by SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

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Map of Libya

As a member of the Sergeants Major Academy I was expected to select some college courses to improve my academic knowledge. One of the courses I chose was military history and it was taught by a gruff old former Special Forces officer. He was not one of those “politically correct” characters that never have a bad word to say about anyone. I recall that when we mentioned Libya he was very opinionated: “Thieves and pirates, all of them. No damn good at all.” Thus was my military introduction to Libya.

Perhaps the professor was thinking of 1805, when the U.S. Marines marched across 600 miles of the Libyan Desert to successfully storm the fortified city of Derna and rescue the kidnapped crew of the USS Philadelphia from the Barbary Coast pirates. This was the Marines' first battle on foreign soil, and is notably recalled in the first verse of the Marines' Hymn:

From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea.

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Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

The leader of Libya has a name that has been spelled many different ways. For the purpose of this article I will use the spelling “Gaddafi.” The Colonel had been a supporter of terrorist acts for many years. In December 1985, the Rome and Vienna airports were attacked and Gaddafi stated that he fully supported the Red Army Faction, the Red Brigades, and the Irish Republican Army. The Foreign Minister of Libya also called the massacres “heroic acts.” On 5 April 1986, Libyan agents bombed the “La Belle” nightclub in West Berlin. West Germany and the United States obtained cable transcripts from Libyan agents in East Germany who were involved in the attack.

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President Ronald Reagan

United States President Ronald Reagan was not known for his patience, or love of Communists or terrorists. He was determined to punish the Libyan leader and authorized a bombing raid, code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon. The strike team was made up of United States Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The attack occurred on 15 April 1986. Eighteen F-111F strike aircraft of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, supported by four EF-111A Ravens of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, in conjunction with naval attack aircraft from the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga, USS America and USS Coral Sea dropped 60 tons of explosives on five targets at 0200. The stated objective of the mission was to send Gaddafi a message and reduce Libya's ability to support and train terrorists. Reagan warned that if there was no change in the Libya leader, American aircraft would be back again.

This raid caused some ill feeling against America’s allies, including France, Spain and Italy because they denied the Americans over-flights, forcing the attack aircraft to fly far out of their way and added 2,600 miles to the trip to Libya and back. I do not recall much in the way of hatred against Spain and Italy at the time, but the American public was incensed at the French and this fueled a dislike that some hold to this day. When it was reported that one of Gaddafi’s daughters was killed in the raid, I recall an American comedian joking that perhaps if the French had allowed to Americans to fly over their territory the pilots would not have been so tired that they dropped a bomb on the child. The French Embassy was also nearly hit and all the comedians had a good laugh at that saying, “Oh, we are soooo sorry.” There was a lot of bad feeling against the French who were seen as unappreciative of all that America had done for that nation.

Apparently, Reagan’s plan worked. Gaddafi was very quiet after the bombing raid and hardly made any public announcements. I think he suddenly realized his own mortality and the knowledge that the Americans could come back at any time was enough to keep him very quiet.

Although the first raid on Libya seems to have been simply an act of intimidation by President Reagan, retired USAF Colonel Frank L. Goldstein writes that it also worked as a psychological operation in The Libyan Raid as a Psychological Operation. He says in part:

The stated purposes of the US raid on Libya as reported in the press were to emphasize the cost of state-sponsored terrorism, to damage terrorist operations, and to encourage internal insurrection.

What was the psychological situation? The psychological situation revealed that many nations, friendly, neutral, and enemy, were not taking seriously the US concern about state sponsored terrorism.

Would an air strike have a strategic psychological effect? A successful air strike against Libya and Gaddafi could produce the following: (a) notice to all nations that the US would not tolerate state-sponsored terrorism, (b) notice to Gaddafi that his power was not absolute, (c) notice to anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya that the current actions of Libya could reap dire consequences for all, (d) a reduction in terrorist acts as Gaddafi and his forces would be forced to regroup, and (e) additional time to get other Western nations more involved in antiterrorist operations.

Colonel Gaddafi's made no major radio, TV, or personal appearance for almost six months after the raid. On the 16th anniversary of his expelling the US from Wheelus Air Base, a major event in Libya to which the foreign press was invited to hear a major speech, Gaddafi did not appear. Videotapes were presented, revealing an exhausted-looking Gaddafi fidgeting in his chair, speaking in a hoarse voice, and making a speech devoid of his usual fiery rhetoric. He began relooking at Libyan efforts in Chad and Sudan. Some senior Libyan leaders talked openly about a lower Libyan profile in terrorism.

The raid on Libya appears to have been extremely successful as a psychological operation; yet it is doubtful that it was originally planned as a psychological operation. If senior planners considered the Libyan raid as a psychological operation, it achieved all its goals.

In October 2008, Libya paid $1.5 billion dollars over three installments into a fund to compensate relatives of the Lockerbie bombing; American victims of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing; American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing; and, Libyan victims of the 1986 US bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.

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Libya Independence Protests in Benghazi

All was fairly quiet until a civil war erupted in Libya on 15 February 2011. The situation began as a series of peaceful protests. On the evening of 15 February, between 500 and 600 demonstrators protested in front of the police headquarters in Benghazi after the arrest of human rights lawyer Fathi Terbil. The protest was broken up violently by police, resulting in 38 injured, among them ten security personnel. Protest rallies were held in Al Bayda, Az Zintan, Benghazi, and Darnah. Libyan security responded with lethal force. A “Day of Rage” was planned for 17 February inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Within a week, this uprising had spread across the country and Gaddafi was struggling to retain control. Gaddafi responded with military force and other such measures as censorship and blocking of communications.

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Luca M. Venturi

The rebels established a coalition named the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi. The International Criminal Court warned Gaddafi that he and members of his government may have committed crimes against humanity and the United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution freezing the assets of Gaddafi and ten members of his inner circle, and restricting their travel. About this time I heard from my old friend Luca M. Venturi, a media consultant based in Switzerland. During Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991, Luca had worked for the Government of Kuwait and told their story to the American and international public in a way that brought both financial and military support. Luca told me he was now working for the rebels through the Democratic Libya Information Bureau (DLIB), the operational media relations arm of the Citizens for a Democratic Libya. This was used to differentiate it from Gaddafi's press offices in his worldwide embassies that were called the "Libya Information Bureau" The DLIB had operation centers in Tripoli, Benghazi, Geneva, Lugano, Milan, Rome, London, Sao Paulo, Doha, Dubai, and more. I knew Gaddafi was in trouble. He told me:

We send our releases to 1289 individual journalists, including in the United States the Wall Street Journal, the N.Y. Post, and even the Drudge Report.

I should stop here and point out that I am going to use the word “rebels” for those forces fighting Gaddafi although they never considered themselves rebels. I could say “insurgents,” “patriots” or a host of other terms, but the international press called them rebels and I think everyone recognizes the forces fighting Gaddafi under that name. When you speak to the forces opposing the government, they are fairly blunt. Luca told me:

In the West everyone thought that we were a Muslim gang of raghead gooks or Berber pirates and kidnappers. Keep in mind that all my colleagues in DLIB and other groups studied in the United States or western colleges and worked for western multinational companies and wear double-breasted, navy blue pinstriped suits and speak three to four languages. Many are Muslim, but despise al-Qaida as an irrational, old fashioned, primitive hyper religious sect that may appeal only to illiterate, superstitious old people. And again, to this day we do not see any of al-Qaida in Libya.

We wanted to establish as a fact that the Libyan revolution was a democratic one, by the people and for the people, not a fanatical uprising. Libya has fewer inhabitants and is far richer and better educated than other North African Arab countries. Did you notice that in Libya we had no suicide bombers, car bombs or IEDs during the war? We were not rebels. We were actually democratic Libyan citizens, not subverters of a constitutional order...Gaddafi was the rebel and subverter of democratic principles.

Gaddafi's forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities before attacking Benghazi. After constant requests and pleas from help from the rebel forces the U.N. authorized member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. Gaddafi’s forces were able to push the rebels back at first, but continued calls for help to the United States and other NATO countries eventually caused the great powers to take part in the civil war on the part of the revolutionaries.

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Life in Benghazi under Rebel Control

In the early days of the revolution Gaddafi forces and some nations friendly to his government implied that the rebels in Benghazi were terrorists and radicals bent on killing and looting. Luca send photos such as these “business as usual” to the press to show the media that the revolution was democratic and not fanatical. He said that most of the key people in the movement were educated in the US.

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Counterfeit Banknotes Paid to Mercenaries?

The Rebels have stated on numerous occasions that Gaddafi was using mercenaries in Libya. In what appears to be an interesting black operation by Gaddafi against his own mercenaries, it was reported that they were paid by the regime in counterfeit currency. There is no way to tell if this story is true or disinformation, but notice the two banknotes above that were allegedly paid to a mercenary soldier. Note that they both have the same serial number.

On 21 February the Libyan UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi called on the UN to impose a no-fly zone on all Tripoli to cut off all supplies of arms and mercenaries to the regime. On 23 February President of France Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for the European Union (EU) to pass sanctions against Gaddafi and demand he stop attacks against civilians. On 28 February British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed the idea of a no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi from “airlifting mercenaries” and using his military planes and armored helicopters against civilians. On 1 March, The United States Senate unanimously passed a non-binding Senate resolution urging the United Nations Security Council to impose a Libyan no-fly zone and encouraging Gaddafi to step down. On 10 March 2011, France recognized the Libyan rebels as the legitimate government of Libya. On 12 March 2011, nine out of the twenty-two Arab League members called on the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya in a bid to protect civilians from air attack. On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the Libyan civil war.

The day before, the Citizens for a Democratic Libya had sent out a publicity release:

The Libyan Interim National Council just called us via satellite phone from Benghazi: "Regular phone lines into Benghazi have been cut. Gaddafi's troops have broken through Ijdabiya and are less than 50 kilometers outside Benghazi with tanks and heavy artillery".

We have confirmation that the bulk of Gaddafi’s troops are now at 43 kilometers from Benghazi at a place called Al-Maqroon.

We appeal to the International community to intervene IMMEDIATELY before a massacre takes place in Benghazi, after what has taken place in Ijdabya (Agedabia) and Misurata, where deaths are already in the thousands.

Today is the bloodiest day since the revolution started!

The dictator’s declaration of a cease-fire is an outright lie, and the massacre of the Libyan people is taking place now. (unquote)

On 20 March, The Libyan revolutionaries began work on a television station of their own in Dubai. They searched for “good Libyans” in the region who could assist on the ground and Libyans abroad who could participate in talk shows and interviews. Libyan bankers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi offered their immediate support. At the same time, it was agreed that the Libyan leader would not be identified as “Gaddafi” but instead as “the tyrant.”

It was rumored that the U.S. debated a cyber-warfare attack on Libya at this time. Allegedly, there was a debate within the administrations about the president’s authority to proceed with such an attack without informing Congress. A cyber-offensive might have disrupted the Qaddafi government's air-defense system, which threatened allied warplanes. The goal would have been to break through the firewalls of the Libyan government's computer networks to sever military communications links.

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Tomahawk Cruise Missile

U.S. and British forces fired over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the French Air Force and British Royal Air Force undertook sorties across Libya and a naval blockade was carried out by the Royal Navy. The official names for the interventions by the coalition members are Opération Harmattan by France; Operation Ellamy by the United Kingdom; Operation Mobile for the Canadian participation and Operation Odyssey Dawn for the United States.

Since the beginning of the intervention, the initial coalition has expanded to 17 states. The effort was initially largely led by France and the United Kingdom, with command shared with the United States. NATO took control of the arms embargo on 23 March, named Operation Unified Protector. On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone, while command of targeting ground units remains with coalition forces.

There were numerous Allied attacks in April, 2011. To name a few: on 2 April 2011, French Navy Rafale fighter jets destroyed five tanks in Sirte; on 5 April, NATO aircraft flew fourteen sorties near Misrata, attacking anti-aircraft installations and ground vehicles; on 10 April, NATO claimed to have hit 11 tanks or armored vehicles in the early part of the day outside Ajdabiya: on 19 April, missions were flown to attack Gaddafi's command center in Tripoli; and on 26 April, 133 sorties were carried out by NATO aircraft, 56 of which attacked targets like tanks, missile and rocket launchers, various storage facilities and other vehicles were targeted in Tripoli, Misrata, Sirte and Al-Khums.

On 6 April, the Democratic Libya Information Bureau press release attacked Turkey:

It is with continued disgust that we follow Turkey’s continued response to the uprising in Libya. Mr. Erdogan claims to support the protection of civilians but there are persistent rumors that Turkey is blocking NATO air strikes on many designated targets despite the continued slaughter taking place in cities such as Misrata. Misrata has been under siege now for several weeks. Water and electricity supplies have been deliberately cut by the regime and food and medical supplies are also prevented from reaching the civilian population. Where is the protection for these besieged civilians?

It is becoming increasingly apparent that Mr. Erdogan holds the lives of the tyrant’s troops and mercenaries very close to his heart whilst being determined to prevent the Libyan people the means to defend and protect themselves. He is buying time for Gaddafi to complete his plans to massacre everyone who stands in his way.

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Apache Attack Helicopter

The NATO attacks continued in May with Gaddafi gradually falling back, claiming peace talks, cease fires, and then attacking the rebels when they were vulnerable. Some of the action in May included: on 1 May, NATO air strikes destroyed 45 government vehicles after they were used in attacks that killed five civilians in Jalu and Awlijah; on 4 May, NATO aircraft conducted 160 sorties with targets including ammunition stores, military vehicles, and rocket launchers; strikes were carried out in Tripoli, Misrata, Ajdabiyah and Sirte; on 19 May, eight ships of the Libyan Navy were destroyed in the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte; on 23 May, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet announced that France and Britain planned to send attack helicopters to enter the conflict; and on 25 May, The Guardian reported that a formal announcement that Britain planned to send Apache helicopters would occur on 26 May.

