National Review Online
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Later today, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi will address the United Nations General Assembly, shortly after Pres. Barack Obama has spoken. Qaddafi’s U.N. appearance will cap a long line of official accolades. In recent years, Libya has chaired the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly. Qaddafi has been rewarded handsomely ever since he surrendered his WMD program in December 2003. Libya has been touted by U.S. and British diplomats as a model for rogue states such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Qaddafi’s rapprochement with the West has enabled him to achieve international legitimacy and solidify his rule at home.
Sadly, however, there is little to show for nearly six years of engagement with Libya. The so-called Libyan example has failed to convince any other rogue state to end its WMD programs; Iran has actually accelerated its nuclear program in recent years. Worse still, human-rights abuses continue unabated in Libya. Qaddafi’s security and revolutionary committees operate with impunity. His regime is guilty of arresting, kidnapping, and even murdering its political opponents.
The legitimacy accorded to Qaddafi is particularly heartbreaking for the victims and their families. My late brother Fathi Eljahmi was recently murdered by Qaddafi’s regime. Fathi was killed through slow, long torment because he publicly called for political reform in Libya. My brother also said that Qaddafi should accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and the wars that Libya fueled in Chad and West Africa — wars that claimed thousands of victims.
Fathi was first imprisoned in October 2002. He was released on March 12, 2004, after then-senator Joseph Biden interceded on his behalf. Fathi refused to cease his political activism, however, and he was detained again on March 26, 2004. He was then held in isolation under inhumane conditions and deprived of family visits. Libya’s secret police controlled his access to the medicine he needed for his heart condition, diabetes, and hypertension. After years of pain and disease caused by his isolation in a filthy prison-hospital room, Fathi fell into a coma earlier this year. Qaddafi’s regime then flew my unconscious brother to Jordan on May 5, 2009. Astonishingly, Fathi remained under Libyan control in Jordan, where he was placed in the Arab Medical Center in Amman. Within two weeks he was dead.
The Libyan embassy shipped his body back to Tripoli without conducting an autopsy. The Arab Medical Center’s Dr. Mohamed Ghazi, who wrote the final medical report about Fathi, told me: “You know your brother’s case and who he is. It is best that we keep quiet. I don’t want to talk to you.”
Fathi, a courageous democratic dissident, returned home dead in the cargo hold of an airplane. By contrast, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber and mass murderer, returned to Libya on the dictator’s personal plane, accompanied his son. Upon arriving in Tripoli, Megrahi received a hero’s welcome.
Now Qaddafi will address the United Nations as if he were just another head of state.
- Mohamed Eljahmi is a Libyan/American activist.