Weekly Eye on Jihadis in Libya Update – July 4, 2017

ISIS in Action

On 28 June, two ISIS captives being held in Misrata, one Libyan and the other Egyptian, were said to have escaped from a prison belonging to the military intelligence agency in al-Kharrouba area in Misrata. The reports have not been independently verified and could be misinformation designed to muddy Misrata’s reputation. Sources in Misrata deny that any ISIS prisoners have escaped.

The Egyptian national is said to be Asharf Muhsen Ali, an explosives expert who was in Derna before departing the city on 19 April 2016. He was taken prisoner during the battle between the Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces and ISIS in Sirte last year.

The Libyan national is said to be Emrajaa Mabruk al-Ghaithi, a young man from Derna. He reportedly became a member of the Omar al-Mukhtar Brigade in 2011 under the leadership of Zeyad Balaam, who was until very recently a commander of one of the units affiliated with the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB). Al-Ghaithi later joined Ibrahim Jadhran and in 2014 pledged loyalty to ISIS and joined their ranks in Benghazi.

On 28 June, the LNA found the remains of three of its iconic fighters in Street 10 in Sabri including LNA officer Suliman al-Houthi, who became famous following a video that showed his execution at the hands of ISIS fighters in Sabri. Suliman’s words to his killers on video ‘End it with Honour’ became popular and helped increase local support for the LNA. Notably, the man who killed him was captured by the LNA earlier this year.

Other Jihadi Actors

Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has taken full control of the Souq al-Hout area in central Benghazi and the Benghazi local council have started clean-up operations in the surrounding area. The remaining jihadists are now boxed into a 2 square kilometre area in Sabri, prompting the LNA to end all airstrikes nearby. Fierce battles have raged in Sabri over the last few days, with more than 25 LNA fighters killed. On 2 July, sources within the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) announced four of its members were killed during the fighting, including the administrators of social media pages, with many more injured. The LNA is expected to declare victory soon.

Islamist-affiliated, anti-Government of National Accord (GNA) factions, who were evicted from the capital in May by pro-GNA militias, are organising themselves for a demonstration against the GNA on 7 July in Tripoli. Local sources also report ongoing preparations by both hardliners and pro-GNA militias in Tripoli for a new battle for control of the capital. Some of these hardliner Islamist groups have reportedly started to call for the formation of a ‘Tripoli Revolutionary Shura Council’, in the same vein as Shura Councils in Benghazi and Derna.

A weekly update of ISIS’s actions, the Western response, and developments pertaining to Libya’s other militias is available by subscribing here. To read about Western countries’ responses to ISIS in Libya this week, click here, and to read about the developments within the anti-ISIS Coalition of Libyan militias, click here. To read all four sections of this week’s Eye on ISIS in Libya report, click here.

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