On 30 May in Rome, eight Libyan army officers, including five generals, appeared at a news conference arranged by the Italian government, saying they were part of a group of 120 military officials and soldiers who had defected in recent days. General Oun Ali Oun Told reporters:

What is happening to our people has frightened us. There is a lot of killing, genocide…violence against women. No wise, rational person with the minimum of dignity can do what we saw with our eyes and what Gaddafi asked us to do.

The defections raised the expectations of Gaddafi’s opponents that the regime was nearing collapse, coming two months after that of Libya’s foreign minister and former espionage chief Moussa Koussa.

On 1 June NATO extended its Libyan mission for a further 90 days. The 28-member alliance originally took over a campaign of air strikes, the enforcement of a no-fly zone and an arms embargo on Libya to protect rebellious civilians from attack by Gaddafi's forces in late March for 90 days. NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen said:

NATO and partners have just decided to extend our mission for Libya for another 90 day. This decision sends a clear message to the Gaddafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.

On 4 June, NATO forces used attack helicopters for the first time during military operations in Libya. There had been some question why the helicopters were not used sooner, but since they fly low and slow and are easy anti-aircraft targets there was a belief that NATO did not want to risk losing a pilot and crew and have them depicted on television as prisoners of Gaddafi. The British Ministry of Defense confirmed that its Apache helicopters, flying from HMS Ocean, participated in the attacks, as did French helicopters from the assault ship Tonnerre. The Apache helicopters attacked a radar installation and a military checkpoint using Hellfire missiles and 30mm cannon while the French Tigre and Gazelle helicopters struck another target hitting 15 military vehicles and five command buildings.

At the same time, British Foreign Secretary William Hague became the first government minister to visit the Rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Mentioning graffiti, which is a form of propaganda, he said:

You only have to talk to the people here, see the graffiti that is written on all the walls, listen to anybody in the street, to realize that there isn't a political solution that involves Gaddafi still being at the head of Libya.

By 7 June, the NATO was claiming that Gaddafi was losing power and his capitol of Tripoli was closed down due to continual bombing. This may have been wishful thinking. In fact, there were reports that the bombing had been ineffective and Tripoli was doing business as usual. NATO bombed the city heavily on both the 7th and the 8th. Perhaps because the bombing did not have the required results, U.S. Defense Secretary Gates actually called out NATO members Germany, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the Netherlands and asked that they join the air campaign. Since NATO took control of the bombing and missile strikes from the United States at the end of March 2011, the alliance has conducted more than 10,000 air sorties. In the heaviest strikes yet, concentrating on attacks in Tripoli, NATO launched 157 strike missions on 7 June, more than three times the previous daily average. The United States’ role has centered on tasks including midair refueling, aerial surveillance and pilotless drones, while most of the actual strikes have been by Britain and France, backed by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy and Norway.

In comments that seem to imply that the NATO campaign is not doing nearly as well as claimed, Gates went on to rebuke the NATO nations for their declining defense budgets. He pointed out that fewer than half of the NATO nations were taking part in the Libya action. His most pointed remark was:

The mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country, yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S. to again make up the difference.

In what may be a black operation, the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court said he was investigating whether Gaddafi provided Viagra-type drugs to Libyan soldiers to promote the rape of women during the current conflict. Allegedly, the Libyan government was buying containers of Viagra-type drugs to carry out the policy.

At the same time, in what will surely be called by some anti-Americans the real reason the U.S. has backed the rebels, Tesoro, a U.S. oil refiner, entered into a deal on 25 May with the rebel Transitional National Council based in Benghazi, Libya for 1.2 million barrels of Libyan crude oil.

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Rebels Mount Soviet Sagger Anti-Tank Missiles on Homemade Launchers – Misrata

On 9 June, perhaps to show his defiance to the air campaign, Gaddafi sent thousands of his troops against the rebel-held western city of Misrata, shelling it from three sides.

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Misrata Dead

Misrata put up a ferocious defense against Gaddafi's troops. The above is one of the anti-Gaddafi fighters killed in action, and you can see the rag placed around his head as a compassionate way to keep his mouth closed. Misrata became a rallying point for the rebels. Their ability to fight off Gaddafi encouraged the rest of the country to fight on. Later, Misrata would produce a very vengeful military unit cslled the Misrata Brigade that was feared by the government troops. There were numerous images of Misrata citizens injured and killed by Gaddafi’s troops. Luca recommended these pictures not be used in publicity releases because they were so graphic. However, we will show one here.

On 10 June, CIA Director Leon Panetta gave more ammunition to the anti-War protestors when he stated that worries about some members of the Libyan rebels' ruling body are legitimate. Anti-war elected officials wonder why the United States is supporting the Libyan insurgents if it is possible that they are infiltrated by al Qaida or other terrorist groups. The same day, Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. would give the Libyan opposition 26 million dollars, bringing the total to this date to 81 million dollars. The rebels have asked for 3 billion dollars to continue the war.

At the same time, what was claimed to be a leaked Department of Defense memo said that the cost of the U.S. campaign in Libya was $664 million as of mid-May. The U.S. will allegedly spend another $274 million by the end of the current 90 day no-fly zone extension period. If the memo is genuine, the total cost of the war until the end of the extension period to U.S. taxpayers is $938 million.

On 14 June, Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner told President Barack Obama the administration would be in violation of the country's 1973 War Powers Resolution on 19 June unless Libyan operations end by then or Congress authorizes them. The resolution prohibits U.S. armed forces from being involved in military actions for more than 60 days without congressional authorization.

The action in Libya may lead to a final legal decision on the presidential War Powers Act and the president’s ability to send American troops in harm’s way. President George Bush was attacked by Democrats for sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, but at least he did request permission from Congress. Obama did not. The administration’s argument is that this is not a war in the true sense of the word, and Americans are not on the ground under fire. So, if it is not a war, no permission from Congress is needed. Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich filed a lawsuit in Federal Court claiming that the U.S. involvement in Libya is unconstitutional. All this should be heartening news for Colonel Gaddafi who must hope that it will lead to an eventual American military pull-out of the Libyan campaign.

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Gaddafi plays Chess on Libyan Television

Some members of the press believe that Gaddafi is winning the propaganda war. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Colonel Gaffafi was televised playing chess while Tripoli was bombed. At the same time he was photographed playing a causal chess game with the Russian head of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov; only eight of the 28 NATO states have provided planes for strike missions in Libya, Norway announced it will end its contribution of strike aircraft in August, and France stated that it would withdraw its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle soon, the single NATO carrier that has been flying 30-40 percent of all NATO strike missions. Gaddafi shows no sign of leaving and for the first time there is talk of a divided Libya, with NATO trying to protect a rebel portion of the country.

On 20 June, The Gaddafi regime claimed that a French fighter-bomber had killed nine people in Tripoli, including a mother and father and at least two young children. NATO acknowledged the civilian casualties with two disclaimers:

A military missile site was the intended target of air strikes in Tripoli. However, it appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target and that there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties.

NATO’s enemies used photographs of this “friendly fire” incident for propaganda. NATO was authorized to protect Libyan civilians from Gaddafi. In a “mission creep” similar to Somalia, where feeding the starving people somehow became a mission to create a government and rid the world of General Mohamed Ali Farrah Aidid, NATO has apparently decided that its mission includes the bombing of Tripoli and the death or removal of Colonel Gaddafi.

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Libyans Killed by Gaddafi’s Troops

The rebels also had photographs of tortured and killed troops. There is a general belief in PSYOP that such pictures should not be used because instead of terrifying an enemy, they infuriate them and make them fight with greater will. Luca told me that he had encouraged the rebels not to use such photographs in their propaganda because he thought they were far too shocking for a western audience and in general they did not.

A number of newsmen wrote that the Gaddafi regime had reversed its military efforts and rather than act like the regular army in the field, is fighting the rebels using their own guerrilla tactics. The Libyan Army had learned not to gather in large formations and now uses small units staying close to the enemy where NATO airpower is ineffectual, using IEDs, snipers, civilian residences and vehicles as weapons. One writer said:

Faced with ongoing NATO air attacks, the Gaddafi regime has increasingly been using tactics more commonly associated with insurgency groups and rebellions rather than developed states…Accidents and collateral damage – vividly demonstrated in NATO’s accidental bombing of civilians over the weekend - will severely damage the Hearts and Minds campaign….

Another said:

The war has become a stalemate, and a messy one. Whatever France and Britain’s earlier optimism, the timeframe of intervention is now stretching irreversibly towards a matter of months, not weeks.

In what seems a remarkable lack of good sense and taste since the Italian fascists had occupied Libya until WWII, Der Spiegel reported that NATO plans its bombing raids on Libya from a Naples ballroom in a villa that housed Mussolini's fascist youth organization in the late 1930s.

On 24 June, as the war slowed to a standstill, U.S. House Armed Services Committee member Mike Turner (R-OH) said that Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the NATO Joint Operations Command in Naples, Italy, told him that NATO forces are actively targeting and trying to kill Qaddafi, despite the fact that the Obama administration continues to insist that "regime change" is not the goal and is not authorized by the U.N. mandate authorizing the war. The same admiral also said he anticipated the need for ground troops in Libya after Qaddafi falls, according to the lawmaker. On that same day, U.S. lawmakers voted against authorizing the Libya war 297 to 123. However, a subsequent vote to stop paying for the Libya mission was defeated 238 to 180. So, the war that Congress does not want but is apparently willing to pay for goes on.

The Globe and Mail reported that NATO officials have acknowledged that social media reports contribute to their targeting process – but only after checking them against other, more reliable, sources of information. A Twitter account with apparent links to the British military has asked users to submit the precise co-ordinates of troops loyal to Colonel Muammar Gadhafi. When one user said that a gas station was a temporary headquarters for Col. Gadhafi’s forces, the information was tweeted, asking NATO to “clean up” the government troops. Another user said he has already seen results from his Twitter activism. He was among the first to notice fuel tankers slipping past NATO warships and docking at ports controlled by Col. Gadhafi, which led to NATO interdictions. A user combing through satellite images noticed that a property listed as a commercial warehouse had a yard containing what appeared to be military vehicles. He published his observations; and allegedly 10 hours later, the spot was hit by a NATO air strike.

By the end of June 2011, some NATO forces appeared to become impatient over the slow progress of the war. Clearly, their belief that Gaddafi would be gone once the intensive bombing started proved to be false. The French in particular were bothered, and made what can be considered an illegal arms drop to the rebels. This led to soul-searching among the NATO powers and criticism from interested by neutral nations.

France admitted giving the Berber tribal fighters in the mountains south-west of Tripoli weapons that included assault rifles, machine guns, ammunition, rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles. The French did not inform its allies about the move. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 established an arms embargo on all of Libya and the French seem to have clearly broken the embargo.

The African Union said that the decision to air-drop weapons to Libyan rebels is dangerous and puts the whole region at risk. Russia and China criticized the NATO campaign, saying it has gone beyond United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized international military action in Libya to protect civilians.

On 14 July 2011, The Libyan government turned the tables on the western powers when Libya’s prosecutor general charged that NATO air strikes in support of rebel forces since the end of March had killed more than 1,100 civilians and wounded about 4,500 others.

Mohamed Zekri Mahjubi charged NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen with war crimes.

Apart from war crimes, Mahjubi accused Rasmussen of trying to kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, deliberate aggression against innocent civilians and the murder of children. He also accused the NATO Chief of trying to overthrow the Libyan regime and replace it with a rebel movement under its control to take over the wealth of oil-rich Libya.

This is an interesting turn-about since the International Criminal Court has charged Muammar Gaddafi with crimes against humanity committed while attempting to crush the country’s rebellion. Apparently, believing the best defense is a good offense, Gaddafi simply accused the Europeans of doing exactly what they charged him with.

Human Rights Watch called on the rebels to protect civilians and hold their fighters accountable for alleged abuses. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said that, in four towns captured by rebels in the Nafusa Mountains over the past month, rebel fighters and supporters have damaged property, burned homes, looted hospitals, homes, and shops, and beaten some individuals alleged to have supported government forces. It said a rebel commander confirmed that abuses had taken place and that some people were punished for the incidents.

On 15 July 2011, the United States Government recognized the Libyan rebels as the official representatives of that nation. 30 Other nations had already recognized the insurgent government. This was a propaganda coup for the rebels and allows the U.S. to hand them 34 billion dollars of Gaddafi’s money held in U.S. banks. The State Department demurred and said that the insurgents did not control enough of Libya to be recognized as a sovereign government. The NATO nations want the war over quickly and the influx of frozen funds from France, Italy and the United States might allow the rebels to buy weapons and manpower to end the war.

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Supporters of Colonel Gaddafi gather round a massive portrait of their leader in
Tripoli's Green Square on 22 July 2011. How long before NATO bombs it?

On 24 July, Germany offered loans of up to $144 million to the Libyan rebels' leadership council to help with humanitarian needs and rebuilding. Meanwhile, the Obama administration struggled to find ways to provide the rebels with the $34 billion in frozen Libyan assets held in U.S.-controlled bank accounts. One obstacle to releasing the money was that much of it was seized under legally binding sanctions imposed against the Gaddafi government by the U.N. Security Council. Unfreezing such accounts would require a consensus vote of the U.N. sanctions committee. It appears that although the rebels are not winning in the field, they are winning at the bargaining tables. France suggested that a possible way out of Libya's civil war would be to allow Colonel Gaddafi to stay in the country if he relinquishes power. Gaddafi immediately ruled out any negotiations with rebels:

I will not speak to them. There will not be any talks between me and them until Judgment Day.

