RLI: Mosque vandalized by Wagner Group neo-Nazis in Libya
Robert Lansing Institute – June 11th, 2020
Russian mercenaries from Wagner PMC who are fighting in Libya on the side of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar desecrated Niffati Mosque in Ein Zara in south of Tripoli.Russia’s Wagner mercenaries burned down Niffati Mosque in Ein Zara, south Tripoli, and sprayed anti-Islam graffiti on the wall: “I see mosques on Russian soil, but it would be better to see them in hellfire”.. Video: The Libya Observer.
The mosque’s photos and videos show the words in Russian written on burnt walls. “I see mosques on Russian soil, but I’d rather see them in hellfire,” one of the inscriptions says, supplemented by 14/88 digital combination, associated with neo-Nazi subculture.
The numbers 14 and 88, used in various combinations, are a code used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists to broadcast hate speech in a covert manner and to show their alliance with others in their movement. The number 14 refers to David Lane, a notorious white supremacist leader and murderer, who at one point issued the 14-word statement: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Lane, who was incarcerated for various crimes including the assassination of a Jewish radio host, wrote his infamous words in 1985 while in prison (he ultimately died in prison in 2007). The number 88 refers to the fact that H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is HH. This stands for “Heil Hitler,” part of the historic Nazi salute. Essentially, 1488 is a callback to these two figures and their racist ideologies.
Wagner mercenaries left another inscription on the walls of the mosque: “There is no black in the colors of Zenit.” This is the St. Petersburg ultras’ slogan that support Zenit football team. Consequently, those who desecrated the mosque obviously come from Russian Petersburg.
In 2012, Zenit fans posted a “Selection-12” statement on the club’s website urging not to buy black players.
Gazprombank JSC is the main club’s shareholder (51.01%), and the largest ones are Gazprom transgaz St. Petersburg LLC (25.01%) and SIBUR holding PJSC (10.75%). Thus, the club’s racist policy encapsulates the club’s state owners.
Other scene photos show pork stew cans ostentatiously left by Russian mercenaries inside the burnt mosque to show their disregard for the Muslim place of worship.
The mosque was vandalized by Russian mercenaries apparently after the militias affiliated with eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar targeted a mosque in south of Tripoli. The Russian mercenaries were obviously part of the Haftar units.
The subsequent desecration of the mosque indicates that Russian mercenaries are taking part in hostilities as mop-up units in street fighting.
Government forces are under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, and international efforts to enforce a cease-fire have proven unsuccessful.
The photos of the killed Wagner Group fighters and documents found there confirm the presence of Russian mercenaries as well.
IMINT analysis gives a low likelihood that the fire in the mosque was triggered by a shell hit. The integrity of the walls, window and doorways speaks for the arson inside.
Wagner Group is supervised by the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces behind the scenes.
The militias get medical treatment at a clinic in St. Petersburg owned by SOGAZ insurance company, managed and partially owned by people associated with Vladimir Putin. Clinic Director General Vladislav Baranov is a business partner to one of Putin’s daughters, Maria Vorontsova. Vice-chairman of SOGAZ board is Mikhail Putin, whose father is the Russian president’s cousin, the Russian media claim.
The leader of Wagner PMC unit Alexander Kuznetsov (callsign “Ratibor”), who is being treated at this clinic, confirmed to Reuters he had been in Libya. Government procurement site states that SOGAZ insures life and health of Russian armed forces and the national guard personnel, under a contract with Russian authorities.
Twitter post showing the helicopter being transported along the road is voiced by Russian speech, that also speaks for the Russians’ taking part in the war in Libya.
In early November 2019, The New York Times announced that nearly two hundred fighters from Russia had arrived in Libya.
However, President Erdogan of Turkey told Anadolu agency on December 25 about two thousand Russian mercenaries from Wagner PMC.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the UAE of bankrolling and backing Russian mercenaries fighting in Libya alongside the forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar.
Wagner mercenaries have already been accused of war crimes in Syria, particularly of brutal murder, dismemberment and burning of Muslim Hamadi Taha Al-Boutah from Harita, who had worked in Lebanon and came back to Syria to see his relatives, but was detained and executed by Russian mercenaries.