U.S. Backed Rebel Reportedly Leads Islamic State in Libya

map derna

CSP, by Kyle Shideler, March 2, 2015: 

Major news out of Libya as  the former head of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and a major player in the U.S.-backed overthrow of Mummar Gaddafi, has reportedly joined the Islamic State and is leading its forces there. This according to The Blaze National Security journalist Sara Carter on twitter, and Fox News’ Catherine Herridge in a Fox News report.

Belhadj’s ties to Al Qaeda were controversial during the run up to U.S. airstrikes in support of the Libyan rebels, but this did not prevent him from maintaining a high profile at the time, including being made head of the Tripoli Military Council, a position he held until resigning to run for office in May 2012. Belhadj has a reputation for involvement in the international jihad has well, playing a role in the 2004 Madrid training bombings, and accused by investigators of being involved in the murder of two Tunisian politicians at behest of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamic State fighters landed in Libya back in November of 2014, and have been at work establishing training camps in the Libyan city of Derna before launching a terror offensive which included an attack on a Libyan hotel, attacks on oil field workers, and the execution of 21 Copts in a graphic video which made international headlines.

If Belhadj has gone over to Islamic State, it will represent a major boost to IS’ efforts to co-opt and bring in Libya’s existing jihadist forces under their banner, which now reportedly includes as many as 3,000 fighters.   BelHadj’s forces play a significant role in the Islamist “Libyan Dawn” coalition (which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda’s Ansar al-Sharia), which currently holds Tripoli, and which claims to be the rightful government in opposition to the UN recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni.

Libyan Dawn supporters have repeatedly blamed Anti-Islamist general Khalifa al Haftar for the terror attacks of the Islamic State, including on the hotel residence of the Libyan Dawn prime minister, so there is reason to believe that if a binary choice develops between Belhadj and Haftar (who was recently made Commander and Chief of the Al-Thinni government forces), the Islamist factions will chooses Belhadj.

This would represent a major coup for the Islamic State, whose global strategy requires the incorporation of pre-established jihadist groups to bolsters their claim to Caliphate status and take additional territory, thus reinforcing their religious and legal authority, and attracting additional recruits.

Also see:

2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa

March 2, 2015 / /

As the Obama administration continues to live in their fantasy world of the Islamic State (IS) being “defeated” by the “Coalition of the Reluctantly Willing” and a ill-conceived Twitter campaign, IS has been busy replenishing its ranks. They’ve been doing this and weakening their enemies by recruiting defectors from the other Syrian opposition factions (such as al-Nusra/Khorasan Group). A big driver for this is the directive Baghdadi put out for the terror organization to build local ties and form alliance in advance of future operations. One such example of al-Nusra/KG losing people to the other side is increased IS presence along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Other reports coming in describe entire opposition units in Halab, Hama, Homs, Idlib and dawr al-Zawr. The reasons for this are obvious:

– IS offers bigger cash incentives for joining its ranks. Money talks.

– The other factions view IS as being the strongest faction in the regional war that will ultimately “crush” all opposition and the best chance to seriously challenge the Asad regime. In other words, everybody wants to be part of a “winner.”

Indeed, IS – or anybody for that matter – will enjoy a huge surge in recruitment when they’re doing well on the battlefield, which gets amplified by an effective IO campaign. This is also a great gauge to see how well the Obama administration’s IS strategy has been working out thus far. So how are they doing? Well for starters we’re hearing that the Gaza-based Mujahidin Shura Council (MSC) has pretty much been “disbanded” and absorbed into IS’ North African affiliates such as the Egypt-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM). The MSC had been working to become a legitimate al-Qaida affiliate and had formed in 2012 (some reports will say as early as 2011) when three Gaza-based Salafi groups merged in response to guidance received from the al-Qaida (AQ) senior leadership. The MSC was very similar to the MSC that was set up in Iraq prior to the formation of the “Islamic State of Iraq” now known simply as the “Islamic State” (Long War Journal did a great piece on this in 2012 that remains applicable to the current situation).

Although primarily based in Gaza, the organization also had a presence in Egypt’s Sinai region and Libya. However, the effort fell through due to unknown reasons, but it may have to do with internal problems the entity had. In fact, by NOV 14 we had began to see elements of the MSC’s branch in Sinai had already defected to ABM. The terror group also made in-roads elsewhere by forming an alliance with its splinter group Ajnad Masr for increased joint-operations in the Cairo-area as discussed in our piece titled “Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb.” We assess that the addition of MSC personnel into ABM’s ranks will bolster the Sinai group’s capabilities with knowledge of alternative smuggling routes at the local-level coming into play to avoid the Sisi regime’s crackdown on IS affiliates.

Islamic State’s Presence in Gaza
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=293

ISIS in Gaza Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=510

Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5033

Salafi-Jihadists in Gaza Continue to Efforts to Establish Islamic Emirate
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/10/salafi-jihadists_in.php

Terrorism: What Is The Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem?
http://www.ibtimes.com/terrorism-what-mujahideen-shura-council-environs-jerusalem-1663036

Haifa man named as victim of terrorist attack on Egypt border
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/haifa-man-named-as-victim-of-terrorist-attack-on-egypt-border-1.437130

abu wahib_gaza

The infamous Abu Wahib (variant-Waheeb) shown in IS propaganda circulating throughout Gaza
Source: al-Battar Media Foundation

The act of absorbing one’s enemies is not a new phenomenon and is actually part of the long history of the Islamic religion itself. As we’ve seen throughout the Middle East’s extremely violent history of conquest after conquest, the 21st regrettably isn’t any different. ABM itself formed in 2011 as a by-product of the so-called “Arab Spring” that the Obama administration supported that led to installing the Muslim Brotherhood as the new regime in Egypt. The terror group mainly targeted the Jewish population in the Sinai and throughout Israel itself, although this all changed when GEN Sisi came to power and began systematically targeting all jihadist elements in the country that was allowed to flourish under the Morsi regime. Since aligning itself with IS, the group has adopted some – but not all – of Baghdadi’s ideology. The act of beheading enemies (especially those deemed to be “traitors”) is now a recurring theme for the organization after pledging allegiance to Baghdadi’s “Caliphate.”

Egypt attack: Profile of Sinai Province militant group
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-25882504

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis/Wilayat Sinai
http://timep.org/esw/profiles/terror-groups/ansar-bayt-al-maqdis/

Gaza jihadist group praises Ansar Jerusalem fighters, calls for more attacks
http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/03/msc_in_jerusalem_praises_slain.php

The Resurgence of Militant Islamists in Egypt
http://www.mei.edu/content/resurgence-militant-islamists-egypt

Palestinian militants from Al-Ansar brigade take part in a training session in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

ABM: The ISIS Cancer spreading throughout the body of North Africa and Gaza
Source: al-Arabiya

As of this writing ABM has been focused on expanding IS’ influence in Gaza, the Sinai and Libya in order to secure smuggling routes that are supporting the overall effort in Syria against the Assad regime. Central to this is ABM’s Sinai campaign to secure the gateway to Gaza and by extension Syria – the increased presence along the Lebanese-Syrian border is part of this greater strategic vision the senior IS leadership has for the region. A great deal of weapons and foreign fighters coming from Tunisia and Libya are going through Egypt, Gaza and Northern Lebanon to get to Syria (both straight into Syria or through Turkey). Of the Libyan weapons being sent to facilitate the anti-Assad war effort, the majority of them are coming from weapons depots in Misrata and Benghazi. On 29 AUG 14 we stated in “The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS” that the terror group had not yet firmly entrenched itself inside Egypt, but was getting close as the result of ABM aligning itself with Baghdadi. Today, we can say that ABM has made great strides since then despite being targeted by the Sisi regime – and they’re going to become a much greater threat with absorbing the MSC into its ranks.

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1392

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya: US Kept in the Dark
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1302

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=584

The borders of terror
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/7997/17/The-borders-of-terror.aspx

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 10.01.21 AM

Sisi regime declared “open season” for hunting down IS and its affiliates
Source: ISIS Study Group

Economic warfare against members of the “Coalition of the Reluctantly Willing” has also steadily increased in both Egypt and Libya, with oil pipelines being regular targets in IED attacks aiming to disrupt the economies of not just Egypt and Libya, but also that of Jordan and European nations such as Italy. Another reason is that they they can gain access to fuel sources to sell on the black market and supply their forces. This is indicative of the cross-border coordination one can expect from multiple groups that have united under a common umbrella – in this case the Black Flag of IS. Below are a few examples of alleged IEDs emplaced targeting Libyan oil pipeline between Sarir Field and Hergia Port that we received from our in-country sources:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 4.21.57 PM

Source: The ISIS Study Group

libya_pipeline

Source: The ISIS Study Group

The alliance between the Sisi regime and Libyan GEN Khalifah Haftar may have struck IS strongholds inside Libya, but the jihadist organization has answered back with a series of bombings targeting the joint-Egyptian/Haftar faction command center in Quba. They didn’t stop there – they also launched an attack against the Iranian embassy in Tripoli last week. The attack served two purposes:

– To target a major hub for coordinating IRGC-Qods Force and Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) intelligence operations in the country. The Iranian regime will typically coordinate intelligence operations inside of a target country from their embassies and consulates. In fact, cultural centers set up by Iranian diplomatic missions are staffed with MOIS and Qods Force personnel to provide cover.

