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Inside Saif Gadaffi's squatted London mansion, reclaimed by Libyan exiles


The New Statesman's Laurie Penny has gotten into Saif Gadaffi's multi-million-pound mansion in London's tony Mayfair Hampstead, which has been squatted by Libyan exiles. She reports on life inside the reclaimed house:
We drink stewed tea from Saif's best china and eat cheese sandwiches using his silver cutlery, while the young man, Abdulla, tells me about how his uncle was "disappeared" by Saif's father. "In Libya, people disappear all the time. There was a prison massacre where 1,200 people died. They poured cement over the bodies." Abdulla nervously adjusts his glasses. "It's important that people know we're not creating a civil war for no reason.

Nearly every room of this enormous house boasts a large, flat-screen television. The occupiers have tuned each one to al-Jazeera, for rolling coverage of the people's revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world. Televised gunfire echoes in the marble hallway as Jay, 25, explains how activists from the London squatting movement took over the Gaddafi family mansion, moving in secretly and putting up notices declaring their intention to hold the empty house under English common law. "We wanted to show our solidarity the best way we know how," he says.

"It's a symbolic and practical reclamation of private property that belongs to the Libyan people. It's about their struggle, which is why the place has been handed over to the Libyans as a place to organise and a safe space for refugees," he says. "People have been arriving in support from all over the UK..."

"Last night, at about four in the morning, someone came to the door," says Jay. According to Abdulla, "It was a well-dressed Arab person, [wearing] nice clothes and gold. When I asked him what he was doing here so late, he said, 'I want to make you an offer.' He told us: 'I have £40,000 in cash. You can have it if you leave immediately.' No amount of money could make us leave this house. It's not a financial issue."

Inside the Saif house (Thanks, Laurie!)

BBC newsteam kidnapped, hooded and beaten by Gadaffi's forces

A team of BBC journalists in Libya were kidnapped by security forces loyal to the Gadaffis. They were hooded, imprisoned, beaten, and subject to repeated mock-executions. While imprisoned, they witnessed horrific torture of rebels who'd been captured by Gadaffi's forces.
One of the three, Chris Cobb-Smith, said: "We were lined up against the wall. I was the last in line - facing the wall.

"I looked and I saw a plain-clothes guy with a small sub-machine gun. He put it to everyone's neck. I saw him and he screamed at me.

"Then he walked up to me, put the gun to my neck and pulled the trigger twice. The bullets whisked past my ear. The soldiers just laughed."

A second member of the team - Feras Killani, a correspondent of Palestinian descent - is said to have been singled out for repeated beatings.

Their captors told him they did not like his reporting of the Libyan popular uprising and accused him of being a spy.

The third member of the team, cameraman Goktay Koraltan, said they were all convinced they were going to die.

Gaddafi forces beat up BBC team

Activists seize Saif Gadaffi's London mansion

A group of activist squatters have occupied Saif "War Criminal/Plagiarist/Zillionaire" Gadaffi's swanky £10M mansion in London's Mayfair.
A spokesman for the group said "We didn't trust the British government to properly seize the Gaddafi regime's corrupt assets, so we took matters into our own hands."

"The British government only recently stopped actively helping to train the Libyan regime in "crowd control" techniques, through the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and a midlands based arms manufacturer, NMS Systems. As well as training the regime in repression, British corporations are also guilty of providing the same weapons that are now being used by Gaddaffi against the Libyan people."

The mansion is managed by Gaddaffi through a holding company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The spokesman for occupiers said "Gaddafi, Mubarak, the House of Saud and numerous other tyrants use front companies in British protectorates to avoid paying tax and above all to protect their anonymity. Britain actively assists tyrants, corporations and the super rich to rob their people blind. Our aim is to make sure that the assets stolen by Gaddafi are returned to the Libyan people and don't disappear into the pockets of governments or corporations. In the meantime we want to welcome refugees from the conflict in Libya and those fleeing tyranny and oppression across the world."

Saif Gaddafi's london mansion occupied (Thanks, Tim!)

(Image: Nusibab)

Interrogating a mercenary

interrogatedlibya.jpg Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf. Photo: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters.

Libya Calling

An Egyptian man who fled the unrest in Libya talks on a phone provided by Telecom sans Frontiere (TSF) at a refugee camp near the Libyan and Tunisian border crossing of Ras Jdir March 1, 2011. (REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Saif Gadaffi promises guns and reinforcements to murderous militias

In this video, Saif Gadaffi (the "liberal" Gadaffi scion to whom the London School of Economics awarded a PhD for a plagiarized thesis on soft power and democracy) is seen promising weapons and reinforcements to the militia forces who have been brutally slaughtering peaceful protesters in Libya.

