IS in Action

Last week, the Libyan National Army (LNA) declared the Oil Crescent to be a closed military zone after a number of IS convoys were seen inside Harawah town, between Sirte and Sidra. However, on 26 November, al-Ghani oil field, which is in LNA controlled territory but has been closed since 2015 after an IS attack, was ransacked and buildings torched by unknown assailants.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed that US forces conducted two airstrikes against targets inside Libya on 17 and 19 November respectively. According to the statement, AFRICOM worked with the Government of National Accord (GNA) to launch the two ‘precision’ airstrikes which hit IS fighters near Fuqaha, south of Waddan.

According to recently released reports, the LNA captured Anis Bualjieh Awami last month. Awami is an IS fighter who was pictured holding up the head of Abdulnabi al-Shargawi at the Ateeq Mosque in Derna on 3 June 2015. Awami was reportedly seized by an LNA unit last month from near his home in Derna. Awami was reportedly one of the IS guards at the execution but did not carry out the execution himself. After IS was defeated by the Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council (DMSC), Awami was arrested before switching allegiance to the DMSC in 2016, leading to his release.

On 22 November, two bodies were recovered by the Libyan Red Crescent in Sirte, suspected to be IS fighters killed the year before.

Other Jihadi Actors

On 27 November, the Libyan National Army (LNA) conducted an airstrike on Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) targets in al-Dahra al-Hamar area south of Derna.

On 23 November, a mutiny inside a Misratan prison among Islamist hardliners led to four prisoners fleeing, with two later killed in a faceoff with prison guards.


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. To read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

IS in Action

On 15 November, the Libyan National Army (LNA) said it had conducted two airstrikes against an IS target in the desert southeast of Sirte. According to an LNA air force commander, the target was a storage facility and hideout for IS fighters 90km south of Harawah. The site was reportedly being used as base from which to launch attacks.

On 17 November, the US conducted a drone strike against IS targets in the desert south of Sirte. It was reportedly successful, but no information has yet been officially released. According to a US defence official quoted by Fox News, the strike killed several IS fighters. It was the US’s first airstrike in Libya in two months.

Other Jihadi Actors

On 18 November, the Libyan National Army (LNA) conducted two airstrikes against Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) targets in al-Dahra al-Hamar area, south of Derna. The LNA has enforced a siege around Derna for nearly three years in an attempt to weaken the DMSC which controls the city.

According to a report researched in early November and published by international organisation REACH on 17 November, formal entry and exit points into and out of Derna remained almost entirely closed, with only limited access to the city via informal crossing points. There are shortages of fuel and staple food supplies, while medical facilities have mostly stopped operating. Issues of lack of liquidity and a lack of municipal services such as electricity, water and rubbish collection have exacerbated the conditions. An official from the parallel eastern government’s Ministry of Health said a shipment of medicines had been sent into the city on 15 November.

On 16 November, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior said that the perpetrators of an attack against Egyptian police forces in the Wahat area in Egypt’s western desert on 20 October, in which 16 policemen and 15 gunmen were killed, were trained in Derna. The statement said that the attackers received training “on the use of heavy weapons and the manufacture of explosives,” in camps in Derna. It said that Egyptian forces have arrested Mohamed Abdullah Mosmary, a Libyan national, who was involved in the Wahat attack.

On 14 November, the Misrata local attorney released a number of high profile fighters who had been detained by Misratan security services for their suspected links to extremist groups, on the grounds of illegal arrest procedures. Amongst these fighters was Brayyek Mazeg al-Masriya, a leading Ansar al-Sharia (AS) and Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) commander from the Oil Crescent region.


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. To read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

IS in Action

IS cells in Libya are reported to have established temporary checkpoints 70 km south of Sirte on the road to Waddan and also near Bohadi village in the same district, on the 8 and 13 November respectively. The group is said to have stopped and searched civilian vehicles and seized goods.

In the 105th edition of IS’s weekly al-Naba online magazine the group claims its fighters in Libya repelled an attack by the Libyan National Army in Cyrenaica on the 2nd of November, causing casualties and damaging equipment.

Other Jihadi Actors

On 9 November, the Libyan National Army (LNA) claimed complete control of Sidi Khribesh district of Benghazi, in the downtown area close to the port. The LNA reportedly defeated the last remaining fighters from the jihadi coalition who had been hiding out there since Khalifa Haftar announced Benghazi had been officially ‘liberated’ in July. Several jihadis and three LNA fighters were reportedly killed in the clashes, and several more injured.