– Sending a message to Iran and the West that IS has firmly entrenched itself inside Libya. The Iranian Ambassador was not present at the compound when it was attacked, suggesting the target was symbolic in nature.

ISIL-linked group claims Iran embassy attack in Libya
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/iran-envoy-libyan-capital-targeted-bomb-attack-150222113314567.html

iranian tripoli embassy

The aftermath of the Iranian embassy attack
Source: Reuters

In addition to being an avenue from which to target Western economies, Libya is also a potential launching pad for jihadists looking to travel to Europe under the guise of “refugees” to facilitate the execution of attacks on the continent. This will also affect the US due to the naive policy of the Obama administration to admit thousands of refugees from places like Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Refugees who obtain citizenship to a European nation will also be able to circumvent the largely nonexistent enforcement of US border security laws to enter the country under the guise of “tourists” or “students” – with DHS completely oblivious of their usage of this status to further a much more insidious agenda.

Cultural Suicide: Why Allowing Syrian War Refugees to Enter Western Countries is a Pandora’s Box to More Attacks
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4987

The Jews: Europe’s Canary in the Mine on the Growing Jihadist Threat
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4939

Attack in Paris, France Kills 12
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4336

Islamic State: The French Connection
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3875

ISIS Attack Plot Thwarted in Belgium – A Sign of Things to Come?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1890

Jihadist Infestation: Terrorism Results in Copenhagen Chaos
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4831

As 2014 was the year that put IS on “the map,” 2015 will be the year that we see greater expansion into North Africa going into Gaza and the border-area with Lebanon. This will also be the year that we will see IS begin reaching out “to touch” Europe and the US with attacks conducted by well-organized cells with extensive experience in Syria and Iraq as opposed to the home-grown jihadist cells we’ve seen in Denmark, French and Belgium attacks. It will also become painfully obvious to those still in denial that the Obama administration has a strong strategy against IS – which it doesn’t. In a time where the world needs a Churchill, Patton and Montgomery we’re getting it – its just coming from GEN Sisi, GEN Haftar, King Abdullah and Bibi Netanyahu instead of the US government. However, these great men have limits in what they can do. They will need much greater US military assistance – far greater than what’s currently being given. The Libyan people have been taking to the streets demanding that GEN Haftar take command of the Army as they view him as the best shot they have at eradicating the IS threat. We should be supporting GEN Haftar and GEN Sisi in their efforts. Considering the fact that the Obama administration still thinks IS fighters are just bored young men looking for jobs while downplaying the significance of Islamic fundamentalism.

Libyan parliament proposes Haftar, a divisive figure, as head of army
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/02/25/uk-libya-security-idUKKBN0LT1EG20150225

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=456

The ISIS Expansion into North Africa
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3257

Obama’s ISIS Strategy: Failed Before it Started
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1730

Another Reason Obama’s ISIS Strategy Has Already Failed
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1757

DoS

The Sad state of the US government’s IS strategy has become butt of frequent jokes on Twitter and Facebook
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Links to Other Related Articles:

Egyptian Army Hits Back at ISIS in Sinai

ISIS Efforts to Open up an Egyptian Front

Egyptian Army and IDF Take on ISIS Supporters in Sinai

US Embassy in Tripoli “Secured” by Islamist Militias of the Dawn of Libya

Denmark Update

World View: Reports Indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia Planning Military Action in Libya

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by JOHN J. XENAKIS, March 1, 2015:

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya
  • Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization
  • Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya

Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)
Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)

Various unconfirmed reports are emerging indicating that there may be joint international action planned in Libya as early as next week.

Egypt is already conducting air strikes against ISIS-linked targets in Derna, close to where Egyptian Coptics were massacred recently, as displayed in a gruesome video. Debka reports that Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is planning further action in Libya, including more air strikes and possible ground troops, within a few days. According to the report, Egyptian commando and marine forces are preparing for sea landings to seize Derna and destroy the terrorist elements there. If this attack is actually launched, it will be the first time in modern times that an Arab country has sent ground forces into another Arab country.

Al-Jazeera television reports that the Italian navy is getting ready to carry off sophisticated military drills off the coast of Libya as early as Monday. Although Italy claims that it will be a regular exercise, there are many more vessels taking part in this year’s exercise than have in the past, which Italy explains by saying that they are testing out sophisticated new technologies.

There are several reasons why Italy is pursuing this show of force:

  • Italy considers the flood of migrants from Libya into Italy to be an existential threat to Italy itself, because there may be ISIS-trained terrorists smuggled in, along with the other migrants. Italy may be planning some kind of military action in Libya in conjunction with Egypt’s air strikes and other operations.
  • The GreenStream pipeline is a gas pipeline running underneath the Mediterranan Sea from Libya to Sicily. The pipeline is vital to economic relations between Italy and Libya. In recent months, there have been attacks by gunmen on oil installations in Libya, forcing some ports to shut down. The new show of naval force may be related to threats of attack or sabotage on the pipeline.
  • For over a year, Italy ran a search and rescue program called “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) that saved the lives of thousands of migrants attempting to travel from Libya to Italy. This program required Italian naval vessels near the Libyan coast. In November, the program ended and an EU program called Triton replaced it, but Triton restricts its operations to only 30 miles off the Italian coast. Triton has been considered unsatisfactory because many more migrants are drowning. Italy’s new show of naval force may be an attempt to restore a portion of the Mare Nostrum program.
  • Related to the last point, on Saturday there were large demonstrations in Rome by Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party for the government to do more to keep immigrants out. The naval show of force may help to mollify the protestors.

Some reports indicate that Russia has hinted at a willingness to participate in a naval blockade of Libya to prevent arm supplies from leaving Libya for other countries. Russia could play a role in this because it already has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean.

These are all unconfirmed reports of possible military action in Libya by Egypt, Italy and Russia. There are no reports of possible participation by Nato or the United States. Debkaand Cairo Post

Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization

Egypt on Saturday became the first Arab country to name Hamas as a terrorist organization. The U.S. and the European Union have named Hamas as a terror group. An EU court took Hamas off the list in December 2014, ruling that the designation was not based on solid legal evidence, but the EU is appealing the court’s decision.

According to a decision on Saturday from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters:

It has been proven without any doubt that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations and the killing of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt.

It has been also ascertained with documents that [Hamas] has carried out bombings that have taken lives and destroyed institutions and targeted civilians and the armed forces personnel. It has also been ascertained that this movement works for the interests of the terrorist Brotherhood organization [which Egypt has already declared to be a terrorist organization].

About a month ago, the same court declared Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, to be a terrorist organization. Saturday’s ruling makes the political wing a terrorist organization as well.

A Hamas spokesman denied all the charges and said that the ruling was “dangerous”:

History has recorded Egypt’s support to national liberty movements in the Arab world and Africa, particularly in Palestine. … This ruling serves the Israeli occupation. It’s a politicized decision that constitutes the beginning of Egypt evading its role toward the Palestinian cause. This is a coup against history and an Egyptian abuse of the Palestinian cause and resistance, which fights on behalf of the Arab nation. We call on Egypt to reconsider this dangerous decision.

Al Jazeera and Al Ahram (Cairo) and CS Monitor and Al Resalah (Palestine)

Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

By coincidence or by planning, the presidents of both Egypt and Turkey will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week. Egypt’s Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will both be visiting King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the new king of Saudi Arabia, who has replaced King Abdullah, who died last month.

It is not known whether Erdogan will ever be in the same room as al-Sisi. The two have been bitter enemies ever since a coup by al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s elected president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, and later declared MB to be a terrorist organization. Erdogan’s own political party, the AKP, is an Islamist party like the Muslim Brotherhood, and they had good relations while Morsi was in power.

There has been some speculation that King Salman is going to completely reverse King Abdullah’s policy on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) had branded MB as a terrorist organization, but some are wondering if Salman is going to shift from that policy. The Saudi foreign minister recently said that his government has “no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood; our problem is with a small group affiliated to the organization,” suggesting that shift is in the works.

Other problems make an Egypt-Turkey rapprochement unlikely: Erdogan vitriolicly hates Israel and supports Hamas. Al-Sisi vitriolicly hates Hamas and works closely with Israel on military matters, especially in North Sinai. It does n0t seem likely that any meeting, if one even occurs, will be pleasant.

