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Exclusive — Asharq Al-Awsat Inside the Dens of Extremists in Libya: ISIS Defeat Discloses Cross-Border Ties

Exclusive — Asharq Al-Awsat Inside the Dens of Extremists in Libya: ISIS Defeat Discloses Cross-Border Ties

Wednesday, 29 November, 2017 - 13:45
Members of the Libyan army's special forces take cover as a tank fires towards Islamist militants during clashes in the militants' last stronghold in Benghazi. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori

When a group of militants and civilians swarmed to check a laptop that was confiscated from an ISIS-headquarter, it turned out that the laptop’s content doesn’t pertain to extremist activity in Benghazi and Libya only but is much broader.

The information provided by the intelligence bodies and that driven by laptops of ISIS members, who were arrested or killed in Benghazi or Misurata, reflects the ties that control terrorism dissemination in north Africa.

A Libyan officer managed to get into an ISIS den and laid hands over pieces of evidence that show the involvement of states and intelligence bodies in the cross-border extremist activity.

In Libya, there are official intelligence bodies but they are distracted among several governments battling for power. There are also intelligence small groups that act as arms for militias.

In the early morning, a new round of Bossneb battle was launched – it was one of the fiercest battles. ISIS took shelter inside the group’s stronghold while Sa'ka Forces in Benghazi insisted on reaching the stronghold no matter what. It consisted of two floors.

ISIS members managed to plant explosives in the surrounding area of the building before the attack. Officers in Sa'ka Forces had to advance to dissociate the explosives but were being confronted with the snipers.

There is a treasure here. In face of the group’s fighters insistence to resist the officers also insisted to move forward step after step until having full control over the building and entering the den. As the day was about to end, the extremists seemed to follow a plan for retreating, so it was necessary to pressure them so that they don’t carry with them anything from the stronghold.

After defeating ISIS, the victorious group moved the belongings that were left behind and handed them out to the relevant parties in the army to be examined.

Based on the findings, there are centers found in several states in Africa, Asia and Europe that have been working for years on reinforcing extremist groups in Libya in order to dominate the country and to destabilize the neighboring countries.

Sa'ka Forces of Libya were first formed in Egypt in 1979 on the level of leaders and individuals. Nowadays, officers are graduating from the Libyan military colleges and are being trained by Special Forces in Egypt.

Libyan army spokesman Ahmed al-Mesmari said that “Sa'ka Forces are essential in the fight against terrorism because the war against terrorism differs from the traditional war. It is closer to the wars of gangs since they end as quick as they start.”

“The war on terrorism, ISIS and al-Qaeda doesn't end with declaring surrendering or winning. It ends with killing, arresting or termination all manifestations of these groups. Therefore, the battle is tough and it demands special training and special forces,” Memsari added.

One of the most professional military operations was that conducted by the army to liberate dozens of captives in Qanfouda, where extremists were detaining men, women and children underground. Meanwhile, leaders of extremist groups in Tripoli and Misurata were threatening to kill the hostages if the army advances.

But the operation was conducted, according to Mesmari, without losing any captive. “Yet, we lost soldiers in order to release the captives,” said Mesmari.

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