On 25 July, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen stated that NATO is in a “stalemate” in its Libya campaign. At the same time, forces loyal to Gaddafi turned to media outlets in an effort to replenish their ranks. Regime forces launched a recruitment drive with newspaper ads, radio announcements and televised appeals. The advertisements offered volunteers a monthly bonus of 1,000 dinars in addition to regular pay. In addition to the cash hand-outs, the regime is offering education and healthcare for volunteers and their families, as well as access to loans, housing and a guaranteed job after the completion of training.

The Leaflet Campaign

According to the 2015 Rand Corporation Report: Precision and purpose: airpower in the Libyan Civil War, Leaflet drops started about May:

Although the first leaflet drop occurred in early May, it was not until July that the elements became fully available. NATO staff spent the first few months (April to June) determining which aircraft were capable of dropping leaflets, the weapons to deliver the leaflets, and developing a process to obtain approval for the drops. U.S. forces released approximately nine million leaflets from F-16 aircraft throughout the campaign, which were designed to reach multiple audiences that included regime forces and mercenaries, opposition groups, and civilians. During the first four months, F-16CJ aircraft from Aviano were tasked to perform the leaflet drops. Beginning in August, however, U.S. authorities dedicated three F-16CMs from the Aviano wing for the sole purpose of leaflet dropping, which allowed F-16CJ aircraft to concentrate on the regular missions.

Simultaneously, U.S. EC-130H Compass Call aircraft provided more than 4,500 hours of sustained radio broadcasts on multiple tactical and approved commercial frequencies to inform Libyan audiences of NATO’s mission and to persuade combatants to lay down their arms.

Captain Geoffrey Childs wrote an article entitled “Military Information Support to Contingency Operations in Libya for Special Warfare, January-March 2013. He summed up the PSYOP well and I thought we would use his numbers as a guide in this article. Some of his comments are:

More than 50 messages were disseminated throughout the first 12 days of Operation Odyssey Dawn and an additional 200 were disseminated during the seven months of the Operation Unified Protector…Commando Solo flew its first sortie, broadcasting 11 MISO messages in three languages, the same day the JTF dropped its first bomb. These messages were developed, approved, translated, recorded, uploaded and disseminated within a 17-hour time period…Of the more than 9 million leaflets disseminated, only a few achieved their desired effect, but most were credited to have bolstered the spirit of the TNC forces and civilians in fear of the regime alike.

Childs mentions the activities of the United States Army 6th PSYOP Battalion and says in part:

PSYOP approval authority was limited in scope to support exclusively the non-combatant evacuation mission, which therefore remained the singular focus of the 6th PSYOP Battalion. When UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing the use of force to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under the threat of attack was ratified on March 17, 2011, the company, at Fort Bragg, began developing a PSYOP series based on the secretary of defense’s preapproved psychological operations programs in anticipation of coalition lethal actions against the Gadhafi regime.

It is impossible to empirically prove that the PSYOP campaign directly caused the eventual collapse of the Gadhafi regime. While NATO’s approach to PSYOP was, at times, at odds with the American process, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest 6th PSYOP Battalion-enabled NATO messages contributed to the overall success of contingency operations in Libya.

One USAF officer stated that on a single mission the F-16CMs delivered up to 650,000 leaflets to multiple locations.

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Why do you Allow our Libyan Brothers to Fight…

Meanwhile, NATO dropped leaflets addressed to those in the Libyan armed forces asking soldiers to lay down their arms. Many of the leaflets were dropped at military installations to warn soldiers that they would be targeted if they continued to fight. Libyan intelligence tried unsuccessfully to collect the leaflets to prevent them from falling into the hands of Libyan citizens and military members. The leaflets depicted the legendary Libyan freedom-fighter Omar Mukhtar and Colonel Gaddafi on the front with rebel and government fighters below holding rocket propelled grenades and rifles. NATO symbols are at the top right and left. The text on the front is:

Why do you allow our Libyan brothers to fight and kill each other instead of living in peace? You dishonor our country with crimes against humanity.

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The Back of the Leaflet to show the “Cross-Hatching”

The code number 2011L03EO3PL0178P(3.14) is found on the back of this leaflet. The propaganda message is on the upper part of the back and the lower part is covered with thin diagonal lines so that the enemy could not place their own propaganda in the clear areas. In most US leaflets the lines are thicker or the back might be colored grey. These lines are so thin that a Libyan could easily write an anti-Rebel message on the back with a felt-tip pin. I think they fail in their mission. There is also a NATO symbol and the NATO website The text on the back is:

Officers and soldiers of the Libyan army: the International Criminal Court has accused Gaddafi of committing crimes against humanity in Libya. Officers and soldiers of the Libyan army are advised not to follow the orders of Gaddafi and take military operations against the Libyan people. If an officer or a soldier has committed crimes against humanity, they have violated international laws. Many Libyan officers and soldiers have chosen to stand against Gaddafi’s orders and to refrain from killing innocent civilians. Join these men for a prosperous and peaceful future in Libya.

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Omar Mukhtar

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The Lion of the Desert

NATO leaflets often depicted Omar Mukhtar, an Arab Muslim rebel who led the Libyan resistance against the Italian oppressors of Libya from 1911 to 1931. Curiously, Gaddafi had also used Mukhtar for his own propaganda, financing a 1981 motion picture starring Anthony Quinn and Oliver Reed and entitled The Lion of the Desert.

The movie takes place during the reign of Mussolini who wants to restore the Roman Empire in Africa. The Italians commit atrocities: the indiscriminate use of bombers and tanks to kill civilians, killing prisoners of war, destruction of crops, and placing whole populations behind barbed wire. Even so, Mukhtar fight him to a draw for 20 years. In the end, Mukhtar is captured and tried as a rebel and the film ends with Mukthar being executed by hanging.

The movie as excellent piece of Libyan propaganda and I must admit I bought a copy for my own library.

At the same time, the British seem to now agree with the French that Gaddafi can stay in Libya as long as he gives up all political power. British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, met his French counterpart, Alain Juppé, who was previously quoted:

One of the scenarios to resolve the conflict in Libya is that he stays in Libya on one condition; that he very clearly steps aside from Libyan political life.

One wonders why Gaddafi would accept such an offer when former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took a similar offer and was arrested soon afterwards. Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal were given a tentative date of 3 August 2011 for their trial.

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The Canadian CP-140 Aurora

On 29 July, it was reported that Canadian surveillance planes had joined the propaganda war in Libya. Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes recently started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. The two Aurora surveillance planes, with crews and support teams from Nova Scotia and British Columbia were initially tasked with monitoring the sea lanes around Libya to watch for ships trying to skirt the UN arms embargo.

The Canadian messages, in English, are read hourly during patrols along the Libyan coast over AM/FM frequencies that Libyans usually monitor. Some of the comments are:

For your safety return to your family and your home. The Gaddafi regime forces are violating United Nations resolution 1973.

The message goes on to urge Gaddafi's troops not to take part in further hostilities and not to harm their fellow countrymen.

The Libyans challenged the broadcasts, talking back on the radio and in one case calling the NATO broadcasters “Yankee pig-dogs.” And of course, the Libyans have attempted to jam the transmissions.

NATO official said about the broadcasts:

Since the start of operations NATO has been encouraging pro-Gaddafi forces to lay down their arms. The NATO mission is to prevent attacks and threats against civilians and we are doing it with care and precision. NATO will continue to keep up the pressure on those forces which are attacking or threatening civilians and civilian populated areas until that violence comes to an end.

On 1 August, the war in Libya continued to be stalemated. In rebel territory banners were seen with the head of Gaddafi placed between a Star of David, symbolizing Israel, and a swastika representing Nazism. The insurgents had some internal problems though. In local infighting, General Abdel Fattah Younes was murdered after being called back to Rebel headquarters. His family said the murder reeked of betrayal and conspiracy. The rebels did receive a financial boost when France announced it would place $259 million in unfrozen Libyan assets at the disposal of the Transitional National Council.

Meanwhile, Colonel Gaddafi called on tribes and soldiers in rebel-controlled areas to rise up and free their cities. He made the news by sending a letter of thanks to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez that said in part:

You know the magnitude of the conspiracy against my country. We hope to continue with the strength of that support.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez

The Venezuelan President, just back from chemotherapy treatment in Cuba, who never misses an opportunity to attack the United States, returned the favor in a televised address saying:

Long live Muammar Gaddafi!

Muammar Gaddafi allegedly asked President Hugo Chávez to help his regime sell crude oil through Venezuela in international markets, thus evading internationally imposed sanctions.

A week later on 7 August, nothing had changed. The war seems to have settled down and except for an occasional NATO bomb run over Tripoli, there is no news coming out of Libya. On the other hand, the Nigerians and scam artists have discovered the war and I received my first spam letter wanting to give me money.

Attention:I am contacting you because of the problem we are having in my country Libya. I am Aisha Mussa Ibrahim the daughter of Mussa Ibrahim, Libyan government spokesman, I am right now in West Africa, were I went as a refuge. My father Mussa Ibrahim has some huge amount of money outside Africa which he needs a foreign partner to secure the fund for investments in your country. If you are interested to assist us kindly get back to me for more details on how to proceed, which I will compensate you awesomely once you secured the fund. Yours sincerely Ms. Aisha Mussa Ibrahim.

On 8 August, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council sacked the 14-strong executive committee over the assassination last month of army commander General Abdel-Fatah Younes. They included several top ministers, including those responsible for finance, defense and information. Tensions within the opposition military have been apparent for some time, fuelled by rivalry between Younes and Khalifa Haftar, a popular opposition figure who returned from exile in the US.

Meanwhile, A spokesman for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government took foreign reporters to the scene of a NATO air strike, where he said that 85 civilians had been killed when missiles struck farm compounds in the village of Majar, about 90 miles east of Tripoli. He said the dead were 33 children, 32 women and 20 men. Standing on a pile of rubble, the spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said:

This is a crime beyond imagination. Everything about this place is civilian.

At a news conference in Brussels, a NATO military spokesman said the target of the strikes was a military staging area that was being used to support government attacks on civilians.

On 14 August Colonel Gaddafi appeared on television attacking both the rebels and the Western governments that supported them. He predicted a swift end for “the rats” and the “colonizers,” referring to the rebels and NATO. He said:

The end of the colonizer is close and the end of the rats is close. The rebels flee from one house to another before the masses who are chasing them.

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The Scud-B Missile on Transporter

The Libyan forces fired the first scud missile at the rebels. It is believed they have as many as 240 Scud-B missiles, purchased from the Soviet Union in 1976, although NATO believes that many were knocked out by the incessant bombing. The rebels hope that the use of the scud missile shows that the Gaddafi regime is nearing the end and playing his last cards.

Meanwhile, the Rebels advanced into Zawiya, a strategic city about 30 miles west of Tripoli. The capture of the city seemingly allows the rebels to cut off supplies to Gaddafi’s forces. NATO continued to strike Gaddafi’s forces. Since 31 March, its aircraft have conducted 18,884 sorties including 7,174 strike sorties. At the same time, Seventeen ships under NATO command patrol the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce the U.N. arms embargo. A total of 2,173 vessels have been hailed, 217 boarded and nine diverted since the start of the arms embargo.

On 16 August, Scott Taylor of the Chronicle Herald reported that:

On a fact-finding trip into Tripoli last week, I saw first-hand that Gadhafi has solidified his control over the capital and most of western Libya. Foreign diplomats still based in Tripoli confirmed to me that, since NATO started bombing, Gadhafi support and approval ratings have actually soared to about 85 per cent.

Of the 2,335 tribes in Libya, over 2,000 are still pledging their allegiance to the embattled president. At present, it is the gasoline shortage due to the embargo and lack of electricity from NATO’s bombing that are causing the most hardship to Libyans inside Gadhafi-controlled sectors. However, at present, the people still blame NATO — not Gadhafi — for the shortages. In an effort to combat that sentiment and to encourage a popular uprising against Gadhafi, NATO planes have taken to dropping leaflets in canisters over the streets of Tripoli.

Unfortunately for the NATO planning staff, the canisters are heavy enough to cause injury and damage roofs when they plummet to the ground. As for the messages on the leaflets, the Libyans are quite amused at the clumsy translations. On one such note, the intended slogan is meant to urge civilians to go forward and "embrace" the rebels. Instead, it translates to encourage Libyans to go out and "copulate" with the rebels.

Another NATO missive was intended to advise those living within Gadhafi’s sector to pack up and move to a rebel-occupied territory. This somehow became garbled into a request for citizens to relocate to a "possessed" (as in, by the devil) area of Libya.

Operation Unified Protector against Gaddafi forces in Libya has cost Britain Ł260 million to date.

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The Royal Air Force Tornado GR4

On 17 August, Virginia Wheeler writing in The Sun reported:

Gaddafi’s Mute Dog - RAF raid silences Libya dictator propaganda HQ

RAF jets have bombed Colonel Gaddafi's propaganda HQ to shut the Mad Dog's mouth. They targeted the Libyan dictator's “psychological warfare facility,” which mass-produced megaphones and leaflets. The propaganda base was being used to spread the despot's lies as he launches a last-ditch attempt to cling to power. Ministry of Defense spokesman Major General Nick Pope said last night: “Tornado GR4s successfully attacked a psychological warfare facility at Zlitan. The Royal Navy also took action there.” The strike happened hours after delusional Gaddafi urged Libyans to become martyrs and “defend their fatherland.”

Lieutenant General Friedrich W Ploeger, Deputy Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command, said in regard to “Airpower Lessons from Libya” that Gaddafi’s troops have learned to subvert the NATO airpower. They no longer wear uniforms and are more likely to be dressed in civilian clothes. They do not move forward in military vehicles, but tend to use civilian vehicles like pick-up trucks mounted with automatic weapons and artillery. This is done to make it more difficult for NATO aircraft to identify and target them.

