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.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001

cj846pmw0akcb-9

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)

____________

Source: Telegram

ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

On 6 April, 28 Eritrean and 5 Nigerian women and children who were captured and enslaved by ISIS in Sirte were released from prison in Misrata, where they had been held since the Misratan-led al-Bunyan al-Marsus forces ousted ISIS from the city in December. The women and children were captured by ISIS fighters when they seized Sirte in early 2015. After escaping for Sirte, they detained by Misratan forces while they were investigated to see if they had been working with ISIS.

The Libyan attorney-general’s office announced that it had cleared the women of any wrongdoing in mid-February, but their release was delayed for several more weeks. Following their release on 6 April, the women have been handed over to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) who is expected to facilitate their resettlement or repatriation depending on their asylum statuses.

On 10 April, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya printed images of what it claims is a secret prison in the Ganfuda district of Benghazi. It claims people were imprisoned and tortured by jihadi fighters in the prison.  Mohammed al-Zwai, a spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA) forces that recently ousted the jihadi fighters from Ganfuda, is quoted as saying, “After combing the mines in the Ganfouda area, which was liberated from terrorist groups, the picture became clearer, as prisons were found in Ganfouda.”

The areas of Sabri and Souq al-Hout in central Benghazi are the final enclaves controlled by local jihadist fighters in the city and conflict is likely to intensify there as the LNA ramps up airstrikes and artillery against the areas.

In Derna, although sporadic clashes continue between the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) and the Libyan National Army (LNA), local observers indicate that there has been a significant easing of tensions between the DMSC and the LNA recently. There are hopes that a peaceful settlement between the two forces can be found.

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.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001

ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

In Benghazi, the areas of Sabri and Souq al-Hout, adjacent to the port in the centre of the city, are the final enclaves controlled by the loose jihadist coalition of Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) and Islamic State (ISIS) fighters.  Last week, conflict intensified there as the Libyan National Army (LNA) ramped up airstrikes and artillery fire against the area. On 2 April, a bridge at al-Lathama on the coastal road leading into eastern Sabri was destroyed. The LNA claim that jihadists blew up the bridge to halt the LNA’s westward advance, while the BRSC claimed the bridge was destroyed by LNA airstrikes. The same day, an LNA fighter and a civilian were killed by a sniper as they crossed the Jilyana bridge, east of Benghazi port. On 1 April, two civilians were killed when a landmine exploded in Benghazi’s Gwarsha district.

In Sirte, a semblance of normality is starting to return to the city post-ISIS. Approximately 10,000 families have reportedly returned to their homes, full power, and telecommunications access has now been restored, and the flow of water from the Man Made River into the city’s water tanks has resumed. However, although ISIS has been driven out of Sirte, the city effectively remains a no-man’s land between Misrata and the LNA forces in the Oil crescent, and could easily become the site of fresh conflict between the rival factions.

In Derna, intermittent clashes continue to take place between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) in Dahra al-Hamra south of the city. The DMSC issued a new statement on 1 April reiterating its hostility to Haftar and recognising Libya’s Dar al-Ifta, under the leadership of Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariani, as Libya’s only legitimate authority. On 29 March, Saleh Joudah, the LNA commander of Tobruk’s Gamel Abdul-Nasser airbase, and at least two civilians were killed when Joudah’s jet crashed into a house near Tobruk. Joudah was apparently returning to the Tobruk airbase from a bombing raid on Derna when according to the LNA, his plane suffered technical difficulties.

Reports on 30 March and 1 April indicate that supplies of arms and ammunitions reached the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) at their Jufra airbase in south-west Libya. This is reportedly in preparation for a new counterattack against the LNA forces in the Oil Crescent. The LNA’s denouncement of locals who allied with the BDB as traitors has created some resentment locally. This may motivate local tribes to support the BDB in order to sabotage the LNA’s control of the area.

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.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001

ISIS in Action and Other Jihadi Actors

On 9 March, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the head of US Africa Command (AFRICOM), warned the US Senate’s foreign affairs committee that Islamic State (ISIS) is regrouping in Libya. He said “The status of ISIS in Libya is they are right now regrouping. They’re in small numbers, small groups.” Waldhauser oversaw the US airstrikes in late January which killed around 80 ISIS fighters south of Sirte. The process of resettling displaced Sirte residents is ongoing, with more than 8600 families back in their homes.