On 7 November, the death of the Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shura Council (BRSC) member Mohammed Bakr al-Yedri, known as ‘al-Nahla’ led to protests in Misrata. Photograph’s of Yedri’s body in Misrata hospital mortuary showed signs of bruising and foaming at the mouth. Supporters claimed he had been subjected to electric shocks. This led to frictions between security forces in the city and protestors, however no clashes were recorded.

The tensions forced the High Council of State (HCS) President Abdurrahman Swehli to go to Misrata on 11 November to meet his former foe Khalifa al-Ghwell, prime minister of the defunct General National Congress (GNC). Both apparently ‘reconciled’ in a published video on social media, after intense arguments between both over the failure of the GNA to unify Libya.


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. To read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

IS in Action

Local sources report that IS fighters continue to traverse the coastal highway 20km east of Sirte, an area deemed to be under the control of the Government of National Accord’s al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces.

Other Jihadi Actors

On the same day, intense clashes broke out in Benghazi’s city centre between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and ‘remnants’ of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC). Three LNA fighters were killed in the clashes and another 10 were injured. This fighting comes after a long lull and the presumed completion of these battles.


 

 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. To read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

IS in Action

An attack on the ‘Tisan’ checkpoint 60km south of Ajdabiya on 25 October killed at least 3 Libyan National Army (LNA) fighters and left another two injured. The IS Amaq news agency released a statement taking responsibility for the attack. Survivors report that the assailants arrived in 7 vehicles and set the entire checkpoint on fire after seizing the LNA’s firearms.

Local sources report that on 29 October, IS fighters established a temporary checkpoint on the coastal highway 20km east of Sirte. The area in question is considered to be under the control of al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA). Meanwhile, tensions in Sirte continue to escalate as the city has suffered from major damage to public utilities, infrastructure, and a lack of basic foodstuffs. Heavy rainfall last week led to sewage overflow and flooding throughout the city adding to local frustration and anger.

Other Jihadis

 

Mainstream forces in the west of Libya continue the crackdown on Islamists linked with IS and Ansar al-Sharia. On 26 October, Misratan security detained three alleged jihadists in Souq al-Khamis, east of Khoms. The suspected jihadists have been identified as Ramadan Shaurbaji, Feisal Zaltum, and Mahmoud Ibshesh. Ibshesh is a member of the Farouk unit which fought against the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Benghazi in 2014 and 2015. Ibshesh was wounded in the battle in 2015 and transferred to Turkey for medical treatment before eventually returning to Khoms.

Clashes were reported earlier this week, in Zliten, a town halfway between Misrata and Khoms, between forces said to be from Misrata and local Islamist fighters. On 25 October, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari gave a press conference stating that personnel and location of arms caches had been discovered as a result of jihadis being interrogated in Misrata.


 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. To read the Eye on ISIS in Libya Team’s blog post about the actions of other jihadi actors, click here. And to read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

Other Jihadi Actors

Clashes between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) resulted in the death of two young DMSC fighters. Salem Abdul Wahhab al-Gerbadi and Abdullah Idris al-Gabaili were killed in the Dahr al-Hamar area south of Derna, on 20 October.

The Tripoli-based Rada Special Deterrent Force (Rada) arrested two senior members of the DMSC on 23 October, at a hotel in downtown Tripoli. Khalid al-Hassadi and Adel al-Karghali were both supposedly working as health coordinators for the DMSC, and were responsible for the care of fighters who were injured during the conflict against IS and the LNA.

The campaign against Islamist hardliners and suspected IS collaborators in Misrata intensified last week. 13 people were taken into custody, including several notable commanders and members of the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) and Ajdabiya Shura Council. The arrests were conducted in accordance with the Libyan General Prosecutor’s issuance of over 800 warrants for arrest in connection with terrorism.

On 19 October, the LNA allegedly arrested a former IS member who was hiding in Derna. Anis Bujeela al-Awami (aka al-Asla) purportedly joined IS in 2014, before defecting to the DMSC with other fighters in 2015, prior to the IS withdrawal from the city that year.


 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. To read the Eye on ISIS in Libya Team’s blog post about the actions of other jihadi actors, click here. And to read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

IS in Action

On 14 October, Ahmed Ben Salem, the spokesman for RADA Special Deterrence Force based in Tripoli, stated that the group has come to an agreement with Tunisian authorities regarding the extradition of woman and children Tunisian prisoners held in Mitiga Prison. The Tunisian newspaper, Al-Sabah, reported that Ben Salem said the agreement entailed the extradition of twenty-one children.

The decision comes just days after Tamim Jendoubi was handed over to his grandfather successfully on Tuesday, by order of the Public Prosecutors Office. He is just one of many family members of IS fighters who were killed or captured by the Bunyan Marsoos Operation and the Libyan security forces.

