Islamic State’s Expansion in Libya: Libya Institute of Advanced Studies (LIAS) Report on Beheadings and Car Bombings.
The Islamic State’s daily atrocities and expansion in Libya are the main study of the extensive report “Terrorism in Libya” that was published by the Libya Institute of Advanced Studies (LIAS) on April 23, 2015. Dr. Aref Ali Nayed, chairman of LIAS, is a renowned Libyan scholar who completed his advanced studies in Canada then specialized in Christian theology in Rome. He is an important scholar in the field of Muslim-Christian relations and is the founder and director of Kalam Research and Media (KRM). He has held several professional positions including professor at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome, politician as a staunch advocate of the revolution against the Gaddafi regime, and diplomat as the Libyan Ambassador to the UAE. The Libya Institute of Advanced Studies was established to build capacity among Libya’s young people in areas that would benefit the country’s future. In its latest endeavor, the institute has launched an initiative funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund to train Libyan freelance journalists. According to the announcement made public by Libya-Business News on April 13, “the project aims to create a sustainable professional network of freelance journalists working safely to produce independent, ethical, and unbiased reporting in Libya.”
“Beheadings, car bombings, and the Islamic State’s Expansion in Libya” was written to detail the Islamic State’s atrocities in Libya and to warn against the terrorist organization’s threat on the world as a whole. LIAS has committed to periodically release similar updates to keep the world informed of the heinous crimes IS commits daily in Libya.
Main sections of the 88-page report
The Glossary provides a thorough list of all the main players, characters, and locations in the current Libyan political arena. It lists all the organizations, the political parties and alliances and the jihadi terrorist groups, and then it specifies where each organization’s stronghold is.
Maps and Graphs
- Map of major cities and provinces of Libya: Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan
- Map of Libyan population density
- Map of violence death by location
- Map of IS events by location
- Graph of the number of violent deaths by month
- Graph of IS in Libya – events over time
- Map of locations of major IS activities from West to East (p.68)
ISIS Background, Situation, Expansion, and Strategy in Libya
In the body of the report, the author presents an overview on the rise of the Islamic State in Libya starting from Derna and expanding towards a strong presence in all the country. The author speaks of the strategies implemented in the towns they run that mirror the same mannerisms they implement in Iraq and Syria. He then speaks of IS’s objectives to use Libya as a passageway towards the rest of North Africa and Southern Europe. This section also elaborates on the group’s alliances with other jihadi groups in Libya and its relentless attempts at urging others to join.
Terrorist Events in Libya
The article covers a period of time starting from March 16, 2014 up until April 19, 2015; however, the article lists the timeline starting from the most recent events. The events are listed per week and per location. Each entry starts with the mentioning of the Islamic State in a specific location releasing pictures or videos of certain events. There are a total of 96 pictures covering a wide range of themes: hisbah (Islamic religious police), beheadings, executions, propaganda, car bombs, public punishments, graduation of troops from military camps, daily life’s routines, IS aid to Muslims, Christian converts, military campaigns against Libyan army, apostates, tyrants, and infidels, destruction of “impure” objects, and other themes.
In a few occasions, listed events had nothing to do with the Islamic State but with Ansar al-Sharia especially in its stronghold areas like Leithi in Benghazi on the events of April 6, February 28, and March 29. The report, however, clearly depicts an affiliation between IS and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya. In the event of March 29, 2015, the IS eulogized Ansar al-Sharia’s martyr Mohammed Oraibi. Furthermore, the event of November 23, 2014 speaks of the Islamic Army, a militia in Derna, but it quickly mentions that the group recently pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Whenever possible, the report mentions the Islamic State’s media wing on which pictures, videos, or information is released like Bayan Media and Al-Hayat, and there’s a constant reference to social media especially Twitter. The author also cited the Islamic State’s English magazine Dabiq especially in its latest edition in which IS declares that Libya holds the strongest IS presence outside Iraq and Syria.
With the alarming rate in which the Islamic State is expanding in Libya, the gathering of information becomes more crucial than ever to the understanding of the challenges ahead; therefore, LIAS has committed its resources to publishing periodical updates on the security situation in Libya.