If King Salman is able to pull off a miracle and mediate a new relationship between Egypt and Turkey, then it would appear to be the establishment of a new “Sunni front” in the Mideast, to oppose Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Al Arabiya and Kurdistan and Arab Times

ISIS Chemical Weapons Libya: Military Warns Islamic State Might Have Mustard Gas, Sarin

Men in orange jumpsuits purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State kneel in front of armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli, in this still image from an undated video made available on social media on Feb. 15, 2015. Reuters

Men in orange jumpsuits purported to be Egyptian Christians held captive by the Islamic State kneel in front of armed men along a beach said to be near Tripoli, in this still image from an undated video made available on social media on Feb. 15, 2015. Reuters

IBTimes, by Cristina Silva, Feb. 22, 2015:

Islamic State fighters in Libya allegedly have seized large amounts of chemical weapons, including mustard gas and the nerve agent Sarin, the Libyan military charged. “Unfortunately [chemical weapons] exist in locations known to the militias, who have seized large amounts of them to use in their war against the [Libyan] army,” a Libyan military official told the London daily Asharq al-Awsat.

ISIS fighters near Tripoli have begun testing the weapons that reportedly once belonged to the former regime of Moammar Gadhafi. “Before his death, Gadhafi left approximately 1,000 cubic tons worth of material used for manufacturing chemical weapons and about 20,000 cubic tons of mustard gas,” the military official said.

The weapons are likely 10 years old and in a degraded state, but remain dangerous, former British Army officer Hamish de Bretton-Gordon told The Daily Mail Sunday. “While we don’t know how much IS has acquired, and though the Libyan Sarin dates back to the Gadhafi era, it would still have a toxicity and pose a danger,” he said. “Libya is virtually Europe and so the fear factor from a European perspective is huge. I should think the security forces will be watching this situation very closely.”

Last year, Libyan officials said they had destroyed the last known stockpile of chemical weapons from Gadhafi’s regime. “Libya is totally empty of any presence of chemical weapons … which could pose a threat to the safety of people, the environment or neighboring regions,” Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelaziz said at the time.

ISIS already has used chemical weapons, including chlorine in Iraq. Islamic State fighters have seized territory in Syria and Iraq in recent months and now are apparently targeting Libya. The North African nation has lacked a strong government since Gadhafi was toppled four years ago.

Last week, Islamic State fighters released a video purporting to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya. In the video, militants dressed in black beheaded the captives on a beach near Tripoli.

Haftar – Sisi Alliance: The Road Block to ISIS bridge Into The Maghreb

February 21, 2015 / /

Our sources have reported that the Egyptian Special Forces Unit 999 executed a joint-raid with the forces of Libyan GEN Khalifah Haftar after the start of airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) positions inside Libya. Unit 999 and GEN Haftar’s forces conducted a raid on a camp located in the Dernah-area (variant: Darna) resulting in the total destruction of the camp. This particular camp is said to have a heavy-foreign fighter presence consisting of Tunisian, Egyptian and Algerian fighters. This particular camp appears to be part of the facilitation ratlines sending weapons and fighters to Syria through Egypt and Gaza, which is probably why the Sisi regime chose to target this location. IS responded by targeting the GEN Haftar stronghold of Quba in a series of bombings.

Libya: Egyptian troops launch ground attack in Isis-held Derna ‘capturing 55 militants’
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/libya-egyptian-troops-launch-ground-attack-isis-held-derna-capturing-55-militants-1488522

ISIL claims responsibility for deadly Libya blasts
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/isil-claims-responsibility-deadly-libya-blasts-150220235037650.html

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4889

Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 10.03.48 AM

Unit 999 conducting training
Source: The ISIS Study Group

The ratlines coming out of Libya are also fueling IS-affiliate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) to continue moving forward in their campaign to secure the Sinai Peninsula to use as the gateway to Gaza, Jordan and Syria. If you suspect there’s a great sense of urgency on the part of Egypt to eradicate the IS presence in Libya and the Sinai, you would be correct. The reason for the increased operations in both areas has everything to do with ABM attempting to reach out to other jihadist groups in the country to bolster their ranks and create a “unified” command. Unconfirmed reporting has come out over the past few weeks about ABM allegedly reaching out to the Cairo-based group Ajnad Masr for the purpose of conducting joint-operations against the regime. This is significant since Ajnad Masr splintered from ABM in 2013 over their pro-IS leanings and regional agenda as opposed to just targeting the Egyptian government. If confirmed, then ABM will have an effective action-arm for conducting operations inside Cairo itself (ABM’s Cairo operations had been disrupted over the last 4 months due to security sweeps). Adding weight to this possibility are the reports that Ajnad Masr may be looking to target western embassies in the capital.

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4669

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya – US Kept in the Dark
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1302

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=584

ABM video

ABM in their 2014 video pledging allegiance to IS
Source: Breitbart

The Libyan-affiliate of IS has been expanding rather quickly in the country and initiated the targeting of westerners, as demonstrated in the late-JAN attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and early-FEB attack on an oil field near Sirt. Regarding the oil field attack, IS was looking for westerners but ended up killing one US citizen, a French citizen and three Filipino overseas foreign workers (OFWs) taken hostage. As we’ve seen in Syria and Iraq, a key part of increasing the group’s capabilities revolves around seizing critical infrastructure such as power plants, oil fields and refineries, and its no different here in Libya. We fully expect IS will continue to target Libyan oil infrastructure in order to target western workers, generate revenue and pressure the governments of other target countries – to include EU members.

Eight killed, including five foreigners, in ISIS-linked attack on Libya hotel
http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.639305

3 Filipino Oil Workers Kidnapped in Libya
http://manilastandardtoday.com/2015/02/06/3-filipino-oil-workers-kidnapped-in-libya/

corinthia hotel

The Corinthia Hotel Attack
Source: Harretz

We assess that GEN Haftar’s faction and the Sisi regime will continue planning for additional joint-operations similar to the Dernah camp raid. The UAE has been sending additional military equipment and weapons/ammo in support of these operations and has apparently signaled that they intend to increase their air campaign on IS targets in the country. Libya is of great importance as it gives IS a main hub from which to support expansion efforts throughout North Africa while providing additional logistical support to the war effort in Syria. The effort is deemed so important by IS leadership that they sent a “support package” consisting of cadre who fought US forces in Iraq to the country to assist in setting up the official affiliate. Furthermore, we assess that six months after IS sends such a group to an area that an affiliate is able to become fully operational. These personnel are a combination of structural IS fighters and personalities native to the target area. Regarding Libya, such personnel aren’t in short supply as the country was a major contributor of foreign fighters for the IS forerunner AQI during the OIF-era (its worth noting many of these personnel came from Benghazi). As such, what we’re seeing in Libya will likely be what we’ll see in the AF/PAK region six months from now. We also see indications that these same type of cadre were sent to Nigeria to assist Boko Haram 12 to 18 months ago. They have also sent similar cadre packages to other Maghreb states in North Africa, particularly those with active insurgencies.

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1392

The ISIS Expansion into North Africa
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3257

Its also worth noting that both GENs Haftar and Sisi have not been receiving adequate US military support. More damning is that the Obama administration has even supported “moderate elements” of the Arab Spring that were not hardly at all moderate – such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB -which is the father of the modern Sunni terrorist) for instance. The result was a MB-dominated Egyptian government that became increasingly pro-jihadist and a Libya that became far less stable than it ever was when the Qaddafi regime was in power. The result was our Cairo Embassy being overrun, Libya mission being closed and our ambassador to that country being killed by the very same “moderates” that the Obama administration supported. Once GEN Sisi seized power he took note of what happened to his mentor Hosni Mubarak and has grown closer to Russia. In fact, US influence throughout the Middle East – and globally – has been on significant decline for the past 6 yrs, which began to accelerate at the start of the Arab Spring. If you were wondering why we’re seeing Jordan, Egypt, the UAE and France are now “in the lead” in the fight against ISIS, that’s why – and that isn’t a good thing. The United States is not “more respected” as the Obama administration claimed we would be nor are we feared. The decisions of the American voter in the last two presidential elections won’t fully manifest itself for another 1-2 yrs – but when it does, there will be a lot of blood spilled.

Egypt Atmospherics
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=614

Links to Other Related Articles:

Egyptian Army and IDF Take on ISIS Supporters in Sinai

Egyptian Army Hits Back at ISIS in Sinai

US Embassy in Tripoli “Secured” by Islamist by Islamist Militias of the Dawn of Libya

Violence In Tripoli and Benghazi Continues to Rise

Libyan Violence Causes US Embassy to Close in Tripoli, Also Attack on Egyptian Border Control Point

Tunisia, After Igniting Arab Spring, Sends the Most Fighters to Islamic State in Syria – The Washington Post

Tunisia Closes Border With Libya as Thousands Have Been Fleeing the Violence in Libya

ISIS in Gaza Update

Islamic State’s Presence in Gaza

Islamic State Threatens Italy

One of many rescues by the Italian government.  What will Italy, Malta and other European countries do with the migrants? None of these mostly young men will be sent back!  https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/armed-smugglers-threaten-italian-coast-guard-as-2200-more-migrants-brought-to-europe-from-libya/

One of many rescues by the Italian government. What will Italy, Malta and other European countries do with the migrants? None of these mostly young men will be sent back! https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/armed-smugglers-threaten-italian-coast-guard-as-2200-more-migrants-brought-to-europe-from-libya/

CSP, by Sean MacCormac, Feb. 18, 2015:

Ever since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, the embattled nation has become fertile ground for Islamist rebels to set up an aspiring Islamic emirate. Islamic State has established a foothold in Libya by acquiring the allegiance of several Islamist organizations within the country. The strategy in Libya differed from Islamic State’s actions in Syria; the militant organization sent envoys to Libyan Islamist rebels to enlist their aid in the creation of a new caliphate. Islamic State had aggressively sought recruitment efforts in Libya and courted jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Shariah in neighboring states under pressure from anti-terrorist initiatives, first gaining their aid in Syria before turning their focus back towards Libya. As the two opposing Libyan governments fought each other, they neglected to confront the common Islamic State threat.

