ISIS’ plans to conquer Europe via Libya have been revealed in letters seen by an anti-terrorism group. Owing to its perfect location on the continental doorstep, the terrorists plan to ferry fighters from North Africa across the Mediterranean.
The plans, analyzed by anti-terrorism British think tank Quilliam, outline a strategy to illegally ferry fighters across the sea from Libya into southern Europe, into ports such as Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa, less than 300 miles (483km) away.
Libya “has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat,” an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) propagandist says in the letters seen by Quilliam, according to the Telegraph.
That information originates from an IS supporter using the moniker Abu Ibrahim al-Libim. The propagandist is believed to be a strong force in IS recruitment online, with a focus on Libya.
The Telegraph could not independently confirm his identity, but the online recruiter is believed by analysts to be a great inspirer of troops and is widely-read.
“Twitter has shut down Libim’s accounts several times and each time he starts a new one he gets thousands of followers very quickly, which is typical of an influential [IS] affiliate,” Charlie Winter, researcher for the Quilliam Foundation, told the newspaper.
The plans Libim reveals revolve around posing as illegal immigrants, to then start an all-out attack on southern Europe by seeding chaos and bloodshed. The terrorists reportedly hope to flood Libya with other fighters from Syria and Iraq, with a whole army at the ready to invade.
“We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission,” he says in a Sunday video depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian guest workers, the video that led to Egypt organizing a bombing campaign on militant positions in Libya. He also describes the country as having “immense potential” for the terrorist group, while making references to the spoils of war left after the ouster of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 – tons of weapons, ammunition and oil.
Libim continues to explain how illegal immigration across into Italy is “huge in number” and that “if this was even partially exploited and developed strategically, pandemonium could be wrought in the southern European states and it is even possible that there could be a closure of shipping lines and targeting of Crusader ships and tankers.”
The video and the letters come shortly after renewed calls in the West to do something about Libya’s security problem. President Obama’s strategy, for one, depended heavily on a president forced to step down recently. Now, the country’s security is at an all-time low, and the various factions and jihadist groups vying for control of the oil-rich state have plans to remake Europe in that image.
And owing to Libya’s vast desert swaths and porous borders with sub-Saharan Africa, the country has long been a firm favorite for trafficking people into Europe.
However, after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya’s status as a terrorist hub shot through the roof and, according to the documents, this could be a perfect country for an all-out incursion into southern Europe.
Security bells are ringing, especially in Italy, which saw 2,164 illegal migrants rescued in the space of 24 hours over the weekend. It could now be faced with many that are terrorists, according to Egyptian Ambassador to London Nasser Kamel. “Those boat people who go for immigration purposes and try to cross the Mediterranean … in the next few weeks, if we do not act together, they will be boats full of terrorists also.”
Just as these assessments came to light, Italy issued its own statement, outlining just how great a risk there is of Libyan militants merging with the IS. On Wednesday its Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni spoke of an “evident risk” and that time for Libya was “running out”. He called for “a change of pace” from the international community.
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has openly been claiming Libya for his ‘caliphate’ recently.
While still not completely submerged, the country is fast on its way, as whole cities conquered by the group now adhere to its strict form of Islam, complete with executions.
Navigating Libya’s terrorist circles is also a daunting task: some are allied with the IS, others with Al-Qaeda. All are fiercely anti-government, though some have helped install a new government in Tripoli, after banishing the internationally-recognized one to Tobruk in the east.
“In terms of the demographics of [IS] support in Libya, we see a lot in common with its base of support in Iraq and Syria – many of its fighters are young, disfranchised men who have only bought into ISIL’s brand of Islamist zealotry because they are looking to forcibly empower themselves in the penetrating absence of the state,” Winter explains.
“The risks Europe faces from ISIL pre-eminence in Libya are substantial.”
The onus would appear to be on the West to do something security-wise – especially in places like Italy. But that country is already facing a fierce backlash from UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, for seemingly caring more about implementing stringent security policies on immigrants, as opposed to caring for people’s safety when they drown just off the coast trying to make it to a better life.
More than 207,000 people have attempted the crossing to Europe over the Mediterranean Sea this year – “almost three times the previous known high of about 70,000 in 2011,” the UN pointed out. That year saw a spike on account of the Libyan civil war.
The video appears to show a fleet of Toyota Land Cruisers carrying the notorious black flag of Islamic State as they drive in perfect unison through the streets of Libya.
Men, women and children cheer and salute the pick-up trucks as they drive freely through what is believed to be the city of Benghazi.
The carefully produced propaganda video was uploaded by terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia on February 5.
The group declared city an ‘Islamic emirate’ in July 2014 before pledging allegiance to Islamic State just three months later. In November of that year, the UN blacklisted it as a terrorist organisation.
The group was widely blamed for the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stephens in Benghazi in 2012. And only this week, it was linked to the bloody executions of 21 Egyptian Christians on a beach in Libya.
Fears of an equally brutal execution were raised following the news that 35 more Egyptians may have been kidnapped by Jihadists in the country.
The latest abduction is thought to be a direct response to Egyptian airstrikes on extremist locations in the Libyan city of Derna, following the mass murder of their countrymen.
Procession: A fleet of cars parade freely through the Libyan city of Benghazi, showing the level of control they exercise in the country ruled almost entirely by rebel forces
Power: The ominous show of discipline and wealth shows how the country has been overrun by extremism as efforts to suppress ISIS focus on Iraq and Syria
Support: The parade of Toyota Land Cruisers is welcomed by the locals in Benghazi. The video was posted by terrorist group Ansar Al-Sharia – who pledged allegiance to Islamic State last October
Chilling: Even young children salute the procession of cars as they pass undeterred through the streets of Benghazi
Spreading extremism: Dr Theodore Karasik told MailOnline: ‘Libya is seen by North Africans now as the place to go spread the Caliphate’
In plain sight: The slickly-edited video – in style with Islamic State’s propaganda videos – ends with a group of masked men aggressively facing the camera as one man addresses the viewer
The Islamic Youth Shura Council – a branch of Ansar Al-Sharia – was responsible for the very first footage of a beheading to surface from the North-African country.
In November 2014, it released footage showing the murder of an Egyptian soldier who publicly supported his government’s forces led by General Khalifa Haftar.
Masked men in camouflage cut Muftah el-Nazihi’s neck with a knife before removing his head and placing it on his back.
The group has been enforcing Sharia Law by carrying out public beheadings and beatings in Libya since their formation in at least August 2014.
Power exorcised by radical groups like the Islamic Youth Shura Council continued to grow until February this year when the Islamic State of Levant self-declared ‘caliphate’ in Sirte – where 21 Egyptians were believed to be beheaded recently.
Its fighters traveled to the district in 40 heavily armoured cars and ordered residents to follow Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
He has since appointed Ali Al-Qarqaa as Libya’s Emir- or leader – meaning control over the country’s fractured terror groups falls to him according to Gulf-based analyst Dr Theodore Karasik.
He told MailOnline: ‘Libya is seen by North Africans now as the place to go spread the Caliphate. Unlike a few years ago, when everyone was leaving Libya to go to the Levant, you now have people going back.
‘Because the idea of ‘state’ is there and now with the executions, they will feel like there are enough numbers on the ground to fight. They know at the same time the West is slow at acting.’
Three years after the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as the country’s ruler, Libya’s main cities have surrendered control to a melting pot of extremist groups.
Most of them – including Ansar al-Sharia, Libya Dawn and the Islamic Youth Shura Council – have pledged their allegiance to Islamic State who seek to use the country’s location to establish a foothold in North Africa.
