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GlobalPost correspondent James Foley spent 44 days in captivity inside Muammar Gaddafi's Libya after being captured by loyalist fighters on the outskirts of Bani Walid in April 2011. His journey revealed a Libya that was rarely seen and little understood. This is his story.

Inside gadaffis libya sirte 16 02 2012
Libyans visit Sirte's damaged cemetery on November 10, 2011. Less than five percent of the residents of Moamer Kadhafi's hometown have returned to their homes. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)
Africa

Inside Gaddafi's Libya: To Gaddafi's Hometown

After his capture, Foley and two other reporters are blindfolded and taken to Sirte.

Editor's note: GlobalPost correspondent James Foley was killed on Aug. 19, 2014 by Islamic State militants in Syria, where he had been held for close to two years.

In 2011, Foley spent 44 days in captivity inside Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. This is the second chapter of that story. For the full series, click here.

As we were driven fast over the sandy hills toward Brega, I stared at the back of Clare’s head. The soldiers wore semi-military uniforms — khaki fatigues, web belts and army boots. Like the rebels, they appeared to be mostly teenagers.

Their aggression gave way to a celebratory reenactment of the attack. Pretending their fingers were AK-47s, they shot into the air, laughing. I had seen this kind of behavior before. Soldiers often made light of an attack to mask the confusion and pain that inflicting violence must cause.

We pulled into a neighborhood in Brega, which seemed eerily quiet. The loyalist forces had commandeered a civilian house. All the other houses appeared recently abandoned. The soldiers yanked me out of the truck by the back of my arms, I started to fall out head first. Then one of the leaders stopped the soldier and sat me up before I hit the ground. The entirety of our detainment would be colored by this kind of confusion, acts of violence and intimidation muddled by small acts of decency.

More from GlobalPost: Who are Libya's rebels?

We were marched inside and forced to kneel toward opposite walls. One of the young soldiers came toward me and I cringed, preparing myself for another beating. Instead, he began to wrap my bleeding head with toilet paper. He said some comforting words in Arabic and I felt a fleeting moment of calm.

Clare, Manu and I were taken into the living room and made to sit on a row of couches facing three soldiers. The older one, maybe in his mid-twenties, with slicked-back hair, questioned us in broken English, asking where we were from. Clare and I repeated Ameriki; Manu — Espani.

He held up a photo from my wallet they’d confiscated. It was of my youngest brother Mark in his American military uniform with an American flag behind him. He examined the photo and pointed at me. "Militar," he said.

"No," I replied emphatically. "Brother, brother." I gestured to the back of the photo, to an inscription my mother probably wrote. “Love Mark,” in her precise script, as if that was some kind of proof, for a Libyan who couldn’t read English, that the photo wasn't of me.

"No problem," the young man in charge said. It was the first time that I heard that phrase, but it wouldn't be the last. I'd hear those words many times over. The phrase would come to mean its opposite. For me, it indicated that, in fact, this was a big problem. “Two or three days you go back to your country,” he said — another line I would hear many times.

Two young soldiers stood guard, one with his AK-47 pointed in our direction. We asked them to loosen the bonds, which had become very uncomfortable, but they shook their heads.

Clare whispered to me if Anton was okay. Her glasses had been knocked off when she was punched, and she’d seen Anton in a pool of blood, but wasn't sure what had happened. Manu and I told her Anton was dead. Clare looked wounded. The soldiers yelled at us to stop talking.

We could hear soldiers trudging back and forth in other rooms. A few sauntered into the living room. Their youthful swagger made me nervous. A skinny one saw my neck pouch and rebel press ID under my collar. He pulled out the ID, flipped it over and examined it with curiosity. He made some jokes in Arabic and spit at me. Their leader ushered them out like children bothering the dinner guests.

More from GlobalPost: The race is on to find Libya's missing missiles (VIDEO)

"You think we're going to Tripoli?" Clare asked. I nodded. The thought was dreadful. Several New York Times reporters had been captured weeks earlier. It was a story we knew by heart. It had read like a

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120216/libya-james-foley-muammar-gaddafi-sirte-chapter-two