Their outrage might baffle many Libyans, who considered Gaddafi a monster in human form. but the country’s new National Transitional Council knows that the bitterness among his defeated supporters is a dangerous problem which will test their ability to bring reconciliation to the new Libya.
Gaddafi supporters have lost their figurehead leader, and are probably too demoralised at the moment to start the insurgency that some hotheads among them have threatened. but in a land awash with guns there are large numbers of resentful young men, bitter about losing out, who might well take up arms if they are not persuaded that they have a place in the new Libya.
In places like Bani Walid, such efforts to win them over have not got far. for all that the town now has pro-revolutionary flags, bunting and graffiti, those who support the new government say that many homes still have pictures of Gaddafi inside, and claim such homes would fly green flags if they could.
Liberation was a trauma for Bani Walid, a hilltop town two hours south of Tripoli, surrounded by groves of olives.
It enjoyed favoured status under Gaddafi, thanks to a succession of education ministers who handed scholarships to the town’s boys and girls. They didn’t need to be too bright, only loyal, a quality that ensured they graduated to good jobs in government.
Thanks to such loyalty, it was almost his last stronghold to fall. his son Saif al-Islam directed the resistance for several weeks after rebels captured Tripoli, fleeing into the Sahara about ten days ago with a column of mercenaries and loyal fighters.
He is now believed to be negotiating a surrender to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, and perhaps at the same time trying to find mercenaries to fly him to an African haven.
After Saif fled Bani Walid, the rebels finally entered to encounter a hostile and deeply suspicious population.
“The first lot of rebels from Benghazi weren’t too bad, handing out bottles of water and food for us,” said a pot-bellied man in the empty marketplace. “Then the rebels from Zawiya turned up and started looting our homes.”
People in the town claimed that hundreds of cars were stolen by victorious rebels, driven away packed with refrigerators, televisions and other property.
“I’m afraid that when the Bani Walid people return they will want revenge on the rebels,” said Farage Salah, 44, a mechanic who had just come back from his place of refuge in a nearby town to find his house looted. “There is no security now and the future is very uncertain.”
Dr Mohammed Easa, the new head of Bani Walid’s hospital and a supporter of the revolution, admitted that the town’s population had to be won over. “Gaddafi is history now, and they have to adapt to a new world. They need time to see the advantages of the revolution in a few months they will see.”
Elsewhere in Libya, many former Gaddafi supporters have taken the pragmatic option and joined the revolution.
One government-employed translator who The Sunday Telegraph met in June, when he pledged to die fighting for Gaddafi, turned up after the Tripoli uprising at the Corinthia Hotel offering his services to journalists for $400 a day.
In Tarhouna, on the way to Bani Walid, a revolutionary called Fathi Moftah said that throughout the crisis most people in the town had stayed loyal to Gaddafi.
“They changed their minds eventually,” he said. “It happened on August 20th, when the rebels arrived.”
One such pro-Gaddafi man was Yussef Mohammed, notorious locally for denouncing the rebels as “rats” and climbing up to the roof of a government building to fire his Kalashnikov into the air every time state television mistakenly announced that Misurata had been “liberated from rats”.
The two, bitter enemies a few weeks ago, now make unlikely friends, drinking coffee together in a café in the town square where Mr Mohammed grudgingly pledged allegiance to the revolution. “I’m pessimistic about the future. Security is not good, and foreigners are coming to take our oil,” he said, as Mr Moftah tried to reassure him that a new era of prosperity was dawning.
Most higher-level regime people vanished from the capital in August when the uprising drove out their master, abandoning their homes and possessions. They are thought to be hiding in remote farms and villages, or if they had the money and connections, across Libya’s borders.
Those that the revolution caught up with are in prison. in Bani Walid The Sunday Telegraph got an insight into the revolution’s strategy for dealing with the problem of huge numbers of detainees. It lets them go.
Commander Mubruk Ali, a bearded giant in a camouflage uniform, led the way into a building at the town’s airbase, currently being used as the rebel headquarters. Inside, a handful of Gaddafi fighters were still being held in a makeshift prison.
Inside he was greeted warmly by Mohammed Jamal Sharif, 19. a fortnight ago they were trying to kill each other.
“We are going to set him free tonight,” Commander Ali said. “His father is coming from Zlitan to collect him. The military council there will keep an eye on him.”
Mr Sharif, who had a mop of curly hair not unlike Gaddafi’s, insisted he had been misled by the old regime.
“I thought I was fighting against mercenaries who were conquering Libya for the French to colonise it,” he said.
Commander Ali shrugged when asked if he was worried they would take up arms again.
“Most of them expected to be executed because that’s what Gaddafi forces would have done. By treating them like this, we hope we can persuade them that the revolution is for all Libyans.”