ISIS Colonies in Africa
- The West has been fighting wars with aggressive militaristic Islam for 1,400 years. Politicians are living in a fantasy world if they promise the voters they are going to "win" some swift victory.
(Der Spiegel) - The caliphate has a beach. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea around 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Crete in Darna. The eastern Libya city has a population of around 80,000, a beautiful old town and an 18th century mosque, from which the black flag of the Islamic State flies.
The port city is equipped with Sharia courts and an "Islamic Police" force which patrols the streets in all-terrain vehicles. A wall has been built in the university to separate female students from their male counterparts and the disciplines of law, natural sciences and languages have all been abolished. Those who would question the city's new societal order risk death.
Darna has become a colony of terror, and it is the first Islamic State enclave in North Africa. The conditions in Libya are perfect for the radical Islamists: a disintegrating state, a location that is strategically well situated and home to the largest oil reserves on the continent. Should Islamic State (IS) manage to establish control over a significant portion of Libya, it could trigger the destabilization of the entire Arab world.
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The IS puts down roots wherever chaos reigns, where governments are weakest and where disillusionment over the Arab Spring is deepest. In recent weeks, terror groups that had thus far operated locally have quickly begun siding with the extremists from IS.
In September, it was the Algerian group Soldiers of the Caliphate that threw in its lot with Islamic State. As though following a script, the group immediately beheaded a French mountaineer and uploaded the video to the Internet. In October, the "caliphate" was proclaimed in Darna. And last week, the strongest Egyptian terrorist group likewise announced its affiliation with IS.
LIBYA: Where The State Has Disappeared
Darna has long been a radical stronghold, having produced the greatest number of foreign suicide attackers from one single city in Iraq after 2004. Oppression by Gadhafi's security forces made it easy for Islamists to sell the jihad as an alternative to living under a dictatorship and the regime was happy to let them go. Every Islamist who left to fight the Russians or the Americans was one less danger back home.
After Gadhafi was toppled in 2011, many rebels headed for Syria to fight against Bashar Assad. At the same time, the revolution gave birth to several militia groups, not all of which were radical but some leaned Islamist. Extremists subsequently found a foothold in eastern Libya and perpetrated a series of bloody attacks against the police and the army, leading the state to pull back.
|A radical group in control of the city of Darna in eastern Libya |
recently proclaimed its allegiance with Islamic State. At the end of
October, hundreds of citizens did so too in this public ceremony.
The extremists remained. Today, Darna is ruled by several militia groups, the most important of which is the Islamic Youth Shura Council, an organization founded in the spring after splintering off from the Libyan terror group Ansar al-Sharia. In Darna, the leaders of Ansar al-Sharia have joined forces with Islamic State while in Benghazi they have not.
Initially, IS emerged in Libya in the form of a group of fighters returning from Syria. The so-called al-Battar Brigade brought Darna under its control by murdering politicians, judges and attorneys -- but also by killing commanders of other militias. Then, in September, an "emir" sent by Islamic State arrived in Darna, a previously little-known Yemenite named Mohammed Abdullah.
On Oct. 5, the first meeting was held between the men from the Islamic State and Shura Council leaders, during which they announced their alliance and the founding of Islamic State's "Barka Province." At the end of October, hundreds of citizens publically proclaimed their loyalty to the "caliph."
Afterwards, an activist named Mohamed Batoha asked the predominantly foreign extremists what business they had being in Darna. Two days later, he was shot to death by gunmen in a passing vehicle, just as dozens of other critics had been before him.
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