According to Mohammed Abdul Malek of the London-based human rights organisation Libya Watch, Al Ghazal was kidnapped at around midnight on 21 May by two armed men, who forced his car to a stop and took him away into their own vehicle. Mohammed al-Mirghani, a friend and fellow journalist who was with him at the time, was left unharmed. He said the two gunmen identified themselves as national security officials.
The family received no further news of Al Ghazal until his barely recognizable body was found on 2 June in the eastern city of Benghazi. The autopsy report referred to many signs of torture. Most of his fingers had been severed, and the body had multiple bruises and stab wounds. He had been finished off by a shot to the head.