Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has outlined the opportunity to disrupt Southern Europe through targeting “Crusader ships and tankers” in the Mediterranean, should it secure a sufficient foothold in Libya.
The group also specified that, if Libya were held, crossing the Med on immigrant vessels and passing through maritime security checkpoints to attack European cities would be “easily possible”.
The report, an online essay in Arabic intended to recruit supporters for a proposed offensive on Libya, is entitled: “Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State,” and was translated by Quilliam – a London-based think tank that focuses on counter-extremism.
In the essay, IS indicates that the country’s long coastline and proximity to Europe will be advantageous to the group: “[Libya] looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat and note that the number of “illegal immigration” trips from this coast is massive, estimated to be as high as 500 people a day, as a low estimate.
“Earlier this week, an IMO report indicated that 200,000 migrants were rescued in 2014 alone, with more than 600 merchant ships diverted for rescue purposes.
“According to many [of these immigrants], it is easily possible to pass through Maritime Security Checkpoints and arrive in cities.
“If this was even partially exploited and developed strategically, pandemonium could be wrought in southern Europe,” the IS report stated.
The group further indicated its intention to bring a halt to Mediterranean shipping through a campaign of systematic disruption. “It is even possible that there could be a closure of shipping lines because of the targeting of Crusader ships and tankers,” the essay read.
Other reasons for invading and subjugating the country included the 99% Sunni population and the “proliferation of variant weaponry” within Libya.
Quilliam’s Haras Rafiq said: “We have been monitoring the situation in Libya for some time now. The video that emerged at the weekend, coupled with this essay, have highlighted the critical state at which Libya finds itself.
“The international community must act to help bring stability to the country before it becomes a new Syria, whether it is for al-Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate or any other jihadist organisation.”
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