As of late, Islamic State-affiliated jihadists in Libya have become increasingly more aggressive in their attacks, targeting oil installations and hotels as well as executing Christians on video. Fears mount over Islamic State’s success in Libya, and of the nation becoming a center for jihadism in the region. As a response to the beheading video, the Egyptian government launched an airstrike on the jihadist hotbed of Derna, killing over sixty fighters.

Now, however, Islamic State has threatened to invade Italy. During the beheading video, Islamic State propagandist Abu Arhim al-Libim stated that Islamic State “will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.” al-Libim cited the large amounts of weaponry present in Libya held by Islamic State and that the Sicilian coast was less than 300 miles away from Libya’s coast. In fact, an ISIS report recovered by Libyan media in January states that the Islamic State intends to flood Italy with illegal immigrants to overwhelm the country’s defenses and infrastructure. It would be a simple matter for Islamic State to infiltrate agents within the large number of refugees from Libya, yet the Italian government is still in favor of taking in large amounts of refugees. Already, there are thousands of refugees fleeing Libya and making the risky cross-Mediterranean travel to Italy, even as Italy withdraws all personnel from its embassy in Tripoli.

The Italian government has already taken actions to ensure the nation’s security in the face of the threat from Islamic State. Security in Rome has been tightened greatly after Islamic State directly threatened the Italian capital. The Italian Parliament is to be briefed on Libya Thursday, and there is already considerable support for possible military action against Islamic State in Libya. Italian defense minister Robert Panotti stated that 5,000 troops could be deployed to Libya if necessary, though Prime Minster Matteo Renzi confirms that the position of the Italian government for the time being is to wait until the UN Security Council reaches an agreement. With that in mind, it is unclear if the Italian armed forces are in any condition for an invasion of Libya; the 5,000 troops mentioned could very well be the only troops available for an expeditionary force due to the heavy military cuts conducted two years ago.

Egyptian beheadings show ISIS taking ‘global jihad’ to rest of Arab world

Published on Feb 16, 2015 by jim hoft  (who reminds us that Ansar al-Sharia claimed responsibility for the Benghazi attack and 3 emails were sent to the WH informing them of this on the night of the attack)

Fox News, Feb. 16, 2015:

The Islamic State’s mass execution of Egyptian Christians is the latest sign that ISIS is pointing its sword against not just the West but the rest of the Arab world — drawing the region into a spreading war that leaves the United States in a difficult spot as it tries to marshal a cohesive coalition.

That coalition started last fall as a U.S.-led airstrike campaign involving several Gulf states, and Jordan. Not only have a host of western nations since joined to offer at least financial support, but several other countries in the Middle East and North Africa are now launching their own military campaigns.

On Monday, Egyptian warplanes struck at ISIS militants in Libya, in retaliation for the mass execution of Coptic Christians from Egypt. The airstrikes reportedly were coordinated with the Libyan government.

Meanwhile, Iran is said to be fueling Shiite militias now battling ISIS militants on the ground in Iraq, as Iraq’s military loses strength. Syria’s Assad regime has been fighting ISIS from the start. And Jordan, a U.S. ally, has escalated its role in the coalition after a captured Jordanian pilot was burned alive by the Islamic State.

The distinct campaigns have raised questions about the direction of the anti-ISIS coalition and alliances in the region.

“It’s much more like Game of Thrones, and much less like a seriously thought-through strategy against a regional opponent,” Danielle Pletka, senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told FoxNews.com.

With ISIS-aligned militants battling on so many fronts in the region, analysts say the organization is trying to demonstrate its clout, in turn boosting its already-robust recruitment.

The multiple fronts, though, create challenges for the Obama administration. The Washington Post reported Monday that Iran-backed militias are taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq — which in turn increases Iran’s already growing influence in that country.

The impact of Egypt’s entry into Libya remains to be seen. But retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a former military intelligence officer now with the London Center for Policy Research, said: “Egypt jumping into Libya is not part of the [U.S.] plan.”

Amid the chaos, Shaffer said his group is urging the creation of a single “comprehensive treaty organization” — a standing coalition of countries in the region, which he describes as a sort of “Arab NATO.” Such a group, he said, could organize against ISIS and plan for establishing post-ISIS governance in areas where there is none. This could include Jordan, Egypt and several other governments all fighting a common enemy, which he stressed as critical.

“If everyone is in charge, no one is in charge,” he said, describing the current patchwork of local battles in the region.

Matthew Levitt, counterterrorism analyst with The Washington Institute, described the strikes in Libya as a separate issue from other Islamic State battles, and one fed by the severe instability in that country. “It’s a problem for Egypt, because they’re right next door,” he noted.

But regardless of how connected the Libya fighting is to the broader Islamic State crisis, the entire conflict has had a curious side effect: drawing attention away from what once was the No. 1 enemy in the region, Israel.

Even before the rise of ISIS, analysts say, some Arab states in the region were beginning to — quietly — work with Israel on various challenges including Iran. Now with ISIS the singular force uniting a region notoriously riven by tribal, religious and territorial differences, Israel is on the sidelines.

“This is actually not about Israel, for the first time in a long time,” Levitt said.

He suggested it best for Israel not to play any active role in the current conflict but said the reality is the Gulf states are now realizing “that not every evil in the world … has to do with Israel.”

Pletka said, further, “They and the Israelis see the region through the same prism.”

Whether this results in the long run in Israel being seen as less of an enemy of the Arab world — or simply means Israel becomes the target of fewer United Nations condemnations for a short spell — it represents a significant change, analysts say.

“This is a major, tectonic shift,” Pletka said.

The Islamic State, meanwhile, continues to incite surrounding countries, chiefly through the tactic of horrific executions.

The video released online over the weekend showed 21 Egyptian victims kneeling on a beach, before being beheaded. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi quickly vowed revenge, saying the whole world is in a “fierce battle with extremist groups.”

Both the Egyptian government and Libya’s fragile state are facing internal threats from militants claiming loyalty to ISIS. Egypt already is battling ISIS militants in the Sinai Peninsula, and the airstrikes in neighboring Libya mark an expansion of that fight.

“Clearly, this is a global jihad right before our eyes,” retired Gen. Jack Keane, a Fox News military analyst, said of the ISIS-driven killings.

In a written statement, the White House condemned the “despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.”

The White House noted that the killing “is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.”

The White House urged a “political resolution” to the ongoing conflict in Libya. The White House is hosting a summit later this week on “countering violent extremism.”

FoxNews.com’s Judson Berger contributed to this report.

Also see:

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror

February 16, 2015 / /

True to his word, Egypt’s GEN Sisi launched a series of airstrikes targeting Islamic State (IS) training camps, weapons storage sites and C2 nodes located in Libya – and Dernah (variant Derna) in particular. This is in retaliation for the IS video that came out on Sunday showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. This comes on the heels of a separate operation that Egypt launched in the Sinai targeting the IS affiliate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) in conjunction with Jordan’s King Abdullah’s ongoing operations targeting IS positions inside Iraq (which we covered in our piece titled Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive).

Egypt bombs Islamic State targets in Libya after 21 Egyptians beheaded
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/16/us-mideast-crisis-libya-egypt-idUSKBN0LJ10D20150216

Sisi warns of response after Islamic State kills 21 Egyptians in Libya
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/15/us-mideast-crisis-libya-egypt-idUSKBN0LJ10D20150215

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4669

GEN SISI 1

GEN Sisi plays for keeps
Source: BBC

This will also be the second time that the Sisi regime has conducted military operations in Libya, the first being the operation that we discussed in late-AUG 14 that used a combination of Egyptian and UAE airpower in addition to the deployment of Egyptian SOF teams. The operation in AUG was done to bolster the forces of Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar (who we’ve written about extensively on our site), who is the only real moderate in Libya who has the strength to challenge the al-Qaida (AQ/AQIM) and IS presence in the country. More importantly, the operation was launched without the US government’s knowledge. We strongly suspect it remains the case in this latest series of bombings. Furthermore, we assess that Sisi will deploy additional SOF teams in Libya like he did before, although the ground portion will likely be limited to target identification and to coordinate operations with Haftar’s forces (he has his own air assets).

