ISIS remains a persistent threat in Libya and could rise again unless the country’s long-running conflict is brought to an end, a new study has warned.
The study, conducted by the Strategic Studies Institute at the United States Army War College, says ISIS is “regrouping, quietly expanding capacity, until it might once again be strong enough to be a challenger in Libya.
The study said the armed group retained its capacity to launch “small-scale” attacks in Libya, which was a deviation from its earlier strategy of high-profile “shock and awe” raids.
According to the study conducted by Azeem Ibrahim, ISIS militants could engage in small-scale attacks and skirmishes necessary to establish themselves in the criminal smuggling network that link sub-Saharan Africa to the Libyan coast in the north.
After a months-long campaign by GNA forces, ISIS was uprooted in May 2016 from the coastal city of Sirte, the biggest territory controlled by the terrorist group outside its then heartland in Syria and Iraq.
“After ISIS removal from Sirte, most of its activity moved to Fezzan in the southern Libyan desert, where the group has increasingly embedded themselves in the local human and illicit goods trafficking, particularly along the refugee migration routes through Libya”. The study reads.
It adds that ISIS in Libya is overwhelmingly composed of non-Libyan foreign fighters, further diminishing their capacity to embed themselves in the local political landscape.