Efforts to establish a capable central government in Libya have complicated the Obama administration’s efforts to root out the growing base used by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), top intelligence said Thursday.
There are “a spectrum of political views” within the two competing factions trying to control Libya, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a House Intelligence Committee hearing.
“There is, to the extent there can be in Libya, a fair amount of agreement that ISIL poses a threat to Libya as a nation state,” he added, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “And I think there is sentiment among most parties — but not all — that this represents a threat to the country.”
“That’s the difficulty here. There is a wide range of views among the political spectrum in Libya.”
The U.S. has struggled with how to confront ISIS’s rise in Libya, which has been unable to erect an effective central government since the 2011 overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.
Last week, the Pentagon launched airstrikes targeting a top extremist leader and a training camp. Tunisian militant Noureddine Chouchane, who allegedly organized last year’s massacre of 38 people at a Tunisian beach popular with tourists, is believed to have been among the dozens killed.