Updated 04:46 AM EST, Wed, Dec 02, 2020

ISIS Takes Libya: New Recruits & Foreign Fighters Join The Terrorist Group's Ranks in Sirte Stronghold

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The world may be focusing on Iraq and Syria, but it appears as though the Islamic State is ready to strengthen their forces elsewhere. In a report by the Global Post, the terrorist group is strengthening its stronghold in Libya, with new recruits and foreign fighters joining their ranks.

Experts and sources in Libya say that the ISIS stronghold in Sirte has become the focal point of the group. Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations said, "It is clear 'IS central' made an investment on Libya a long time ago. Foreign fighters from North Africa are increasingly flocking to Sirte rather than going all the way to Syria."

Officials in the army loyal to internationally recognized authorities also indicated that Sirte, the hometown of slain dictator, Moamer Kadhafi, is now the new destination for recruits. A spokesman for the military shared, "Sirte is now the centre... where new recruits are trained and instructed in the ideology of IS."

Another army colonel who wishes to remain anonymous also declared, "Hundreds of foreign fighters have flowed in from Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria to be trained and ready to carry out attacks in other countries."

According to a UN report cited by CNN, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is exerting control over Libya compared to other chapters outside Syria and Iraq, viewing the African country as their best opportunity to expand the caliphate. Social media accounts from ISIS sympathizers are already said to call on volunteers to travel to Libya instead of Syria and Iraq.

In the past two years, Baghdadi has already dispatched several senior aides to Libya to help with the buildup of ISIS in the country. Among the senior aides were Abu Nabil al Anbari (Wissam al Zubaidi), an Iraqui veteran who spent time with Baghdadi in a detention facility in Iraq.

Around 800 Libyan ISIS veterans have already returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq and are now said to be providing backbone for the group in Libya, bringing with them their hunger for urban warfare.

A large number of North African recruits were also attracted by the group, including those from Egypt, Yemen, the Palestinian Territories, Mali, and even Nigeria, with over 200 members of the Nigerian ISIS affliate, Boko Haram, already present in Sirte.

There are constraints, however, as the UN also noted that ISIS in Libya is yet to grow rich to compare them with their counterparts in Syria and Iraq. However, they do already have sufficient funding to sustain their operations at this point.

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