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FACTDROP: Mosque preacher leads looting of civilian houses in Tripoli


Mosque preacher leads looting of civilian houses in Tripoli

Πηγή: Eccleza
September 11, 2011

Libya rebel local military chief and mosque preacher Hussein Furjani (right) checks a bag of documents found in a house during a raid in Khalet El Furjan district in Tripoli.

Libyan rebels, weapons drawn, burst into the houses of suspected supporters of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, searching rooms and hauling away military uniforms, a portable safe and documents that appear to link residents to their leader.

The search party leader, a mosque preacher-turned-military rebel chief, insisted those who fought for Gadhafi will be interrogated and possibly punished.

But the raids raised concerns about vigilante justice among the rebels who have entered Tripoli two weeks ago.

Abdel-Basit Abu Mzirig, an aide to the rebel group, acknowledged that neighborhood councils often carry out raids and arrests on their own, without authorization from a central authority.

Moammar Mahmoud, 33, was livid after his house in Tripoli’s southeastern Khalet el-Furjani neighborhood was searched last Tuesday, saying he felt his rights had been violated. “I am very angry,” the former tax inspector said after the raid only turned up a Libyan flag. “Who wouldn’t be if people come to your house and search it?”

In Khalet el-Furjani, a neighborhood of about 4,000 people, the undisputed boss is now Hussein Furjani, who temporarily traded his white preacher’s robe for rebel fatigues on August 21.

Furjani heads the local rebels and operates from his mosque. On Tuesday, he gave orders from an office chair in the mosque courtyard, sporting dark shades and a turban, while cradling a Belgian assault rifle and a walkie-talkie.

The courtyard was crammed with goods he said his men have seized from residents in the past two weeks, including several dozen white Harley-Davidson police motorcycles, living room sets, mattresses, hot water boilers and duffel bags.

Furjani’s men run a checkpoint on the main road outside the mosque. Furjani said much of the booty in his courtyard was recovered during car searches, though no cars were being stopped.

Other items were taken from people’s homes, with his men acting on tips from neighbors about where looted goods might be found. Government compounds were targeted by looters, along with the abandoned homes of Gadhafi supporters who had to flee Tripoli for their lives, he said, adding that he would try to restore the property to its rightful owners once they return.

On Tuesday, he led half a dozen rebels in two pickup trucks into an alley in the neighborhood, where they searched three houses, weapons drawn.

In the first, they found two cars in the yard. Furjani said the cars would be taken as part of the investigation. His men also hauled a safe with a government sticker from a storage room, as well as two huge bags of dog food. “We have dogs!” the owner, 25-year-old Mohannad Addali, protested.

The search of the next house, belonging to the tax inspector, yielded only the Libyan flag.

In the third house, which belonged to a family originally from Sirte, the search team found several piles of military uniforms, a Kalashnikov and a briefcase with documents, including photocopies of ID cards that suggested some in the family had fought for their government.

Furjani crouched and sorted through the papers, returning personal documents to a member of the family, Abdel Wahab Mohammed, while handing other ones to his aide, Mohammed Shiriana.

Mohammed insisted he was a civilian, but Shiriana, a construction engineer and aide to Furjani, said the documents indicate the man was a member of a Gadhafi brigade. Furjani said the man would also have to report for questioning.

When Mohannad Addali asked if he could have a promised sticker for his front door that would protect him from further searches, Furjani said that would have to wait until the two cars were towed.

While barking orders during the searches, Furjani and his men also seemed to go out of their way to avoid confrontations with residents. “We are very, very sorry that we entered the house,” Furjani told Addali at one point, “in the new government, we will be more polite.”

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