There are so many factors that have contributed to making Libya an ideal hub for terrorism to thrive in and terrorists to flock to, but its location could top that list since it is much easier for African natives to make their way into a chaotic Libya from Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, and Sudan than it is for them to get to Iraq or Syria. Derna was the first Libyan city to be claimed and controlled by the Islamic State in November of 2014, but in June 2015, the city could no longer take the overwhelming presence of foreign fighters, and it was the first city to revolt against the organization’s brutal extremism, radical thought, and barbaric practices (image on the top, chart of the Islamic State Leadership in Libya. Source: The Maghrebi Note).
Foreign Fighters in Libya
In an exclusive interview with well-informed libyan website Akhbar Libya 24 on June 14, the official spokesman of Derna’s Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade, Mohammed Idriss, said that his brigade respected the wishes of Derna’s citizens when in January 2013 they took a step back and made way for the government and its institutions to rule the city. He added that the Islamic State quickly took advantage of the void and began to bring in foreign fighters that never before existed in the city.
On June 12, angry residents took to the streets of Derna to protest the presence of foreign fighters in the city, but they were shot at by IS fighters. Reuters reported that seven people were seriously injured. On June 14, a source from Derna told Cairo website Bawabat-al-Wasat that independence flags were raised on the city’s rooftops and streets in a clear rejection of all forms of extremism. He added that the residents of Derna demanded the return of the government’s authority and institutions in their city.
The unstoppable capability of the Islamic State to recruit foreign fighters remains one of the main concerns and challenges of the international community. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared on May 29 that since mid-2014, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters into the ranks of the Islamic State has swelled by 70 percent. According to UN monitoring teams, he added, more than 25,000 foreign fighters from over 100 Member States are estimated to have travelled to Syria and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya.
The exact number of foreign fighters in Libya cannot be verified, but reports have proven that the majority of fighters that have joined the various militant groups, mainly ISIS, are not Libyans. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal on February 17, 2015, ISIS recruiters in Turkey allegedly redirected the flow of North African fighters from Syria to Libya. On February 28, 2015, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Dairi told libyan english website Libya Herald that there are 5,000 foreign combatants fighting alongside extremists in Libya.
On May 25, 2015, the Algerian news outlet Al-Fadjr described Libya as the focal meeting point of the different terrorist organizations in Africa and said that it has attracted an astounding number of over 50,000 foreign militants. ISIS has even appointed foreign leaders to head its presence in Libya. Sources to Sudan Today revealed on February 26, 2015 that jihadi-salafists pour into Libya on a daily basis from over ten Arab, African, and even European countries coming from Tunisia, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger.
On June 19, the legal representative of the Tripoli-based Libyan government told Assarih that 2000 to 3000 IS fighters are in Sirte, 600 of which are Tunisians, 100 are Libyans, and the rest are of different Arab nationalities. The Algerian military expert, Col. Ramadan Hamalat, revealed to Bawabat-al-Wasat on June 17 that the Islamic State in Libya has recruited over 3000 foreign extremists from over 30 countries including 500 Tunisians, 500 Egyptians, and 200 Algerians.
On June 22, Echorouk reported that there were 300 Boko Haram fighters in Libya, and many more await at the borders with Mali and Niger. The Algerian security expert Ali al-Zaoui told Bawabat-al-Wasat on June 9 that over 3000 foreign fighters coming from France, Belgium, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco have returned from Iraq and Syria and made their way to Libya through Sudan with the help of Hassan al-Turabi supporters. Akhbar Libya 24 reported on June 10 that a detained IS fighter confessed to the death of an Egyptian known as “Abdullah the Egyptian” by a Libyan army sniper in Benghazi. He said that the “Egyptian” was actually an officer in the Egyptian army who was a tank expert and trained IS militants in Benghazi.
On June 3, a military source told Akhbar Libya 24 that the army arrested an IS fighter in Ajdabiya who turned out to be a Boko Haram militant. On June 3, Egyptian security services informed Akhbar Libya 24 that it prevented 95 individuals including 4 Sudanese from entering Libya illegally through Salloum border crossing.
On June 21, Akhbar Libya 24 reported that two foreign IS fighters were caught lost in the valleys surrounding Derna. One of them spoke English and French, and the other terrorist chose to remain silent. Al-Chourouk released a statement by the Tunisian Ministry of Interior on June 20 declaring that border guards in Medenine arrested 7 takfirists as they were on their way to join terrorist groups in Libya. Al-Fadjr reported on June 22 that Washington has recently sought Algeria’s expertise in trying to identify the bodies of foreign terrorists killed in Libya and are believed to have been Syrian and Moroccan. The Islamic State released a picture report that Akhbar Libya 24 obtained a copy of on June 22. The report includes pictures of IS fighters killed in battles with the army in Benghazi, and the fighters are Egyptian, Algerian, Tunisian, and Sudanese.
The Organization for Justice and Development revealed that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State are planning to establish a terror belt in North and West Africa to include Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and Niger. According to a report on Al-Fadjr on June 23, the international organization said that with over 50,000 African terrorists in Libya, the country is considered the meeting point for all the terrorist organizations in Africa from which they plan to conquer Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.
Khilafah epics in Benghazi: A suicide attack on a compound for the tyrant army: a six-minute message released on March 1, 2015 and delivered by the suicide bomber Abou Talha al-Tunisi (The Tunisian).
Khalifah epics in Beghazi: A suicide attack on a crowd of apostates in Benghazi: a four-minute message released on April 5, 2015 and delivered by the Egyptian suicide bomber Abou Mosaab al-Muhajir (The Migrant).
Khalifah epics in Benghazi: A suicide attack on a compound for the tyrant army in Al-Lithy, Benghazi: a five-minute message released on March 28, 2015 and delivered by the suicide bomber Khotab al-Ansari.
Abou Wahid al-Tunisi carried out a suicide attack against “Libya Dawn” forces in Misrata on May 31.
In a chilling video released by the Barqa province, an Egyptian IS militant threatens al-Sisi then starts to shoot along with other IS militants that go on a shooting rampage in the streets of a Libyan town.
Convoys of Martyrs (1): Abou Sleiman al-Sudani and Abou Ibrahim al-Tunisi: Suicide attack on Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli in January 2015.
Attack against “Libya Dawn” in Sirte: Abou Dajana al-Sudani’s suicide attack on Sadada Bridge in May 2015.