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Thursday
Jun022011

Resistance in Tripoli: Risking Life with Covert Acts of Defiance

US State Department(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- A man enters the camera frame, drops a trash bag on the sidewalk and disappears. Moments later patriotic music begins to blare. It hardly seems like a daring act of defiance, but these images are captured in Tripoli, and the music is Libya's old national anthem, banned by Moammar Gadhafi since he took power in a coup in 1969.

"It's very dangerous. I probably commit a hangable offense every day," says a Libyan who calls himself "Niz." ABC News spoke to Niz by Skype, the only way feels he can evade detection by Gadhafi forces who desperately want to discover his identity. Niz is one of the leaders of the anti-Gadhafi resistance in Tripoli. He and his "Free Generation Movement" are the young Libyans behind what he calls "peaceful covert acts of defiance."

Another video shows someone painting a huge red, green and black flag, the flag of pre-Gadhafi Libya that has now become the flag of the resistance. In grainy darkness, it's possible to see someone unfurling it from an overpass in the heart of Tripoli. The flags include messages: "We Will Never Forget Our Martyrs," "Down With Gadafi" or simply "Free Libya!"

Niz was born in Tripoli. He is a doctor in his late 20s who lives and works in London. Three days after the revolution began on Feb. 17, he took a leave from his medical practice and rushed home to take part in the 'liberation' of Libya. He thought it would happen much as it did in Tunisia and Egypt: a few days or a few weeks. Three months later, he is still in Tripoli, still fighting.

One video shot on May 26 chronicles some key moments in a four-part audio assault in Tripoli's Fashlum District, an anti-Gadhafi area near Green Square that is under heavy security lockdown. "The significance of putting something in Fashlum was a way to say we salute you for your continued efforts of defiance," he says.

Niz's group prepared four self-powered speakers, each with SD cards playing a loop of the banned Libyan national anthem. For good measure, images of the banned flag, a sign reading "This is a gift to the heroes of Fashlum from the Free Generation Movement and the rest of the people of Tripoli" and a cartoon of Gadhafi with a slash through it were also included. The speakers and paraphernalia are concealed in a green trash bag. The bags were discretely dropped in key locations across Fashlum: security checkpoints or outside a mosque after evening prayers. First, there is one anthem blaring; 10 minutes later, another, then another, then a fourth.

The mosque assault was not captured on video, but the drop on Fashlum street was. The footage shows a man placing the speaker on the pavement in the middle of the street near a checkpoint manned by Gadhafi forces. Various people walk past, cars stop to listen. A small group assembles at the end of the street. A few minutes later, a truck appears and a man picks up the bag, picks up the blaring bag, but locals tell him to leave it, and he does. Shortly after that several anxious shopkeepers close their stores, fearing something violent will erupt. Eventually an indignant security man picks up the bag and walks away with it.

Niz has also covertly captured footage of what he says are the growing number of anti-Gadhafi demonstrations erupting throughout Tripoli. On Monday he was in the Souk al Jomaa District for the funeral of two brothers who died in the resistance while attacking Gadhafi security forces. What followed was an angry anti-Gadhafi demonstration that lasted several hours before police broke it up with bullets.

Niz says the Gadhafi regime is gradually losing control.

"There is no doubt that there is a progressive, albeit slow, increase in activity, which is leading to 'zero hour' [the fall of Gadhafi]. How close are we to zero hour?" asks Niz. "I can't say. I can tell you that we are moving toward it rather than away from it. There are more and more things happening every day against the regime. But the cloak of fear has to fall. It is falling, but it hasn't fallen. This is Tripoli, where Gadhafi is. This is the place he will defend to the death."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio