Libya has become ISIS’ new frontier as it faces territorial loses in its stronghold in Iraq and Syria, but it faces major roadblocks to establishing a true back-up capital there, according to a new report. The Combating Terrorism Center report, published Thursday, said the terrorist group ISIS suffered “setbacks” in Libya and is struggling to expand there.
The West Point center noted that there’s no doubt that ISIS will remain a “violent threat” in Libya as it’s targeted in Iraq and Syria. But the center also said ISIS’ Libya base would be a “poorer and more constrained organization deprived of personnel, revenue, and the fundamental narrative tropes of governance and sectarianism that is has used to ‘remain and expand.'”
US officials have reacted with alarm at how much ISIS (also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh) has grown in Libya over the past year. And as the US-led anti-ISIS coalition continues hammering the group with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has directed foreign fighters to travel to Libya instead of the group’s main base in Raqqa, Syria.
The effort paid off for ISIS in some ways. It now has an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 fighters in Libya, and it has been able to seize territory, establish “media points” to distribute its propaganda, and set up Sharia courts to enforce its strict version of Islamic law.
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