Satellite Images and Video Footage Reveal New Facts on Tripoli Migrants Detention Centre – Al Marsad

Maxar Technologies Inc., one of the largest US space research institutions with strategic partnership projects with NASA and the governments of major European and Asian capitals, released satellite photographs taken on Thursday of the site of the Tajourah Migrant Detention Centre, hours after the horrific attack. The new footage reveal crucial details about the incident.

[Libya, 6 July 2019] – Al Marsad received satellite images, published by the Maxar Technologies Inc. and distributed to international media, including the Associated Press. The distributed copies vividly show the aftermath of two explosions in the area. It shows the first hit was on a square-shaped concrete building with a yard in the middle of the premises which is located to the left side of the Tajourah Migrant Detention Center.

The picture shows that a missile or a bomb penetrated the concrete roof. This site is primarily a military headquarters operated by al-Dhaman militia, which has direct supervision of the Tajourah Migrant Detention Centre. The impact of another explosion can be seen at the right of this building at the hangar of the shelter, claiming the lives of over 50 migrants.

Piecing Together What Actually Happened

The New York Times investigative reporter, Evan Hill, posted a satellite image of the site and commented: “[T]here seems to be a smaller hole and evidence of blown-out debris in the building to the west, marked here in red, which could indicate that there was a airstrike on a target next to the immigrant detention facility”.

The Al Marsad editorial team scrutinized the image meticulously and the airstrike the American journalist referred to, and we found what appeared to be indeed the aftermath of an air raid in the building opposite to the migrants’ accommodation.

The impact of the bombing extended from the top down, causing a hole in the concrete roof accompanied by a massive explosion to the right in the direction of the migrants’ hangar, and to the left around the headquarters of al-Dhaman militia. That seems to be what the New York Times journalist meant.

As shown in the illustrative description on this picture, the yellow box indicates that there is a hole caused by the penetration of a missile or a bomb on the concrete roof in the building of al-Dhaman militia. Local press and media were either denied access or abstained from taking photos for that building.


The red arrow shows the presence of evidence of an explosion that left its mark on the ground in a straight line from the left where the centre of the bombing to the right is in the direction of the migrants’ hangar. The other arrow indicates a cluster of explosions in the direction of the left, which is the opposite direction towards the Tajourah Migrant Detention Centre.

New Video Footage May Help Investigators 

Those who are following the attack argue that the complete satellite images and videos that are now available to us may help independent investigators pinpoint exactly what happened on that tragic night. Experts stress that what has been shown hitherto to the world, in the wake of the horrific incident, was only fragmentary and incomplete visual footage and led to false conclusions.

According to the recordings and the timing of surveillance cameras, the first explosion or bombardment took place at the headquarters of al-Dhaman Brigade at 11:28 pm. The footage showed the moment of the occurrence of the explosion and the smoke that ensued as a result; shrapnel and debris were scattered in front of the camera and some of them directly reached the detention facility but did not appear to have caused any damage to its structure.

A few seconds later, the footage showed a group of migrants running away from the target location—the Dhaman militia headquarters—in the direction of an asphalt passageway separating the detention centre hangar and the site of the raid. This development raises an extremely important question as to why were migrants in the area outside their shelter and its surroundings. Some of these migrants told the Associated Press that a number of them were forced to work at the Dhaman militia headquarters in various activities, including cleaning and loading weapons.

The footage also showed panic situation accompanied by immigrants rushing out from their hangar in the direction of the yard, immediately after the first bombardment between 11:30 pm and 11:37 pm. Persons carrying unidentified objects in their hands were also seen in the footage followed by guards in blue uniforms along with elements in civilian outfit carrying walkie-talkies and pistols coming out from the first bombing site. In a shocking action the guards seemed to have ordered all the migrants who had rushed out in panic to the yard to return to their hangar. The guards and paramilitary elements, instead of evacuating the migrants, forced them back inside the Tajoura Migrant Detention Center.

At 11:39 pm, the footage shows that all migrants who were outside the hangar have been forced back inside it while the smoke from the bombing of the military site of the Dhaman militia is vividly seen. A dark-grey Toyota Tundra is spotted in the footage driving to the left of the hangar and suddenly took turns right before an airstrike or an explosion hit the front of the hangar, followed by dozens of immigrants running in all directions. Some experts question the logic of repeating an aerial bombardment on a particular target after 15 minutes because this would have allowed sufficient time for any hostile targets to escape their already targeted positions.

In the same context, Al Marsad received footage of a huge explosion from the first site minutes after the bombing. Notwithstanding, it is not known whether it was the cause of the damage to the front of the Migrant Detention hangar or not. This is left to investigators to identify. An important issue in this video footage is related to the time lapse between the first strike on the military site of al-Dhaman militia headquarters and the second explosion in the Tajourah Migrant Detention Center according to surveillance cameras at the site. As Evan Hill had tweeted: “[T]here seems to be a smaller hole and evidence of blown-out debris in the building to the west, marked here in red, which could indicate that there was a airstrike on a target next to the immigrant detention facility.”

What was under the first targeted building?

Journalists who arrived at the scene of the horrendous incident much later, focused their cameras on the aftermath scene; horrific images of the killed migrants, the remains of the dead, numbers of those killed and injured, what deplorable living conditions they were in, and so on. But the other pictures that Al Marsad received from an insider at the site revealed what was under the hole in the concrete building indicated in yellow: armed vehicles completely destroyed.

This indicates that military equipment were the target of a fierce bombardment on a vehicle transportation building of al-Dhaman militias. Graffiti referring to the Operation Libya Dawn of 2014 were seen which raises questions on the nature of the relationship between Operation Libya Dawn to the Migrant Detention Centre in Tajourah.

Photo of an armed car directly under the targeted ceiling.

Another picture from the same site showed the remnants of unexploded artillery shell and anti-aircraft weapons ammunition, as well as rocket launchers, and machine-gun stabilizers, scattered on the ground.

Another photograph of an armed car destroyed under the concrete roof on the right.

A photograph showing the remains of munitions and parts of military equipment.

The effects of the bombing on the courtyard of the building and the damage and the damage cause to the entire structure.

UN Security Council Issues Press Statement

On Friday the UN Security Council issued a press statement after the UK failed on Wednesday to push through a draft resolution to condemn the attack, but which was blocked by the United States.

The statement issued on Friday did not refer to any specific party given that a report from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated on Thursday that migrants in the affected area were targeted because of the militarization of their location in addition to being shot by the detention centre guards while trying to escape the bombing.

Trying to capitalise on the tragedy of migrant deaths, Fathi Bashagha, the Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), along with pro-GNA experts and twitter pundits, were quick to blame the Libyan National Army (LNA) for the attack on the Migrant Detention Centre. However, as the new footage shows the claims by the LNA that it targeted a nearby militia site of the Dhaman militia seem to be corroborated by the new available footage. The LNA denied striking the hangar where the migrants were being held.

The new footage also shows that the guards and militia members pushed the migrants back into the shelter putting them into greater danger rather than evacuating them to safety, which was also supported by the latest OCHA report. The LNA has called for an international investigation to ascertain the truth about the deaths at the Migrants Detention Centre in Tajourah.


Further Resources

Images from the site of the first strike, the headquarters of al-Dhaman Brigade.