Other Jihadi Actors 

The IS attack in Misrata earlier this month has provoked city officials to clamp down against Islamist hardliners and suspected IS collaborators. Clashes broke out between hard-line fighters affiliated with Islamist factions and Misratan security forces on 11 October, during a security operation in al-Sakt area south of Misrata city. Thirteen people were arrested as suspected IS members or collaborators, including two senior leaders of the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB): al-Saadi al-Nawfali and Brayyek al-Masreya. Rabee Mohammed Mousa Faraj al-Shaaeri, reportedly a member of the Ajdabiya Shura Council, died on 15 October from wounds sustained during the clashes. A key commander of Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, Mohammed al-Nous, was also reportedly arrested in Misrata on 14 October after he was found hiding under a fake name.

Ahmed Abu Khattala is currently on trial in Washington D.C., for his alleged involvement in the September 2012 attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi that killed 4 Americans. On 12 October, a Libyan military commander’s recorded video testimony was played in court, though his identity was not revealed because of security concerns for him and his family. In the recording, the witness claimed he heard Abu Khattala “incite” dozens of revolutionaries at a meeting in Benghazi by speaking out against an alleged US intelligence post in the city. He added that just a few days before the attacks, Abu Khattala told him of his plan to attack the US Special Mission and requested armed vehicles, which the commander said he interpreted as a message not to interfere. Nevertheless, the witness’s credibility, motivation, and actions have been questioned due to social media posts that allegedly show his bias and extreme stance against Islamist militants.


 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. To read the Eye on ISIS in Libya Team’s blog post about the actions of other jihadi actors, click here. And to read their explanation of 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. To subscribe to receive this report weekly into your inbox, sign up on the subscribe page.

Eye on Isis Logo

IS in Action

An IS suicide bomb attack which targeted a Misratan court complex in the centre of the city on 4 October, killed four people and wounded several more. IS fighters opened fire on the complex and the explosion was triggered after one of the attackers detonated a suicide belt. Later a car bomb was discovered nearby that was rigged for a massive detonation and could have taken out the complex completely if detonated. The recent attack follows the public disclosures last week, by the Attorney General’s office in Tripoli, of persons with suspected ties to ISIS and other extremist organizations, and the issuance of arrest warrants for 820 individuals.

It is reported that local social and political backlash against militia members allegedly connected with IS in the city has intensified in the wake of the attack. Misratan youths, who are increasingly supportive of a Libyan National Army (LNA) intervention, are already supporting local security forces in clamping down against militia members connected with IS, Ansar al-Sharia (ASL) and the Benghazi Shura Revolutionary Council (BRSC) specifically. To this end, local sources report that an IS cell was found in the Ruwaisat area and its members, some alleged to be former Benghazi Defence Brigade (BDB) and BMSC members, were arrested. An armory connected to the group was also found with large quantities of ammunition and explosives.

The bodies of 21 Christians killed by IS in Sirte in 2015, were recently taken to a Misratan mortuary for identification and further evaluation before a discussion of the repatriation of their bodies. The investigation bureau of Misrata’s Crime Prevention Department reported that all of the victims were beheaded and dressed in the orange “execution” jumpsuits frequently depicted in IS media.


Other Jihadi Actors

Supreme Committee for Issuing Fatwas (Al-Lajna al-‘Ulya li-l-Ifta’), which is based in the eastern city al-Bayda and is associated with Khalifa Haftar, commander of the LNA, has called for jihad in Sabratha against “Kharijites,” a term used by Dignity Operation members to label their opponents as extremists. The announcement follows the Committee’s controversial Fatwa denouncing Ibadis earlier this summer, which provoked massive criticism from both local and international actors as inciting violence among Libyans.

Following this announcement the eastern government, headed by Abdullah Al-Thanni, ordered mosques in the region to perform Qunut prayers to ask God to defeat the “Kharijites” in Sabratha. On 6 October, the Anti-ISIS Operations Room (AIOR), a force technically under the authority of the Government of National Accord (GNA) but more closely aligned with the LNA, announced its control of Sabratha after defeating the Anas Dabbashi Brigade– ending the prolonged conflict in the city and surrounding areas.


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.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001

IS in Action

On 28 September, the head of Investigations at the Attorney General’s (AG) Office, Sadeq al-Sour, held a press conference in Tripoli in which he gave the names and affiliations of several IS and Ansar al-Sharia connected individuals in Libya. He also provided details and photographs of accused, organizational charts, links and routes of travel into Libya based on 14 months of investigation. While many of the revelations and individuals named were already in public domain, this was the first time they were officially revealed or confirmed by official judicial Libyan authorities.

