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Posted at 2:55 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Gaddafi poison-gas videos fakes or frauds

By Jeff Stein

You Tube videos purporting to show Moammar Gaddafi’s preparations for using chemical weapons on protesters are either crude propaganda or the product of Libyans who simply don’t know what they are looking at--or both, experts say.

One of the videos shows a Libyan protester handling what he says are “chemical and biological explosives” captured in Misurata, which was overrun by anti-Gadaffi forces on Feb. 24.

"These are the biological and chemical weapons that look like bombs of different sizes, used to eradicate people, found in Misurata in the storage facilities of the security forces' battalion,” the narrator says, picking up a number of canisters with his bare hands and displaying them for the camera.

“This sample has some various types of poison gas and some germ bombs,” he continues. “It…would have been horrifying if these bombs had been used to eradicate the Libyan citizens….They (the weapons) are in a safe place thank God after a furious battle [that] took place last night.”

In reality, they are mostly aircraft ejection-seat canisters, which a close examination of the blurry videos clearly shows.

“There is nothing in this video that is indicative of chemical ordnance,” says a Libya arms expert whose diplomatic position prohibits him from being quoted by name. ”At least some of the canisters are clearly labeled as ejection seat cartridges for aircraft, or similar purposes.”

“The video in question,” he added, “looks more the product of jumpy civilians who can't tell a CW [chemical weapon] from a can of Raid and are anxious to aid the agit-prop efforts against the government.”

Another video shows a man identified as a Libyan army general who joined the protesters during the takeover of Misurata air field, waving a gas mask and shouting that “Gaddafi is now using poison gas against…Libyan citizens,” according to a caption accompanying the video. It adds, “He says this type of mask is used only to protect from POISON GAS and CHEMICAL WEAPONS.” [Emphasis theirs.]

In reality, other experts said, the mask might protect its wearer against tear gas or pepper spray, but not chemical or biological weapons, whose handling requires full-body hazardous-materials suits.

By Jeff Stein  | March 1, 2011; 2:55 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence, Media, Military  
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