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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ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

British daily newspaper The Guardian reported on 28 April that since late 2015, several Islamic State (ISIS) fighters may have infiltrated into Italy disguised as wounded Libyan fighters. The paper quotes an Italian intelligence document which claims ISIS fighters took advantage of a scheme called the Comitato Assistenza Feriti Libici (Centre for the Support of Injured Libyans) to apply for special visas, which allow wounded fighters to receive medical treatment in Europe. Wounded fighters are most commonly sent to hospitals in Turkey. Italian intelligence believes ISIS fighters presented false passports to medical personnel in Misrata, claiming to be members of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC). The article goes on to claim that Misrata is the headquarters for smuggling fighters from Libya to other countries, and where the fraudulent issue of passports for fighters takes place.

Intermittent clashes between Libyan National Army (LNA) forces and jihadists are ongoing in Sabri and Souq al-Hout in central Benghazi, with two LNA fighters killed last week. On 26 April, the LNA conducted 10 airstrikes against jihadist positions. Jihadists in Benghazi counter LNA airstrikes with demolitions targeting infrastructure. On 26 April, jihadists demolished the third bridge between Sidi Youness area and Sabri, and on 28 April they brought down an iconic high rise flat in the city centre near the port.  On 27 April, Ansar al-Sharia’s Talot Foundation, operating under the banner of the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), claimed responsibility for the demolition of several bridges in the Sabri area over the last few weeks. On 1 May, one civilian was killed and two others injured when several rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) hit Benghazi’s Leithi district.

On 29 April, a new video was published showing Wissam Bin Hamid, the BRSC leader rumored to have been killed in 2016, appealing to his followers. In the video, Bin Hamid laments the lack of support received by jihadists from many Libyan cities, but promises a comeback.  A high profile al-Qaeda leader from Derna has reportedly been handed over to the LNA following his transfer from Turkey to Jordan, then from Jordan to Libya. The man in question is most likely Abdul Basset Azouz, who was apprehended on 13 November 2014 by Turkish authorities.

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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ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

Ahmidah Al-Safrani, Abd Al-Hadi Zarqun, and Hammam Hamani were identified by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Public Affairs (OFAC) on 13 April, as Libyan-based financial facilitators of the Islamic State (IS). OFAC has implemented sanctions on these individuals freezing their assets and prohibiting business with US nationals.

Sabri and Souq al-Hout, both adjacent to the port in the centre of Benghazi are the only remaining areas controlled by the loose jihadist coalition of Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) and IS fighters. The Libyan National Army (LNA) maintains an aerial and naval blockade in the area and the current dip in clashes will likely be short lived as these areas have been an epicenter of fighting for over two years.

On 15 April, reinforcements from the southern Libya Shield forces, led by Islamist commander Ahmed Abdul Jalil Al-Hasnawi, arrived at Temenhint airbase to back up the Government of National Accord (GNA)-affiliated forces, including the Misratan Third Force and the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), in their battle against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

On 16 April, militias affiliated with Khalifa Al-Ghwell, announced that they are joining the BDB and the Misratan Third Force, to join in the fight against the LNA in the South. Despite the announcement, there is no evidence of their deployment yet.

On 17 April, the LNA led an airstrike on the BDB base south of Sirte. Former Bunyan al-Marsus forces have mobilized to Sirte, where they are functionally aligned with the BDB, causing concern about the possibility of a BDB counter attack against the LNA. Ongoing conflict between the LNA and the GNA’s Misratan-led Third Force in Southern Libya could spill back over onto the initial battle ground of the Oil Crescent.

In Derna on 14 April, the LNA targeted Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) positions south of the city with a new volley of airstrikes; the LNA aerial and naval blockade in Derna continues.

To read about the international community’s responses to jihadis in Libya this week, click here.  To read the Eye on ISIS team’s 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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Arabic:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Reply To The Report Of The United Nation’s Mission To Libya Addressed To The General Secretary of the United Nations

English:

Sarāyā al-Dafā’ ‘an Binghāzī — Reply To The Report Of The United Nation’s Mission To Libya Addressed To The General Secretary of the United Nations (En)

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Source: Telegram