This weekend, the leader of Libya's governing National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, announced that the country was officially "liberated." After eight months of civil war, Sirte, the last loyalist city and Col. Moammar Qaddafi's hometown, fell to former rebel control on Thursday. In the midst of chaotic fighting, NTC forces caught the ex-Brother Leader hiding in a drainage pipe.
Grainy but graphic YouTube videos of Qaddafi's capture show Libyan fighters slapping, spitting and cursing their former despot. When Qaddafi made it to Misrata, Libya's third largest city, he was dead. Conflicting reports on how exactly he was killed continue to circulate, but an autopsy showed it was a bullet to the head. Libya's new leadership has said Qaddafi died in a crossfire, but most suspect he was killed by his captors. That hasn't stopped thousands from queuing to see the mercurial leader's body laid out on display in a storage cooler.
Jalil's speech marked a way forward for the embattled country, setting a timeline for national elections in 2012. But now, Libya's new leadership faces its newest challenge: disarming regional brigades and convincing the citizenry to turn in their weapons.
To take down the Qaddafi military, former rebels formed makeshift militias to clear large expanses of desert as well as urban blocks. In order to pose a real threat to Qaddafi's conventional force, men from across the country ransacked regime weapons stockpiles and carted off any arms they could find. They formed regional militias and modified old weapons in innovative ways. Today, the weapons used to vanquish the loyalist army are everywhere.
Former fighters brandishing AK-47s and FN FAL rifles are just the tip of the iceberg. When I was in Libya in September, heavy weapons mounted on trucks were all over the place. Weapons modification garages were churning out new ideas and fixing their weapons for the final Sirte offensive.
Former rebels took apart 14.5mm machine guns from Russian-designed ZPU-4 antiaircraft weapons and mounted each one on a pickup truck. They did the same with ZU-23mms, Soviet anti-aircraft twin-barreled autocannons, and Grad multiple rocket launchers. They took 106mm recoilless rifles and sawed off the truck cab to make space for the cannon.
The trucks are a sight in themselves, armored by welded sheets of steel painted green, red and white, the colors of the revolutionary flag. Fighters from Regional militias drove in small convoys, their brigade name displayed prominently across the sides of their vehicles. Crammed with guns, grenades and ammo under their legs, everyone that could get it had a heavy artillery in the back.
I visited Misrata's central weapons modification workshop after Libya's third largest city threw off a three-month siege by loyalist troops. They took all the arms they could get their hands on and made them more lethal. They had fought for their lives on the city's main thoroughfare that spring.
Arif Abuzed was an engineer in the national Libyan Steel Company. When the revolution began the 47-year-old decided he was too old to fight on the frontline, so he started using his expertise to help alter weapons. He joined Misrata's central modification workshop in May. He told me he got some of his inspiration from watching television, seeing how other fighters across Libya were using weapons and trying to improve on their tactics.
Abuzed's favorite was the improvised, shoulder-fired rocket launcher that was designed for use against armored vehicles. Initially, the workshops affixed the UB-32, a launcher designed to fire Russian S-5 rockets from a helicopter, on a truck. But they found they couldn't hit designated targets properly—rockets from the middle of the pod shot straight while the outer ring curved to the side.
They discovered they could remove the 68mm rockets and shoot them out of a makeshift tube triggered by a button and nine-volt battery from their shoulder. Now easily mobile, it can take out tanks from a range of six miles and one battery lasts about 50 launches. "They're effective and they're easy to handle," Abuzed told me, beaming with pride.
"We were all civilians, engineers, technicians, store keepers, ladies' fashion retail owners, and drivers," he explained on a narrow wooden bench over the cacophony of saws and blowtorches in the workshop's welding room. "We never wanted to do this, it was a necessity."
Ali Mohamed, the workshop's assistant director, was a truck driver before the revolution; he owned his own autorepair shop. He told me his weapon of choice is the 23mm. "It's the most intimidating," he said. "It has an impact on whatever it hits and since it's automatic, it can fire multiple hits."
The 35-year-old has a nine-month-old son and a five-year-old daughter. His blue eyes light up when I asked, back in September, what would happen to his newfound weapons expertise next?
"When the war is over, I'm going to remove all I've seen and bury it. Erase it from my memory, we're peaceful people," he said, almost pleading, after he spent the morning guiding me through various weapons systems and modifications.