Overrun: The majority of Libya’s coastal cities have surrendered control to Islamic State and other rebel extremist groups created to oppose the NATO-led invasion which removed Gaddafi from power
Support: A young girl cheers and waves at the dozens of cars driving in perfect unison through the Libyan city of Benghazi as they carry the black flags of Islamic State
Islamic State: Most of Libya’s fractured extremist groups – including Ansar al-Sharia, Libya Dawn and the Islamic Youth Shura Council – have pledged their allegiance to ISIS
Terrorism: Dr Theodore Karasik said Libyans who traveled to fight in Syria are returning to their home country, where there are ‘enough numbers on the ground to fight’
Total control: Flags and signposts featuring the black flag of Islamic State litter the city of Benghazi
The internationally recognised government and parliament have since fled to Tobruk, near the Egyptian border.
ISIS exploited the gaps between the democratically elected Libyan government in Torbruk and the Islamist-led General National Congress in the capital Tripoli.
Their joint failure to stop the spread of Islamic State has allowed the extremist group to seize control in a number of coastal cities including Nofaliya, Benghazi, Derna and Sirte – where the Coptic Christians were executed on Sunday.
The caption alongside the five-minute documenting the murderous video read: ‘The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.’
Before the killings, one of the militants stood with a knife in his hand and said: ‘Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for.’
Egyptian warplanes struck Islamic State targets in Libya on Monday in swift retribution for the extremists’ beheading of a group of Egyptian Christian hostages on a beach, shown in a grisly online video released hours earlier.
Executed: At least 35 more Egyptians are believed to have been kidnapped by jihadists in Libya, raises the chilling prospect of yet another mass execution like the one seen on Sunday when the Islamic State released a horrific video showing the beheading of 21 Christians on a beach (above)
Retaliation: Egypt blitzed ISIS training camps, weapons stockpiles and fighters in two waves of air strikes following the gruesome murder of captured Egyptian workers in a video (above) released on Sunday
Horror: Blood is seen in the Mediterranean Sea. In the video the jihadis say they now plan to ‘conquer Rome’
Murder: The Islamic Youth Shura Council – a branch of Ansar Al-Sharia – was responsible for the very first footage of a beheading to surface from the North-African country. Masked men in camouflage cut Muftah el-Nazihi’s (pictured) neck with a knife before removing his head and placing it on his back.
In a radio interview today, Egypt’s president said a UN-backed coalition was Libya’s best chance of ridding Libya of its many extremist groups.
Speaking to France’s Europe 1 Radio, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Egyptian airstrikes against Islamic State group positions in Libya on Monday were in self-defense.
He siad: ‘We will not allow them to cut off the heads of our children. We have abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners of the militias.
‘The militias have to give up their arms and must work in a civil context. We have to disarm and prevent arms from falling into the hands of extremists.
‘What happened [beheading of Egyptian Christians] is a crime, a monstrous terrorist crime that our children have their throats cuts in Libya and not to react. It’s a kind of self-defense accepted by the international community. We will not allow them to cut off the heads of our children.’
Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron says he does not regret his country’s efforts to rid Libya of Muammar Gaddafi, despite growing unrest and the threat from terrorists.
The Prime Minister said UK would not abandon Libya as he maintained his decision to send British military forces to the north African country in 2011 was the ‘right thing to do’.
He said: ‘Britain is giving Libya support through our aid budget. We did a major training project for the Libyan security forces. We are doing work to try and bring together a national unity government in Libya.
‘But of course what we face in Libya is a very difficult situation with far too many armed militias, without a proper government and with the growth of ungoverned space, and we’ve had the appalling events of the last few days with the brutal, senseless murders of Coptic Christians on the beach, which I know has shocked the whole world.
‘I discussed it yesterday with the president of Egypt and what the whole world needs to do is come together and work for a Libya that has a national unity government, obviously excluding terrorists, and that can start to build the institutions of a state.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2957344/ISIS-incredible-force-Europe-s-doorstep-Terrorists-Libya-beheaded-21-Egyptian-Christians-parade-fleet-brand-new-police-cars-cheering-children.html#ixzz3S7TJlrpQ
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