On 13 March, the Libyan National Army (LNA) launched a major offensive to take control of the 12 Flats area of Ganfuda in Benghazi, the last enclave in Ganfuda still held by a coalition of jihadist fighters including the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), Ansar al-Sharia and ISIS. An LNA spokesperson said that three LNA fighters were killed and four injured in the latest offensive, but that several BRSC fighters had also been killed. LNA fighter jets supported the offensive, according to the spokesperson, but the LNA advance is being held up by the presence of civilians in the area. BRSC commander Mohammed Nased Emhareb, BRSC fighters Ibrahim Dayhom and Anis al-Khomsi, and Naseeb Fannoush, an Ansar al-Sharia fighter from Derna, were reportedly among those killed during the recent fighting in the 12 Flats area.

On 14 March, LNA forces launched a counter attack against the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) forces in the Oil Crescent. By the afternoon of 14 March, LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari claimed that the routed BDB forces had retreated to Misrata and Jufra, and that some had been captured. At least 21 LNA fighters were reportedly killed in the offensive. This figure is in addition to the 38 LNA fighters the LNA says have been killed since the BDB offensive started in the Oil Crescent on 3 March. The BDB has not released its casualty figures for this latest battle. The LNA claims to be back in control of Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil ports following intense fighting with the BDB. Photos have emerged of LNA fighters at these ports that seem to confirm this.

The LNA attack followed a large deployment of LNA forces, reportedly comprising over 3,000 armed vehicles, being mobilised in and around Brega, Agilah and Bishr. The LNA also conducted airstrikes daily throughout last week against BDB targets near these ports and in neighbouring towns of Bin Jawwad and Nawfaliyah. On 12 March, five BDB fighters (3 from Benghazi and 2 from Gharyan) were killed in LNA airstrikes against BDB positions in Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

On 12 March, the BDB said its political goal is to protect the right of return for families and former revolutionaries displaced from Benghazi by Khalifa Haftar, while also vowing to fight terrorism and protect Libya’s neighbours. From the LNA’s perspective, the BDB is seen as an extension of the extremist jihadists fighting against the LNA in Benghazi and Derna, in alliance with Islamic State (ISIS) and Ansar al-Sharia. The LNA has accused many tribal and social forces who switched allegiance from the LNA to the BDB of being as traitors.

On 11 March, local sources reported that two LNA fighters were beheaded by the BDB in Ras Lanuf.  The LNA Sirte operations room has eulogized the two fighters. UK ambassador to Libya Peter Millet condemned the killings. Local sources report that Younes al-Faidi, who was formerly aligned with Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, is now a commander in the Benghazi Defense Brigades.

A weekly update of the actions of ISIS and other jihadi groups, the Western response, and developments pertaining to Libya’s other militias is available by subscribing here.  To read about Western countries’ responses to jihadis in Libya this week, 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. To view EOIL’s new promotional video, click here.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001

ISIS in Action

On 3 March, a loose alliance of Islamist-affiliated militias, including the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB), former Ibrahim Jadhran loyalists and units from other allied factions (some reportedly affiliated with al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia) launched a multi-pronged attack on the Oil Crescent. They advanced from their bases in Jufra towards Nawfaliya then pushed east towards the oil ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), which has controlled the Oil Crescent ports since September last year, attempted to push back the BDB with airstrikes. However, the airstrikes failed to halt the BDB advance, leading the LNA to withdraw its forces from Sidra and Ras Lanuf.  The BDB pushed further east towards Brega. At the time of writing the frontline between the two forces is at al-Uqaylah, around 50km west of Marsa Brega oil port.

BDB commander Mustafa Sharksi said “our goal is to rescue Benghazi from Haftar and return displaced families to their homes.”  The LNA siege against jihadist fighters from the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council, Ansar al-Sharia and Islamic State in the 12 Flats area of Ganfuda in Benghazi is ongoing, despite the LNA declaring Ganfuda liberated from jihadist control over a month ago. Sharksi said that the BDB would only push on to Benghazi once another force had been sent by the National Oil Corporation (NOC) to take over the oil ports it has seized.

Some members of the Tobruq-based House of Representatives (HoR) issued a statement accusing Qatar and Turkey of sponsoring and supplying advanced military equipment to the BDB. Both countries deny this.

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 in Libya, click here. And to read their explanation of the developments within the anti-ISIS Coalition of Libyan militias, hereclick 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. To view EOIL’s new promotional video, click here.

Eye-on-Isis-Logo-001