Now, over a month after I met Mohamed, the war is officially over and Libya is free. In Misrata, Libyans gaze at the body of their former despot. Somewhere Mohamed is probably rejoicing. After eight months of civil war, the world will be watching to see if former rebels like Mohamed make good on their promises.
With a tyrant ruler, this is the clearest evidence of why the public has the right to own and bear arms.
Now, I just hope their country finds stability in democracy and free speech!
I just hope they do it right and I personally think the US should try and stay out of it unless they ask for help...They need to form their own freedoms not the ones we think they should have.
Human ingenuity never fails to amuse me. Just goes to show what's possible with just a little knowledge and tools at your disposal. People always find a way to make due. Of course small forces have always won wars in this fashion for centuries. It's insurgent ingenuity. The only way small forces can rise up and take on a conventional, state military force of greater manpower, firepower, and technology.
So of course it will be advertised throughout the Middle East that we killed off Qaddafi. Personally I doubt it. There was a 1 million USD bounty on Qaddafi's nose, but pics show the nose still on the head. Simple fact of Qaddafi was that he was a nutball who was being run as a puppet. We certainly had no need to kill him to get what we wanted from Libya.
This is a little reminiscent of Mad Max movies.
It's Gaddafi, not Qaddafi, but interesting!
I do not believe this driver of the truck has any traffic jam problems. Imagine what you think or feel if you see this in your rear view mirror!
I love how all these oppressive governments are falling. It's amazing what happens when people work together. I hope I live to see it truly happen on a global scale.
People should do the same with George Qaddafi Bush.
It is amazing what people in a desperite situation can come up with and yes, this is a glaring reason for a citizens right to bear arms. I really hope that they can put the arms down as the promise. I think that all depends on if their economy can restore itself in a quick manner. We should also definatly stay out of their business unless we're specifically asked for by them (not the UN.) It would be nice to see more oppressed nations become free.
I kind of see China getting angry enough to revolt as well if their economy is really about to collapse as I've seen reported. I know I'd be pretty angry if I couldn't even go on to google and look up my nation's past events without filters or fear of police knocking in my door.
because George Bush is still the president.......right.....
China is nowhere near economic decline. They rose to the number two economy in the world just last year. The majority of the masses may not live with the best quality, but the government has just enough power to quell resistance in both violent and non-violent ways.
The right to bear arms is a volatile freedom that constantly stands the test of public opinion. While the citizen's right to bear arms is necessary to quell potential autocratic ascension through martial law, and as a means for citizens to augment the needs of a military force for national defense (which has given rise to militia organizations such as Reserve Commands and State based National Guards), it also stands as a catalyst to public descent, criminal violence, and overall civil unrest.
Bearing arms (and the right to do so) should be situational, for every situation in life does not call for a weapon. Such a mindset will only beget perpetual violence.
Of course they are also those who share this sentiment because weapons are a fashion statement like clothing and apparel.
As for revolutions, regardless of the intention to overthrow one government, the government that replaces it will not necessarily be better. In many more modern cases in that part of the world, the government replacing the former can tend to be worse. Let's not forget, war crimes have been committed on both sides of the conflict. This pretty much cuts down each ones measure of nobility and virtue.
All I can say is, only time will tell if the path of revolution has been for better or worse, because it doesn't necessarily mean that a republican form democracy free of religious intervention will come from this.
A homemade unguided shoulder-fired rocket that can hit a tank at 6 miles? I gotta call BS on that one. The RPG-7 only has an effective range of 200m and a max range of 920m.
@LOL I love how people are interpreting this as “small rebel forces” overthrowing a government. LOL…people are so uneducated on world politics it’s scary. The United Nations has been bombing Libya since July. That’s using their trillion $ kill grid on this country that refused to give in the BANKSTERS running the world. Okay Stealth bombers vs helicopters hmm I wonder who was going to win. The execution of Kaddafi is criminal! Kaddafi was a good leader and he stood up to the U.N’s corrupt unfair ways. I knew this would be his fate the moment he addressed the U.N a few years ago. Libya has been a moderate state, now all of these extremists are taking power, threw out all of Libya’s laws and are now reverting to Sharia law. I’m NOT surprised that this article failed to mention that Al Queda are the ones that overthrew this government. What a joke.