On 20 August, the Libyan rebels advanced again and it began to look as if the Gaddafi regime was nearing its end. Rebels claimed to have taken Zawiyah and aid workers were preparing a mass evacuation of foreigners from Tripoli. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, Indians and sub-Saharan African migrants fled the country at the start of the fighting, but tens of thousands are thought to remain in Tripoli. Bitter fighting continued on the two main front lines near the capital, at Zawiyah 30 miles to the west of Tripoli and in Zlitan, 70 miles to the east, where the rebels have pushed out slowly from their enclave in Misrata. NATO dropped leaflets over Tripoli calling on residents to rise up against the regime, a clear attempt to discourage forces being redeployed away from the city.

On 21 August, the rebels claimed to be marching on Tripoli. The Daily Mail reported that explosions and gunfire rocked Tripoli as the rebels advanced. It claimed that opponents of the Libyan leader rose up in the capital and that Gaddafi, in a defiant message on state television, insisted an assault by “rats” had been repelled. He said in part:

Those rats ... were attacked by the masses tonight and we eliminated them. I know that there are air bombardments but the fireworks were louder than the sound of the bombs thrown by the aircraft.

What is amazing about this speech allegedly from Gaddafi’s secret bunker is that investigation determined that it was broadcast from Syria by a radio station owned by a controversial Iraqi once tied to the insurgency in Iraq. The al-Ourouba (Arabism) channel broadcast Gaddafi’s early morning outburst in which the Libyan leader vowed to fight back and called on Libyans to rush to the defense of their capital. Contacted in Damascus, former Iraqi Mishan al-Jibouri confirmed that he owned the station. He declined to say how he had obtained the speech but promised that his channel would be broadcasting more of Gaddafi’s remarks within the next few hours. Jibouri said he became a Gaddafi supporter after the NATO bombing campaign began. He added:

Western intervention in an Arab Muslim country must be resisted. We would do the same for any Arab country in that situation. We have our own ways, and we are helped by noble, honest Libyans inside Tripoli.

Libyan State Television showed Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam addressing a youth conference. A roomful of supporters broke into occasional chants and applause as he declared that the rebels would be defeated.

The revolt in Libya will not succeed. You will never see us as Libyans surrender and raise the white flag: that is impossible. This is our country and we will never leave it.

The Rebel push seems to be coming just in time. Paul Richter writing for the Tribune says in an article entitled “Air War Hanging by a Thread”:

The French and Italians have sent their aircraft carriers home. The British have withdrawn their spy plane.Canada is pulling out air crews. The Danes are running out of bombs, and the Norwegians have dropped out entirely…Members of NATO are scraping and scrounging to keep the five-month air campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime aloft long enough to get to the finish line.

On 22 August, the rebels were on the outskirts of Tripoli and felt that victory was within their grasp. A specially trained 1,000-man Tripoli Brigade led the attack. Divided into four battalions, the Brigade attacked from three directions with the mission of first defeating Colonel Gaddafi's troops, then to stand guard at public buildings and ancient sights. Preventing a Baghdad-style descent into chaos and looting is keenly felt by Libyan rebels who handed out leaflets calling for civilian cooperation. Outside Tripoli, volunteers handed out messages that said:

Keep your eyes open for people who want to disturb the peace.

We are going to show the world we can build a lawful and fair country. Please help us.

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Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

On 23 August, with a good deal of Tripoli in the hands of the rebels, Colonel Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi who had been reported under arrest the previous day appeared on Libyan TV and the streets with supporters and claimed that government forces would be victorious. He said:

I am here to refute the lies. Tripoli is under our control. Everyone should rest assured. All is well in Tripoli. The government has broken the spines of those rats and gangsters. To hell with the International Criminal Court.

It was later reported that the reports of Saif’s arrest was actually a black propaganda operation by the rebels. After the announcement, some 30 officers assigned to guard Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound thought defeat was eminent and laid down their arms, which allowed the rebels to take over the compound swiftly. In addition, 11 more countries sensing a rebel victory recognized the council. The rebel’s announcement lost them some credibility but the military victory made the operation worthwhile.

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NATO dropped leaflets on Tripoli calling on pro-Gaddafi fighters to lay down their weapons and join the rebels and warning people to stay at least three kilometers away from Gaddafi's compound in the south of the capital. The code number is: 2011L03E03PL205P(3.11). The front of the leaflet depicts a Coalition fighter-bomber targeting Libyan tanks and armored vehicles. The text on the front is:


Step away from military activities

The back is all text:

Officers, soldiers and regime fighters of great Libya. Many senior officers have already defected and followed their conscience. Stop being part of the fighting. Return to your family and serve your country by laying down your weapons, leaving your post and respecting the right of all Libyans to live in peace.

In what could be a last hurrah, pro-Gaddafi forces fired three Scud-type missiles from the area of Sirte, Col Gaddafi’s home toward the rebel-controlled city of Misrata.

On 27 August, while the rebels still searched for the elusive Colonel Gaddafi, NATO began dropping leaflets on African mercenaries he had hired to fight his war. The leaflets called for them to defect, and at the same time radio messages were broadcast saying they will be treated according to the laws of war. In March 2011, the BBC said that unidentified officials in Mali claimed the Tuareg were offered $10,000 to join the Libya government forces and a further $1,000 a day to fight. Western sources suggest that up to 10,000 Africans were recruited from countries including Sudan, Chad, Mali and Niger. Gaddafi had used the Taureg earlier. In the 1970s, Gaddafi created an Islamic Legion that was supposed to be a military force that would fight for a unified Islamic state in North Africa. The Legion was disbanded in the late 1980s.

Some wounded Gaddafi soldiers said that they had enlisted after being told on Libyan TV that their air force had defeated NATO and that the rebels were made up of foreigners and mercenaries. Some were lured to fight for a promised $150 a month. About two dozen Gaddafi soldiers with leg wounds were in a Tripoli hospital. One said that after he surrendered, rebels shot him and other Gaddafi fighters in their legs. He said:

I don’t really mind. It beats being killed.

On 28 August, the rebels took a page from the method used by the Coalition in the search for Iraqi war criminals during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the Iraq war, the Coalition produced leaflets and posters showing former Baathist members who were wanted. In Libya, lists were produced with the names of former members of Gaddafi’s regime. Drivers that were stopped at Rebel checkpoints were given a list of the ten most wanted Gaddafi loyalists. Meanwhile, the rebels claimed to have posted a one million dollar reward for the missing leader.

A woman who said she was Gaddafi's daughter Aisha, told loyalist television channel Al Orouba today that Libyans must unite against NATO and unite behind her father:

I tell the Libyan people to stand hand-in-hand against NATO. I tell the Libyan people not to fear the armed forces. The leader is in the right.

Colonel Gaddafi continued his defiance vowing that the fight against Libyan rebels would end in “death or victory.” He also claimed the withdrawal from his Tripoli fortress was merely a “tactical move.” He pledged to turn Libya into “volcanoes, lava and fire” - echoes of Saddam Hussein's parting shot in 1991 when he set fire to oil fields in Kuwait.

On 4 September 2011, the rebels continued to search for Gaddafi, believed to be in his home town of Sirte. They had originally given the loyalists four days to give up; then added another week to 10 September. The rebels continued to move toward Sirte and it is believed that Gaddafi followers were ready for a fight to the death there. Gaddafi continued to broadcast defiance from a Syrian TV station that also reported that NATO had dropped leaflets on Sirte calling on it to surrender, but that the young men of the city had burned the leaflets. The leaflets said:

Oh former leaders of Al-Qadhafi's regime in Sirte,

The rule of Al-Qadhafi's regime is over and he no long controls Libya. You have only one choice before you: continuing to fight or preserving the life of your soldiers before it is too late for you. Throw down your weapons and stop fighting. Abandon your equipment and your positions. The time has come for peace and reconciliation.

The Gaddafi government radio program Libya News said in part about these leaflets:

Mustafa Abd-al-Jalil, head of the council of NATO agents, has sent a threat to the sons of Sirte, who are resisting and entrenched in their city, perhaps thinking that they will worry, and lessen the resolve of the Libyan youth by dropping those desperate, threatening papers. NATO decided to shower the Libyans in Sirte with leaflets this morning demanding that the residents of the town surrender and threatening to kill them if they don't surrender. And they asked the leaders of the town to leave Sirte. So came the response of the young men in Sirte - gathering up, burning and tearing up was the fate of these leaflets, while the woman cried the pro-Qadhafi slogan: “Allah, and Muammar, and Libya, and that's all.

At the same time, documents found in Tripoli by the rebels allegedly showed close ties between Col Gaddafi's intelligence services and their US and UK counterparts in recent years. The CIA reportedly sent terror suspects to Libya for interrogation, while MI6 passed details of exiled Gaddafi opponents to Tripoli.

On 11 September 2011, as the United States commemorated the 10th anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the rebels finally attacked the Gaddafi forces. The rebels pushed 500 meters into the town of Bani Walid, but then retreated to allow NATO aircraft to strike seven positions held by the Gaddafi forces around the town. Near Sirte, NATO aircraft destroyed surface to air missile canisters, two tanks and two armed vehicles. The rebels claimed Gaddafi forces there had taken 300 residents to a village on the approach to the city as human shields and were using them to prevent further advance.

According to newspaper reports, the Colonel's son, Saadi Gaddafi, crossed into Niger and residents of the desert town of Agadez said they welcomed any "Muslim brother in danger." The Sunday Telegraph reported that the town of Tawarga, home to 10,000 civilians, had been emptied of its people, vandalized and partly burned by rebel forces in what appears to be the first major reprisal against supporters of the former regime.

On 12 September 2011, the N.Y. Times wrote about the Libyan women who were with the rebel forces. Some of the comments were:

In the Libyan rebels’ unlikely victory over Colonel Gaddafi, women did far more than send sons and husbands to the front. They hid fighters and cooked them meals. They sewed flags, collected money, contacted journalists. They ran guns and, in a few cases, used them. Aisha Gdour, a school psychologist, smuggled bullets in her brown leather handbag. Fatima Bredan, a hairdresser, tended wounded rebels. Hweida Shibadi, a family lawyer, helped NATO find airstrike targets. Nabila Abdelrahman Abu Ras helped organize Tripoli’s first lawyers’ demonstration in February and then, late in pregnancy, printed revolutionary leaflets that women tossed from speeding cars.

Curiously, there had been a minor debate about the mentioning of women fighting the war among the Libyan propagandists. Some thought that it would show the world the equality of the rebel force; others thought it might send the wrong message. One internal document says:

Given Gaddafi's Amazons visibility in the west, and to the risk of being perceived as “suicide widows” like in Chechnya or terrorists like in Colombia, I would not dwell on the fighting role of our women. For media purposes, I would suggest to add something akin to these points:

- Women are particularly vulnerable to the separation of family members and the suffering caused by the unknown fate of a missing relative, due to Gaddafi’s cruelty.

- Women must face and tackle the problem of the missing. As the large majority of those missing are men, it is often the women in a family who face the anguish of waiting for news of a missing husband or child. They are often the persons who take on the burden of trying to trace relatives, especially children, separated by the fighting.

- Women that have to deal with the consequences of war. In the absence of the man who is fallen, prisoner or absent, women have to ensure the family's day-to-day survival.

- After the armed conflict, women will play a key role in rebuilding our communities.

On 14 September, another false report, this one from The Telegraph reported that Saadi Gaddafi had flown to Nigeria in a military C-130 Hercules cargo plane and was living in luxurious lodgings in Villa Verde, a state guesthouse next to the presidential palace in Niamey, the capital of Nigeria. Gaddafi seems to have insured a safe haven by charitable acts. One Nigerian said:

We have all this because of Gaddafi. He built the wells and the irrigation pumps all along the river. Our cooperative would not exist without him. In the last three years he has met all our costs. He's done more for us than our own government or foreigners.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, sounding like Saddam Hussein’s old spokesman “Baghdad Bob” told Reuters:

The leader is in good health; in high morale ... of course he is in Libya. The fight is as far away from the end as the world can imagine. We are still very powerful; our army is still powerful, we have thousands upon thousands of volunteers. We have huge areas of Libya under our control -- on the northern coast, in the western areas of the country and the whole south belongs to us. We are gathering our forces and we will liberate every single Libyan.

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Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil speaks at The United Nations

On 16 September, the National Transitional Council was granted the Libyan seat in the United Nations General Assembly. That same afternoon, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution lifting some sanctions and easing others in an effort to help the Libya as it moves into its new era. The rebels, after a wait of almost two weeks, attacked the Gaddafi strongholds of Bani Walid, Sabha and Sirte.

On 18 September, the rebel National Transitional Council was to announce the formation of a new interim government late Sunday but the announcement was delayed, apparently due to in-fighting and differences over who would be named to what position.

On 19 September, the rebels continued their attack on Gaddafi strongholds of Bani Walid, Sabha and Sirte. They expected an easy victory. They were turned back in all the battles and it became clear that there would be no sudden collapse of the loyalist forces. NATO heavily bombed the loyalist forces. Moussa Ibrahim, a Gaddafi spokesman telephoned a news agency to claim that NATO airstrikes on Sirte had killed 357 civilians overnight.

On 20 September, A spokesman for Colonel Gaddafi claimed that 17 “mercenaries,” including what he called French and British “technical experts” had been captured in the Gaddafi bastion of Bani Walid in Libya. It is believed that western Special Forces are in Libya to aid anti-Gaddafi officials during the conflict. Private security firms have also been helping anti-Gaddafi forces, according to Western media reports.

