November 1, 2011
They were busying themselves with detaining former members of the Gaddafi regime, collecting weapons from his sympathisers, providing security and running their own jail and justice system. The council members spent hours every day meeting people who came with grievances against former militiamen or security officers.
They issued warrants and dispatched teams to apprehend the wanted men, and ran a well-stocked jail. There was also a resident prosecutor whose job was to question suspects, order their release or extend the detention time.
“Of course, if they are regime criminals, when you ask them about their crimes, they will deny them,” said the man who looked like a maths teacher. “We have to use some pressure on them to make them confess.” After the meeting, Essam briefed his soldiers.
Among them were experienced fighters, a driver, a mechanical engineer, an oil engineer. The rest consisted of young men in brand new fatigues and bandanas. They climbed into two pick-up trucks, one mounted with a heavy machine gun. I sat next to Essam in a truck that was mounted with an iron box with only a small grille for ventilation. This truck was for the “cargo”.