A recent study issued by Al Arabiya Institute of Studies sustains that the atrocities perpetrated by the self-proclaimed jihadist groups in Libya are not much different from what the so-called ISIL is currently doing in Iraq and Syria. The practices carried out by Libyan extremist groups, in fact, match with the notion of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which deserve prosecution before the International Criminal Court, whose authority in this context was entrusted by UN Security Council Resolution n. 1970 (2011).
According to this study, authored by researcher Hani Nesira, Islamist militia’s war crimes in Libya extended from the kidnapping of ambassadors, journalists and other prominent personalities to the arbitrary murder of magistrates and security officers. The June parliamentary elections winners have not experienced a different fate. Furthermore, specific regional or ideological groups have been also targeted, as happened to Rishvana tribes in late September and early October 2014. The Tawergha region has been likewise the target of systematic attacks, which pushed the Libyan government and several human rights organizations to declare it a disaster area.
The report revealed that these militias possess at least 22 million pieces of light and heavy weapons, that they succeeded in controlling a non-negligible number of ports and airports in Eastern Libya, and that they attracted Al-Qaeda leaders in the Maghreb, such as Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the Algerian head of AL-Mourabitoun, and Abu Iyadh, the Tunisian head of Ansar al-Sharia. Some Egyptian groups have been also involved in the conflict alongside other Islamist fighters in order to take over power in Libya.
Nesira’s study also highlighted that, according to several human rights organizations, war has become a business in Libya, giving rise to terrifying corruption levels never reached before, even under Kaddafi regime. Such a situation led to the brutal dissolution of politics and dialogue mechanisms, making Libya the safest haven for international terrorism as well as a stronghold for the so-called ISIL and affiliated groups. They have gone as far as to threaten whoever accepts and promotes dialogue, as underscored in a statement delivered in early October by Salah Badi, Muslim Brotherhood member as well as commander of Dawn of Libya Forces, who threatened to kill any party willing to engage in dialogue with the elected Parliament in Tobruk. Consequently, the murder rates in Benghazi and Derna have been increasing up to 250 assassinations since the beginning of the current year, and at least 14 persons were reported dead between 18th and 20th September 2014.
The author also reported a “loyalty conflict” between Al-Qaeda and ISIL leaders in Benghazi and Derna, where the Benghazi Rebel Council obeys Al-Qaeda, while the Islamic Youth Shura Council is close to ISIL. Moreover, the study lists the most prominent warlords in Libya, enumerating their crimes and human rights violations, and elucidating their takfiri ideology. The information provided by Nesira concerns, inter alia, Salah Badi, former representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the General National Congress, and Mohammed al-Zahawi, commander of Ansar al-Sharia and leader of the Benghazi Rebel Council. In addition to them, the author made also reference to Mohammed Al Kilani, member of the General National Congress, who has been accused of kidnapping the former Prime Minister Ali Zaidan, and who currently leads an armed group in the city of Zawiya.
The report finally called upon the international community to take a firm stand against Al-Qaeda and ISIL bastions in Benghazi, Derna, as well as some areas in Tripoli, and to ensure not to repeat the same mistake of delaying the confrontation with ISIL.