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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan jihadist group pledges allegiance to Islamic State

By Ken Hanly     Oct 7, 2014 in Politics
Darnah - The militant group Ansar al-Shariah, accused by the U.S. of being behind the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador, declared an "Islamic emirate" in the eastern city of Derna, according to media reports from Libya.
The group also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Derna — sometimes spelled as "Darna" or "Darnah"- has been occupied and run by radical Islamists for ages. The government was unable to hold elections there "for security reasons." The video below shows a public execution in a soccer field back in August. The city's residents are also avid soccer fans.
Wikipedia describes the city of about 80,000 as one of the most religious in Libya. It has long been home of many radical jihadists.: In 2007, American troops in Iraq uncovered a list of foreign fighters for the Iraqi insurgency. Of the 112 Libyans on the list, 52 had come from Derna. Derna has the reputation of being the most pious Muslim city in Libya. No doubt the city also contributes to the many foreign fighters who have joined battle against Assad. It is hardly surprising that some citizens would be cheering on the Islamic State.
According to Al Arabiya the Libyan national army bombed positions of Ansar al-Sharia in Derna on Saturday killing several. The Libyan National Army referred to in the article are simply those within the Libyan armed forces loyal to CIA-linked General Haftar and are in effect another militia group rather than a true national army. Other members of the armed forces do not support Haftar. However, Haftar has [url=[tt_news]=42443&tx_ttnews[backPid]=757&no_cache=1#.VDQacxacySo t=_blank]declared the troops he leads as the Libyan National Army: General Khalifa Haftar, the self-declared leader of the Libyan National Army, announced the launch of Operation Karama (Dignity) on May 16 with the aim of cleansing Libya of “terrorism and extremism” (al-Arabiya, May 24).
This is the initial operation that has resulted in the present situation. Haftar's allies also burned the parliament, and kidnapped some Islamist elected representatives and officials as well. These are the "good guys" who will be supported by the west eventually as part of the war on terrorism. Egypt will also join in, along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Egypt and the UAE are already accused by the rebels, and for a while by the U.S., of having bombed Tripoli during several night raids to stop Islamist militias from taking over the city but to no avail.
I am not sure whether the media are deliberately confusing the LIbyan National Army of Haftar and the other official Libyan National Army that is split between those supporting Haftar and those who do not as Wikipedia reports: Since the beginning of the 2014 Libyan Conflict, most of the Army has been split between Khalifa Haftar's "anti-terrorist" faction and Abdulsalam al-Obaidi's faction which has not followed Haftar.
The BBC joins in the confusion even though at the end it does speak of Khalifa's militias: The Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, came to prominence in February 2014, when he declared the "suspension" of the government, which was promptly rejected by the authorities.Three months later, his militias launched an offensive against Islamists in Benghazi.
The armed forces has rarely if ever been under actual control of parliament. After Haftar began Operation Dignity and tried to dissolve parliament, his actions were declared a coup attempt and he was ordered arrested. No one had the power to arrest him. It is not clear that the new parliament in Tobruk has any more power. It is said to be loosely allied with Haftar. Given that the parliament operates in an area beyond the reach of the Islamists who control the two main cities of Benghazi and Tripoli, it is unlikely to have much choice but to go along with Haftar unless it wants to see the luxury hotel and Greek ferry that it operates from in Tobruk burned and looted.
An Israeli source also follows the lead of Al Arabiya in claiming that Ansar al-Sharia has taken over control of Derna: The Ansar al-Sharia terror group, affiliated with ISIS, has declared authority during the last several days over the coastal city of Darna, Libya.
The article notes that Derna is a strategically located city between Benghazi and the Egyptian border. The article fails to mention that the city has been held by militants for ages. All of a sudden Ansar al-Sharia enters the picture and so it is now a big issue. The article also notes that the radical group in the Sinai battling the Egyptian army has been staging copycat beheadings in the manner of the Islamic State. Note that they are not beheadings in the style of Saudi Arabia. The article suggests that this group has also de facto pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. Do not be surprised if suddenly the situation in Libya begins to occupy more media time with frantic calls for western intervention against the imminent threat to every citizen of the developed world. However, it will be no threat to the growth of the military-industrial complex. To be fair and balanced, like Fox news, I have appended a propaganda video of Ansar Al-Shariah.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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