Al-Sour revealed that about 800 arrest warrants had been issued for nearly 200 terrorist attacks in Libya. He said there are currently 250 cases before the courts and that more than 1,000 elements belonging to terrorist organizations are wanted for justice. He also said that a database has been created containing all the information on 1,500 ISIS members.

Foreign links

Al-Sour said that more than 1,000 people belonging to terrorist organizations are wanted for justice, a large number of whom are wanted in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Fifty warrants will be delivered to Interpol for ISIS suspects abroad. He added that more than 700 bodies of ISIS fighters from Sirte are being held in mortuary fridges.

Regarding leadership of IS in Libya, he claimed several Arab leaders rotated the command of IS in Libya, in coordination with the Libyan IS leadership. He said there are Libyan individuals who participated in the Syrian war and returned to Libya with an IS philosophy, however he also said that most IS members had not been Libyan, but that they had come from Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, and Chad. There are still a lot of individuals in the Sudan and Tunisia who are recruiting members.

Suspects – believed dead

Many of the perpetrators of terror attacks in Libya that al-Sour mentioned are believed dead, with many killed in the battle or Sirte. These include:

  • Abu Amer al-Jazrawi, a Saudi commander of IS in Sirte
  • Abdulhadi Zaroon, one of the important IS leaders in Sirte
  • Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, an Iraqi commander also known as Abu Nabil al-Anbari, who was appointed commander of IS in Libya.
  • Hasan Araj, who according to al-Sour was the first person to be recruited by IS in Libya

Suspects – wanted

  • Mahmoud al-Barasi, the commander of IS in Benghazi. He is wanted for arrest and according to al-Sour, is currently located in the south of Bani Walid.
  • Mahdi Salem Rajab Dingo, who was responsible for IS’s staff and military office

Attacks

Al-Sour said that more than 200 suicide bombers and assassinations had been identified across Libya. Al-Sour listed several attacks and assassinations for which he said IS was responsible. These included:

  • The Egyptian Copts who were killed in Sirte. He said that the burial sites had been identified behind Sirte’s Mahari hotel and that the AG’s Office had all the information about those responsible for the slaughter.
  • The kidnapping of the Italians in Sabratha
  • The murders of former Attorney General Abdulaziz al-Hassadi, HoR member Freha al-Barkawi, Hasan Dakam, Sheikh Mohammed bin Othman and the director of the security of Sabratha, Hasan Kamuka.
  • Attacks on oil fields and the kidnapping of foreigners
  • Many murders, kidnappings, and assassinations in Sabratha

IS funding

Al-Sour said that IS kidnapped businessmen and used the ransoms for funding. He added that most of IS’s funding came via high ranking commanders in Syria and Iraq as well as through gaining control of various Libyan banks including Central Bank of Libya branches in Sirte, Benghazi, and Derna. He revealed that the AG’s Office had issued summons for some Libyan officials who had supported some terrorist figures financially.

IS cells

Al-Sour claimed that Derna, which is currently under the control of the Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council (DMSC) was preparing itself to become an emirate like Syria and Iraq. He also said there were numerous IS cells operating across Libya, including in Misrata. He said that the AG’s Office had information about cells trying to activate themselves in Libya, one of which is connected to the Hamas movement.

Other Jihadi Actors

On 28 September, the head of Investigations at the Attorney General’s (AG) Office, Sadeq al-Sour, held a press conference in Tripoli in which he gave the names and affiliations of several IS and Ansar al-Sharia connected individuals in Libya. He gave official confirmation that Ansar al-Sharia were the nucleus of the formation of IS in Libya and that the majority of Libyan IS leaders were former al-Qaida members. He also said the financing of Ansar al-Sharia emanated from the Libyan state.

Al-Sour claimed that the storming of the US Special Mission in Benghazi on 11 September 2012, and the subsequent death of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, was carried out by Ansar al-Sharia. He said Mohamed al-Zahawi, the leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, was responsible for the operation. He added that Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaida were taking instructions from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri directly. It is interesting that this revelation was made as the trial of a key suspect in the case gets underway in the US.

On 2 October, the U.S. District court for the District of Columbia began the trial of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the Libyan man accused of orchestrating the Benghazi attack. Khatallah has been awaiting trial in the US since 2014, when he was captured by a team of US military and FBI officials in Benghazi and transported on a 13-day journey to the US aboard a Navy vessel. The case is expected to last several weeks.

On 1 October, Ahmed al-Mismari, the spokesperson for the Libyan Nationa Army (LNA), said that IS and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated to al-Qaida have joined forces to spread extremism in Libya. He claimed that Qatar is transporting armed IS fighters from Syria to Libya and that Qatar continues to provide financial support for terrorist organizations in Libya.

__________________

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.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001