ISIS’s dangerous gains in Libya

Der Spiegel reports: The men sitting in Café L’Aurora in Tripoli stare silently into the smartphone Najib Ali is holding in his hand. They’re watching a horrific video depicting the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Christians, probably on the beach at Sirte. The victims are wearing orange overalls while their Islamic State (IS) killers are clad in black. The men in the café have already seen the video numerous times and yet they continue to watch it, looking for any details that might indicate the horrific acts didn’t really happen.

“Have you ever seen a Libyan that tall?” one asks. And what about the professional camera work? “A major power has to be behind it.” And how could Sirte, the hometown of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, suddenly come under Islamic State rule? The release of the video on Sunday, Feb. 15, shortly before the fourth anniversary of the insurgency against Gadhafi, has led many Libyans to react reflexively with desperate denials of reality.

The truth is that Libya is well on its way to becoming a failed state — making it the perfect prey for IS. Furthermore, Libya is close to Italy, has plenty of oil and offers a possible corridor to Boko Haram in Nigeria as well as to Islamists in Mali and in the Sahara. Indeed, if IS succeeds in solidifying its presence here, the terrorists could pose a threat to Southern Europe in addition to destabilizing all of North Africa. [Continue reading…]

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