Speaking to Syrian TV, Moussa Ibrahim claimed that the visit of British leader David Cameron and French leader Nicholas Sarkozy was to make a deal for Libyan oil. He said in part:

They were worried that America and other countries might race before them to harvest Libyan resources. The battle is so far from being over. We are still capable of continuing resistance and jihad. We are still able to win. I say this and I know why we can win.

On 22 September, military forces loyal to the country's National Transitional Council found a storage site not far from Sabha in the Sahara desert. There were two warehouses containing thousands of blue barrels marked with tape saying “radioactive,” and two or three plastic bags of yellow powder sealed with the same tape. The material has not been confirmed as being radioactive, but in 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the Libyan government had yellowcake stored in Sabha. Yellowcake is processed uranium ore that can, after extensive refining, be used to produce enriched uranium for nuclear purposes.

At the same time, the U.S. ambassador Gene Cretz returned to work in Libya, raising the U.S. flag over a re-opened embassy. He pledged support for Libya's transitional government and said he expected the last Gadhafi loyalists to lay down their arms soon.

As the civil war continued to drag on, the Nigerian scammers continued to use Libya as a theme. I received my second offer of easy money, this allegedly from Gaddafi’s son:

Dear Friend,

I need your assistance. My name is Al-Saadi Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi from the Federal Republic of Libya. I am seeking your assistance to help me process the claim of my funds worth $15.5 Million US Dollars which is currently deposited in a diplomatic security company in the United Kingdom. I want you to take this issue as a top secret between me and you following the present problem my father is facing regarding Political and Economic issues.

Yours Sincerely,

Al-Saadi Gaddafi

By 29 September, things were very quiet in Libya. Gaddafi was still on the run and the rebel government was unable to find him or occupy his last few strongholds. Libya's new rulers believe that he may be hiding in the southern desert, possibly in a vast area near the Algerian border, under the protection of ethnic Tuareg fighters. His son, Saif al-Islam, was believed to be in Bani Walid. Another son, Mutassem, was thought to be in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. There were reports that the transitional government has disseminated new leaflets offering a two million dollar reward for Gadhafi or his son Saif.

There was no further news from Libya until 16 October when it was reported by the Associated Press that the revolutionary government was tearing down the walls surrounding Muammar Gaddafi's main Tripoli compound, Bab al-Aziziya. They said that it was time "to tear down this symbol of tyranny" and planned to turn the space into a public park. The Bab al-Aziziya compound was a mystery to most Libyans; no streets signs indicated where it was. Many Tripoli residents said they wouldn't even walk nearby; fearing security guards on the compound's high green walls would get suspicious and arrest or shoot them.

Meanwhile, revolutionary forces claimed to have squeezed Gaddafi loyalists into one main district in Sirte after weeks of fighting. They said that the loyalist troops were cornered in a 700 by 900 meter area. There were also internal arguments over the looting of buildings, including the airport and houses in Sirte. The AP reported trucks carting off tractors, industrial generators and heavy machinery on the road from Sirte to nearby Misrata. Trucks also carried off equipment from Sirte's airport, including red-carpeted mobile staircases, baggage carts, airplane towing vehicles and security screening equipment, all apparently meant for Misrata's badly damaged airport. Smaller pickups were loaded with rugs, freezers, refrigerators, furniture and other household goods, apparently taken by civilians and fighters to be used in their homes or resold.

On the propaganda front, revolutionary forces distributed leaflets at checkpoints leading into the city that read:

Dear Muslims, avoid God's wrath. Do not steal from people's homes, their cars, or take their personal possessions.

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Colonel Gaddafi’s last photograph

On 20 October the transitional government claimed to have finally killed Colonel Gaddafi. It was reported that after rebels had finally taken the town of Sirte, Gaddafi was in an 80-car convoy attempting to escape when he was attacked by a U.S. Predator drone and a French fighter jet. Gadhafi was wounded in both legs and his head. He apparently then made his way to a large concrete drainage pipe where he hid until rebel fighters found him. One claimed that Gaddafi shouted “Don't shoot, don't shoot,” when he was caught. He was pulled out alive placed on the hood of an automobile and drove him on display through the crowds. His last words were:

What you're doing is wrong, guys. What you're doing is wrong. Do you know what is right or wrong? What are you doing? It's forbidden. It's not allowed in Islamic law. What you are doing is forbidden in Islam.

Hundreds of shots were fired during the victory celebration and it appears that Gaddafi was killed by rebels shortly afterwards. A Transitional Council spokesman tried to deflect blame by claiming that the Colonel was killed in a crossfire between loyalist and rebel troops. The bloodied body of the ousted leader was first placed on a mattress in a shopping center in Misrata. His body showed bruises and bullet wounds to the chest and the temple. It was then placed in a commercial freezer in a Misrata market.

The U.N. called for an investigation into the circumstances of Gaddafi's death:

We believe there is a need for an investigation. More details are needed to ascertain whether he was killed in some form of fighting or was executed after his capture.

By 30 October Gaddafi was dead for over a week and secretly buried somewhere in the desert so that his gravesite would not become a monument to his followers.

The International Criminal Court reported that intermediaries had been used in indirect talks with Saif al-Islam, the presumed successor to Colonel Gaddafi, who has been in hiding for months. The ICC has no idea where Saif is, although Niger and Zimbabwe have been suggested. The ICC arrest warrant issued in June accused him of murder and persecution. The document claims that he played an essential part in the systematic attacks on civilians in various Libyan cities carried out by Gaddafi's security forces in February, 2011.

In what may be the strangest result of the Libyan revolution, 200 North Koreans who had worked in Libya were refused the right to return to their country because the Communist leaders were apparently afraid that they would tell others of the freedom movement and the overthrow of the Libyan dictator. South Korea's Yonhap news agency stated that North Korea has also taken similar steps for its officials in Libya, Egypt and other countries. Refugees and other South Korean activists in recent months have floated leaflets across the border containing news of the Arab revolts and calls for an uprising against leader Kim Jong-Il.

On 20 November 2011, Saif al-Islam, the British-educated 39-year-old son and heir apparent to Colonel Gaddafi, was captured in the Libyan Desert near Zintan by revolutionary fighters. There had been numerous reports of him being safe in neighboring friendly countries, but apparently he had been hiding in Libya since his father’s death. The last vestiges of the Gaddafi regime have now been erased from Libya.

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“Arab Spring” revolutions leaflet

Two months after Colonel Gaddafi’s death his story and photograph was still being used for propaganda purposes. After the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, a Coalition of 42 human rights groups banded together to send ten propaganda balloons to Communist North Korea from South Korea on 21 December 2011. The balloons contained hundreds of thousands of leaflets with news of the “Arab Spring” revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The leaflets feature Kim Jong Il, Libya's Moammar Gaddafi and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. The leaflets described Gaddafi’s gruesome death and said in part:

Kim Jong Il descended into hell.

Rise up people. Fight bravely like the Africans to end the third-generation succession.


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Robert M. Gates

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates mentioned in a 25 May 2011 Virginia speech that at the time Libya was heavily involved with terrorism and the US was preparing to bomb that nation the subject of propaganda leaflets was brought up.:

This has been a good month for the intelligence community. And while operations have gotten a lot of attention lately – and rightly so – we analysts still have our place. One of the lessons I took from my years at CIA was to take a hard look at what appear to be clever or elegant operations – the kind that supposedly can’t go wrong. When I was deputy DCI in the 1980s, I was briefed on a plan to launch balloons into Libya dropping leaflets telling the people to overthrow the government. I told them to make sure the leaflets specifically said that it was Qaddafi they were to overthrow. I could imagine strong westerly winds carrying balloons with a generic “overthrow your government” right across Libya and into Egypt. I thought President Mubarak would not be pleased.

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Rise Up…

Posters started to appear in Libya early during the war. This poster was produced by the Libyan Youth Movement and says:

Rise Up
17 Feb 2006
Libya Martyrs Day
Long live the fight of Libyan people
To topple the dictatorship
Glory to our blessed martyrs

I would like to think that in some very minor way I help shaped Libyan independence propaganda. Back in February, 2011, I received an Email from Luca Venturi, an old friend I knew from an earlier war in the same area of operations:

For your information, I've just been appointed Chief Press Officer of the Democratic Libya Information Bureau of the Citizens for a Democratic Libya.

I did not understand exactly why I received this letter until I realized that the press officer was a gentleman I knew from an earlier war in the same area of operations. We continued correspondence and he mentioned that the Libyans had liberated the whole of Cyrenaica and were fighting for Tripolitania against the Army and mercenaries from Niger, Chad, Liberia and Zimbabwe. He said that rumors mentioned Gaddafi using pilots from Serbia and Belarus. On the bright side, he was happy to say that the International Committee of the Red Cross had entered Libya to provide all the needed medical assistance to their people. We discussed the meaning of the American fleet movement off the coast of Libya and what action it might take.

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Propaganda Posters

When he wondered what could be done to bring America more personally into the battle I told him that they needed citizens holding patriotic propaganda signs (photo opportunities) that could be depicted on American TV, and they must be in English. A few days later it was reported that Libyans were seen holding up the following signs:

Libyan-Americans for freedom

Free Tripoli

The defeat of Gaddafi is a victory for the world    

In Libya the Free World is at stake

Our brothers in Tripoli; resist!   Freedom will prevail

Free Libya now!       

Gaddafi is bombing your own future

Your car hates Gaddafi              Gaddafi is bombing you

Bring freedom to the world   

Free Tripoli now!

The defeat of Gaddafi is a victory for Europe   War of deceit

No more room for traitors in Tripoli 

Be strong Libya

He sent me a letter that was sent to the press by the movement. It featured the new Libyan flag at the top and said in part:

We need to make clear and send an assuring message that Libya has people that can transform the country into a FREE DEMOCRATIC STATE. The world will have a better government to deal with. A government which will ensure that oil keeps flowing, their interests secure, a better administration, a working society that is built on the acceptance of individual opinions and all religious faiths, where no human is denied his fundamental human rights. It is in the interest of Democratic Libya to secure the flow of oil. European shores will be free of both African and Libyan migrants because the new Libya will be a place where they can live and prosper just like any other human being on the face of the Earth.

We request that you promote our demands as widely as possible to ensure that positive, coordinated, cohesive and appropriate messages are communicated to and by national governments, institutions, media and commentators. The genocide currently being committed against the citizens of Libya, the destabilization of the international community and the destruction of the country must stop immediately…

The communication function of the Citizens for a Democratic Libya is undertaken through the “Democratic Libya Information Bureau”. This media center will issue daily communications to international journalists covering developments on the ground in Libya, and be positioned to answer questions posed with as much fact and as little bias as possible. It will be the primary provider of accurate, insightful and up to date information to the maximum extent possible in what is an increasingly difficult environment…

Returning to the subject of signs: He later sent me a list of further signs that were prepared and disseminated. Some of them were:


(France with us, we are with France)

(Thank you! France taught us Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and the Resistance against dictatorship)

The movement often used French sayings because France was the first European and Western country to recognize the Libyan Interim National Council and to support military operations. Also, French is very widely spoken in North and Saharan Africa, and in Europe. The word “Resistance” in the sign refers to the French résistance against the German Nazi occupation of France in WW2. The Résistance epic is still very much alive in France and widely celebrated in ceremonies, parades, and reenactments and implies resisting in arms to a dictatorial army of occupations.

Luca added:

You may also notice that all our Democratic Libya Information Bureau signs have a simple, yet distinctive design and are printed on rigid cardboard in bold black font, to ensure a good readability. I wrote the Libya signs and they were then approved by the Democratic Libya Information Bureau Committee from Switzerland, UK, Libya, Italy and Brazil and e-mailed to Benghazi where they were printed locally.

On 16 May 2011 the first report of leaflets being dropped on Libya surfaced.

On 17 May 2011, an Italian Air Force C-130J dropped about 400,000 leaflets over Tripoli, Libya. The text of the message was:

Libya is one and its capital is Tripoli. Today we ask you to join us and to make the right and wise decision. Join our revolution. Let’s take Libya away from Gaddafi. A unified, free, democratic Libya.

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Italian F-16

The mission was planned by the Comando Operativo di vertice Interforze or Italian Joint Operative Command. The airdrop took place from 20,000 feet. The leaflets took up to 3 hours to touch the ground in Tripoli and surrounding areas. The PSYOP sortie was an Italian mission, not part of the NATO mission. This is important because we know that NATO dropped 20 different leaflets on Libya. If this was an Italian mission and not under NATO supervision, then we must assume there is a 21st Italian-made leaflet out there somewhere. 

More is mentioned about this mission in The Aviationist, 18 May 2011. David Cenciotti adds:

An Italian Air Force C-130J departed from Pisa airbase and dropped about 400.000 leaflets over Tripoli, Libya...The leaflets contained a message addressed to the Libyan people directly from the National Transition Council that had asked Italy to deliver it to counter Gaddafi’s regime propaganda in Libya’s capitalcity…

The PSYOPS sortie was an Italian mission, not part of Unified Protector, even if NATO was obviously informed about the operation and supported it…This was the first time that the Italian Air Force performed a PSYOP mission dropping leaflets over a foreign capital since the 1918 raid over Vienna by Gabriele D’Annunzio on 9 August 1918.

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Combined PSYOP Support Element Insignia – Pesaro – Italy

In December 2017, Stefano Scalabroni wrote and said that at that time he was the commanding officer of the PSYOP Support Element for Operation Unified Protector. The PSYOP Element developed 52 different types of leaflets and produced 13,816,000 leaflets in total. Furthermore CPSE developed 58 radio products.

British researcher Lee Richards received 47 transcripts of Allied propaganda radio broadcasts after a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The full file can be found on Psywar.Org. I will show four of the more interesting broadcasts here.

