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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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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Arabic:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Response to the Classification of the Four Countries That Put Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī on the Terrorism List

English:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Response to the Classification of the Four Countries That Put Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī on the Terrorism List (En)

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Source: Telegram

To inquire about a translation for this statement for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

According to local sources, on 24 May militias clashed with ISIS fighters near Bani Walid. Four ISIS fighters were killed. ISIS fighters are still active in the area after dispersing into the desert south-west of Sirte following their defeat at the hands of the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces last year. Locals report that these ISIS cells are surviving by raiding trucks and ambushing travellers in this area. They reportedly have encampments in locations near Abu Grien, Jufra and al-Shuwerif. Three weeks ago, ISIS fighters killed two members of the large Misratan 13th Battalion (formerly Third Force) and injured three in an ambush between Jufra and Sirte.

In Tripoli, the Government of National Accord (GNA) – aligned RADA Special Forces arrested the brother and father of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi. RADA said that Hashem Abedi, the 20-year-old brother of the alleged bomber, had been under observation for over a month and issued a statement saying that Hashem had confessed that both he and his brother Salman were members of ISIS.  Hasham allegedly also admitted that he had known the details of the Manchester bombing and had been planning to assassinate the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler. Ramadan Abedi, the father, who is alleged to have been a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was also seized.

On 26 May, Egypt conducted six airstrikes against targets in Derna, supposedly in retaliation for the massacre of 28 Coptic Christians in Egypt’s Minya province the same day. The attack was claimed by ISIS. Further airstrikes were launched on 29 May. Targets included the city’s power station and the electricity distribution network. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the air strikes in Derna had targeted fighters responsible for plotting the Minya attack, and that Egypt would not hesitate to carry out additional strikes inside and outside the country. However, Derna is controlled by the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) which fought against ISIS. ISIS was driven out of Derna two years ago.

On 28 May, the spokesperson for Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) Colonel Ahmed Mesmari said that the LNA was coordinating with Egypt’s military over the air strikes. The Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) praised the Egyptian airstrikes on Derna, while the Government of National Accord (GNA) condemned them as a gross violation of Libya’ sovereignty. During a press conference in Cairo on 29 May, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said jihadist training camps in Libya were a huge threat to Egypt and that Egypt had targeted the bases of these organizations in full coordination with the LNA. The Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was also at the press conference.

On 27 May, Ansar al-Sharia (AS) officially announced that it had disbanded itself. AS’s leadership and fighting force has been weakened over the last three years through its fight against the Libyan National Army (LNA). The disbanding statement is significant because it may undermine the ideological conviction of fighters still allied with AS under the umbrella of the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC). The final remnants of AS, along with the BRSC and ISIS, are besieged in their last two Benghazi enclaves of Sabri and Souq al-Hout. Interestingly, pro-ISIS media accounts celebrated AS’s disbanding as ‘inevitable’ and criticized the group for failing to unify its loyalties under the ISIS banner.

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 and Other Jihadist Actors

On 14 May, three fuel trucks were seized by IS fighters on the road from Abu Grien to Jufra, the same road where the IS attack on Misratan fighters took place on 7 May. The hijacking took place near the Great Man Made River crossing at Wadi Bey, south west of Sirte, close to where US airstrikes hit an IS camp in February.

Local sources say that leaders of the Government of National Accord (GNA) aligned Misratan al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces that fought against IS in Sirte received threats from IS social media and phone accounts. Messages accused them of being “infidels assisting imperialists” and that IS’s next operation would be called ‘Hadm al-Aswar fe Ard al-Mukhtar’, translated as ‘Breaking the Walls in the Land of [Omar] al-Mukhtar’. IS messages reportedly stated that IS sleeper cells were ‘awake’ in the mountainous desert regions and reminded them of IS’s feats in Mosul following their re-emergence after the sahwa and surge, as published in their video ‘Salil al-Sawarem #4’ a few years ago.

Libyan National Army (LNA) forces continued to launch heavy airstrikes against jihadist fighters besieged in Sabri and Souq al-Hout in Benghazi last week. On 12 May, Noor al-Din al-Talhi, a Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) fighter and former member of Libya Shield 1 brigade, was reportedly killed in Souq al-Hout in Benghazi during a battle with the LNA. According to local sources, al-Talhi was the administrator for the social media account ‘Al-Shaab Kollah Kan Fe Al-Jabha’ and has younger siblings also fighting with jihadists in Benghazi.

On 13 May, Faraj Juma al-Sallabi, a member of the BRSC and Libya Shield 1 brigade, was killed in the fighting. Sallabi’s family members hold prominent positions in the BRSC alliance. His younger brother Mohammed (aka Jeryo) was head of the Shield’s internal security office in Souq al-Hout. He was injured in 2015 during a battle with the LNA. Another brother Malek also fought as part of the BRSC alliance. Their elder brother Abdullah Sallabi took care of medical arrangements for Libya Shield fighters in Egypt during the 2011 uprisings and is now reportedly operating in Tunis.

