On 7 April, local Libyan National Army (LNA) affiliated security forces apprehended a suspected IS member who was allegedly preparing to conduct an attack against LNA forces in the coastal town of Zueitina. This follows an increase in security patrol by the LNA and security forces in the Oil Crescent after multiple suicide vehicle-borne improved explosive device (SVBIED) attacks on LNA checkpoints near Ajdabiya on 9 and 29 of March.Other Jihadi Actors On 3 April, following a written question by British MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle the UK government responded that it was “likely” that it had been in communication with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and the 17 February Martys Brigade during the war in Libya in 2011. The response stated that it was in communication with a wide range of Libyans involved in the conflict against the Qaddafi regime forces as a part of its broad engagement during that time. On 5 April, the Derna Mujahedeen Shura Council (DMSC) claimed to have undertaken a surprise attack on Libyan National Army (LNA) forces in southern Derna, allegedly killing two LNA fighters. These events follow a media statement on 1 April by leader LNA Khalifa Haftar warning that the time given to the DMSC – which occupies and controls the city of Derna – to disarm and lay their weapons has expired and suggests that major clashes in Derna could start at any time.
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One of the biggest questions and worries the past year in Western counterterrorism circles has been about how the MENA uprisings would affect al-Qa’ida. Many pointed to the uprisings as evidence that the citizens of the MENA were not only shedding off the yoke of tyranny, but also discrediting al-Qa’ida. On the other side of the debate were those that believed that it would provide the impetus for jihadis to take over. Throughout the past ten months I have maintained that one would see something more in between these two visions and that one should focus on the internal dynamics of each country. The three countries that have worried me the most are Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Gregory Johnsen has done a great job keeping everyone updated on al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s evolution and advances in Yemen. Additionally, I have a forthcoming post at al-Wasat about the potential for jihadi penetration in the Syrian theater if the country does indeed devolve into a civil war. This post will therefore only focus on Libya and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghrib’s (AQIM) outreach to Libyans since the beginning of the Libyan uprising in February.
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NOTE: Noman Benotman was a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). In 2008, Ayman al-Zawahiri stated that LIFG had merged with al-Qā’idah, but this was short-lived since LIFG split from al-Qā’idah in 2009. In 2009, LIFG also released “Corrective Studies,” which was a revision of their past jihadist ideas that came out of a dialogue between LIFG’s senior leadership and Libyan government officials including Sayf al-Islām, son of Mu‘ammar al-Qaḍḍāfī. Currently, Benotman is a senior analyst at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank. For more on this, see what Leah Farrall has to say over at All Things Counter Terrorism.
Noman Benotman — Letter to bin Laden
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Noman Benotman — Letter to bin Laden (Arabic)
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