Libya’s Terrorism Challenge Assessing the Salafi-Jihadi Threat
Salafi-jihadis have maintained an active presence in Libya due to a mix of push and pull factors. Historic participation in such groups, declining standards of living, the historical marginalization of minorities, and a pervasive sense of victimhood have all made Libya a ripe jihadi recruiting ground. Many Salafi-jihadis offer the status, salary, and services that the fractured state cannot provide. These movements can be diminished through investments like educational programs, aid to war-torn regions, demilitarization programs, and improved intelligence sharing by border officials in Libya’s neighboring states. However, until the political crisis that has plagued Libya for over three years ends, there is little Libya’s international partners can do to help confront these movements. And as long as the crisis continues, civil unrest will persist and institutions will remain weak. Such a scenario would provide the requisite chaos for the present Salahi-jihadi movements to flourish.
Publish date : 1/8/2019
reference : Middle East Institute ,
one day after the Salafi-jihadi attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi in mid- September 2012, local residents crowded squares condemning the incident. Within the week, these protesters had expelled one of the groups responsible for the attack, Ansar al-Shariah’s Benghazi branch, from the city.1 Despite this popular rejection of Salafi-jihadi movements in Benghazi, Ansar al-Shariah and other groups gradually made their way back into the city, initiating an assassination campaign targeting police and military officials by early 2013. Libya is a conservative society in which Islam plays an important role. This is true across the political spectrum from hardline Islamists to self-proclaimed secularists. Salafi-jihadis make up only a small minority of the Libyan population, yet they have wielded disproportionate influence since 2011. Salafi-jihadi movements fall within a highly diversified and competitive militia landscape, including allies of the anti-Islamist general, Khalifa Hifter, as well as Islamist militias, tribes, and criminal gangs. Hifter has tried to tie rival militia groups to Salafi-jihadi movements to discredit them. For example, the Benghazi Defense Brigades contained anti-Hifter police and army personnel as well as hardline Islamists and anti-Hifter Benghazi residents.2 Yet, Hifter and his allies have justified targeting this group by accusing them of working closely with Salafi-jihadi organizations, including the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (B.R.S.C.) and Ansar al-Shariah.3 The Benghazi Defense Brigades officially disbanded in June 2017 after Hifter removed them from their base in the Jufra region. The absence of functioning state institutions or an accountable military with a monopoly on the use of force has allowed Salafi-jihadi groups to exist in parts of Libya for decades. Other groups have flourished since the 2011 revolution.
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