ISIS’ plans to conquer Europe via Libya have been revealed in letters seen by an anti-terrorism group. Owing to its perfect location on the continental doorstep, the terrorists plan to ferry fighters from North Africa across the Mediterranean.
The plans, analyzed by anti-terrorism British think tank Quilliam, outline a strategy to illegally ferry fighters across the sea from Libya into southern Europe, into ports such as Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa, less than 300 miles (483km) away.
Libya “has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat,” an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) propagandist says in the letters seen by Quilliam, according to the Telegraph.
That information originates from an IS supporter using the moniker Abu Ibrahim al-Libim. The propagandist is believed to be a strong force in IS recruitment online, with a focus on Libya.
The Telegraph could not independently confirm his identity, but the online recruiter is believed by analysts to be a great inspirer of troops and is widely-read.
"Twitter has shut down Libim's accounts several times and each time he starts a new one he gets thousands of followers very quickly, which is typical of an influential [IS] affiliate," Charlie Winter, researcher for the Quilliam Foundation, told the newspaper.
The plans Libim reveals revolve around posing as illegal immigrants, to then start an all-out attack on southern Europe by seeding chaos and bloodshed. The terrorists reportedly hope to flood Libya with other fighters from Syria and Iraq, with a whole army at the ready to invade.
"We will conquer Rome, by Allah's permission,” he says in a Sunday video depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian guest workers, the video that led to Egypt organizing a bombing campaign on militant positions in Libya. He also describes the country as having “immense potential” for the terrorist group, while making references to the spoils of war left after the ouster of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 – tons of weapons, ammunition and oil.
IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has openly been claiming Libya for his ‘caliphate’ recently.
While still not completely submerged, the country is fast on its way, as whole cities conquered by the group now adhere to its strict form of Islam, complete with executions.
Navigating Libya’s terrorist circles is also a daunting task: some are allied with the IS, others with Al-Qaeda. All are fiercely anti-government, though some have helped install a new government in Tripoli, after banishing the internationally-recognized one to Tobruk in the east.
"In terms of the demographics of [IS] support in Libya, we see a lot in common with its base of support in Iraq and Syria – many of its fighters are young, disfranchised men who have only bought into ISIL's brand of Islamist zealotry because they are looking to forcibly empower themselves in the penetrating absence of the state,” Winter explains.
"The risks Europe faces from ISIL pre-eminence in Libya are substantial."
In an interview with the Associated Press, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said that Italy was prepared to contribute as many as 5,000 troops on a mission to liberate Libya from ISIS, if Western states were to decide to undertake such a mission. However, he said, Rome was willing to wait until the UN Security Council decided on collective action. The issue of the ISIS incursion into Libya is now under discussion by the Council.
Meanwhile, an essay written by a top ISIS supporter in Libya claims that the group is readying its Jihad battle for Europe – and that Italy will be the gateway to the continent. According to the essay, discovered and translated by the Quilliam Foundation, a US anti-terror think tank, the group intends to “invade” Europe by sending terrorists across the Mediterranean on small boats and skiffs, entering southern Italy much like North African refugees have been doing for years.
According to the essay, Libya is ideal for this because “it has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat.” Each day, it says, each day some 500 North Africans reach Greece, Italy, and even southern Spain undetected. “f this was even partially exploited and developed strategically, pandemonium could be wrought in the southern Europe. It is even possible that there could be a closure of shipping lines because of the targeting of Crusader ships and tankers,” the essay says.
In addition, it says, Libya is “the key to Egypt, the key to Tunisia, Sudan, Mali, Algeria and Niger too.”