Product number: LY11J02eeRD0005:

Libyan Soldiers, the free people of Libya cry out for your help. Stop the violence against your own people and help the coalition bring the peace that the people of Libya deserve. The Qadhafi Regime is violating the United Nations Security Council resolution ordering the end of hostilities in your country. End the pain and suffering of your country. The men you are fighting could be one of your family. The man you are shooting at may be your brother. Your leaders are committing atrocities against your people. Libyan soldiers, demand peace from your leaders. Leave the city of Misrata now! Tune in and listen to Frequency 100.6FM for news and further information.

Product number: LY11J02eeTC0004:

For your safety, do not engage with coalition forces, lay down your arms and return home. By engaging with Coalition Forces you ore violating a UN resolution ordering the end of hostilities by the Government of Libya against its people. Any aggressive actions taken by you or those around you may be met with deadly force.

Product number: LY11J11jbTC0001:

Radar operators: In order for coalition forces to provide you the most effective protection using our military aircraft, we need you to turn off your early warning radar, and take your anti-aircraft missiles off the rails. We cannot operate effectively with these systems in full operation. If you do not turn off your early warning radars or take your missiles off the rails, they are in danger of being destroyed. For your safety and ours, turn off your warning radar and remove your missiles from the launcher.

Product number: LY11O06eeTC0002:

Attention Qadhafi Regime Soldiers in vicinity of Misratah, this will be your only warning. Coalition forces are prepared to attack you. Follow these instructions or face certain destruction: Move all tanks and combat vehicles to the airfield at Bi'r Dufan (31 58N 14 36E). You must move in a single line. Position all weapon systems facing to the rear of the vehicle, weapon systems must be elevated to the highest (maximum) position (to the sky). Once you have arrived at the airfield, park your vehicles on-line (abreast). Failure to follow these instructions will result in your destruction. Coalition forces will destroy any unit found in violation of UN Resolution 1973.

Between 6 May and 30 Sep 2011 Operation Unified Protector Combined Forces Air Component aircraft flew 39 leaflet drop missions delivering a total of 104 PDU-5/B leaflet dispenser units (almost 9 million leaflets dropped). 15 target locations were used extending from Brega in the east to Zuwarah in the west and as far south as Hun city.

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Monthly Leaflet Output

Combined PSYOP Support Element leaflets output between March and the end of October 2011, compared with the output of other PSYOP organizations acting in support of the Operation Unified Protector Headquarters. CPSE joined the operation on 13 June so some other products were prepared earlier.

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JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin)

There is an unconfirmed report that the Swedes also took part in psychological operations in Libya. The Swedish Air Force sent eight JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin) jets for the international air campaign on 2 April 2011, after being asked by NATO to take part in the operations. Sweden also sent a Saab 340 AEW&C for airborne early warning and control and a C-130 Hercules for aerial refueling. Most of the Swedish contribution of around 130 people come from the Expeditionary Air Wing who have been on standby for the Nordic Battle Group, which consists of about 110 people. The group is complemented by 20 specialist staff. Sweden was the only country neither a member of NATO nor the Arab League to participate in the no-fly zone. The Swedish aircraft deployed to Sigonella, Italy, and flew their first mission on 7 April upon reaching operational capability.

In March of 2017, I received information that the Swedish PSYOP unit played an important role in the war against Libya, managing a radio station and producing about 1,000,000 propaganda leaflets. There is no confirmation for this information.

We do know that the Swedes had the ability to perform such tasks. In a 2007 Swedish Armed Forces report, their Ft. Bragg-trained PSYOP commander Anders Johansson said:

We don’t have our own equipment for TV broadcasts, but in other respects, we can do almost everything, distribute flyers, print newspapers and posters, transmit radio broadcasts from our own radio station and make announcement via loudspeakers.

The Air Force Commander, Brigadier General Karl Engelbrektson, said basically the same thing at the same time:

PSYOP: psychological operations, a separate unit which is part of the Nordic Battle Group can produce everything from leaflets to radio transmissions, directed both to warring forces and the general public.

When I asked someone knowledgeable about the Swedish contingent he said:

The Swedish 10th PSYOPS unit did play an important role in the Libyan Campaign. A small unit comprising Dutch, British, Italian and Swedes fought a great little campaign ensuring leaflets and radio messaging found their target audiences and kept civilians away from NATO airstrikes.

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Help has Arrived!

There also seems to be at least one U.S. leaflet prepared for Libya. The code is LY11H01IILF0001. This code is very much like the broadcast codes (see below) used for the Commando Solo flights, so we assume that before the PSYOP Mission was given to NATO, the U.S. expected to be dropping leaflets. “LY” indicates Libya, “11” indicates 2011 and “LF” would seem to indicate leaflet. I am sure this leaflet was never dropped. This leaflet was found by British researcher Lee Richards after a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Government.

The front depicts smiling Libyans holding a giant Libyan flag and the text:

Help has arrived!

Spread the word amongst all who will listen and tell all that the coalition forces are conducting military operations in order to bring the peace that the people deserve.

The back is a message to the people of Benghazi telling them UN and coalition forces are conducting a “No-Fly Zone” over Libya to bring peace. The no-fly zone commenced about 17 March and I would assume that this leaflet was prepared at about that time since very soon afterwards coalition aircraft were attacking Libyan forces on the ground.

About a year after I uploaded this article Nolan Kraszkiewicz mentioned the NATO leaflets in his blog: He points out that there is a very long leaflet code of 17 letters and numerals. He adds that all the leaflets bear the NATO symbol and the address “”  When a few us had first seen that long code number we tried to take it apart and decided there might be about 80 different leaflets. Nolan says that he received his leaflets from a United States Air Force Captain who told them there were exactly 20 different leaflets. Nolan was kind enough to send a few images from his collection as did my pal from “down under,” Australian Andrew Chaney. My sincere thanks for sharing to both of them.

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An F-16 equipped with the PDU-5/B Leaflet Bomb over Libya

A word about dissemination. We don’t know all the Allied aircraft that dropped leaflets in Libya, but a United States Air Force photograph was captioned:

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, equipped with a product dispenser unit-5 leaflet bomb, from the 20th Fighter Wing patrols the sky over Libya during Operation Unified Protector. The 20th Fighter Wing had the unique role of dropping leaflet bombs to give NATO messages for the safety of Libyan civilians.

The “product dispenser unit 5 leaflet bomb” is in fact the PDU-5/B Leaflet bomb, often identified as an “aircraft-deployed leaflet dispenser unit.” Senior Airman Daniel Phelps mentions the leaflets missions in Air Force Print News Today – 16 February 2012:

The 20th FW dropped more than 40 product dispenser unit-5s containing more than 50,000 leaflets each, contributing to NATO's psychological operations.

"We were heavily engaged in the “PSYOP game,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Vargas, 77th Fighter Squadron commander. “We would watch CNN and see people holding up the leaflets dropped by us that caused some of the Libyan regime fighters to defect.”

“Leaflet bombs have been dropped by F-16s before,” said U.S. Air Force Colonel Charlie Moore, 20th Fighter Wing commander. “But none of our pilots currently here have ever dropped them before. It was a unique thing trying to figure out how to do it: making, loading and dropping them.”

U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant. Brian Beaty, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions flight, was the Shaw AFB lead on building the PDUs. The process to making a PDU was long and sometimes stressful, Beaty said. It took about three hours to do it with a six-man team. The hardest part was rolling the leaflets because there were so many and it took a while. “We'd have leaflet parties where a bunch of us would get together and roll them,” he added.

The article above credits the Shaw airmen for the bomb loading, but other sources told me that U.S. airmen stationed at Aviano Air Base also took part in both the bomb loading and the aerial dissemination. One pointed out that there were aircraft from the U.S. Marine Corps and even the nation of Jordan at in the operation. Remember, he was stationed at Aviano and did not know what was going on at other bases. He said:

The Jordanians flew few missions and the Marine F-18s were a very small unit. The Jordanians were at Aviano to show the world they were part of the NATO mission but not once did they fly with any weapons and were on the tarmac 90% of the time. It seemed to me to be solely a U.S. and French mission with more U.S. jets flying than all the other countries combined. The French were not at Aviano and were flying from another base. If Italy was involved they flew out of somewhere else [We know that was Pisa Air Base]. It was called a NATO mission but 99% of all the leaflet drops from Aviano were from the U.S. aircraft. The U.S. Navy was in the Mediterranean also flying operations. After the mission was completed we had to destroy what was left by burning.

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PDU-5/B leaflet bomb

There were apparently a number of problems involved in the leafleting of Libya. I spoke to a number of USAF and Army officers and each told me a small part of the operation. Putting all their comments together I came up with a list of the difficulties:

1. Lack of the PDU-5/B leaflet bombs. Apparently there was no great stock of them in Italy and I understand that only a very few were found. In addition, in one case a bomb full of leaflets accidently fell into the ocean.

2. Lack of a PSYOP printing press. They had one in Italy but apparently it was old, rusty, and missing some parts. I was told that the leaflets were printed by two sailors assigned to PSYOP on a U.S. Navy ship that had printing capabilities. Although I have no proof, I suspect that the leaflets were designed at Ft. Bragg and then sent electronically to the Navy. Although we know that there are printing presses on a number of Navy ships, in general when I speak to Navy spokesmen, they imply that they have no PSYOP force or capability. I think what they mean is that they do not have the writers and artists the Army has at Ft. Bragg or a way to smoothly mesh with the larger PSYOP community. However, they do have the ability to print leaflets and broadcast radio messages.

3. Difficulty in getting access to high-performance jet aircraft to drop the leaflets. When the Americans have control of the air, leaflets can be dropped by C-130s or B-52s. In this case I suspect they wanted no American losses over Libya so the leaflets had to be dropped by high-speed fighter aircraft difficult to bring down by anti-aircraft fire if American aircraft were assigned the mission. We know that in at least one case an Italian C-130 was used.

4. There was a time constraint placed on the leaflets. American President Barack Obama was scheduled to give a speech on Libya and I was informed by some military personnel that the leafleting had to be completed before the speech. The term used was "Drop-dead deadline"

The Rand Reports mentions an error in dissemination that stopped an attack:

In mid-June, errant PSYOP leaflets bearing the picture of an attacking Apache helicopter fell directly on opposition forces in Dafniya when they were clearly meant for Qaddafi forces based in neighboring Zlitan. The opposition reportedly had halted its advance, pulling back from their positions 10 kilometers east of Zlitan. A young field commander whom Reuters interviewed wondered, “Qaddafi’s forces are far away. Is it logical that NATO has no idea we took those positions?” A fighter further west radioed in: “They dropped the leaflets right on us.” At the command post, the opposition leader wondered, “Do I go back or do I go forward? Is the leaflet for Qaddafi or for us?”

No Libya leaflets appeared on the market for over two years. In December 2013, some of the NATO leaflets were offered for sale for the first time. This was quite amazing since usually leaflets from a specific war are offered while the bullets are still flying. NATO apparently ran a tight ship. In this case the owner was a former Air Force member who told me:

I was part of the operation and assembled the leaflet bombs. Later, we burnt the thousands and thousands that we had left over from the operation. I asked my commander for some samples and he approved the request. Only about 30 U.S. Air Force personnel were allowed to take some leaflets as souvenirs and the rest were either airdropped or destroyed.

One of the leaflets dropped near Tripoli pictured a United States Predator drone at the right and a targeted Libyan tank at the left. This leaflet coded 2011L02E03PL0085P features the NATO insignia at the lower right two lines of text at the top:

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The Drone Leaflet

NATO air forces have imposed a no-fly zone for the sake of protecting Libyan civilians.

The back depicts a Libyan tank being targeted for destruction and two lines of text:

NATO air forces are able to attack at any time in any place.

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Drone Leaflet (type II)

There are two versions of this leaflet. In the second version there is just one word above the drone and the code number 2011L03E03PL0077P:


You are no match for NATO’s superior weapons and airpower. Continuing to man your posts and equipment will result in your death.

The back of the leaflet depicts the same Libyan tank, and a total of five lines of text:


For your safety, abandon your post and equipment and return home to your families. Stop the attacks against Libyan civilians or you WILL BE DESTROYED

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Go Far Away...

Another leaflet depicts a Libya civilian and his two sons walking past a destroyed armored personnel carrier. The code number is 2011L03E01PL0038P. The text is:

Go far away from the places of fighting.

The back is all text.

To return Libya to peace, return to your house and stay there, do not continue fighting.

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NATO Unified Protector Symbol

I should point out that I have also seen this leaflet with an “Operation Unified Protector” symbol in place of the usual NATO symbol. We do not know how many leaflets were printed with this variation of the NATO symbol.

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Colonel Gaddafi…

A second leaflet depicted Gaddafi at the right and Libyan citizens near a bomb blast at the left. The code number is: 2011L03E03PL0084P. The text is:

Colonel Gaddafi’s orders to attack civilians are illegal and as a result he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

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The back of the leaflet depicted Libyan Army troops on parade.

Professional soldiers don’t attack civilians. Carrying out any illegal orders are in direct violation of international laws. Do not bring dishonor on to yourselves and your families.

The leaflet has a problem. It is wrong. At the time of dissemination Gaddafi had not been indicted. The prosecutor has requested an indictment, which is issued by a panel of judges, but at the time the leaflet was dropped no such indictment had been brought forward.

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Libyan rebels examine leaflet

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When you see these helicopters…

On 14 June, there was a report of an errant NATO leaflet drop that caused the Libyan rebels to retreat.They had been advancing all week and seized the town of Kikla, 90 miles southwest of Tripoli, and pushed several miles to the outskirts of government-held Zlitan. However, an errant NATO leaflet drop warning of helicopter strikes prompted some rebels to retreat from their newly captured positions outside Zlitan. The rebel commander complained that the leaflets were dropped on his troops and wondered if NATO had any idea what was happening on the ground. Rebels elsewhere in Libya have complained of poor coordination with NATO. In the Western Mountains, Rebel commanders complain they have no direct contact with NATO but have to call in coordinates and appeal for air strikes through the rebel leaders in Benghazi. This leaflet is coded 2011L02E03PL01549.

