ISIS IN ACTION
On 28 September, the head of Investigations at the Attorney General’s (AG) Office, Sadeq al-Sour, held a press conference in Tripoli in which he gave the names and affiliations of several ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia connected individuals in Libya. He also provided details and photographs of accused, organizational charts, links and routes of travel into Libya based on 14 months of investigation. While many of the revelations and individuals named were already in public domain, this was the first time they were officially revealed or confirmed by official judicial Libyan authorities.
Al-Sour revealed that about 800 arrest warrants had been issued for nearly 200 terrorist attacks in Libya. He said there are currently 250 cases before the courts and that more than 1,000 elements belonging to terrorist organizations are wanted for justice. He also said that a database has been created containing all the information on 1,500 ISIS members.
Al-Sour said that more than 1,000 people belonging to terrorist organizations are wanted for justice, a large number of whom are wanted in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Fifty warrants will be delivered to Interpol for ISIS suspects abroad. He added that more than 700 bodies of ISIS fighters from Sirte are being held in mortuary fridges.
Regarding leadership of ISIS in Libya, he claimed several Arab leaders rotated the command of ISIS in Libya, in coordination with the Libyan ISIS leadership. He said there are Libyan individuals who participated in the Syrian war and returned to Libya with an ISIS philosophy, however he also said that most ISIS members had not been Libyan, but that they had come from Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali and Chad. There are still a lot of individuals in the Sudan and Tunisia who are recruiting members.
Suspects – believed dead
Many of the perpetrators of terror attacks in Libya that al-Sour mentioned are believed dead, with many killed in the battle or Sirte. These include:
Abu Amer al-Jazrawi, a Saudi commander of ISIS in Sirte
Abdulhadi Zaroon, one of the important ISIS leaders in Sirte
Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, an Iraqi commander also known as Abu Nabil al-Anbari, who was appointed commander of ISIS in Libya.
Hasan Araj, who according to al-Sour was the first person to be recruited by ISIS in Libya
Suspects – wanted
Mahmoud al-Barasi, the commander of ISIS in Benghazi. He is wanted for arrest and according to al-Sour, is currently located in the south of Bani Walid.
Mahdi Salem Rajab Dingo, who was responsible for ISIS’s staff and military office
Al-Sour said that more than 200 suicide bombers and assassinations had been identified across Libya. Al-Sour listed several attacks and assassinations for which he said ISIS was responsible. These included:
The Egyptian Copts who were killed in Sirte. He said that the burial sites had been identified behind Sirte’s Mahari hotel and that the AG’s Office had all the information about those responsible for the slaughter.
The kidnapping of the Italians in Sabratha
The murders of former Attorney General Abdulaziz al-Hassadi, HoR member Freha al-Barkawi, Hasan Dakam, Sheikh Mohammed bin Othman and the director of the security of Sabratha, Hasan Kamuka.
Attacks on oil fields and the kidnapping of foreigners
Many murders, kidnappings and assassinations in Sabratha
Al-Sour said that ISIS kidnapped businessmen and used the ransoms for funding. He added that most of ISIS’s funding came via high ranking commanders in Syria and Iraq as well as through gaining control of various Libyan banks including Central Bank of Libya branches in Sirte, Benghazi and Derna. He revealed that the AG’s Office had issued summons for some Libyan officials who had supported some terrorist figures financially.
Al-Sour claimed that Derna, which is currently under the control of the Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council (DMSC) was preparing itself to become an emirate like Syria and Iraq. He also said there were numerous ISIS cells operating across Libya, including in Misrata. He said that the AG’s Office had information about cells trying to activate themselves in Libya, one of which is connected to the Hamas movement.
On 26 September, US Africa Command (Africom) conducted ‘two precision airstrikes’ against ISIS fighters some 160 kilometres southeast of Sirte, killing an unspecified number of ISIS fighters. In a press release, Africom said the attacks were carried out in coordination with the Government of National Accord (GNA). This is the second round of airstrikes this month, following six strikes by unmanned drones in a similar area on 22 September, which reportedly killed 17 ISIS fighters.
On 30 September, the Joint Drafting Committee declared it had reached the first set of agreements on amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) after several days of meetings in Tunis last week. The Joint Drafting Committee was set up by UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, as part of his new Libya roadmap. It comprises the dialogue committees of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS).
They have agreed in principle to reduce the Presidential Council (PC) from nine members to three, with the prime minister being a separate appointment (currently the president of the PC is also the prime minister of the government). Abdualslam Nasia, head of the HoR’s dialogue committee, stressed that no names had been discussed for these positions, only the mechanisms by which they would be nominated. The two delegations will now discuss the amendments with their respective bodies. When the drafting committee reconvenes, they hope to agree on more contentious amendments.
On 26 September, Khalifa Haftar visited Italy where he was received with full military honours. He met with the with Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti, Interior Minister Marco Minniti, Chief of Defence General Claudio Graziano and the head of intelligence.
In an interview with Italian national daily Corriere della Sera published on 29 September, Haftar said that the visit signalled a new chapter in his relationship with Italy and that they shared similar priorities on migration and terrorism. He said that his Libyan National Army (LNA) forces could help prevent migrants crossing Libya’s southern borders, provided he is given the military equipment necessary. He called once more for the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo against Libya. He added that force must remain an option for imposing order in the country.
On 28 September, Haftar then travelled to France where he had meetings with officials from Jean-Yves Le Drian’s foreign ministry. Local sources say that other militia leaders from Tripoli were also secretly in France to meet with Haftar.
This article was republished with explicit permission from the author.