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya: US Kept in the Dark
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1302

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=584

aac

Egyptian Air Force F-16s
Source: f-16.net

In regards to the video itself, the selection of a beachfront location suggests that IS aimed to demonstrate that the terror organization’s reach extends beyond that of Syria and Iraq. More troubling is the direct threat made to “Rome” and use of an English-speaking spokesman who spoke with a North American accent – a departure from the regular appearances made by the infamous “Jihadi John.” The Italian government responded by saying that “military options are on the table” and called for NATO intervention, but to be brutally honest the Italians are every bit as soft as the Danish government. Is Italy in greater risk of a terror attack? Yes. Will the Italian government have the intestinal fortitude to confront the threat? No, not beyond airstrikes nor will they be anywhere near as proactive as they should be on the home front – which will also endanger the lives of US military personnel who are stationed in places like Vicenza. Of course, most Italians won’t care if US military personnel are targeted – but they will should Italians become part of the collateral damage. However, we suspect the “Rome” reference was made about Europe as a whole and not just Italy. Why? Its due to the fact that Europe is one great, big soft target.

Italy Ready to Lead Coalition in Libya to Prevent ‘Caliphate Across the Sea’
http://www.newsweek.com/italy-ready-lead-coalition-libya-prevent-caliphate-europes-shores-307100

isis

Source: Newsweek

The reason IS has been allowed to expand throughout North Africa and the Middle East is directly tied to the foreign policy failures of the Obama administration when it decided to support known jihadist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and other like-minded entities during the Arab Spring. The EU is just as guilty, perhaps more so with their flaccid policies in targeting jihadists operating within their own borders. One word sums up the Obama foreign policy: Schizophrenic. The administration contradicts itself two or three times in a single day everyday. A case in point is all the talk about the need to support the moderate Muslims in the Middle East. Well, GEN Haftar, GEN Sisi and King Abdullah are all moderate Muslims who are taking the fight to IS – but the US government isn’t doing enough or in some cases not much of anything. If anything, the Obama administration has been quite antagonistic towards both Haftar and Sisi, which is why we’re seeing Egypt moving closer to Russia and launching their own unilateral operations. Jordan is the only one of the three to receive support, but its the bare-minimum. This has prompted King Abdullah to strengthen relationships with GEN Sisi and Israel’s Bibi Netanhayhu. Perhaps the most important thing about all this is the fact that we have a moderate Muslim in GEN Sisi who launched this latest military operation to avenge the deaths of 21 Egyptians who were Coptic Christians and not Muslims. Sisi had previously told imams in Egypt they needed to change their rhetoric that Islam destroyed by the Islamic State.

(President al-Sisi’s speech: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/189700#.VOJmIi78OyE)

Think about that for a minute. This is a man that the Obama administration should be maintaining a strong relationship. Instead, the relationship with Egypt has soured considerably over the decision to support the wrong people. This fight needs more people like GEN Sisi, GEN Haftar, King Abdullah. The leaders in the US and Europe need to strongly back these leaders and quickly with the logistics and other requirements they need. These men are not asking for US combat troops, they are asking for logistics, weapons, intelligence support and similar assistance. The longer delays in supporting these leaders the more difficult it will be to combat this problem. Delaying action will ultimately allow an even more dangerous enemy to grow dragging the entire world into the conflict on an epic scale. The Islamic State has already grown exponentially from delays in action from the lack of American leadership.

General Khalifa Haftar

GEN Khalifah Haftar
Source: Press TV

We’ve heard today on Fox News about how IS has expanded into North Africa as if this was a “new” phenomenon. We can assure you it isn’t. The links to our previous articles posted above has additional details, and the links below lay out the events from last summer that led to the current situation:

Egyptian Army Hits Back at ISIS in Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2410

ISIS Efforts to Open up an Egyptian Front
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1774

Egyptian Army and IDF Take on ISIS Supporters in Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1500

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1392

ISIS in Gaza Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=510

Islamic State’s Presence in Gaza
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=293

For additional information on Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar, the support he receives from Egypt and his fight against IS in Libya, check out the following articles:

The ISIS Expansion into North Africa
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3257

US Embassy in Tripoli “Secured” by Islamist Militias of the Dawn of Libya
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1462

Libyan General Khalifa Haftar
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=456

Egyptian planes pound ISIS in Libya in revenge for mass beheadings of Christians

Fox News, Feb. 16, 2015:

Egyptian warplanes struck hard at ISIS militants in neighboring Libya, killing as many as 64 militants and destroying the Islamist terror group’s training camps and weapons caches a day after a sickening video surfaced showing black-clad jihadists beheading 21 Coptic Christians.

The strikes came after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi went on national television in the world’s most populous Arab nation and vowed revenge was coming. The address was followed by the airing of military video showing the planes taking off for the mission and an Armed Forces General Command statement saying the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.”

“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” it said.

The ISIS video released online showed the Egyptian victims, poor men from Egypt’s rural areas who had traveled to Libya looking for work, kneeling before Islamic State executioners. In Egypt, which by some estimates is about 10 percent Christian, the video sent shockwaves through both Muslim and Christian communities. El-Sisi, the U.S.-trained, former military leader who in a landmark New Year’s day address called on the Arab world to reject radical terror, and then took the unprecedented step of attending services at a Christian church, told his nation the deaths would be avenged.

“These cowardly actions will not undermine our determination” said el-Sissi, who also banned all travel to Libya by Egyptian citizens. “Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals.”

On Monday, el-Sissi visited the main Coptic Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo to offer his condolences on the Egyptians killed in Libya, according to state TV.

Egyptian state-run news service Al-Ahram, citing a Libyan military spokesman, reported that the strikes, which were coordinated with Libyan officials, killed 64 Islamic State fighters and left dozens wounded. Egyptian officials told the news service the strikes were the first of several to come.

Egypt is already battling a burgeoning Islamist insurgency centered in the strategic Sinai Peninsula, where militants have recently declared their allegiance to ISIS and rely heavily on arms smuggled across the porous desert border between Egypt and Libya.

The strikes also come just a month before Egypt is scheduled to host a major donor’s conference at a Sinai resort to attract foreign investment needed to revive the economy after more than four years of turmoil.

The Egyptian government had previously declared a seven-day period of mourning and President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressed the nation late Sunday night, saying that his government reserved the right to seek retaliation for the killings.

“These cowardly actions will not undermine our determination” said el-Sissi, who also banned all travel to Libya by Egyptian citizens. “Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals.”

Libya’s air force commander, Saqr al-Joroushi, told Egyptian state TV that the airstrikes were coordinated with the Libyan side and that they killed about 50 militants. Libya’s air force also announced it had launched strikes in the eastern city of Darna, which was taken over by an ISIS affiliate last year. The announcement, on the Facebook page of the Air Force Chief of Staff, did not provide further details. Two Libyan security officials told the Associated Press civilians, including three children and two women, were killed in the strikes. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The video was released late Sunday by militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group. The militants had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers rounded up from the city of Sirte in December and January. The killings raise the possibility that the extremist group — which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate — has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy, Libya’s former colonial master. One of the militants in the video makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”

In Washington, the White House released a statement calling the beheadings “despicable” and “cowardly”, but made no mention of the victims’ religion, referring to them only as “Egyptian citizens” or “innocents.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest added in the statement that the terror group’s “barbarity knows no bounds.”

Also Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. He offered his condolences on behalf of the American people and strongly condemned the killings. Kerry and the foreign minister agreed to keep in close touch as Egyptians deliberated on a response, according to a release from the State Department.

The U.N. Security Council meanwhile strongly condemned what it called “the heinous and cowardly apparent murder in Libya of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” using another name for the terror group.

The foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also condemned the mass killing, calling it an “ugly crime.”

“The United Arab Emirates is devoting all its resources to support the efforts of Egypt to eradicate terrorism and the violence directed against its citizens,” he said.

Sheikh Abdullah added that the killing highlights the need to help the Libyan government “extend its sovereign authority over all of Libya’s territory.”

The oil-rich Emirates, along with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has given billions of dollars in aid to Egypt since el-Sissi, who was then military chief, overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests against his yearlong rule.

Egypt has since waged a sweeping crackdown against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group, which it has officially branded a terrorist organization. El-Sissi has insisted the crackdown in Egypt, as well as support for the government in Libya, is part of a larger war on terror.

Libya in recent months has seen the worst unrest since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, which will complicate any efforts to combat the country’s many Islamic extremist groups.

The internationally recognized government has been confined to the country’s far east since Islamist-allied militias seized the capital Tripoli last year, and Islamist politicians have reconstituted a previous government and parliament.

Egypt has strongly backed the internationally recognized government, and U.S. officials have said both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have taken part in a series of mysterious airstrikes targeting Islamist-allied forces.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Also see:

21 Egyptian Christians executed in Islamic State video

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.32.19 PM-thumb-560x304-5880LWJ, By

A video released by the Islamic State shows fighters from one of its so-called provinces in Libya beheading 21 Egyptian Copts. The mass murders were advertised by Islamic State’s media operatives over the past couple of days. And the latest edition of the organization’s English-language magazine Dabiq, which was released last week, implied that the men had been killed.

