General Abdul Fatah Younis ...killed by his own man?
The killing of Libyan rebels' general and NTC Chief of staff, Abdul Fatah Younis on Thursday, is still shrouded in mystery despite the many versions of the accounts, some of them appear to be fictitious, of what really happened and what led to his assassination.
The way the National Transitional Council handled the whole affair did not help at all and when the head of NTC Mustapha Abdul Jalil announced his death in a press conference on Thursday he left many questions unanswered and left many doubts in the minds of those present for the late-night conference. No wonder the speculation.
Abdul Jalil called Younis "one of the heroes of the 17th of February revolution" at the press conference but gave no clear indications as to what the why, the how and the when.
It is only after two days that one could somehow find some plausible explanation as to the events leading to Younis's death and try to piece together the real thing.
Now, once it has launched an investigation into the killing, the NTC appears to be more prepared to talk about the tragic event. But some inconsistencies about the killing between what Abdul Jalil said in Thursday, and what he said Saturday prevail.
The NTC now says that general Younis was shot by gunmen after he was released following questioning. Abdul Jalil said that the National Transitional Council (NTC) had issued a warrant for the general's arrest. He said he was summoned from the front by a committee of four judges with the knowledge of the NTC's executive committee, the rebels' de facto government.
"The recall of General Fatah Younis from Ajdabiya was based on a warrant that was issued with the knowledge of the executive committee" of the NTC, he told reporters."I don't know why this arrest (warrant) was issued and we don't know who was present at the meeting when the decision was made... or on what basis the decision was made," he said.
Abdul Jalil then added, that the general was killed by gunmen after he had been held and questioned by their investigators regarding "a military matter." He said the general died after being shot in the chest and head.
Military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani is reported saying that the judges who summoned Younis for questioning did not have the authority do so and that the defence minister had written a letter recalling the arrest warrant.
He refused to identify suspects arrested in connection with the killing, saying they are innocent until proven guilty.
"When the full truth is known it will be put to the people and the whole world," he said, adding that meanwhile he "will cut the road to those trying to start up rumours among the revolutionaries."
Shortly before Jalil's address to the press on Saturday, the NTC media information minister said that the general had been recalled to Benghazi just to discuss the situation on the frontline, and made no mention of a warrant.
He went on to say that the warrant had been signed by his deputy, Ali Essawi. Contrary to what one was led to believe at the press conference on Thursday, the commander of the rebel armed forces Abdul Fatah Younis, had been questioned before the killing. Then he was released.
Jalil, told Saturday's news conference in Benghazi said that it was following Younis' release that two men killed the general and two of his aides. On Thursday the impression was, that he was killed on his way to answer the summons. Jail added that the men who killed the general and his two men fled with the bodies in a car, and later burned them.
Earlier, a special forces officer and opposition minister were reported by as having said fellow rebels had been responsible for murdering the three men.
Ali Tarhuni, who handles economic affairs for the rebel National Transitional Council had earlier also claimed that a rebel militia leader who had been asked to fetch Younis from the front line near the town of Brega had been arrested and had confessed that his subordinates carried out the killing.
There was yet another account of the incident, that by a close friend of the general Younis, Mohammed Agoury, who believed that the general was betrayed.
Agoury reportedly told the AP news agency that he was present when a group of rebels from a faction known as the February 17 Martyrs' Brigade came to Younis' operations room outside Benghazi before dawn on Wednesday and took him away for interrogation.
He said he tried to accompany his commander, but he quoted Younis telling him that he trusted them and went with them alone. Agoury said they betrayed and killed him.
He added that the brigade does not trust anyone who was with Al Qathafi's regime. “They wanted revenge," Agoury said.
In Zuwaytina, the Union of Revolutionary Forces late on Saturday dismissed reports that Younis was a traitor killed by his own people for providing strategic military information to Al Qathafi's regime.
Fawzi Bukatif, spokesman for the Union of Revolutionary Forces and head of the February 17 brigade said: "Anybody can say anything but all this big talk needs proof. The chief of staff was always with us from the beginning."
Bukatif called Younis's murder a "cowardly act" and said it took place without the knowledge or consent of the Union of Revolutionary Forces. He said brigades not affiliated with the union had arrested Younis.
Bukatif said that the Obeida Ibn al-Jarah brigade, which an NTC member had mentioned as a potential culprit, was not part of the rebel body and no longer fighting on the front near the strategic oil hub of Brega.
Mahmud Shammam, who handles media relations for the rebels, slammed foreign and local journalists over coverage of the killing, saying "irresponsible news" was being published.