The Correction and Rehabilitation Institution in Surman Burned By GNA Gangs - Al Marsad

Over the last few days the city of Surman has been subject to a systematic campaign of looting and pillage by armed groups aligned to the Government of National Accord (GNA), especially by those from the city of Al-Zawiya. They did not even spare the pumps in the fuel stations.

[Libya, 19 April 2020] – Worse still, Surman witnessed today a new crime with the burning of the Correction and Rehabilitation Institution, which held hundreds of criminals and terrorists, including notorious ISIS and Al-Qaeda members, as well as masterminds in smuggling and organized crime.

Parts of the prison that were the scene of the worst systematic breakout of prisoners were also demolished, though it appeared intact on the day the gangs took over. The footage taken on that ominous day proved that it was an organized operation by the gangs but the Ministry of Justice of the Government of National Accord (GNA) claimed that the release of prisoners was the result of “internal rebellion” that resulted in the breakout of about 400 inmates detained under legal procedures.

The Minister of the Interior of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bashagha, however, has not responded to questions by Libyans on the fate of hundreds of prisoners released from the prison of the Criminal Investigation, Western Branch, in Al-Mutrad, Surman and Sabratha by the armed groups, notably from Al-Zawiya—a development that was described as a “catastrophe” by pro-GNA German activist Wolfram Lacher.

The prisoners include dozens accused of human trafficking, fuel smuggling, affiliation to Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Shura terrorist organizations, premeditated murder, armed robbery, and other crimes that had shocked the cities and regions of the West Coast. The February satellite channel has broadcast footage shot from a distance of the moment of the storming of the Criminal Investigation headquarters. The footage clearly shows the prisoners coming out with the help of their relatives and the militants.

It is noteworthy that the families of some of the prisoners had actually voluntarily turned them in for committing premeditated murders, as is well known by the residents of the strip that extends from Al-Zawiya to Zuwarah. This raises questions about the absence of Fathi Bashagha, who portrays himself as the leading the fight against these militias, but they are really organized crime gangs rather than militias.

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The operation to release the prisoners was orchestrated mainly by their fellow gangsters, such as the internationally sanctioned Abd Al-Rahman Al-Miladi (known as Al-Bija), Muhammad Kashlaf (known as Al-Qasab), Firas Al-Saluki (known as Al-Wahshi) and other notorious smugglers and criminals. All security apparatuses, including the military police, entrusted with securing the prisons and ensuring that no one escaped, vanished with no trace whatsoever.

Al-Qasab in Sabratha yesterday after storming Surman celebrating with his fellow smugglers the return to their main base

Many of the leaders of armed gangs who took part in the attack, especially from Al-Zawiya, confirmed the so-called “liberation of the kidnapped and imprisoned and the return of the displaced.” However, the Minister of Interior, Fathi Bashagha, refused to respond to inquiries posed to him since yesterday while Fayez al-Sarraj welcomed the “liberation” operation, which resulted in the release of these criminals and terrorists, and burning and looting of police stations and security directorates. It also included the assassination of innocent citizens, including the Surman Education Superintendent, and dozens of reprisal attacks, burning houses, and looting car showrooms.

Bija in Sabratha with Abd Al-Malik Al-Madani, spokesperson for the so-called ‘Military Media of the Volcano of Anger’

Wolfram Lacher, the German researcher and specialist on Libyan affairs who is a Senior Associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), expressed via Twitter his concern on what happened. Like many other westerner analysts who mourn the calamities after supporting their perpetrators, Lacher, one of the most uncharacteristically vocal activist and opponents of the Libyan National Army (LNA), said that what occurred on Monday with the release of “roughly 600 prisoners” in Sabratha and Surman at the hands of the GNA-aligned forces was a “catastrophe”.

Although Lacher claimed that they included political prisoners, he also affirmed that the prisoners released included murderers, fuel and migrant smugglers, and even extremists were among the prisoners released.

Wolfram Lacher’s tweet on the release of 600 prisoners from Sabratha and Surman


Since 2011, the cities of the West Coast have become one of the largest and most notorious criminal hubs and strongholds in the country. The organized crime gangs and their mafia barons, such as those involved in fuel and human smuggling, have thrived in the Western coast of the Mediterranean basin. The Special Deterrent Force arrested many of them while the Western Investigation Unit detained the largest number of them until Monday.