In a scene that is similar to past videos from Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State’s victims are ritualistically walked along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea before being forced to kneel with their captors standing behind them.

An English-speaking fighter then talks, saying that he and his fellow jihadists are sending a message from “the south of Rome,” thereby threatening Italy. In recent weeks, members of the Italian government have called for more aggressive international intervention in Libya.

The fighter then says that the Islamic State and its allies will continue to fight the “Crusaders” until Jesus comes again. This is a reference to the apocalyptic Islamic belief that Jesus will reappear at the end of days.

The Islamic State’s head executioner says that the West hid Osama bin Laden’s body in the sea, and so the jihadists will mix the West’s blood in the same sea.

After the men are beheaded, the English-speaking fighter raises his knife to the water and swears that the Islamic State will conquer Rome.

The fighter’s reference to Osama bin Laden stands in stark contrast to the Islamic State’s denunciation of Ayman al Zawahiri, bin Laden’s successor as al Qaeda chief, in the latest edition of Dabiq.

The Islamic State claimed in Dabiq that the kidnapping of the 21 Egyptian men came “almost five years after the blessed operation against the Baghdad church.” That attack was launched in late 2010 by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the predecessor to the current Islamic State. The ISI claimed at the time that the suicide assault, which left dozens of people dead, was revenge for the supposed mistreatment of women in Egypt.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s propagandists repeated this claim in Dabiq. But the Islamic State added that al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, referred to by his nom de guerre Azzam al Amriki, condemned the act “in some of his letters” to the group. The Islamic State accused Gadahn of acting “on his personal rancor towards the Islamic State as soon as he became a top leader of [al Qaeda] after the martyrdom of” Osama bin Laden. Gadahn’s critique of the Islamic State’s practices are well-known, and his role in al Qaeda’s senior ranks predates bin Laden’s death.

The authors of Dabiq also accused Zawahiri of defending the Copts. “I want to restate our position towards the Coptic Christians. We do not want to get into a war with them because we are busy in the battle against the greatest enemy of the Ummah [America] and because they are our partners in this nation, partners whom we wish to live with in peace and stability,” the Islamic State quoted Zawahiri as saying.

“So while the Islamic State targeted the Catholics in revenge for the sisters imprisoned by the Copts, Azzam al Amriki’s commander [Zawahiri] was wooing the war-waging Copts themselves with feeble words,” Baghdadi’s men claimed in Dabiq.

The Islamic State has accused al Qaeda of being soft on Iran, as well as the Shiites in Iraq and Yemen. In executing the 21 Egyptian Copts, Baghdadi’s organization extended this argument further, claiming that al Qaeda weakly opposes, or does not oppose at all, Egypt’s Christians.

Thus, the beheadings shown in the newly released video were intended to intimidate both Egypt and Italy. And the Islamic State hopes to portray al Qaeda’s leaders as being weak-minded in their pursuit of jihad.

Images from the Islamic State’s new video and the latest edition of Dabiq magazine

The lead executioner points his knife at the Mediterranean Sea, promising that the Islamic State will conquer Rome:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.54.34 PM-thumb-560x306-5883

In a scene reminiscent of the beheading videos to come out of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State’s victims are lined up in front of their murderers:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 5.41.30 PM-thumb-560x304-5886

The video includes the same scenes portrayed in the latest edition of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language magazine:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.07.17 AM-thumb-560x525-5889

The latest edition of Dabiq, which was released last week, included this image from the mass slaying:

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.07.59 AM-thumb-560x654-5835

 

***

Shoebat.com has the video: 

WATCH THE VIDEO: ISIS Savages Beheading Twenty One Coptic Christians (“AND I SAW THE MARTYRS WHO WERE BEHEADED IN THE NAME OF JESUS” IS BEING FULFILLED)

Islamic State Affiliate Takes Root Amid Libya’s Chaos

A Libyan worker cleans in front of the Corinthia Hotel last week, a day after it was targeted. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

A Libyan worker cleans in front of the Corinthia Hotel last week, a day after it was targeted. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

WSJ, by Matt Bradley and Benoit Faucon, Feb. 1, 2015:

Islamic State’s affiliate in Libya has capitalized on the battlefield failures and disillusionment among better-established, more moderate Islamist groups in the country, following the same formula that brought the radical movement success in Syria and Iraq, Western counterterrorism officials said.

A group calling itself Islamic State’s Tripoli Province claimed responsibility for an attack on Tuesday on a hotel that killed nine people, including an American. It was the first time the group came to prominence in Libya, raising concerns that the reach of the extremists is spreading beyond Syria and Iraq.

But the attacks also underlined the threat Islamic State poses to more entrenched Islamist groups such as Libya Dawn, a more moderate Islamist militia that is ideologically close to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and now fights secular insurgents in eastern Libya.

Oil-rich Libya has gradually slipped into chaos since rebels toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi three years ago, with two rival governments now claiming to run the country and myriad competing local militias effectively in control on the ground.

In an example of the anarchy creeping into the country, the head of planning at the National Oil Co., Samir Kamal, was kidnapped two weeks ago before being released Sunday. The identity and motives of his kidnappers remain unknown.

The threat to Libya represented by Islamic State is on an altogether different scale. The North African nation’s experience with local militants pledging allegiance to Islamic State follows a pattern in which the group gains a foothold by seizing on the vulnerabilities of countries embroiled in chaos and war or with weak central governments.

Since its inception in Syria in 2013, Islamic State has behaved opportunistically, piggybacking on more powerful, more moderate Islamist groups. They appear to be following a similar pattern to capitalize on the conflict dividing secularists and Islamists in Libya, Western counterterrorism officials said.

“The secularists and the Muslim Brothers have been fighting each other and the Salafi-jihadists like Islamic State are taking advantage of that and are in the ascent” in Syria, Egypt and Libya, said a Western counterintelligence official. An umbrella of moderate Islamist political groups in the country, such as Libya Dawn, share an ideological affinity to the Muslim Brotherhood in neighboring Egypt while Islamic State and other extremists follow a hard-line ideology known as Salafism.

By hanging back from much of the front-line fighting, Islamic State’s affiliates have been able to save their strength while seizing recruits, land, weapons and other resources from the more moderate, religiously driven groups—aiming to build up until it is powerful enough to become the dominant Islamist force.

“Taking the upper hand from the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamic State’s priority,” said the Western counterterrorism official.

That strategy worked best in Syria, where Islamic State spent the first part of the civil war almost entirely disengaged in the fight against dictator Bashar al-Assad.

An Islamic State affiliate also appears to be gaining momentum in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula by tapping into a vein of anger left over from the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president who was pushed aside in a popularly backed military coup in 2013.

The group, which calls itself Province of Sinai, claimed responsibility for a coordinated assault against multiple Egyptian police and military targets Thursday night that killed at least 30 people.

If Islamic State’s attacks over the past week caused anxiety in the West, it is unclear how the leadership of Libya Dawn will respond to the challenge. The coalition of militias, which governs the capital Tripoli and much of the country’s lawless western half, has condemned the hotel attack. The coalition grew out of the remnants of Islamist parties that resisted leaving office after Libyans voted out the country’s first parliament last summer.

Since then, the group has fought against a secular-leaning militia led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a former Libyan army officer. Most of the international community backs Gen. Hifter and his rival parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Libya Dawn leaders blamed the hotel attack on their more traditional rivals: their secular-leaning groups in eastern Libya, elements of the country’s former regime and neighboring Arab governments that are hostile to Islamists.

Last week, few in Libya Dawn’s leadership were prepared to acknowledge that the attack may have actually come from Islamic State. Terrorism experts warn that Libya Dawn’s lack of focus on Islamic State’s expanding presence is only playing into the extremist group’s ambitions.

“The attack gave us an indication of the presence of terrorism, but I cannot confirm it was done by radical groups” because the investigation isn’t finished yet, said Mohamed Baio, a political adviser to Libya Dawn’s leadership.

Another leader insisted that the assailants didn’t speak like Islamists and seemed more like “drug addicts” employed by Gen. Hifter or remnants of Moammar Gadhafi’s ousted regime to sow mayhem.

Islamic State claims little allegiance among Libyan Islamists and controls little territory. But some intelligence officials worry that battlefield defeats of the larger Islamist militias, who carry the bulk of the fighting against secularists, could benefit the hard-core Islamic State.

The radical fighters are already capitalizing on the recent killing of the leader of the powerful Libyan Islamist militia Ansar al-Shariah, which Washington blames for killing U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens in the 2012 attack on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The death of the militia leader, Mohamed al-Zehawi, who died during a fight with secular-aligned enemies, increased the appeal of Islamic State, which still rarely wades into such fights, according to another Western counterterrorism official.

“Islamic State has taken roots in Libya, particularly in the eastern city of Derna, because Libya Dawn’s moderate Islamists and secularists supporting Gen. Hifter are focused on battling each other,” said Geoff Porter, head of political risk firm North Africa Risk Consultancy.

