Mortars, tanks, quiet now at Libya's 'war museum'

Libyans reflect on 42 years of rule under Muammar Gaddafi as they view his body, his possessions, and the weapons used to overthrow him.

October 23, 2011 11:39
2 minute read.
Libyans celebrate death of Gaddafi 311

Libyans celebrate death of Gaddafi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

MISRATA, Libya - Gazing out over an ad hoc collection of tanks, mortars and Molotov cocktails seized in fierce fighting against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces, Mokhtar Ahmed was ecstatic.

"The rebels made the Libyan people's dreams a reality," he said, reviewing the impromptu war museum that has sprung up on Misrata's bomb-blasted Tripoli Street.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Libyans line up at Misrata meat locker to gawk at Gaddafi
Gaddafi family demand bodies of ousted dictator and son

Its exhibits were plucked from the battlefields where militias loyal to Gaddafi, who was captured and killed last week, were defeated.

A sign placed on a tank blasted by a NATO warplane reads "Abu Shafshufa's gallery," a derisive nickname for Gaddafi, mocking his unruly, curly hair.

It stands beside Grad missile launchers, mortars, and a metal eagle with a 12-foot (4-m) wingspan, riddled with bullets, clutching a life-sized mannequin of Gaddafi in its talons.

The metal eagle was seized from the roof of Gaddafi's home in Tripoli. The mannequin was added later.

Other exhibits include a giant gold fist grasping a smashed jet plane, a burned-out armored personnel carrier and a bank of broken radios taken from militias routed in street battles across Libya.

But as the country's transitional government grapples to put together a peaceful, democratic future following Gaddafi's death at the hands of rebels in his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, the exhibits evoked anxious reflection from some viewers.

"There's a lot of weapons. They must be taken back," Hassan Mustafa Sadawi said. He was referring to the arsenal still in the hands of rebel forces in a country riven by tribal divisions.

"It's impossible to have stability (in Libya). We'll take revenge on each other from time to time, maybe," he added.

Families, some with young children, picked through the exhibits, which included a crate of Molotov cocktails in Pepsi Cola bottles, rockets with windmill-like tail fins that had failed to detonate, jagged shrapnel fragments, and some molten metal congealed after battle.

"It shows us that weapons lead to destruction and death," Abdul Hakim Habbas said.

The Kalashnikov-toting rebel, with six of his children in tow, was out to see the weapons and view Gaddafi's corpse, lying on display in a cold store in the city.

"Maybe we will take lessons from this, and our children too," Habbas added.

But for Muftah Lamlum, recently returned from 38 years of political exile in London, all he saw was waste.

"It reminds me that I have lost the best years of my life ... (and) the ruin of the country that could have been the most prosperous in the Middle East," he said ruefully.

Some rebels fired a burst of celebratory Kalashnikov rifle fire into the air to accompany rousing songs urging on the uprising.

"I want to see a Western-style democracy," Lamlum said. "But my greatest fear is ignorance...42 years of Gaddafi was a very long time."

Related Content

Nadia Murad
August 19, 2018
Yazidi victims of ISIS fear for lives in Germany due to ISIS presence