They are setting a precedent that will quickly come back to haunt them. An update on this story. “Libyan police too scared to arrest cemetery vandals despite capturing three who desecrated graves,” from the Daily Mail, March 17:
Police in Libya captured three members of an armed mob that desecrated British war graves in Benghazi — but released them after a few hours because they were “˜too dangerous”.
The extremists, who admitted smashing the gravestones with sledgehammers, belong to an Islamist militia with links to Al Qaeda.
During questioning, police were so nervous they made the men wear blindfolds so they would not be able to identify their interrogators.
“˜We had no option but to release them, even though they admitted criminal damage,” a senior officer told The Mail on Sunday.
“˜We have no control over these men, they are too dangerous, they have more weapons. We have arrested members of this brigade in the past and their fellow fighters raided the police station to get them out.”
To worldwide outrage, this newspaper revealed two weeks ago that 150 memorials were systematically overturned, many of them shattered, while a sandstone cross was smashed.
It happened at a cemetery outside Benghazi, the headquarters of anti-Gaddafi forces during last year’s revolution.
Many of the servicemen buried there were members of the 7th Armoured Division, the Desert Rats, who helped turn the tide of the war in North Africa against Rommel’s forces between 1941 and 1943.
This newspaper has discovered that those responsible are members of a Salifist sect called the Rafallah al-Sahaty Brigade that follows an ultra-purist interpretation of Islam.
It wasn’t about the Qur’an burnings. It was about the crosses and the graves.
Soldier Sanad Albeidi, who filmed the desecration, said: “˜I realised they were from the Rafallah al-Sahaty.
‘I knew it would be too dangerous to try to stop them. I thought they might be going to dig up some bodies so I filmed them to get evidence.
A reasonable concern. They have already dug up graves.
“˜I posted my film on YouTube so the world could see the damage these men were doing, and the insult to British war heroes.”