IS in Action
The re-emergence of Islamic State (IS) cells in central and southern Libya last month has led both the Libyan National Army (LNA) and the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) al-Bunyan al-Marsus to deploy large forces to the region. The LNA, which currently controls most Oil Crescent territory, mobilised units from its two strongest divisions – the Special Forces (Saiqa) and the Armoured Zawiyya Martyrs Brigade, led by general Jamal Zahawi, to locations in Ajdabiya, Ras Lanuf, and near Nawfaliyah as well as in the desert areas south and south-east of Sirte.
On 10 September, the commander of the LNA’s Sirte Operation Room declared that the entire coastal strip from Sidra to about 50km east of Sirte, which includes the towns of Nawfaliyah and Harawa, is all under the control of the LNA. On 8 September, the LNA reportedly defused a bomb attached to the main gas pipeline south of Ajdabiya, although it is not clear who planted the bomb or how it was discovered. BM forces are positioned at the 30km checkpoint east of Sirte, and it is reported that BM arrested two people in a raid last week, fueling tensions with the local population.
Other Jihadi Actors
The Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) – a jihadist coalition which controls Derna – is experiencing significant local backlash after the alleged abduction, torture and killing of Munsef Krikish, a pro-LNA Salafist resident of Derna on 4 September. According to a statement published by the DMSC, on 1 September Krikish was seized for questioning and died after the interrogation. However, his body showed possible signs of torture which has fueled anger within anti- DMSC circles in Derna.
Prolonged power outages, poor economic conditions, as well as from growing rifts between (nominally) pro Government of National Accord (GNA) factions and anti-Libyan National Army (LNA) factions affiliated with Islamists have fueled tension in Tripoli and Misrata. On 11 September, a key figurehead of the hardliner Islamist faction, Sheikh Abdul Razzag Emshirib, was reportedly detained by Tripoli’s GNA-aligned Special Deterrence Force (Rada).
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.