“The rising threat from Libya comes as President Obama is being asked by many of his top military and intelligence advisers to approve the broader use of American military force in Libya to open another front against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.” He created this opportunity for the Islamic State with his ill-considered backing of jihadis against Gaddafi. Now he is reaping the consequences.
“U.S. Scrambles to Contain Growing ISIS Threat in Libya,” by Eric Schmitt, New York Times, February 21, 2016:
THIES, Senegal — The Islamic State’s branch in Libya is deepening its reach across a wide area of Africa, attracting new recruits from countries like Senegal that had been largely immune to the jihadist propaganda — and forcing the African authorities and their Western allies to increase efforts to combat the fast-moving threat.
The American airstrikes in northwestern Libya on Friday, which demolished an Islamic State training camp and were aimed at a top Tunisian operative, underscore the problem, Western officials said. The more than three dozen suspected Islamic State fighters killed in the bombing were recruited from Tunisia and other African countries, officials said, and were believed to be rehearsing an attack against Western targets.
Even as American intelligence agencies say the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria has dropped to about 25,000 from a high of about 31,500, partly because of the United States-led air campaign there, the group’s ranks in Libya have roughly doubled in the same period, to about 6,500 fighters. More than a dozen American and allied officials spoke of their growing concern about the militant organization’s expanding reach from Libya and across Africa on rules of anonymity because the discussions involved intelligence and military planning.
Islamic State leaders in Syria are telling recruits traveling north from West African nations like Senegal and Chad, as well as others streaming up through Sudan in eastern Africa, not to press on to the Middle East. Instead, they are being told to stay put in Libya. American intelligence officials, who described the recent orders from Islamic State leaders, say the organization’s immediate goal is to carve out a new caliphate in Libya, and there are signs the affiliate is trying to establish statelike institutions there.
“Libya has become a magnet for individuals not only inside of Libya, but from the African continent as well as from outside,” John O. Brennan, the director of the C.I.A., told a Senate panel this month.
The rising threat from Libya comes as President Obama is being asked by many of his top military and intelligence advisers to approve the broader use of American military force in Libya to open another front against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL….
“ISIS is spreading even to here,” said Col. Guirane Ndiaye, a Senegalese zone commander. “If we do not have a multinational effort, ISIS will spread even more.”