IS in Action

IS-sympathetic telegram accounts are reported to be accusing the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) of having a deal with the Libyan National Army to allow its fighters to flee to Derna after being removed from the Sidi Khrebish district in central Benghazi.

Near Sirte, Government of National Accord (GNA) affiliated Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsous forces continue to remove IEDs left over by IS’s occupation of the city, with photos being published showing the dismantling of a 155mm shell

Other Jihadi Actors

On 28 December, the Libyan National Army (LNA) announced the full purge of jihadist forces from Benghazi. This follows on from clashes, arrests, and airstrikes on the Sidi Khrebish district in central Benghazi by LNA affiliated forces in the last week. The announcement comes six months after the LNA initially declared the city liberated.

On 29 December, the city of Derna reportedly received some of the retreating jihadists affiliated with the Free Libya Martyrs Brigade, a militia which is part of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and Ansar al-Sharia coalition that has been fighting the LNA since 2014. Although many local sources inside the city deny the reports, the brigade leader, Mohammed Sallabi, issued the statement on the internet saying that the withdrawal was necessary to save the remaining lives of the jihadists.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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IS in Action

IS media claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a Libyan National Army (LNA) checkpoint at the entrance of al-Nawfaliya town, on 31 August. The attack 100 km east of Sirte, left four dead and eight others injured. It was reported that ISIS units moved in to al-Teysseen, a town 90 kms east of Sirte, on 1 September. They allegedly held an Eid prayer in the local mosque and took positions in the town. According to local sources, three ‘Madkhali’ Salafists (loyal to Haftar’s LNA) were abducted by IS around this time.

The LNA air force launched a series of airstrikes from Ras Lanuf airstrip on 2 September, which targeted IS positions in the area of Ain Taqrift, between Sirte and Zillah. As a result, the IS units reportedly withdrew southwest towards the desert valleys. LNA ground forces are purportedly moving westwards towards Sirte to Um al-Qandil– IS elements and locals were reported in that area on 3 September.

Meanwhile the predominantly Misratan, GNA-aligned al-Bunyan al-Marsus (BM) forces that oppose the LNA, are positioned in the areas around Gate 17, east of Sirte. They continue to scour the areas south and south-west of Sirte for IS elements. The LNA sent a substantial amount of troops to fortify various positions in the Oil Crescent throughout the last week, including the Shuhada al-Zawiya armoured brigade, led by General Jamal Zahawi from Benghazi.

Other Jihadi Actors

A senior member of the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), Ahmed Bakir (aka al-Nahla), who is allegedly involved in supporting extremist groups by supplying them with foreign mercenaries and cooperating with IS, was detained by the Misrata Counter Terrorism Unit (CT).

The CT unit also released a ‘confessions’ video of senior Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) member from Benghazi, Mohammed al-Khafifi, admitting membership in IS and claiming that his group had cooperated with the BDB in a number of suicide attacks since their evacuation from Benghazi earlier this summer.

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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Other Jihadi Actors

On 5 July, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar declared that the Libyan National Army (LNA) had fully liberated Benghazi from the coalition of jihadists including the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and the Islamic State (IS). However, skirmishes have continued to take place between the LNA and fleeing jihadists since the official liberation announcement. Door to door sweeps in the al-Sabri and Sidi Khribish areas are ongoing in an attempt to uncover landmines and IEDs planted by the jihadists, as well as to root out any remaining jihadists still hiding in the area.

Four LNA fighters died on 7 July as they tried to seize buildings where jihadists were hiding in Sidi Khribish. On 9 July, Colonel Miloud Zwei, a spokesman for the LNA, said that fighting continued in the district of Souq al-Jarid, located between Souq al-Hout and al-Sabri. Zwei said 20 LNA soldiers had been killed by jihadists since 5 July, while 3 others were killed on 9 July in mine blasts as they carried out search operations. He added that LNA forces had killed several jihadists and arrested 17 since victory was declared. On 10 July, a suicide bomber blew himself up as he tried to escape from Benghazi’s Salmani district, injuring LNA fighters.

On 9 July, the Higher Committee of Fatwa (HCF) which belongs to the House of Representatives’ (HoR) parallel government in eastern Libya, issued a takfiri fatwa declaring that followers of Ibadism, an Islamic doctrine dominant in Oman but also followed by Amazigh communities in the Nafusa mountains as well as in areas of Tunisia and Algeria, are infidels. The fatwa has been widely criticized by most Libyans in western Libya, including politicians, human rights organizations, and activists.

The National Commission for Human Rights in Libya (NCHRIL) denounced the takfiri fatwa, saying in a statement that such fatwas undermine the national security and social peace. In response to the HCF fatwa, the Tripoli-based Fatwa House reposted a fatwa it made in 2015 regarding Ibadism which called for coexistence between the Sunnis and Ibadis. On 10 July, the Amazigh Supreme Council responded with a statement declaring its absolute rejection of the HCF’s fatwa. The statement said the accusation that Ibadhi Muslims are kafir or deviants is tantamount to an incitement to genocide of the Amazigh people in Libya, a violation of international treaties, and threatens the social peace in Libya and the wider 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, 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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