Inside Gadhafi’s Secret Underground Arsenal
|4:27:47 PM, Thursday, March 17, 2011|
"BENGHAZI, Libya — It took a while to get into the underground bunker. There were too many men in the way, hauling too many crates of machine guns, ammunition, and 30-year-old rockets. But eventually, there was a lull. I ducked past the steel-reinforced door to the bunker’s entrance and moved down the debris-laden concrete ramp — trying very, very hard not to disturb the dozens of weapons-bearers bringing their arms to the surface.
Below, the ramp opened into a large room supported by cement columns. The air was dense and the only light came from small air ducts near the ceiling. The cases sat piled wall-to-wall, just one of many arms caches hidden away by Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. But now the weapons are in the hands of his enemies here, a rebellious city of nearly 1 million people who, relatively unarmed, recently drove out Gadhafi’s special forces and mercenaries. Today, the rebels are preparing for further battle — and maybe even an attack on Gadhafi’s stronghold in Tripoli. But this time, they’ve got the weapons that the eccentric tyrant used to oppress his people for 41 years.
“We’ve found everything from bullets to rockets,” the man in the headlamp and blue spelunking jumpsuit said as he climbed out of a nearby hole that led into a small, concrete room. He led me to a manhole that descended around 50 feet to a tunnel not unlike a large sewer system. “There is a huge network of tunnels underneath us. A few friends went in two hours ago and they haven’t come out yet.” Gadhafi’s men torched the compound before they escaped in Land Rovers and through the secret tunnels.
The bunker and the tunnels form part of the Katiba, a vast, white-and green military and administrative complex from which Gadhafi could run the country. But only his inner circle and paid mercenaries were allowed inside. Until now..."
-- Closing some browser tabs I've saved open, so some of this is a bit old, but not very. Still very relevant.