By Taziz Hasairi.
Zuwara, 6 January 2014:
The Crime Counter Unit, Zuwara Branch, or the Masked Ones as people like to call them, . . .[restrict]celebrated their first anniversary on 4 January as the town’s main security force.
The CCU is now a part of the Ministry of Interior but in Zuwara it started off as the idea of a small number of young men from different cultural groups. In late 2012, they set up a committee to approve members who wanted to join. There were two basic conditions. The first was that that a member had to have been a revolutionary who had fully supporting the 17 February Revolution. The second that he had high moral standards and had not been in trouble with the law.
It took about two months to gather sufficient members. Meanwhile, the aim was to win the support and respect of local people. This was helped when it received the endorsement of Zuwara Local Council. the group’s first mission then took place a year ago on 4 January when they captured a man allegedly heading an operation to attack Zuwara hospital.
The creation of the CCU was a turning point in Zuwara’s fortunes, one of the founders told the Libya Herald.
“It was needed. After the revolution, Zuwara, like the other towns and cities, suffered from chaos, robberies and random killings – there were 15 between 2011 and 2012. But now, a year on, the crime rate is practically zero and not a single killing has taken place so far. The secret of our success was the ability to convince people to support us and the good reputations we had.”
Three months ago, a survey was undertaken in Zuwara to see what local residents thought about security. In one of the questions, respondents were asked what they thought was the most trustworthy military force in the area. Ninety-two percent replied: “The masked ones”.
It is said, perhaps tongue in cheek, that the main reason of the remaining eight percent did not was because they or a family member or friend had been arrested by the CCU.
The idea of wearing masks was deemed necessary because in towns where everyone tends to know each other, there was the possibility (if not the probability) of revenge attacks. With the masks it is much more difficult.
Zuwara is now considered one of the safest towns in Libya. There is always a CCU unit operating at any time of day or night and it is the only force that Zuwara and the council count on.
Saturday’s celebration honouring the members, was attended by Zuwara Local Council and local civil society officials, families of CCU members and journalists from across Libya. [/restrict]