“5,000 Foreign Fighters Flock to Libya as ISIS Call for Jihadists,” by Jack Moore, Newsweek, March 3, 2015:
Over 5,000 foreign fighters have flocked to Libya to join the ranks of radical Islamist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the country’s foreign minister, Mohammed al-Dairi.
Al-Dairi, in comments made to the Libyan news outlet The Libya Herald, said there were many “terrorist leaders” who had arrived in the country from foreign countries, joining terror groups such as ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia.
In a recruitment video released last week, an ISIS militant called for jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt to immigrate to Libya. Last month, Libya’s army spokesperson also claimed that the biggest ISIS camp in the country was situated just 45km (27.9 miles) from the Tunisian border and a number of Tunisian foreign fighters had carried out suicide bomb attacks in the eastern city of Benghazi.
The country has descended into chaos since 2011 when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was removed from power at the height of the Arab Spring. Libya now has two governments jostling for legitimacy – the internationally-recognised government who are based in the eastern coastal town of Tobruk, and the Islamist-backed General National Congress (GNC) based in the capital, Tripoli.
ISIS have allegedly appointed two emirs, both foreign nationals, to oversee both sides of the country. The ‘Emir of Tripoli’, a Tunisian known as Abu Talha, controls the group’s operations in the west and a Yemeni national Abu al-Baraa el-Azdi, based in the town of Derna, which the group control.
Mohamed Eljarh, Libyan analyst and non-resident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Centre for the Middle East, says that fighters entering Libya from other countries is part of ISIS’s plan to gain more territory in the country.
“I believe that this is part of the Islamic State’s strategy,” he says. “They are seeking to overtake territory, entire cities and towns and entire states. That is their strategy. The flow of fighters is in line with this strategy in order to take over failed states such as Libya, Iraq and Syria.”
Al-Dairi also repeated the government’s call for the international community to help prevent the flock of jihadists to the country and the proliferation of terror in the country beset by unrest. Last month, Libyan prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni requested that the West launch air strikes against al-Qaeda and ISIS cells in the country….