It’s clear they have been executed.
They are proud of it
and have posted them on Facebook.
Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube
and others have a major responsibility,
because they’re holding vital evidence.
This is my mum,
nobody can dispute that,
she’s my mum.
It’s a very very serious crime,
the mutilation of the bodies of soldiers.
We prosecute the most grave crimes at the ICC.
‘War Crimes For Likes’
This is Mahmoud al-Werfali,
a special forces commander
in the Libyan National Army.
He is about to kill three captured fighters.
Under international law this is a war crime.
The full unedited video
has been on Facebook for two years,
has been watched over 10 thousand times on Youtube,
and is still being shared on Twitter.
The International Criminal Court
used it as evidence to indict al-Werfali,
for the war crime of killing captured fighters.
A BBC Arabic investigation
has found nearly a 100 images and videos
on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter
documenting graphic violence
most of which are too gruesome to show.
Under international law
the killing of unarmed civilians,
the desecration of bodies,
and sharing the images for propaganda purposes
can constitute a war crime.
Our investigation has identified
some of those individuals
suspected of committing such crimes.
Like this man …
In this Facebook video he is celebrating
the death and mutilation of an Islamist commander.
He uploaded it to this
Facebook profile page over 2 years ago.
But who is he?
He’s Sherif al-Marghany.
Photographed here with Libya’s new strongman …
General Khalifa Haftar.
Other photos on his page show him in military uniform.
In this one,
he’s wearing the
distinctive badge of the al-Saiqa brigade,
an elite special unit within the Libyan National Army.
He posted this photo.
He’s proud of it
as if there is no criminality
or illegality in what they’ve done.
I have so many examples.
They reflect the way Facebook
facilitates publishing such material
and making them available for everyone to see.
This is another photo of a group of fighters
wearing military uniform …
There’s a dead man,
and they’re proud and taking selfies.
We identified the man taking the selfie
through this Facebook profile page.
His name is Zakaria Fercash.
His Facebook profile contains many other images
that he has uploaded of dead jihadist fighters
being humiliated and degraded.
Under international law,
“outrages upon personal dignity”
can amount to a war crime.
We also found this photo of Zakaria
with the indicted war crimes suspect
Our investigation can reveal
that Zakaria Fercash, Sherif al-Marghani
and Mahmoud al-Werfali,
are all members of the Libyan National Army’s
al-Saiqa special forces unit,
led by General Khalifa Haftar
General Haftar commands
the largest fighting force in the country
with around 20,000 troops,
fighter jets, tanks and armoured personnel carriers,
he’s currently trying to seize control of the country.
Since the death of Colonel Ghaddafi in 2011,
Libya has been split into warring factions
and all sides in this conflict have
been accused of committing atrocities.
To the west, is the Government of National Accord,
backed by the United Nations.
Opposing it in the east,
is General Haftar’s Libyan National Army
backed by the UAE, Egypt & Saudi Arabia.
And recently, US President Donald Trump
phoned General Haftar
to back his role in what he called “fighting terrorism”
And dotted across the country
are jihadist militias vying for influence
In 2017, after months of intense fighting
the Libyan National Army
besieged the coastal neighbourhood of Ganfouda,
south west of Benghazi,
which was under the control
of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council,
an umbrella organisation of jihadist groups
who have also been accused of carrying out brutal attacks and unlawful killings.
No mercy in fighting the opposition
I don’t care about captives
A battlefield is a battlefield.
End of story.
Hundreds of civilians were trapped for months
without food and water.
There were about a 130 families inside Ganfouda
including almost 400 children.
All means of survival were banned from the area.
Families were targeted …
… the city was under siege.
It is estimated that more than 300 people
including dozens of children
lost their lives in the crackdown by the LNA.
We found many other videos
that add to the growing list of alleged war crimes committed in Ganfouda.
These three graphic videos
have been on YouTube for over a year
and have been watched hundreds of times
they show a body being exhumed,
paraded through the streets,
mutilated and then hung.
