Arrest of El-Zigra and the Growing Rift Between Tripoli Militias – Al Marsad

The Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB), which reports to the Ministry of the Interior of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), replied on Saturday to accusations of criminality following the capture on Friday of El-Zigra, one of its most prominent commanders, at Mitiga International Airport by the Special Deterrence Force (RADA).

[Libya, 25 August 2019] – Mohamed Abdelrahman Abdo, nicknamed el-Zigra, a senior commander of the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) was on his way to board flight to Tunisia when he was arrested by RADA, which controls the airport. El-Zigra was flying to Tunis to apply for a Schengen Visa to Germany to receive further medical treatment for wounds sustained in the fighting against the Libyan National Army (LNA). Social media accounts of some of his friends claimed that el-Zigra was on his way to seek political asylum in Berlin under the cover of a medical visa.

In response to attacks by its critics, the TRB posted defensive rhetoric on its alternative official page on Facebook (Ain Zara Axes Led by Ayoub Abou Ras), after its main official page became inactive. The post referred to what it portrayed as “a dignified history that has been written down with the blood of men.”

El-Zigra after his injury at the beginning of the clashes in mid-April and then airlifted with his friend Mohamed el-Boka for treatment in Istanbul on a private plane on the expense of the Government of National Accord (GNA)

The post on Facebook said: “The best commanders and combatants of the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade (TRB) sacrificed their lives in defense of the land and honour, and the TRB continues to send the best of its men and leaders to the fields of honor against the Rebel and his terrorist militias,” referring to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade’s response on Facebook

“Those who do not know the honorable history of the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, should refrain from talking about its brave men whose sacrifices shall remain the pride and medal of honour for each member of the Battalion,” the TRB wrote on its alternative official Facebook account.

El-Zigra with Haitham al-Tajouri, Commander of the TRB and Firas al-Saluki, nicknamed al-Wahshi, Tripoli (May 2019)

The TRB concluded its post by saying: “You will remain the mother of all battalions, and the home of the brave men, and the pride of Tripoli, we ask God to accept our martyrs and heal our wounded and support our men who are standing in the face of despotism, injustice, the rule of the military and the individual, and the licking of the shoes of the tyrants.”

El-Zigra during his participation in the war last September and his injury

Mitiga Airport’s Security forces, RADA, arrested el-Zigra for an unspecified reason, but several sources spoke of his involvement in a murder and fleeing the scene of the crime. However, others were surprised at the news of his arrest; he has been wandering for months in front of the RADA headquarters at Mitiga Airport.

It was rumored that any combatant who attempts to desert the battlefield will be framed and charged with anything; reactivating and reopening an old charge case leading to incarceration is one of the options used by militias to intimidate potential deserters among its ranks.

This RADA move comes after Mahmoud Hamza, Commander of the 20/20 Militia, affiliated with RADA, vowed to respond to any infringement on their elements by what he described as “the remnants of the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade.” Hamza’s remark appears to refute claims about vengeful motivations behind el-Zigra’s arrest and incarcerating him in a RADA jailhouse.

Mahmoud Hamza’s response, who is classified by his opponents at Dar-al-Ifta’ as a Wahabi-Salafi-Madkhali, was posted on his Facebook page, which carried his name before changed it recently to his nickname known as Abdullah al-Libi. Through his facebook account, Hamza vehemently calls for fighting the Libyan National Army, considering it as a declared enemy that must be fought while other Salafis describe Hamza as an ignorant person trying to outsmart others by criticizing scholars.

Comment by Mahmoud Hamza, also known as Abdullah al-Libi.

Hamza, described as the right arm of the RADA strongman Abdul Rauf Kara, categorized the TRB fighters as criminals and thieves, blaming them for this war and two previous wars. He said: “You are the cause of devastation. You try to put a criminal and a killer, like el-Zigra, on an equal foot with real men. Forewarned is forearmed.”

El-Zigra in military uniform with the rank of a lieutenant (June 2019)

In the same context, Ahmed bin Salem, RADA spokesperson, wrote on his Facebook account and reprimanded those who criticized el-Zigra’s airport arrest under the pretext that he fought in defense of Tripoli and that the time is not right for such action: “Do you think that we have to wait for him until he receives a higher rank in criminality, for instance? These guys are the cause of wars. They gave the invaders a pretext to wage a war against the capital allegedly for its liberation, despite the fact that criminals on the other side are worse than those in Tripoli.”

El-Zigra and Salah Badi in Tripoli (May 2019)

Furthermore, Ahmed bin Salem attacked the Libyan National Army, describing the LNA forces as Mongols, attributing the reasons for the delay of defeating their enemy for their cover up of the criminals in Tripoli and postponing deterrent measures against them, leaving the door open for them to fall into more acts of criminality.

© Al Marsad English (2019).