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تابع المكتب السياسي لسرايا الدفاع عن بنغازي التصريحات الخطيرة التي أدلى بها “محمد سيالة” مسؤول الخارجية والتعاون الدولي في النظام السابق، والمكلف بها الآن من قبل حكومة الوفاق المقترحة من بعثة الأمم المتحدة! حيث أكّد في اجتماع دول الجوار بالجزائر، على وصف مجرم الحرب “حفتر” بالقائد العام للجيش الليبي!
(متجاهلا أو مؤيدا) لما قام به “حفتر” من إجرام في حق ثورة فبراير وثوارها!
-أوليس “حفتر” ومليشياته هم من حاربوا الثوار في بنغازي ونبشوا قبورهم، ومثلوا بجثث الثوار والحرائر العالقات في قنفودة؟! فهل جهل “سيالة” هذه الانتهاكات أم تراه أيدها؟
-أوليس “حفتر” ومليشياته هم من حاصروا مدينة درنة ومنعوا عنها دخول أدنى مقومات الحياة، وقصفوا أهلها بالطائرات بعد أن أمّنوا هروب الدواعش منها!
-أوليس “حفتر” وميليشياته هم من قصفوا وقتلوا الثوار في الجنوب في الجفرة، وسبها، وقاعدة تمنهنت وجلبوا مرتزقة العدل والمساواة لقتل أبناء ليبيا؟!
أوليس “حفتر” ومليشياته هم من قصفوا الثوار في طرابلس ومطار امعيتيقة مرارا ؟!
أوليسوا هم من قصفوا المطار ومصنع الحديد والصلب في مدينة مصراتة؟! وقصفوا الثوار في مدينة غريان ومدينة زوارة؟!
أترى جهل “سيالة” كل هذه الجرائم أم أن تأييده لها جعله يؤكد أن وصفه المجرم حفتر بالقائد العام لا غبار عليه!
إننا في المكتب السياسي للسرايا إذ نستنكر بأشد العبارات ما جاء على لسان “سيالة” ونرفض رفضا قاطعا تصريحه جملة وتفصيلا، نعجب كل العجب مما تقوم به حكومة الوفاق من اجتماعات ولقاءات مريبة مع طرف واحد من أطراف النزاع في ليبيا، وإعراضها عن الأطراف الأخرى!
ما يجعلها في دائرة الانحياز لذلك الطرف، ومحاولة إرضائه رغم إجرامه وولوغه في دماء أبناء ليبيا..
عليه:
– فإننا نؤكد رفضنا التام لوصف مجرم الحرب “حفتر” بالقائد العام ووصف مليشياته بالجيش الليبي! ومحاولات إضفاء الشرعية على ما يقوم به هذا المجرم ومليشياته من مجازر وانتهاكات وتهجير لآلاف الأسر الليبية، كما نؤكد أن سرايا الدفاع وجلّ كتائب ثوار فبراير تعتبر بناء وتفعيل الجيش الحقيقي الذي يحمي الوطن والمواطن من أولى الأولويات.
– نشدد على من أراد الوفاق فعلاً أن يكون على مسافة واحدة من الجميع، وأن لا يحابي طرفا على حساب آخر، وأن يعمل بشكل جدي لوقف نزيف الدم في البلاد، إذ لم نرَ التزاما حقيقيا بأبرز ما تم التوقيع عليه في الصخيرات وهو وقف إطلاق النار في بنغازي والمدن الأخرى، بل نجد تكريم ومجاملة من يقوم بجرائم الحرب في بنغازي وغيرها من المدن!
كما نرفض أي إقصاء لمهجري بنغازي في حل أزمة مدينتهم، أو محاولة فرض واقع سياسي عليهم دون اعتبار لمطالبهم وضمانات رجوعهم إلى بيوتهم سالمين.
-ندعوا جميع الثوار الأحرار، إلى ترك النزاعات، ونبذ الفرقة وأسبابها، وجمع الكلمة، ورأب الصدع، والوقوف صفا واحدا لمواجهة التحديات والتصدي للمشروع الانقلابي.
{والله غالب على أمره}
المكتب السياسي لسرايا الدفاع عن بنغازي

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Source: Telegram

To inquire about a translation for this statement for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

On 7 May, ISIS’s official media arm claimed responsibility for an ambush of fighters belonging to the Government of National Accord (GNA) affiliated Misratan Third Force 100km south-west of Sirte. The Misratans were attacked in the al-Loud agricultural district as they were being transported by bus from Jufra to Misrata. Two Misratans were killed and one was injured in the assault. This is the first official operation claimed by ISIS since its defeat at the hands of the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus coalition in Sirte in December.

Many Misratans are angry at what they see as an ‘ill-fated alliance’ between moderate Misratans and the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB). The BDB have withdrawn from Jufra to camp elsewhere in the desert south of Sirte. One of the BDB’s commanders, al-Saadi al-Nawfali, is known to have been a former leader of Ansar al-Sharia in Ajdabiya and is believed to be closely connected with Libyans who joined ISIS.

Last week, a new video was published showing the execution of an Algerian ISIS fighter by Captain Mahmood al-Werfalli, a notorious field commander of the Libyan National Army’s (LNA) Saiqa Special Forces. The ISIS fighter is believed to be Milood Abu Azzaz who was captured on 6 May by LNA fighters in the Sabri area of Benghazi, as he was preparing an IED. Azzaz was handed over to Werfalli, who executed him on film ‘under Sharia proceedings’ the same day.

On 4 May, the Libyan National Army (LNA) tentatively began a ground assault against the remaining jihadist enclaves in Sabri and Souq al-Hout in central Benghazi. They met with fierce resistance from jihadist fighters who are deploying IEDs and explosives in these areas to slow down the LNA’s advance. Days earlier, the Libya Free Martyrs Brigade, one of the militias fighting under the umbrella of the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC), issued a statement declaring its intent to fight to the death and calling for support from allies.

On 8 May, the LNA launched its full assault against the jihadist enclaves and LNA fighters have reportedly taken Benghazi port and a number of areas in Souq al-Hout. A medical source said hospitals had received 12 LNA dead and 20 wounded since the new offensive began. On 5 May, an LNA commando force managed to sneak into Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council (DMSC) held territory south of Derna and destroyed a DMSC tank with explosives.

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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