Over the past seven years, jihadist activism has proliferated across multiple arenas, joined by an unprecedented number of individuals who have become foreign fighters. Much of the focus has understandably been on foreign fighter flows to Syria, but Libya has also seen a major influx. In fact, Libya now stands as the fourth-largest foreign fighter mobilization in global jihadist history, behind only the current war in Syria, the Afghan jihad of the 1980s, and the 2003 Iraq war. Moreover, it marks the first time East and West Africans have truly become involved with foreign fighting abroad versus sticking to local insurgencies or terrorism. Attacks in Britain on May 22, 2017, and Germany on December 19, 2016, both connected to the Islamic State (IS) in Libya, demonstrate the possible consequences abroad of the Libyan jihad. All such factors indicate the value of examining Libya’s foreign fighter network and the insights it offers regarding the future trajectory of jihadism in North, East, and West Africa, as well as Western Europe.
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