Saif Gaddafi Exposed [ENGLISH SUBTITLES] (via Reddit)

Charlie Brooker on Gadaffi

Charlie Brooker's commentary on Gadaffi's erratic atrocities -- and the western leaders who've kissed up to him over the years -- from last week's Ten O'Clock Live is some of the most nose-milk-spurting material ever aired. I wish that all of Ten O'Clock Live's clips were on YouTube, as it would be amazing blogfodder -- the show is better than The Daily Show most weeks, IMO (I've asked, C4 say their lawyers won't let them because there are clips of the BBC, Sky, etc, which is some pretty weird fair dealing analysis).

Ten O'Clock Live

Gadaffi jams satellite phones and TV, mobile phones

The desperate Gadaffi regime in Libya has deployed powerful radio jammers that are blocking satellite-based TV networks and satellite phones around the region, as well as screwing up mobile phones across the nation.
On Monday, Al Jazeera television said Libya's intelligence agency was behind the powerful jamming that has disrupted the widely watched Arab satellite broadcaster's signal across much of the Middle East and North Africa.

On Saturday, Arbor Networks, a U.S. company that monitors Internet traffic said Internet service had been cut off in Libya for a second consecutive day.

Thuraya satellite telecom says jammed by Libya

Gadaffi sends text-spam offering bribes to counter-revolutionaries

Middle-Eastern media source @MAQAM reports that Gadaffi has SMS-spammed Libyans, offering 100 dinar mobile phone credit bribes to people who send out messages asking their friends to stop protesting and stay in their homes.

Libyan forces turn on Gadaffhi, declare "Free Benghazi," capture foreign mercenaries

Soldiers and police in Beghazi, Libya's second city, have thrown in with protesters on the ground and declared the city to be "Free Benghazi." The Guardian is carrying eyewitness reports of more than 4,000 foreign mercenaries being brought to the country to fight for Gadaffhi, some of whom are in custody of the revolutionary army. The "ransacked" government buildings are flying pre-Gadaffhi-era flags.
An air force officer, Major Rajib Faytouni, said he personally witnessed up to 4,000 mercenaries arrive on Libyan transport planes over a period of three days starting from 14 February. He said: "That's why we turned against the government. That and the fact there was an order to use planes to attack the people."

Numerous witnesses in Benghazi have said that while artillery was used against citizens, air force planes did not fire on them here. They did, however, according to Faytouni, drop two bombs inside the Rajma military base to stop weapons falling into the hands of anti-government forces.

"The two colonels who defected in MiGs had refused orders to bomb the people," he said, referring to a pair of air force officers who fled to Malta in their jets on Monday. He added: "There were also two helicopters that flew to Tunis."

All around Benghazi there were indications that Gaddafi has lost control of the city. The military is no longer operating checkpoints, which are now manned only by a handful of traffic police. Every physical sign of the dictator has been taken down or burned. While there has been no violence in the past two days, angry demonstrators are driving through city firing Kalashnikov rifles into the air and demanding Gaddafi cede control and leave the country.

Libyan city dubbed 'Free Benghazi' as anti-Gaddafi troops take control

Free dial-up ISP for Libyans

XS4ALL, a fantastic, hacker-friendly ISP in the Netherlands, has thrown open all its modem lines for free use by people in Libya when and if their network access gets blocked by the government. DPCosta sez, "It's expensive (international call), but can be very handy in an emergency. The number is +31205350535 and the username/password are xs4all."

XS4all biedt Libiërs internet/XS4ALL provides Internet Libyans (Thanks, DPCosta, via Submitterator)

Saif Gadaffhi, plagiarist - UPDATED

Saif Gadaffhi's not just the scion of a lunatic dictatorial legacy, and not just the ironic recipient of a PhD from the London School of Economics in 'The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions' -- he's also a plagiarist!

An anonymous source at the LSE sez, "There appears to be some *at least* minor plagiarism in this thesis. If you look at the bottom of p45 there is a passage that goes: 'The expansions of the IMF's membership, together with the changes in the world economy, have required the IMF to adapt in a variety of ways to continue serving its purposes effectively'. If you plug this sentence into Google you get a link to the IMF Wikipedia page. I caught this within 60 seconds of opening the thesis. There's one more I found a page later. I tried twice with a hit rate of two out of two. Readers may want to look for more. My impression is the thesis is generally OK - the plagiarism may only be limited to boilerplate factoid stuff like this on the IMF. But it would be good to alert readers to comb through it using Google."

Consider yourselves alerted.

Update: Here we are, a Wiki to track instances of plagiarism in Junior's homework (Tx, Wheezer!)

THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making? (PDF)

Gadaffhi Junior's PhD celebrates "soft power," democracy

Saif Gadaffhi, son of Muammar, deliverer of speeches in which he pledges to hold dictatorial power until he has expended his last bullet, did his PhD at the London School of Economics on "THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making?"
This dissertation analyses the problem of how to create more just and democratic global governing institutions, exploring the approach of a more formal system of collective decision-making by the three main actors in global society: governments, civil society and the business sector. The thesis seeks to make a contribution by presenting for discussion an addition to the system of international governance that is morally justified and potentially practicable, referred to as 'Collective Management'. The thesis focuses on the role of civil society, analysing arguments for and against a role for civil society that goes beyond 'soft power' to inclusion as voting members in inter-governmental decision-making structures in the United Nations (UN) system, the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other institutions.

The thesis defends the argument that inclusion of elected representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in tripartite decision-making structures could potentially create a more democratic global governing system. This conclusion is supported by a specially-commissioned survey of leading figures in NGOs and IGO decision-making structures.

"THE ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE DEMOCRATISATION OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making? (PDF)

Is this Irony or Absurdity?: Saif al-Islam Al Qadhafi's Disseration Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: LSE-educated man the west can no longer deal with

Realtime analysis of Libya tweets


Trendsmap's Libya page is a real-time dashboard for all the media emerging from the Libyan uprising, with handy charts showing which subtopics are rising and falling (e.g., Venezuela's down, Tripoli is peaking).

Libya Trends - Trendsmap (Thanks, Bufferout, via Submitterator!)

Libya's UN mission asks world to defend Libyans from Gadaffi

Libya's UN ambassadors have joined the ranks of Libyan diplomats around the world to denounce Gadhafi's brutal crackdown on the popular uprising across the country. The entire Libyan UN diplomatic has appealed to the Security Council to defend their countrymen from the crackdown.
Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gadhafi and his security forces.

Dabbashi also said he was not resigning.

The diplomat says the Libyan delegation is also urging the International Criminal Court to investigate possible crimes against humanity committed against the Libyan people during the current protests.

Libya's UN ambassadors are calling for leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi to step down.

(Image: Colonel Gadaffi is a great leader!, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from quinnanya's photostream)

Following the Libyan uprising


The Guardian's liveblog of the news coming from Libya is fantastic, in a gripping and sickly horrible way. From the troops and mercenaries massacring demonstrators to the weird, rambling speech of Saif Gadaffi (Muammar's son) blaming drug addicts and foreigners for his people's uprising and threatening to murder the whole country to keep it in his family's hands, it's all there, with frequent updates. The Younger Gadaffi's loose grip on reality can be further explored on his moribund Twitter feed (Google translation to English).

There's also an incredible set of photos of the Libyan uprising on Flickr user Fadhomar's stream.

Renesys has information on the blocks in Libyan Internet coverage: "Two-thirds of Libyan routes came back to life at 6:01 UTC (8:01 local time), and the remainder were restored nine minutes later. At the moment, spot checks of Libyan domains and traceroutes into affected networks indicate that connectivity has been restored, and Libya is back on the Internet." (Thanks, @Re6smith!)

10.28am - Libya: On Audioboo, a group called feb17voices is collecting audio recordings from Libyans reporting on what is happening in their country. Here is a transcript from one from Saturday:

My name is Rahma, I am located in Tripoli right now, I am heading out to Fashloom area, they have heard that Fashloom is beginning to protest that ... and other suburbs are sort of rioting and protesting anti-government, and because of these riots the cops as we speak are shooting live ammunition and grenades at them. I don't know ... Beaten hard right now but Fashloom, Gergaresh and Zawiya street. These are streets, locations, suburbs, areas in Tripoli.

This is one from Tripoli that was uploaded three hours ago, about protests in Green Square, in the Libyan capital:

The supporters who took over the square, there were like maybe three or four thousand people. The people who came after that, there were like less numbers.

This Tripoli man says Gaddafi "is challenging the masses, but, OK, I think he is going to lose it in a couple of days".

Libya uprising - live updates (today)

Libya protests - as they happened (Sunday)

(Image: Libya's new flag, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from khalidalbaih's photostream)

Glued to events in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain

Events in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain are moving fast, but the Guardian's moment-to-moment coverage has me glued to my screen today:

View Mapping Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya in a larger map

• Libya: Security forces in Benghazi have shot dead at least one person and injured a dozen after opening fire on mourners at a funeral for protesters killed in earlier demonstrations. Special forces stormed a protest camp in the eastern city at 5am.

• Bahrain: Thousands of protesters have retaken Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital after Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa ordered troops off the streets.

• Yemen: One protester was killed and seven were hurt in clashes with security forces in the capital, Sana'a.

• Algeria: Riot police in Algiers have broken up a planned march by thousands of pro-democracy campaigners.

Libya and Bahrain protests - Saturday 19 February

YouTube channel -- Libyan protests (Warning: contains graphic violence and death)

Mapping Pro-Democracy protests