Libya becoming HQ for major terrorists

By Aaron Klein

A gasoline depot in Tripoli set ablaze during the 2011 war
A gasoline depot in Tripoli set ablaze during the 2011 war

TEL AVIV – In the aftermath of the jihadist massacres in France, much of the international focus has been on Yemen, Iraq and Syria as the planning and training centers for al-Qaida and ISIS.

However, lost in the much of the Western discussion has been the central threat located in Libya, where al-Qaida groups maintain bases and where the ISIS has been growing in strength.

Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND say Libya is quickly taking the place of Yemen as a main headquarters for some of the world’s most dangerous international terrorist organizations.

The U.S. and NATO in 2011 deposed the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, providing vast quantities of weaponry to rebels there. Some of the weapons reportedly fell into the hands of terrorist organizations. Islamic extremists control large swaths of Libya.

On Monday, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani warned in an interview that if the international community does not act soon, his country could become a dangerous haven for jihadists targeting Europe.

“The international community must co-operate with Libya to put an end to extremism and terrorism and help government institutions, namely the army, by lifting the arms embargo,” Thani said, referring to a U.N. Security Council ban on arms to Libya.

Currently, an Islamist-led coalition largely controls Tripoli. The group, known as Fajr Libya, also occupies the city of Misrata, while the al-Qaida-inspired Ansar al-Sharia is said to dominate Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.

“The international community classified Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist organization, and it is leading an international coalition to crush such groups in Iraq and Syria,” said Thani.

He said that in Libya, however, the government and armed forces “are battling these groups alone, without any support from the international community.”

“We are afraid that the groups that are in Syria and Iraq will infiltrate Libya if [coalition forces] tighten the noose around them there.”

Ansar al-Sharia in both Benghazi and Derna pledged allegiance to ISIS in October, although some Western analysts believe the affiliation to be loose.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb is also said to be present in Ubari, Libya.

Agence France-Presse recently reported jihadists camps throughout Libya are being used to train militants to fight abroad.

Just last week, two Tunisian journalists reportedly kidnapped in September were brutally killed, with the Libyan branch of ISIS claiming responsibility.

ISIS in Libya also claimed this week it is behind the abduction of 21 Coptic Christians, releasing pictures of the captives.

Meanwhile, local Libyan TV stations recently aired photos and videos of what they claimed were ISIS members arrested or killed in battles with the Libyan army in Benghazi.

The Libyan daily Al-Awsat also published photos showing a purported ISIS patrol in Tripoli dismantling a local cosmetic store it said was against Islam.

And the Libyan government has announced that upwards of 20 percent of all terrorists arrested come from foreign countries, including Syria, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

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