians agree with the sharia death penalty for apostates. As 10-15% of Egyptians are Christians that leaves naff-all room for “moderate” and “democratic” Muslims.

There is no other option guys, a moderate tyrant or Muslim Brotherhood style sharia. Its unbelievable to me that anyone could think otherwise.

Liam1304 on February 24, 2011 at 1:33 PM

So now Libya’s in Africa? When it comes to history and achievement, folks forget Libya’s in Africa (same as Egypt); when it comes to failed states, people suddenly remember. Interesting.

SilentWatcher on February 24, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Gaddafi may be bad, but he’s perfectly correct in accusing al-qaeda of leading the “democracy demonstrations”.
Liam1304 on February 24, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Umm Gaddafi helped with the bombing of a Berlin disco in ’86 which killed U.S. servicemen and has been alleged to be running guns to FARC (narco-terrorists in Columbia).

Also Pan Am 103.

SgtSVJones on February 24, 2011 at 1:53 PM

I have my doubts that this guy is in charge of directing much of anything. He is more likely to be a public relations guy who was sent to the border to tell some heroic stories (which may in fact be true) so that international sympathy is on their side.

Still think we should oust Qaddafi because we need the oil flowing and Qaddafi isn’t going to remain in power and we would get cheap brownie points helping them do what is going to happen anyway. Qaddafi never was our friend anyway.

sharrukin on February 24, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Gaddafi may be bad, but he’s perfectly correct in accusing al-qaeda of leading the “democracy demonstrations”.
Liam1304 on February 24, 2011 at 1:33 PM
Umm Gaddafi helped with the bombing of a Berlin disco in ’86 which killed U.S. servicemen and has been alleged to be running guns to FARC (narco-terrorists in Columbia).

Also Pan Am 103.

Fair enough Sarge but what is the relevancy to my statement?
Cheers,

Liam1304 on February 24, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Nowhere in Ed’s comments on this clip does he question what a British citizen is doing in full Berber regalia taking part in the overthrow of an Arab regime. He merely notes that the interviewee seems to be “educated in Britain”. Uh, Ed? Taking into consideration his overall bearing and the polished accent, I think it’s safe to conclude that this guy is a British citizen, born and raised in the UK. Given that this uprising in Libya is not happening in a vacuum, but is part of greater unrest throughout the Arab world and even Europe, I think it’s about time to start questioning who is actually behind all this.

The only organization capable of mounting such a campaign is the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s apparent that we are witnessing the unfolding of a plan that has been decades in the making, the rise of The Caliphate, yet we still have bonehead pundits like Morrisey wondering about the future of liberal democracy in the Middle East, and really wishing them the best.

The utter out-to-lunch cluelessness of our media, including the outlets on the Right, is just stunning to observe.

Hint Ed- google “Tirana protests”, and you’ll see that this is not restricted to Arab states.

Another hint- remember Joe Biden’s “gird your loins” address? In which he stated “”It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.”? Okay, his timeline was obviously off, but it seems this is what he was referring to. Like Iran in ’79, what we see today seems to be a coordinted campaign undertaken by Leftists and Islamists, and given the Leftist and Islamist orientation of our current president which was on full display when he joined in the attempt to oust Mubarak, I think it’s about time people start asking what foreknowledge this White House had of this uprising, and what part it’s been playing in it.

sartana on February 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM

sartana on February 24, 2011 at 6:11 PM

Actually, go back and listen again. The accent is definitely London-based, however, it’s broken English in several spots. This is someone who learned English as second language in London. Not a native speaker. My guess, as pointed out earlier…it’s a Lybian, educated in England, not a Brit citizen.

tickleddragon on February 24, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Khaddafi needs a Mussolini ending.

And the people of Libya need a secular state.

It’s the only way to freedom from mad despots and theocratic crazies.

profitsbeard on February 24, 2011 at 8:00 PM

Tickledragon(?!), I listened again, there is no broken English. A few times his speech is broken, but that’s out of nervousness or excitement. An accent like that is not gained from limited exposure. He’s obviously of Libyan descent as he made mention of his Libyan relatives, and possibly of mixed Libyan/English ancestry- if the latter can still be considered a distinct ethnicity- and is more a product of British than Libyan society.

What I’m saying is that this points to foreign direction in this unrest as this guy Mektoub is not just part of some mob, but the leader of forces that took a city. The media persists in portraying these revolts as indigenous and stemming from popular discontent. What we are witnessing is the unfolding of a carefully laid plan of colossal proportions. Obviously, there is an unseen hand guiding these events.

sartana on February 24, 2011 at 9:36 PM

What we are witnessing is the unfolding of a carefully laid plan of colossal proportions. Obviously, there is an unseen hand guiding these events.

Absolutely, I have read a report of a Christian demonstrator against the “democracy demonstrators” in Egypt who mentioned the huge number of people in Tahrir Square who did not speak with Egyptian accents. Lots of “democracy demonstrators” shipped in. The Islamists will highjack this whole move, nothing surer.

If democracy is so popular then why are so few Copts involved and why are their Bishops so concerned about what’s happening? Democracy is a mask for advancing sharia.

Liam1304 on February 24, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Liam, this movement will not be hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.

This whole “movement” is the Muslim Brotherhood making its move. The Brotherhood has been planning this since its inception nearly a century ago- the reinstating of the Caliphate.

I’m just stunned that our punditry and political class are focusing on each uprising as an isolated incident, resulting from specific conditions in each country rather than one coordinated whole.

sartana on February 25, 2011 at 1:37 AM