The leaflet depicted a picture of an Apache attack helicopter and a burning tank on one side and the helicopter without tank on the other. The side with the burning tank had the text:

There is no place to hide. There is still time to cease fighting. If you continue to threaten civilians then you will be subject to destruction.

The side without the burning tank had the text:

The forces of NATO will undertake all the necessary steps to destroy the war machinery that threaten civilians. Stop and distance yourself from the fighting now or when you see this helicopter the time will have passed.

There is an error version of this leaflet that I do not believe was disseminated. It is almost identical to the disseminated helicopter leaflet, but it depicts the burning tank and identical text (“There is no place to hide…” as above) on both sides. It has been identified as a “misprint.” The Arabic text seems the same to me, but I do see a dash at the right of one line of text and perhaps that changes the meaning in some way. Or, perhaps NATO did not intend for the same text and image to be on both sides.

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Stop Fighting your Countrymen

One more NATO leaflet was dropped toward the end of July 2011. This leaflet depicts victorious rebels, and a crowd inside a map of Libya. The text is:

Stop fighting your countrymen. You are fighting your Libyan brothers.

Libya is one. Our people are one.

The back of the leaflet depicts Gaddafi troops with weapons covered by an “X" and bloody handprints. The text is:

Cease fighting and move Libya toward peace and development.

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Non-Libyan Fighters…

One of the more interesting leaflets depicts a Libyan banknote on fire. Text on the front of the note is:

Non-Libyan fighters, this is the only money you will receive for continuing to endanger Libyan citizens.

There are at least two different propaganda texts know with this note. They are in French as well as Arabic text on the back. The text on the back of two of the leaflets is:

1 - To all non-Libyan fighters in Tripoli! You have been involved in violent acts against innocent Libyan civilians. NATO has the means and capabilities to implement the United Nations mandate to protect civilians and civilian populated areas. NATO is determined to use its capabilities against any threat. Leave this country now!

2 - Strangers! You, who are fighting in Brega; you have been involved in violence against harmless Libyans.Be aware that NATO is working tirelessly to stand up against those who threaten civilians and their homes. Leave Libya now

The code number of the Arabic language leaflet is 2011L02E03PL196(2.12). The code number of the French language leaflets is “To all non-Libyan fighters” 2011L02E03PL196P(2.12) and 2011L02E03PL196.2P(2.12). There are very minor differences in the printing of the two versions. The French language leaflet “Strangers” seems to exist with just one code number: 2011L02E03PL196.1P(2.12).

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Libya 1 Dinar Banknote of 2002

The actual banknote depicted in the leaflet would seem to be the Libya 1 dinar of 2002 depicting Colonel Gaddafi on the front and the Mawlai Mosque on the back.

The code number of the Arabic language leaflet is 2011L02E03PL196(2.12)

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Stop Tearing Libya Apart

This leaflet depicts a Libyan soldier on the front, split down the middle to show a government soldier on one side and a rebel on the other. Behind the soldier is a tank, behind the rebel an armed truck (sometimes called a “technical”) and armed fighters. NATO symbols appear at the lower left and right. The text on the front is:

Stop Tearing Libya Apart

One Libya, one people

The back of the leaflet bears a propaganda message and the code number 2011L03E03PL0177P(3.14). The text on the back is:

Soldiers committing crimes against humanity will be held accountable by the international community. Gaddafi has been indicted by the International Criminal Court. Will you share a prison cell with him? Who will support your family? Make a choice before it is too late – peace and future prosperity or continued war and further death and destruction.

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Gaddafi Fist

Another leaflet depicts Libyan rebels standing on a statue of a Libyan hand destroying American aircraft. This gold-colored monument was commissioned by Colonel Gaddafi following the 1986 bombing of Libya by United States aircraft. On 23 August, at the height of the Battle of Tripoli, rebels breached the Bab al-Azizia compound and rebels gathered around the statue, with one fighter climbing onto it. There are two versions of this leaflet. In the first, the back is all text. In the second, the same image is depicted on both sides of the leaflet. The code number is of the one sided leaflet is 2011L03E03PL301P (3.18). The code of the two-sided leaflet is: 2011L03E03PL285P(3.18).

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Gaddafi by his Monument

On 27 August, the fist was reportedly pulled down by rebel forces. The text the first version of the leaflet is:

Sirte has fallen. Do you know what’s happening in Libya? The Gaddafi regime no longer rules. The Transitional National Council has become the recognized authority and its flag flutters now high above the Headquarters of the UN. This is the true situation in Libya now. The town of Sirte has fallen. And so has been liberated Benghazi, Misurata, Tobruk, Ajdabia, Zintan, Zuwara, Gharyan, Tarhouna, Ghadames, Zliten, Khums, Zawia, Brega, Ras Lanuf, Jufra, Waddan, Hun, Sukna and Sebha. The capital Tripoli is in the hand of the National Transitional Council.

The text on the back is:

Sirte has fallen so stop fighting now. Join with the new Libya for a prosperous and peaceful future. Why are you fighting for a man that sent your family outside of Libya and at the same time waits for you to die for him? He does not deserve your salvation and he does not deserve you sacrificing your lives.

There is a second variation of this leaflet with the same message on the front but a different message on the back.

Stop fighting and join the new Libya for a prosperous and peaceful future. Why are you fighting for a man that sent his family outside of Libya and at the same time waits for you to die for him in the dust? He does not deserve your salvation and he does not deserve you sacrificing your lives. Libya is one and its people are one.

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NATO Radio

Another leaflet asks the Libyans to listen to NATO radio. Leaflets with a radio theme have been dropped since WWII. The front depicts a radio tower and radio beams. The code number is: 2011L02E01PL225(2.11).  The text is:

Libya is one and its people are one, turn the dial to station 104.1 FM.

The back depicts a stylized satellite dish and the text:

The freedom of information is the basis of the freedom of the people. Claim your lawful rights by obtaining information freely (without paying). Turn the needle of the radio and listen to 104.1 FM. Libya is one and its people are one. Turn the needle of the radio to station 104.1 FM.

Richard de Silva mentions the Radio propaganda in “NATO PSYOPS in Action, Defence IQ, May 2014. He says in part:

All maritime units have been used to broadcasting information messages within the framework of the Embargo. Some of them were also employed as PSYOPS platforms, disseminating messages on maritime VHF channels or other military VHF channels. More than 8,000 PSYOPS messages were broadcast, with 52 distinct messages, in order to prepare and influence the battle space. One ship was even fitted with a 300w commercial FM transmitter capable of transmitting within the international standard FM commercial base band (88MHz - 108MHz). This radio emitter proved to be able to reach in-land audiences (up to more than 20 km), enabling the maritime PSYOPS to expand its direct audience to include these civilians.

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NATO Shield

Another leaflet depicts Libyan civilian at the left, a NATO shield in the center protecting them, and Libyan Army soldiers and weapons at the right. The image has a cartoonish quality. The code number is: 2011L02E01PL200P(2.11). The text is:

NATO is here to protect civilians.

The back is all text:

NATO is here to protect civilians and the inhabited areas threatened with attacks. NATO is not here to align to a particular side. NATO is authorized with resolution from the United Nations and has support of the international community and thus wide regional support.

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Former Members of the Gaddafi Regime…

This leaflet depicts what appears to be a Gaddafi compound on the front surrounded by a red circle with a skull and crossed bones at the right. The text is:

Oh former leaders of the Gaddafi regime in Sirte stop killing! Warning

The back shows the same buildings overwritten by Arabic text:

Fighters of the former Gaddafi regime in Sirte: The Gaddafi regime is over, and he no longer rules. There is only one choice left to you: to continue killing, or to protect the lives of your soldiers before they run out of time. Throw down your weapons and cease the killing. Abandon your equipment and leave your positions. The time for peace and reform has come.

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Libyan Puzzle

This leaflet depicts a map of Libya that seems to have been cut up into puzzle pieces and then rejoined over the flag of Libya. The code number is: 2011L03E01PL259P(3.18). The text on the front is:

Reconciliation. Justice. Freedom. Stability. The future. Peace.

The back is all text:

Work with the National Transitional Council in a positive way. Commit to democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law. Libya is one and its people are one.

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Libya is one…

This leaflet depicts a white dove of peace over a Libyan rebel and soldier in a brotherly embrace near what appears to be a lush oasis. Omar Mukhtar, the old Bedouin leader who fought for independence against the occupying Italian Army looks down on them with approval. The code number is: 2011L03E03PL0176(3.10). There is a second version of this leaflet that depicts the doves and the hugging Libyans, but not Omar Mukhtar. The code number of the second version is 2011L03E01PL258P(3.18).

The text on this leaflet is:

Stop fighting! Embrace your Libyan brothers. One Libya one people

The back is all text:

Soldiers that are committing crimes against humanity by causing continuing violence and not establishing suitable conditions for a prosperous and peaceful future. Stop the fighting that threatens civilians and inhabited areas. Make a choice before the time has passed – peace and a flourishing future for Libya or continuing war that only brings more trouble and misery to civilians and your innocent families.

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Libya is one…(No Mukhtar)

There is a second version of this leaflet that depicts the doves and the hugging Libyans near a wide thoroughfare, without the image of Omar Mukhtar. The code number of this leaflet is 2011L03E01PL258P(3.18). The text on this leaflet is:

Libya is one and its people are one

The back is all text:

The people of Libya deserve to choose their destiny. The time has come to build a new Libya. Together for peace! Libya is one and its people are one.

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Together for Reconciliation

This is a very colorful leaflet showing chains being broken. The colors of the Libyan flag are at the left and upraised arms indicate either people cheering or Libyan soldiers surrendering. This is all over-watched by legendary patriot Omar Mukhtar. The code number is: 2011L03E01PL257P(3.18) Text on the front is:

Libya is one and its people are one. Together for reconciliation

The back is all text:

The time has come to build a new Libya, a state founded upon freedom and not fear, upon the will of the majority and not the desire of the few. The people of Libya deserve peace. Libya is one and its people are one.

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Embrace a New Libya

This leaflet depicts a Libyan walking down a peaceful major thoroughfare. The code number is 2011L03E03PL260P(3.18). The text on the front is:

Embrace a new Libya. One Libya. One people.

The back is all text:

Forces of Gaddafi, this is your chance to stand side-by-side with the Libyan people and to choose the right road. Why die when you are able to participate in returning peace to Libya? Stop fighting.

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Hold nn to Your Safety...

Another NATO leaflet is all text. It is coded 2011L03E03PL250P (3.18).  The message is the same on front and back:

Hold on to your safety, the rule of the Gaddafi regime has ended, and it does not deserve the sacrificing of your lives. The time has come to build a new Libya – a state founded upon freedom and not fear, upon the will of the majority and not the desire of the few. Throw away your arms and stop fighting and put up a white flag as a sign of your stopping fighting. The world is watching you. This is your chance to stand side by side with the Libyan people to choose the peaceful course of history. Pass on this piece of news to all those that have not received this message.

According to the NATO document Operation Unified Protector Final Mission Stats, the Operation started on 31 March 2011 and ended on 31 October 2011. During the operation NATO used over 260 air assets to conduct over 26,500 sorties, including over 9,700 strike sorties.

Daryush Nadimi says in an article entitled NATO Pamphlets – Does Propaganda Mobilize the Intended Audience One Way or Another?

NATO forces in Libya dropped over a hundred thousand leaflets of 20 or so variations in 2011.

In an article entitled Use of PSYOP by NATO he adds:

Most of NATO’s propaganda in Libya during the seven month campaign primarily targeted pro-Qaddafi soldiers through air dropped pamphlets. Twenty pamphlets were dispersed during the campaign in Libya and each focused on a different theme. The pamphlet droppings corresponded with the major events that were occurring at any given time such as: the ongoing stalemate; a rise in the number of hired mercenaries; advances by Qaddafi forces, who may have regained any ground and/or inflicted a military advance. The leaflets also urged soldiers to lay down their arms and give up the fight against ‘Libyan civilians.’ Many of the leaflets were dropped at military installations to warn soldiers that they would be targeted if they continued to fight. Libyan intelligence personnel tried unsuccessfully to collect the leaflets to prevent them from falling into the hands of Libyan citizens and military members. Other major themes of the leaflets: included messages threatening pro-régime forces with indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC); rhetorical references to family; use of war imagery; crimes against humanity by the Qaddafi régime; reminding civilians of the importance of adhering to international law; and use of nationalist imagery. Three of the leaflets explicitly instruct soldiers to refuse to carry out orders and defect.

My own count of leaflets shows 22 being prepared, with one “error” version of the Apache helicopter leaflet probably not used and a second burning Libyan banknote leaflet with some French language text. If we question if these two were disseminated, we come to Nadimi’s count of 20 actual leaflets.


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U.S.A.F. Lockheed EC-130J Commando Solo

The Lockheed EC-130J is a modified C-130J Hercules used to conduct psychological operations (PSYOP) and civil affairs broadcast missions in the standard AM, FM, HF, TV and military communications bands. The targets may be either military or civilian personnel. The Commando Solo is operated exclusively by the 193d Special Operations Wing, which is based at the Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Reuters Africa reported on 16 May that NATO was broadcasting to Gaddafi’s forces on Libyan army radio frequencies. Matt Robinson said:

NATO is broadcasting to forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on Libyan army radio frequencies, telling them foreign mercenaries are raping the Libyan people and urging them to give up.