Biggest problem with allowing civilians to bare arms is often the emotionally unstable ones can kill innocents. They need to really screen people and only have those assigned to Armed Local Milita for defensive, policing purposes. But with any level of power there needs to be constant watchdog(s) as male Humans and especially the younger ones LOVE to miss-behave, and often lack moral centres (causing incidents of rape/weapon misfires/mishandling of weapons etc...)
Might want to press pause on the celebration...
"Now easily mobile, it can take out tanks from a range of six miles and one battery lasts about 50 launches. “They’re effective and they’re easy to handle,” Abuzed told me, beaming with pride."
Wonder how it would work on a 747 ?
These guys are all Muslims, almost certainly some of them are Salafi Muslims. As the old saying goes, "connect the dots".
Oh no, thank you gentle americans, without your help Libya would propably stay like this http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27280 , but thanks to your help, it will become the same 'democratic' country as other western ones.
Srsly, would you mind getting the heck out of others buisness? Nobody asks/wants your so called democracy. Americans dont even know what it is, growing up in totalitaristic country, being taught by the propaganda their country is the greatest one in the world (pretty much like USSR one, luckily it broke apart).
@ Yyyeey : So tell U.S., great guru of some nation's people who have never benefited from the largess, blood, and plain hard work of the American people; tell us all how the one percent who run whatever country YOU come from is any different or more noble than the scumbag one percent that runs this one? Do you really think for one second that those in power in your country don't participate quite willingly in the games of world oppression and economic dominance? Nationalism is dead and stinkin. The only ones who don't know this simple fact are the masses. Chinese billionaires work scumbag deals with billionaires from any and all political and economic systems, because nationalism is dead to them. Go ahead and try putting your countries' people up on some bs pedestal and play like you're better than those who've sacrificed lives and treasure to make sure your parents lived long enough to have you so you could. But keep your bs in your own little group of ungrateful cowards, huh? Because you and your little bs group aren't willing to get off your butt and go help those who need it most, whenever you get done. You want to help with something REAL? Something that WILL change the world into something better for ALL humanity? Help U.S. overthrow central banks and the creation of wealth as a byproduct of debt creation.
I thought , it would be clear place , where people find news about the sci world , keep the politic out of here , '' A visit to one of the makeshift arms factories that helped liberate the country '' , thsi is bullshit , few moths later they will cry for liberty , so we will see who will liberate them...
Mind your own business Hussein ...
Dammit! Another United States puppet dead. The billions we spent in military aid to get and keep him in power... poof.... gone. Let's see who we buy next in this and other Arab spring uprisings, all to protect oil pricing. In the meantime, our own Wall Street banksters and oil billionaires are seeing a bit of global education taking place in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
It is ironic that these puppets can be brought down with backyard made weaponry. Anyone keeping track of how each one moved their money out of the country?? Anyone keeping track of our which silk suited banksters and weapons manufacturers are aiding and abetting these crooks??
I was reading Pop Science way back in the 60's in Tripoli Libya. Your archives brought back so many good memories from the old Libya before Qaddafi. And now we have come full circle that I have discovered your archives and the demise of the tyrant. This is a happy occasion in more ways than one and what better way to celebrate than an article on the ingenuity of Libyan engineers. Superb! Thank you Popsci
Maybe they can sell their armed pickups to the Syrians at a profit. It may also be the start of a cottage industry
making Toyota Tacoma's battle ready .
I can Just see it now instead of Hess & Eisenhart making limos you will have Faruk , Abraham & Mohammed making
The constitution gives the right to keep and bear arms to all. There is no restriction to military or police people. It does not restrict the kind of arms either! This right is really necessary when the government tries to take away our guns! People without guns are called peasants and people with the right to keep and bear arms are called citizens. How long does it take the police to get on the scene after you call them? If a car is a available and not too far away a police officer could be there in ten to fifteen minutes maybe. I guess you could ask the criminal not to kill you or rape your love ones untill the police arrive to protect you. Sure some people misuse guns, but most bank robbers misuse automobiles to make their escape. Some reporters print lies and tv reporters make up "facts" to raise their approval ratings. This does not mean we should outlaw papers and tv news reports.