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.
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
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
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.
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.