The Washington Post reports: As the Islamic State scores new victories in Syria and Iraq, its affiliate in Libya is also on the offensive, consolidating control of Moammar Gaddafi’s former home town and staging a bomb attack on a major city, Misurata.
The Islamic State’s growth could further destabilize a country already suffering from a devastating civil war. And Libya could offer the extremists a new base from which to launch attacks elsewhere in North Africa.
The Libyan affiliate does not occupy large amounts of territory as the Islamic State does in Syria and Iraq. But in the past few months, the local group has seized Sirte, the coastal city that was Gaddafi’s last redoubt, as well as neighborhoods in the eastern city of Derna.
A key reason for the Libyan affiliate’s expansion is the chaos that has enveloped this oil-rich nation since the 2011 Arab Spring revolt. The country has two rival governments and is rent by fighting between militias that emerged from the anti-Gaddafi struggle.
Although the Islamic State claims allies in many countries, the Libya branch is especially close to the main organization. Its core fighters in Libya are veterans of the Syrian civil war. [Continue reading…]