If Libya Dawn waits to police Islamic State elements within their midst, Mr. Porter and other experts say it may soon find it has waited too long to contain the extremist threat.

Must see, in depth:

ADMIRALS, GENERALS: PENTAGON TAPES INDICT HILLARY

obamahillary

WND, by Jerome Corsi, Jan. 29, 2015:

NEW YORK – Recordings of top Pentagon officials in 2011 strongly criticizing Hillary Clinton for leading a State Department “march to war” against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and for working with the Muslim Brotherhood confirm the conclusions of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, according to members who spoke to WND.

CCB members said the recordings revealed by the Washington Times provide additional evidence to support the group’s interim report concluding the Obama administration “changed sides” in Libya, rejecting an effort by Gadhafi to abdicate and choosing instead to arm al-Qaida-affiliated militia seeking to forcibly oust the dictator.

Last week, WND reported retired Adm. James Lyons’ conclusion the Obama administration could have ousted Gadhafi peacefully by accepting a deal brokered in March 2011 by retired Rear Adm. Chuck Kubic with AFRICOM in Germany.

“The release of the Pentagon secret tapes by the Washington Times today validates the CCB interim report that the Libyan war was totally unnecessary, since it now has been validated that Gadhafi was willing to abdicate and that he had no intention of causing a humanitarian crisis, as promoted by Hillary’s State Department,” said Lyons, a former four-star admiral who served as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific and a founding member of the CCB.

The CCB – comprised of 17 retired admirals and generals; former intelligence agents; active anti-terrorist experts; media specialists; and former congressmen – has been conducting its own investigation and working behind the scenes for the past year and a half to ensure Congress uncovers the truth of what happened in Benghazi and holds people accountable.

“It is long past time that the Obama administration and especially his then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton come clean about why they were so determined to turn on Gadhafi – our ally in the war against al-Qaida – and instead chose to arm and support al-Qaida militias fighting to overthrow him,” said Clare Lopez, a former career operations officer with the CIA and currently vice president for research at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy.

Lopez said it’s “critical to note that Gadhafi was actively engaged with Department of Defense officials to arrange discussions about his possible abdication and exile when that promising development was squashed by the Obama White House.”

“The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi has been asking ‘Why?’ for well over a year now,” she said. “It is time the American people and the families of those who fought and gave their lives at Benghazi in September 2012 were told why those brave Americans had to die at all, much less die alone with no effort made to save them.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, another CCB founding member, told WND in an email that the Washington Times disclosure puts additional pressure on Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., to subpoena Clinton and other key Obama administration officials to testify soon in public before the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

“Delays by Gowdy are unnecessary at this time,” Vallely insisted. “Gowdy can press forward now as he does have sufficient intelligence and documents to call all witnesses and issue subpoenas as necessary.”

“Additional delays will only give the obstructionists in the Obama White House, the State Department and the Democrats in Congress time to thwart the efforts of the select committee,” Vallely said. “Gowdy needs to call immediately former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Obama administration CIA Director General David Petraeus and former director of both the CIA and the Department of Defense Leon Panetta, as well as General Dempsey, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

Retired Air Force Gen. Thomas McInerney, also a founding member of the CCB, was equally disturbed over the content of the Pentagon recordings revealed by the Washington Times.

“It becomes obvious these Pentagon tapes reveal a starting point by the Obama administration to start switching sides by taking down Gadhafi when all informed analysts knew that Benghazi was the incubator for radical Islam in sending suicide bombers to Iraq to kill American troops,” McInerney said.

“Why the administration wanted to do this is bewildering, but the evidence continues to grow,” McInerney added, citing as evidence President Obama’s enthusiastic support for former President Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in his country, as well as the Obama administration determination to exchange five Muslim “high value targets” from Guantanamo for U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by Taliban-affiliated radicals in Afghanistan after he allegedly deserted his unit.

The disclosure of the Pentagon recordings also prompted CCB members to comment on the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on the Obama administration.

“The war in Libya was a manufactured war produced in part by the influence the Muslim Brotherhood exerted on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with the Muslim Brotherhood penetrating her office through the influence of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime deputy chief of staff, who transferred to the State Department to serve as Clinton’s aide,” Lopez added.

WND has reported extensively Abedin’s family origins in the Muslim Brotherhood and her work for a dozen years as an assistant editor for the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs for the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs. The organization was founded by her late father and directed by her mother with the full backing of the Muslim World League, an Islamic organization in the Saudi holy city of Mecca founded by Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

“Remember that Huma Abedin’s family’s Saudi ‘godfather’ is Abdullah Omar Nasseef, the founder of Rabita Trust, an al-Qaida funding institution that was shut down after 9/11. These were the connections advising our secretary of state — it’s called an influence operation,” Lopez said.

Lopez said that also during that time, among the closest advisers to John Brennan, now head of the CIA, and Dennis McDonough, currently White House chief of staff, when they were on the National Security Council was the son of the Sudanese grand mufti, Imam Mohamed Magid, the president of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Society of North America, ISNA.

ISNA was listed by the Department of Justice as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial, which convicted the organization and its leaders of funding the terrorist organization Hamas, Lopez noted.

Magid, imam at All Dulles Area Muslim Society, near Washington, D.C., is a member of the board of advisers to the Department of Homeland Security’s Countering Violent Extremism working group.

***

Islamic State’s ‘province’ claims responsibility for attack on hotel in Tripoli

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.35.58 AM-thumb-560x559-5556LWJ, by Thomas Joscelyn, Jan. 27, 2015

Gunmen stormed the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli early this morning, killing at least five foreigners and three guards, according to initial reports. Foreign government officials, including those serving as diplomats, and tourists have frequented the hotel in the past, making it an attractive target for jihadists.

The terrorists responsible for the raid reportedly met resistance from security forces. As of this writing, however, the siege was not over.

The Associated Press reported that a car bomb was part of the attack. Images posted online show what appears to be an explosion outside of the hotel. Some of the photos have been published on Good Morning Libya, a Twitter feed that is run by supporters of General Khalifa Haftar, whose forces have been battling jihadists throughout Libya. One of the photos can be seen at the beginning of this article. Online jihadists are claiming that suicide bombers were used in the car bombing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.54.13 AM-thumb-560x435-5559According to the SITE Intelligence Group, the Islamic State’s so-called “Tripoli Province” claimed responsibility for the attack in a short message that was posted on Twitter. The message stated that “heroes of the Caliphate” are responsible for the operation, which has been named the “Battle of Abu Anas al Libi.”

An image published online by the organization’s media operatives can be seen to the right.

Al Libi was a core al Qaeda operative who was captured in Tripoli in early October 2013 and subsequently held in the US for his role in al Qaeda’s bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. Al Libi passed away while awaiting trial earlier this year, and jihadists blame the US government for his death, even though he died of natural causes.

Al Libi’s capture in Tripoli by US forces was denounced by many in Libya. By naming the attack after al Libi, the Islamic State’s “Tripoli Province” is attempting to capitalize on the manufactured controversy surrounding his capture and death.

In some ways, the choice of name for the attack is ironic. The Islamic State’s “provinces” in Libya and elsewhere are part of emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s attempt to build international support for his caliphate, and the Islamic State’s supporters are openly confrontational toward al Qaeda. Indeed, the Islamic State’s “provinces” are intended to draw support away from al Qaeda’s international network of official and unofficial branches.

However, al Libi was a loyal al Qaeda operative. Documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound show that Al Libi was appointed to al Qaeda’s security committee after he was released from Iranian custody in 2010. He sought permission from al Qaeda’s most senior leaders before relocating to his native Libya. They granted al Libi’s request and he moved back to Libya in 2011.

An unclassified report published by the Library of Congress in August 2012 identified al Libi as a key player in al Qaeda’s strategy for building a fully operational network in Libya.

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Libya spirals downward as the West looks the other way

Libya1Washington Post Editorial Board, Jan. 12, 2015:

WHEN LIBYA’S attempt to construct a new, democratic political system faltered after 2012, the Obama administration and NATO allies who had intervened to support the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gaddafi could still rationalize that they had headed off the mass bloodshed and civil war that the Gaddafi regime threatened and that later overtook Syria. The respite, however, proved to be temporary. As 2015 begins, Libya is well on its way to becoming the Middle East’s second war zone — with the same side effects of empowering radical jihadists and destabilizing neighboring countries.

The sprawling but sparsely populated country of 7 million is now split between two governments, parliaments and armies, one based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the other in the capital, Tripoli. While Syria’s war is fought along the Arab world’s Sunni-Shiite divide, in Libya the contest pits the region’s secular Sunnis against Islamists (along with minority Berbers). Since that same divide dominates the politics of Egypt, Tunisia, the Palestinian territories and much of the rest of the Maghreb, outside powers have predictably picked sides: Egypt and the United Arab Emirates back the secular forces in the east, while Turkey, Qatar and Sudan support the Islamist Libya Dawn in the west.

