A top Libyan Intelligence officer has reported that leaders of ISIS (now called IS; Islāmic State) are taking refuge in Libya due to the international airstrikes on Iraq and Syria.
Representatives of countries that are a part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition met in Rome to discuss the growing threat of the Islāmic extremists. However, animosities among rival parties have hindered Libya from fighting against IS successfully.
IS, aware of the upheaval going on in the country, took advantage of it and now has a strong foothold in Sirte the town of late leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Ismail Shukri, the head of intelligence in the city of Misrata, told Newsnight that Libya has witnessed an inflow of foreign fighters, usually from neighboring countries.
“The majority [of IS fighters in Sirte] are foreigners, around 70%. Most of them are Tunisians, followed by Egyptians, Sudanese and a few Algerians.
“Add to that the Iraqis and the Syrians. Most of the Iraqis come from Saddam Hussein’s disbanded army.”
“Some of their members, especially those with long-term importance to IS, are taking refuge here. They view Libya as a safe haven,” he said.
John kerry, US secretary of state once warned that ISIS is largely untouched in Libya. Claiming that it can pose a catastrophe for the militants to have access to the state which is largely oil rich.
“That country has resources, the last thing in the world you want is a false caliphate with access to billions of dollars of oil revenue” he said.
The US has refrained from intervening, stating that it is up to the Libyans to fight. A commander, Mohammed al-Bayoudi told the BBC that Libya needs logistical support rather than NATO airstrikes against ISIS as that itself is not enough.