“Nobody has the right to make the lives of their people a living hell. Stop fighting against your own people. Libyan leadership has lost control and recruited non-Libyan mercenaries and allowed them to rape your people.”

The Libyan government has denied recruiting mercenaries and says its forces are not targeting civilians. Officials say they are fighting armed criminal gangs and al Qaeda militants who are trying to ruin the country.

The NATO message is broadcast in English and Arabic spoken with an Iraqi accent.

“You have a choice. Build a peaceful Libya for the benefit of your family and a better future for your country. Otherwise, the air strikes which began on March 19 will continue.”

The broadcast features a woman saying, “Why, my son, why do you kill our people?” A crying child says, “Dad, come home, stop fighting.”

There have been a number of NATO radio messages reported by both the press and individuals that monitor the radio. This NATO broadcast occurred on 21 May 2011 to the Libyan army in Yefren and Zintan:

Papa I need you. I don’t want you to kill the children. I don’t want you to kill other fathers. Children need their fathers. Papa stop fighting, please come home I need you.

Gaddafi forces in Yefren you must stop your attacks on Libyan citizens in Yefren. If you continue this aggression NATO will use force to stop you. To preserve your life and [for] your own safety you must stop fighting in and around Yefren.

Gaddafi Army Commanders in Zintan you must stop your attacks on Libyan citizens in Zintan now. NATO will use force to stop you. If you continue to hurt innocent women and children your crimes will be prosecuted before the International Court. Your orders to kill innocent civilians are illegal and unacceptable to the world. Stop your attacks on Libyan citizens in Zintan now or NATO will use force to stop you.

Commanders of the Gaddafi regime in and around Zintan, nobody has the right to turn their own country and the lives of their own people into a living hell. The Gaddafi regime has constantly abused its power, causing an unnecessary loss of innocent lives. It has brought cruel and unjustified suffering. If you continue with your atrocities you will be held accountable for your crimes before the International Court. Stop fighting against your own people and you will save your life.

This message was broadcast by a USAF EC-130J, call sign STEEL 74 on 10404.0 kHz, 22 May 2011.

Libyan Navy sailors, NATO and its partners are resolved and united in their enforcement of the United Nations resolution to protect the civilian population. For your own safety leave your ship immediately and return to your family or home. If your ship attempts to leave port or act against the Libyan civilian population it will be immediately destroyed.

NATO warships are here to assist in supporting a United Nations Security Council resolution to enforce a maritime embargo in order to protect Libyan civilians. Do not target NATO vessels. If you target NATO vessels you will be destroyed.

On 6 June, there was a report of another NATO radio broadcast on 10404.0 kHz, probably from the USAF Commando Solo aircraft. Like some of the propaganda used in Iraq where leaflets were dropped depicting a pair of all-seeing eyes watching the enemy, this message implied that NATO was constantly watching and knew everything that the Libyan government troops were doing. The 63-second text is:

NATO has been watching you closely. NATO knows where you are and will continue to watch you. NATO will not tolerate hostile acts or your intent to commit hostile acts against the civilian population.

NATO will target and strike military equipment which threatens civilians. As you know, we can strike at any time and place of our choosing if you continue to endanger your people.

Prove that you want to safeguard your people by moving away from any land, sea, and air military equipment that threatens the Libyan population. If you are operating military equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, rocket launchers, ships and aircraft that threatens civilians, you will be targeted by NATO.

Move away from all this equipment now to demonstrate that you mean no harm to your people. NATO does not want to kill you. But if you continue to operate, move, maintain, or remain with military equipment of any sort you will be targeted for destruction

You have time to escape unharmed. Look to your future. Move away from all land, air and sea equipment now.

My friend Lee Richards of wrote to NATO and the U.S. Military under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIC) asking for information on the leaflets and the broadcasts disseminated from the American Commando Solo aircraft over Libya. NATO is yet to answer but in January 2012, forty-seven radio scripts were received. For the most part they are short so I have selected a few with different themes I think the reader might find interesting.

For the Army – Product number: LY11J05eeTC0002

For your safety, Halt your forward advance, abandon your military equipment and return to your bases. Do not engage with opposition forces, return home. By engaging with Opposition Forces you are violating a UN resolution ordering the end of hostilities by the Government of Libya against its people. If you engage with opposition forces you will be targeted. For your safety, Halt your forward advance, abandon your military equipment and return to your bases.

For the Navy - Product number: LY11J02eeTC0001

Libyan Sailors, Any orders you receive are unlawful. The Gaddafi Regime Forces are violating a United Nations resolution ordering the end of hostilities in your country. Return to your family or your homes safely. If your ship attempts to leave port it will be attacked and destroyed immediately.

Libyan Sailor, return to your family or your homes safely. Refuse any orders to board your ship. For your own safety do not board your ship. The Gaddafi Regime Forces are violating a United Nations resolution ordering the end of hostilities in your country.

For the Air Force - Product number: LY11J10eeTC0001

Libyan Pilot, you are violating a Coalition forces enforced No Fly Zone instituted by the United Nations Security Council in order to protect lives. If you attempt to engage in hostilities against our Aircraft or if you attempt to escape your Aircraft, you risk being destroyed. Follow coalition Aircraft to the nearest safe airfield to land your Aircraft safely.


For the Rebels - Product number: LY11O04jbTC0001

Libyan patriots, Coalition Forces are helping to end hostilities in your country. Soon the fighting will stop and you will no longer be oppressed. Change began with peaceful demonstrations, and must also end peacefully. Do not harm any Libyan soldier who chooses to refrain from fighting. Allow them to return home to their families, so that together you can begin to re-establish a peaceful Libya.

Tactical messages for specific cities - Product number: LY11R01llRD0003

Citizens of Ajdibiyah, the Coalition is here to help enforce a U.N. Security Council resolution that prohibits attacking citizens and demands an immediate cease to the needless suffering and killing of innocent people. Coalition forces are currently conducting military operations to enforce a "No Fly Zone" and stop the destruction of your city and homes. The coalition only wants to bring the peace that the people of Libya deserve. Tune in and listen to Frequency 100.6FM for news and further information.


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I’ll Either Rule You…

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Sooner or Later

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Go to Hell

An easy way to attack a dictator or his regime is the use of graffiti. Anyone with a bit of artistic talent can paint a caricature or print a message and it is there for the entire world to see. The Libyan rebels have made great use of this medium, leaving anti-Gaddafi graffiti everywhere. There are paintings of Gaddafi pumping petrol into a winged camel, Gaddafi with the tail of a snake and a forked tongue, Gaddafi as Dracula, Gaddafi as a clown, Gaddafi being bitten by a dog and Gaddafi getting a boot in the head.


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Colonel Gaddafi The Monkey…

Some of the messages are:

Colonel Gaddafi, the monkey of all monkeys in Africa;
The people have had their say
It’s enough
I’ll either rule you or I’ll kill you
Free Libya
Go to Hell


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A Joint Committee of the Red Cross/Libyan Red Crescent leaflet warning
people not to touch any suspicious objects and to report them to the authorities.

After every war, along with thousands of explosives, IEDs, weapons and ammunition, there is the major danger of death by landmines left in the ground by all the warring sides. This was true in Libya just as it is in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States usually sends in teams to find and destroy the mines as do many other nations and many private organizations.

In the case of the leaflet above, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Libyan Red Crescent launched radio campaigns to raise awareness of the risks of explosive remnants of war among the population. Five radio stations broadcast the messages six times a day. The radio spots were part of a larger campaign to educate people about the risks of unexploded devices. Billboards, leaflets and posters were displayed and distributed in contaminated areas.

As of December 2011, the ICRC alone had removed some 1,400 unexploded devices in places affected by hostilities, such as Ajdabiya, Misrata and the Nefusa mountains. It has also trained over 140 Libyan Red Crescent volunteers from nine local branches to raise awareness of the threat among the local population.

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A Handicap International Poster

In February 2012, Handicap International announced that it had three mine clearance teams on the ground in Libya. Handicap International has trained some 100 Libyan nationals to raise the awareness of people at risk from mines and other explosive remnants of war. To date, Handicap International has distributed around 60,000 leaflets to vulnerable communities in Libya and displayed 5,000 posters in towns and cities contaminated by these weapons. 20,000 children’s textbooks have been handed out in schools. Handicap International’s teams and its local partners organize sessions in schools and businesses and for local authorities and organizations. The organization also distributes leaflets and posters, educational games for children, and broadcasts information spots on national and local radio stations.


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Child Injured by NATO Bombing…or an Auto Accident

Any dictator who has been in power as long as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is not going down without a fight. Just as NATO daily produced propaganda news and images against him, Gaddafi’s propaganda people daily took reporters and news people to various sites in his attempt to show that NATO was cruel and barbaric and killing innocent women and children. There is no doubt that the bombing of Tripoli has led to some deaths of civilians, but in attempting to control the stories, the Libyan government has been caught several times in lies that destroys their credibility and makes everything they say suspect.

Because they are unable to stop NATO from bombing at will, all Gaddafi can do is try to wage a propaganda war against the United States, Great Britain and France, claiming that their fighters and bombers are killing innocent civilians. News people who were herded to bombing sites, hospitals and funerals have reported a succession of blunders, including patients identified as bombing victims who turned out not to be, empty coffins at funerals and burials where some of those interred turned out not to be airstrike victims at all. On one occasion when reporters were taken to see a Coptic Christian church where a stained-glass window had been blown out by bombs or missiles, it became clear that the attack had been against a military encampment adjacent to the building.

Perhaps the worst blunder occurred when Gaddafi’s propagandists took reporters to a hospital where a 7-month-old girl, unconscious on a bed, was displayed as a victim of a NATO airstrike. Someone on the medical staff slipped a note in English to a reporter saying that the girl was actually the victim of a car accident. This story made headlines and led to an apology from the government. Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said that some Libyans incensed by the airstrikes had become “overenthusiastic” in talking to reporters and that “this is not the government policy.”

The use of the murder and torture of babies as PSYOP is an old and trusted method. In the 1938 Russian movie "Alexander Nevsky," German Teutonic knights are seen throwing the children of Novgorod into a bonfire. The story was meant to raise Russian morale and make the people distrustful of the Nazis. During WWI, the British tales of Germans tossing Belgian babies into the air and catching them on bayonets and parading round Belgium towns with babies on their bayonets were so blatantly false that many Americans distrusted British war reports prior to WWII thinking them all lies. More recently, during Operation Desert Storm it was reported that Iraqi troops had thrown premature Kuwaiti babies onto a hospital floor while stealing their incubators. Tortured babies are excellent propaganda and Colonel Gaddafi was not afraid to use it to his advantage.

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Reporters view Russian Missile

On 6 June, about 50 reporters were brought to a small home where they were introduced to frightened children who had been targeted by a NATO missile. When reporters looked at the remains of the missile they found Cyrillic script. The missile was clearly Libyan. Without batting an eyelash, the government propagandist changed his story to state that a NATO bomb or missile must have hit a Libyan arsenal, igniting the Russian missile and sending it into the civilian neighborhood. Thus, NATO was clearly to blame, and had nearly killed innocent Libyan civilians. Impeccable logic!


In January of 2012 there were reports of fighting in many of the Libyan towns. It was first believed that these were some of the anti-Gaddafi elements fighting for power. At least 13 people were killed in fighting near the capital, Tripoli.

However, on 23 January 2012, there were reports of Gaddafi sympathizers rising up and attacking the city of Bani Walid. It was reported that 100 to 150 men armed with heavy weapons attacked the town. The attackers shouted “Allah, Muammar, Libya and that's it!” This was a slogan popularized by Gaddafi loyalists during his rule. Four martyrs from the Thuwar (the anti-Gadhafi revolutionaries) were killed and another 20 were injured. The new Libyan Army and NTC were slow to respond. The gunmen hoisted Gaddafi’s green flag in the center of the city. They distributed leaflets saying:

We will be back soon. We will take the rats out.

On 17 February 2012, Libya celebrated the first anniversary of its uprising for independence. In Tripoli, traffic police and former rebels distributed leaflets, warning people against attacks against the new government:

We cannot bring back the buried man (Gaddafi) but we can send you to him."

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Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman

On 11 June 2012, Aljazeera reported that Britain's ambassador to Libya was in a convoy of cars attacked in the eastern city of Benghazi. The diplomatic convoy was hit about 300 meters from the British consulate office by a rocket-propelled grenade and two bodyguards were injured in the attack. After the attack leaflets were found from a group that calls itself the Brigades of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. Abdel-Rahman is an Egyptian national who is currently serving a life sentence in the United States. Abdel-Rahman was accused of being the leader of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (“The Islamic Group”), a militant Islamist movement in Egypt that is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Egyptian governments. The group is responsible for many acts of violence, including the November 1997 Luxor massacre, in which 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed.

This is one of the problems with the “Arab Spring.” When citizens rise up claiming to want freedom and democracy the western powers often support them, although it is impossible to know if those protestors are Muslim fundamentalists, members of terrorist groups, separationists or even old fashioned Communists who thrive on confusion. The West hopes that these are people who truly want democracy, but it is clear that some of the protestors have their own agenda.

Libya's renegade Commander Khalifa Haftar announces Ramadan Truce

Battles continued to go on in Libya between several sides and in May 2020, the unrecognized Government of National Accord (GNA) dropped leaflets on the city of Tarhouna, about 90 kilometers from the capital Tripoli, and asked insurgents there to lay down their arms. The city’s residents were urged to stay indoors and shun the places where the insurgents are. The Government forces are being trained and supplied by Turkey. The rival self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar took control of Tarhouna following the start of their campaign in April 2019 to seize Tripoli from the GNA. Some of the reported leaflet text is:

Whoever lays down his arms is safe. The battle has been militarily resolved

The author encourages anyone with further information on this campaign to write him at