This mounting conflict is occurring not so much because of NATO’s 2011 intervention, which was limited to airstrikes, but because of its swift withdrawal and subsequent failure to assist in stabilizing the country. Without institutions or trained and loyal security forces, an interim government could not gain control over the numerous militias that had sprung up to fight the Gaddafi regime. As the situation has steadily worsened in the past two years, the Obama administration, France, Britain and other participants in the NATO intervention have reacted not by dispatching aid but by shutting down their embassies and washing their hands of Libya. The task of trying to broker peace has been handed to a U.N. mediator, Bernardino León, who in recent interviews has described his mission as quixotic.

As in Syria, this passivity could soon produce a serious threat to Western interests. According to the U.S. Africa Command, 200 jihadists linked to the Islamic State already have set up a training camp in the eastern Libyan town of Derna. Only 300 miles from southern Europe, Libya could — far more easily than Yemen or western Iraq — become the launching pad for more attacks on Paris and other Western capitals.

The only sign that the Obama administration is conscious of this threat has been the issuance with its allies of empty statements, such as one Saturday that congratulated Mr. León for scheduling talks in Geneva this week among some of the warring parties. Real progress toward ending the fighting would require more energetic action, such as diverting Libya’s oil revenues to an escrow account, enforcing an arms embargo, freezing the international assets of both sides and pressuring Egypt and other outside powers to cease their interventions. Ultimately, an international peacekeeping force probably will be needed to help restore order.

The Obama administration is, as always, reluctant to mount or even support such an effort. Yet doing so now is surely preferable to being forced, as in Iraq and Syria, to conduct another military intervention in the future.

Analysis: Osama bin Laden’s documents pertaining to Abu Anas al Libi should be released

Anas-al-LibiLong War Journal, By

A senior al Qaeda operative known as Abu Anas al Libi has died in the US as he was awaiting trial. Al Libi was captured in Tripoli during a raid by US forces in late 2013. He had been wanted for his role in the August 1998 US Embassy bombings for more than a decade prior to his arrest.

The US government has in its possession numerous pieces of evidence concerning al Libi’s al Qaeda role, including files recovered in May 2011 from Osama bin Laden’s home in Pakistan.

The Long War Journal has consistently advocated for the release of bin Laden’s files. The Obama administration has released just 17 documents, and a handful of videos, from a total cache of more than 1 million files. Many more of these files, if not almost all of them, should be declassified and released. There are no sources or methods to protect, as everyone knows how this information was obtained. The only files that should remain classified are those that have a direct bearing on the US government’s current counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda.

Now that al Libi has passed away, the US government has another opportunity to be more transparent with respect to bin Laden’s files. After all, at least some of the documents probably would have been released to the public during al Libi’s trial.

Just weeks ago, in mid-December, Benjamin Weiser of The New York Times reported that US prosecutors were seeking to use files recovered during the raid on bin Laden’s compound in al Libi’s trial.

A close reading of the Times‘ account reveals that prosecutors intended to use at least five separate letters recovered in bin Laden’s safe house.

It does not appear that any of these letters were included in the set of 17 documents released by the Obama administration through the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. None of Abu Anas al Libi’s letters to al Qaeda’s leaders were released.

The first letter described by the Times is from Atiyyah Abd al Rahman, a senior al Qaeda leader, to bin Laden dated June 19, 2010. Rahman explained that al Libi was one of “the last brothers” to be released from Iran. Al Libi “came only a week ago and I met him and sat with him,” Rahman wrote, according to the Times’ summary. Rahman appointed al Libi to al Qaeda’s security committee. “It is normal for any person after a long absence, especially in jail, that he needs some time to figure out how things work,” Rahman noted. Rahman recommended that bin Laden send al Libi a letter, because al Libi was seeking “reassurance.”

A second letter, dated Oct. 13, 2010, is a five-page missive from al Libi to Osama bin Laden. “Your forever lover, Your brother,” al Libi signs the letter. Al Libi explains, according to the Times, that the al Qaeda “brothers,” including bin Laden’s sons and other al Qaeda operatives, fled to Iran under orders from Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

A third letter from Rahman to bin Laden was written “[a]bout a month later,” according to the Times, meaning it was penned sometime in November 2010. Rahman recommended that al Libi be accepted back into al Qaeda’s leadership ranks. Rahman described al Libi as “determined,” “visionary,” and “difficult somewhat,” but also noted that bin Laden knew him. Interestingly, Rahman complained that al Libi had violated al Qaeda’s operational security regulations by “contacting his family in Libya, despite knowing that we don’t allow any communications.”

Al Libi “knows that he was wanted by the Americans,” Rahman wrote to bin Laden, according to the Times’ summary. “He contacted them via phone repeatedly!”

In a fourth letter, written in March 2011, al Libi requested permission to join some other operatives who were returning to Libya to fight against Muammar al Qaddafi’s regime. It is better to “move out sooner rather than later” al Libi wrote.

Rahman forwarded al Libi’s letter to bin Laden, the Times reported, and Rahman explained to bin Laden that he approved al Libi’s request. This is the fifth letter prosecutors sought to introduce. Rahman noted that al Libi was “a little upset with me for the delay in getting back to him.”

A “builder of al Qaeda’s network in Libya”

Al Libi did in fact return to his native Libya. As a member of al Qaeda’s security committee who returned to North Africa only after receiving permission from his superiors in al Qaeda (Rahman), it is safe to assume that he was doing the terrorist organization’s bidding when he set up shop in his homeland.

Indeed, as The Long War Journal previously reported, an unclassified report published in August 2012 highlighted al Qaeda’s strategy for building a fully operational network in Libya. The report (“Al Qaeda in Libya: A Profile”) was prepared by the federal research division of the Library of Congress (LOC) under an agreement with the Defense Department’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO).

Abu Anas al Libi played a key role in al Qaeda’s plan for the country, according to the report’s authors. He was described as the “builder of al Qaeda’s network in Libya.”

Al Qaeda’s senior leadership (AQSL) has “issued strategic guidance to followers in Libya and elsewhere to take advantage of the Libyan rebellion,” the report reads. AQSL ordered its followers to “gather weapons,” “establish training camps,” “build a network in secret,” “establish an Islamic state,” and “institute sharia” law in Libya.

Abu Anas al Libi was identified as the key liaison between AQSL and others inside the country who were working for al Qaeda. “Reporting indicates that intense communications from AQSL are conducted through Abu Anas al Libi, who is believed to be an intermediary between [Ayman al] Zawahiri and jihadists in Libya,” the report notes.

Al Libi is “most likely involved in al Qaeda strategic planning and coordination between AQSL and Libyan Islamist militias who adhere to al Qaeda’s ideology,” the report continues.

Al Libi and his fellow al Qaeda operatives “have been conducting consultations with AQSL in Afghanistan and Pakistan about announcing the presence of a branch of the organization that will be led by returnees from Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, and by leading figures from the former LIFG.” The term “LIFG” refers to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group formed in Libya in the 1990s.

One of al Libi’s key allies inside Libya was another senior al Qaeda operative, Abd al Baset Azzouz, who has been close to al Qaeda’s senior leaders for decades.

Azzouz was sent to Libya by Zawahiri and “has been operating at least one training center.” Azzouz “sent some of his estimated 300 men…to make contact with other militant Islamist groups farther west.”

Azzouz was reportedly captured in Turkey last month. [See LWJ report, Representative of Ayman al Zawahiri reportedly captured in Turkey.]

Release bin Laden’s files

The Obama administration made a concerted push to portray Osama bin Laden as a doddering old man who was operationally irrelevant. Citing bin Laden documents shown to him by the White House, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius described the jihadist leader as a “lion in winter.” CNN‘s Peter Bergen similarly reported that bin Laden was in retirement at the time of his death. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, working off of only those documents provided by the Obama administration, portrayed bin Laden as being sidelined.

What we know about Abu Anas al Libi’s al Qaeda role challenges all of these assessments. He was reintegrated into al Qaeda’s chain of command after his release from Iranian custody. His role was approved by Rahman, who served as one of bin Laden’s top subordinates before being killed in a US drone strike. Rahman made sure that al Libi joined al Qaeda’s security committee — an internal body that is not factored into any public assessments of al Qaeda’s structure or hierarchy. And al Qaeda approved al Libi’s return to Libya. Other evidence subsequently unearthed by the US government shows that al Libi was acting as one of al Qaeda’s top operatives in North Africa at the time of his capture.

This evidence should be released to the public, so we can judge for ourselves how al Qaeda operates.

In addition, any documents or files recovered from bin Laden’s compound that deal with the August 1998 US Embassy bombings should be released as well. After al Libi was captured in Libya, his family claimed he had played no role in the twin attacks, which were al Qaeda’s most successful operation prior to Sept. 11, 2001. However, there is abundant evidence, including testimony given before a US district court, indicating that al Libi was a key player in the bombings. Releasing any bin Laden files further implicating al Libi in the East Africa attacks would only strengthen the US government’s case to the public.