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Libyan teen says Gadhafi's troops forced her to execute rebels

By Arwa Damon, CNN
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Libyan teen: I was forced to kill rebels
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 19-year-old says she was told to kill rebels or be killed by Gadhafi's men
  • She says she was taken from home and forced to join an all-female brigade
  • She and other women in the brigade were raped repeatedly, she says
  • She says she killed 11 rebels before jumping out a window to escape

(CNN) -- Nisreen lies listless curled under a blanket, an armed rebel guard at her door.

She looks vulnerable, and younger than her age - 19. She has soft features, a heart-shaped face, large brown eyes and full lips.

She speaks haltingly, often falling into a tortured silence, unable to verbalize her thoughts and emotions as haunting images of what she did play out like a curse in her mind.

"One of them had facial hair, like this." She gestures in the shape of a goatee around her mouth, recalling the face of one of the young men she shot dead.

Nisreen became an executioner for Moammar Gadhafi's forces. She admits she murdered 11 rebels, all prisoners of the Gadhafi regime. (CNN is not identifying Nisreen with her full name because of her experiences in Gadhafi's all-female brigade.)

"They brought one person in at a time and they said shoot him," she tells us, her voice quiet, her words chilling. "There was someone on either side of me and one behind and they said if you don't shoot we will shoot you."

She pauses, sliding back into that horrific moment.

I would turn my head away and shoot. I saw the blood dripping, it just kept flowing.
--Nisreen
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"I would turn my head away and shoot. I saw the blood dripping, it just kept flowing."

She says she was told the rebels wanted to rape women and pillage the capital.

Nisreen was a member of the female unit of Gadhafi's popular militia. She says she was forcibly taken from her mother - who is battling cancer - by the head of the unit, a family friend. She says the two argued, about what she doesn't know. That was around a year ago.

She was trained to handle weapons and then kept by her commander at the headquarters of the 77th Brigade, right next to Gadhafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound. She and the hundreds of other women who made up her unit were kept isolated, cut off from their families.

Some of the women with her were ardent supporters of the regime. She says she wasn't, but she couldn't leave.

"My brother came and tried to get me out," she says, but he was threatened and told to leave.

When the uprising began in February, she says her female leader summoned her to see the 77th Brigade commander. He raped her.

"I screamed," she tells us. It made no difference. She was summoned twice again and raped by two other commanders. Her leader told her she had to bear it.

She says all the women in her unit were raped, but they were forbidden to speak about it.

As the rebels closed in on Tripoli, she and two other young women were assigned to the Bousalim neighborhood, where some of the heaviest fighting was taking place. It was there that she was forced to be an executioner.

"They were all so young," she says of her victims before sliding into yet another heavy, burdened silence.

She escaped by jumping out of a second-story window as a firefight erupted behind her. She was captured by rebel fighters and brought to the hospital.

Although the rebels plan to put her on trial, many of them seem to pity her, as do the hospital staff.

One of her doctors, Nadia Benyounis, says she was speechless when she first heard about her case.

"When I saw her, I thought that she looked like a kid. Her face is so young, innocent, totally innocent," she says. "She lost her life."

"She was manipulated by Gadhafi forces, unfortunately. Gadhafi manipulated us all."

Benyounis says Nisreen was robbed of everything -- her dignity, her self-worth, her family -- and turned into a killer.

"She is silent all the time." Benyounis tells us. "I watch her closely, she tries to sleep all the time to escape from this reality."

But there is no escape.

Nisreen's mother is in Tunisia getting cancer treatment. Nisreen says they spoke on the phone and she told her everthing. "My mother was very upset," she says.

Her father doesn't know. The family fears he is too ill to bear the news.

Her eyes well with tears.

"All I want is to go home," she says. "I want my mother."

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