Killing Qaddafi: Murder or Vigilante justice

By Ali Younes

The killing of former Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi today might bring a swift end to the bloody rebellion that erupted against his rule eight months ago. News reports showed a bloody and injured Qaddafi staggering and disheveled between jubilant armed rebels’ forces. The possibility that the rebel fighters’ might have murdered Qaddafi is not something the Libyan rebel leadership should be proud of, celebrate or condone. It was later confirmed by news reports however that Qaddafi was captured alive before he was shot dead by his captors.

Rebel fighters claimed during interviews on Arab televisions that Qaddafi had old injuries possibly from the fighting, but subsequent images however showed that Qaddafi was not seriously injured before he was killed which cast suspicion at the rebels’ story.

One might find it understandable, however, that amid the fog of war and chaos order and discipline are not established especially when the war is fought by an unorganized ragtag citizen-militias. On the other hand however, others argue that the rebel leadership and NATO forces wanted Qaddafi dead so they don’t have to give him up to the International Criminal Court, ICC, for prosecution where he might embarrass them as his former comrades and partners.

It is great news, nevertheless that the Libyan people finally won the battle and got rid of one of the most ruthless and criminal dictators in the Arab World.

This win, however is marred by the apparent murder of Qaddafi which would be considered a war crime to kill a captured and unarmed combatant. This is not a defense of Qaddafi, but one should not commit murder while trying to achieve justice and at the same time claiming the moral high grounds.

Qaddafi’s brutal and bloody end, meanwhile, should inspire the rest of Arab dictators to think that clinging, to what  president Obama called in his statement today ,their “iron fist” dictatorial powers and abuse their citizens will eventually spell the end of their regimes and possibly their lives as well.

 Let us remember that the end of Qaddafi did not come so cheap or so easily, it cost the Libyan people a lot of blood, treasure and destruction that they need a long time to recover from decades of abuse and rebuild what this infighting had destroyed.

With the Libyan chapter is coming to a close with the end of Qaddafi and several of his sons, the rest of Arab dictators mainly Syria’s Bashaar Al Assad and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Salih will find themselves facing three options.

Option one the zinelabidine ben ali option which is step down from power and leave the country. With this option the dictator can save his and his family lives and also spare the people wanton death and destruction.

Option two is the Hosni Mubarak of Egypt option which is to resign and stand trial for killing the citizens, abuse of power, and theft of country’s resources.

Option three is the Qaddafi option which is to fight the entire population of the country with no hope of ever wining against millions of angry and abused citizens. At the end, Qaddafi’s fate should teach the Arab leaders one big lesson that is no matter how far you go in the abuse and murder of innocent people and citizens of your country, the people’s anger and patience have limits and your crimes will not go unpunished.

– Ali Younes is a writer and Middle East analyst based in Washington D.C. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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