The prisoners released, which total over 600 prisoners according to Wolfram Lacher, include those imprisoned for honor crimes, slaughter, and bombing. They regained their freedom yesterday rendering the region vulnerable once more to crime, terrorism, assassinations, kidnappings, trafficking, and smuggling.

Fadel Taher Suwaid, or Frankenstein, was one prisoner released from Surman prison who member of ISIS.

Fathi Bashagha has yet to provide any clarification on the development described by the pro-GNA German writer.

The released detainees, for example, include members of the murderous gang called “Al-Nimriyat”, accused of the murder and kidnapping of the children of Riyadh Al-Sharshari. The Investigation Department raided their hideout on 15 March 2018, and arrested a number of them as ordered by the Public Prosecutor, including their leader Al-Nimri Saleh Al-Mahjoubi. No one knows whether Al-Nimri Saleh Al-Mahjoubi was among those released or if he is still detained elsewhere.

His last appearance was on 22 September 2019, when his confessions were broadcast by the Investigation Department and admitting his involvement in the assassination of the member of Surman Municipal Council. In other words, he was in prison and was not yet transferred to Tripoli.

بالفيديو | من هو النمري سفّاح أطفال الشرشاري وما حقيقة خلفيته وإنتمائه الفكري ؟ تعرّف عليه


Other criminals set free on Monday also include Firas Ghaith Al-Amouri Mansour who was involved in the murder of 7 young men inside a rest house in Al-Zawiya in mid-2019. The Criminal Investigation Department has also broadcast his confessions.

They also include Jamal Al-Sharif accused of ISIS-related kidnapping and assassination cases, such as the kidnapping and killing of Bassem Al-Fazani, admitted n the confessions aired by the Criminal Investigation Department.

Another released criminal is Ali Al-Bashir Al-Akhdar and his two co-smugglers Ali Al-Ahwal and Al-Hadi Qwaider (known as Bodega), who were involved the kidnapping and murder of a 14-year-old girl from Tripoli—a crime that shook the western region and the entire nation.

The other cases include the assassination of Khaled Al-Bashir Al-Maqouri, member of Surman Municipal Council, in March 2016, committed by the terrorist Al-Nimri Saleh Al-Mahjoubi, his brother Majid, and several other members of their above mentioned armed gang

We add to this also the fuel smuggler, Mohamed Salem Mira, one of the employees at Al-Zawiya Refinery controlled by the internationally-sanctioned oil smuggler, Muhammad Kashlaf (Al-Qasab). This may explain the latter’s enthusiasm in Monday’s operation to liberate his comrades after Sabratha and Surman had expelled him and others for more than three years.


Furthermore, the terrorist Faraj Shakku, the leader Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), re-surfaced yesterday in Sabratha after being in hiding for several years. Shakku was one of the leaders who pledged allegiance to ISIS in Benghazi, accompanied by the terrorist Wissam bin Hamid, before joining the so-called Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB).

He appeared in front of the Sabratha Security Directorate minutes before burning the building along with its archives, documents. The destroyed documentation included cases that were witness to the “years of fire” during which the United States carried out air strikes in the area before the expulsion of these criminal organizations from the city in 2017.

It is ironic that Fayez al-Sarraj, who had welcomed the US airstrikes on such targets, now welcomes the return of these terrorists today to Sabratha and Surman.

Acting Head of Security in Sabratha appointed by Bashagha receives the burned headquarters

Given the “catastrophic” implications as Wolfram Lacher described it, one commentator said:

“Bashagha is fully liable for this fatal and deadly development. He even insisted on complementing the comic scene with appointing a new head of security to receive Sabratha security directorate burned at the hands of his government’s followers before even the fire had died out. This farcical scene sums up the current situation, which is typical of the years of chaos, Shura councils, and gang rule. Bashagha should never refuse the external and internal accusations directed against his ‘esteemed’ government for allying with all kinds of criminals and terrorists and even liberating those which it previously imprisoned.”


© Al Marsad English (2020)



REPORT: Sarraj Welcomes the “Liberation” of Sabratha and Surman by the Same “Gangs” He Fought in 2017