Islamic State covets Libya as global terror base, envoy warns
One of Libya’s senior diplomats is in Washington this week on a lonely mission to drag the US back into the Libyan fray.
Aref Ali Nayed, the Bayda-based government’s ambassador to the UAE, says the Islamic State (IS), or ISIS, risks taking over Libya and turning it into a global terrorism base. He wants help kicking IS militants out — along with the rival Libyan Dawn government in Tripoli that he says made their rise possible.
“What I think many people don’t know is how much [IS] has infiltrated Libya [and turned it] into its ATM machine, gas station and airport from which it can basically attack any European target,” Nayed said in an interview at Al-Monitor’s Washington office. “It’s the most important risk to the security of the region, be it to our Arab neighbors, our African neighbors or our European neighbors across the Mediterranean.”
An Islamic scholar and longtime foe of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamists who have taken over the western part of the country, Nayed is officially in Washington to update the US Institute of Peace on its 15-month-old partnership with the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies, an educational program he chairs. Among its efforts is a groundbreaking compendium of Islamic State incidents — kidnappings, executions, etc. — in Libya since July.
As Congress prepares to debate a new war authorization against Islamic State, Nayed plans to share those findings with key members of both parties and urge them not to forget about Libya. He points out that the democratically elected and internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk last week announced its desire to be part of the international coalition against Islamic State, and would welcome US help.