So how significant is the desecration of bodies?
It’s a very very serious crime,
the prohibition on mutilation
of the bodies of soldiers of the enemy
goes back hundreds of years
and it’s very hard to rank
war crimes in order of seriousness,
they’re all serious
and we only prosecute the most grave crimes
and investigate the most grave crimes at the ICC
When we analysed these videos further,
we recognised a familiar face
Zakaria Fercash the LNA soldier from the smiling selfie.
Here he is again with
the body of another opposition fighter.
His identity was confirmed
by his fellow soldiers chanting his name.
“Outrages upon personal dignity”,
can be prosecuted as a war crime.
But it wasn’t just the bodies of fighters
that were desecrated.
This guy is trampling on dead bodies.
They are proud of it and have posted it on Facebook.
We know some of these people,
we have identified some of the women and children.
One of the women is 77 years old.
Is she really a fighter?
This is my mum on the day
of the massacre of the families in Ganfouda
It’s my mum,
nobody disputes that …
she’s my mum.
Ali Hamza fled Libya
30 years ago and now lives Canada.
This is a photo of my brother Mahmood
He’s lying in a pool of his own blood
They killed him alongside my mum and my sister Faiza
His mother Alia,
his brothers Mahmoud and Ibrahim
and sisters Faisa, and Feriha,
were all killed during the Ganfouda siege.
On Sunday March 19th 2017,
browsing some Facebook pages that cover Ganfouda,
I came through news about a massacre,
and I find names listed
and I find the names of my mum
and brothers and sisters.
I didn’t continue …
I just didn’t continue.
When these acts are filmed,
posted or broadcast on social media,
it may be an attempt
to incite others to this type of practice,
this crime and that again elevates the seriousness.
This doesn’t just stop at the foot soldiers,
it goes all the way up the chain of command.
Because it’s the commanders who are responsible
for controlling their forces
and if they are directing them
to commit these acts,
if there’s evidence of that,
they should be charged as perpetrators.
Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and others
at one level have a major responsibility
because they’re holding vital evidence
and they should make sure that that is preserved
and hand it over to to alert the authorities,
the ICC in this case.
So what are social media sites
like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter
doing to prevent the sharing of graphic content
that may constitute a war crime?
Now, the images you flag,
we’re not going to argue that those are not disturbing,
they are horrific and they are documenting
real world trauma,
at the very least.
What we have to look at is how it’s been shared.
Most of those are shared with no comment at all.
so there’s no context as to exactly why it’s shared.
But most of the graphic images we found on Facebook,
do have comments.
Like this one,
that Sherif al-Magahany posted of him celebrating,
the mutilation of a jihadist commander,
with the description:
“This is the corpse of the dog.”
There are 79 other comments on this page
Many of which seem harmless,
but this one says:
“He’s a dead dog.
He should be hung with his buddies,
for all to see on the gates of Benghazi.
So why can’t Facebook
use descriptions and comments like these,
to identify graphic content?
Sometimes there are very conflicting narratives,
of whether or not the victim is a terrorist.
or whether it’s a civilian over who’s committing that act.
we cannot be the pure arbiters of truth.
But according to Facebook’s own community standards on violence and graphic content
images that ‘glorify violence or celebrate the suffering and humiliation of others’ should be removed.
If groupings are using those platforms
to propagate their campaigns,
then those platforms should seriously look at their role because they could then be assisting,
in that process of further crimes being committed.
Facebook has since removed
all the videos we flagged to them.
But none of the Facebook accounts linked to these videos have been suspended.
and disturbing images like these
still remain on their platform.
YouTube, have only taken down
one of the videos we alerted them to.
Last year, al-Werfali announced he was turning himself in to the military police,
but as yet he hasn’t been handed over to the ICC.
The other soldiers that our investigation identified as committing suspected war crimes,
are still at large.