Skip to main content

Australian National Security
You are here >> Skip breadcrumbAustralian National Security > > Terrorist organisations > > Islamic State in Libya (IS-Libya)

 Islamic State in Libya (IS-Libya)

Also known as: Islamic State–Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham–Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and Syria–Libya; Wilayat Barqa; Wilayat Barqah; Wilayat Fezzan; Wilayat Tripolitania; Wilayat Tarablus; Wilayat al-Tarabulus.

This statement is based on publicly available information about Islamic State in Libya. To the Australian Government’s knowledge, this information is accurate, reliable and has been corroborated by classified information.

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code 1995 provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the AFP Minister must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  • is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will occur); or
  • advocates the doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will occur).​

Background to this listing

The Australian Government previously listed Islamic State in Libya (IS Libya) as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code on 29 November 2016. IS-Libya was re-listed on 29 November 2019.

Terrorist activity of the organisation 

IS-Libya is an officially recognised Islamic State affiliate adhering to Islamic State’s global jihadist ideology and following an extreme interpretation of Islam which is anti-Western, promotes sectarian violence and violently targets those who do not agree with its interpretation. IS Libya seeks to assist IS in its goal of creating an Islamic caliphate.​

Objectives

IS-Libya shares Islamic State’s goals of consolidating territory under its control and expanding its territorial gains within Libya. The group’s stated aim is for Libya to be the ‘vanguard of the Caliphate’.  IS-Libya has made public its aims to establish three Islamic State provinces in Libya—Barqah, Fezzan and Tripolitania—and remove the United Nations-backed transitional Government of National Accord.

IS-Libya has undertaken the following to advance its ideology and achieve its objectives:​

Directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts

IS-Libya has engaged in terrorist attacks and kidnappings against a wide range of targets in North Africa. Attacks for which IS-Libya has claimed responsibility and is assessed to have undertake include:

  • 10 April 2019: IS-Libya attacked the town of Fuqaha in central Libya killing the head of the town’s council and a security guard.
  • 28 October 2018: IS-Libya killed at least five people and kidnapped 10 policemen in the town of Fuqaha.
  • 11 September 2018: IS-Libya attacked the National Oil Corporation in Tripoli, killing two staff members.
  • 2 May 2018: IS-Libya attacked the High National Election Commission office in Tripoli, killing 16 people.
  • 23 August 2017: IS-Libya attacked a Libyan National Army checkpoint in the al-Jufra region, beheading nine military personnel and two civilians.

Advocating the doing of terrorist acts

IS-Libya has publically advocated terrorist attacks in order to further its objectives including through online propagada designed to radicalise and inspire suscetible individuals to undertake attacks. Public statements in which IS-Libya has advocated terrorist attacks include:

  • 4 July 2018: IS-Libya directly urged the doing of a terrorist act by releasing a video entitled ‘The Point of Death’ declaring its intent to establish a Caliphate in Libya and urging its fighters to attack United States (US) and foreign interests.
  • 26 March 2016: IS-Libya directly urged the doing of a terrorist act by releasing a video urging its supporters to conduct attacks similar to the March 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels in other countries that attack IS branches. 

 ​

Details of the organisation

IS-Libya was formed in Dernah by local returnees from Syria, many of whom had fought as part of the Islamic State-affiliated Battar Brigade. These returnees, who established the Islamic Youth Shura Council in Dernah in 2014, received an Islamic State delegation in September 2014 and subsequently pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In November 2014, al-Baghdadi announced that he had accepted the oath of allegiance from Islamic Shura Youth Council and created the IS-Libya ‘branch’. Al Baghdadi declared three wilayats or provinces: Barqa (eastern Libya) with Derna as its headquarters; Tarablus (Tripoli) with Sirte as its headquarters; and Fezzan (southern Libya). Following the fall of Sirte to government forces in late 2016, and other losses, IS-Libya retreated into the desert areas of central Libya where it re-built its fighting forces. In December 2018 IS-Libya recommenced attacks in major population centres.​

Leadership

Islamic State leadership in Syria and Iraq have appointed close aides of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to lead IS-Libya. IS-Libya was led by Iraqi national Abu Nabil until November 2015, when he was killed in a United States airstrike.  Since his death, IS-Libya has been led by Abdul Qadr al-Najdi.

Membership

IS-Libya’s membership is variously estimated between 500 and 4000. The majority of its members are foreigners emanating predominantly from North African and sub-Saharan African countries; with many from Tunisia and Sudan.

Recruitment and funding

IS-Libya uses domestic issues to recruit Libyans who felt aggrieved and marginalised in post-Gaddafi Libya. The group encourages defectors from armed Libyan groups and has paid fighters to join the group. IS-Libya has also recruited Muslims through calls to fulfil their obligation of immigration to the lands of Islam and by paying foreign fighters.

IS-Libya is largely self-funded through black-market activities, including taxation of smugglers, and also receives some of funding from Islamic State in Syria and Iraq through emissaries. Other funding sources include extortion, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, smuggling and selling antiquities.

Links to other terrorist organisations

IS-Libya remains an affiliate of, and ideologically aligned with, Islamic State and has received support and guidance from Islamic State senior leadership. 

Links to Australia

There are no known links between IS-Libya and Australia.

Threats to Australian interests

IS-Libya has not made statements specifically threatening Australians or Australian interests. However, IS-Libya has issued statements threatening Westerners and Western interests in general.

  • 4 July 2018: The IS-Libya video entitled ‘The Point of Death’ called on its fighters to attack the US and its allies, who it characterised as adversaries to the establishment of a Caliphate in Libya.

Listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries

IS-Libya was designated as foreign terrorist organisation by the US State Department in May 2016.

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

IS-Libya has not participated in peace talks with the Libyan Government and did not participate in United Nations-brokered negotiations to form a national unity government in Libya.​

Conclusion

On the basis of the above information, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) assesses IS-Libya is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts or advocates the doing of terrorist acts, involving threats to human life and serious damage to property.

In the course of pursuing its objectives, IS-Libya is known to have committed or threatened actions that:

  • cause, or could cause, death, serious harm to persons, serious damage to property, endangered life (other than the life of the person taking the action), or create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public;
  • are intended to have those effects;
  • are done with the intention of advancing IS-Libya's political, religious or ideological causes;
  • are done with the intention of intimidating the government of one or more foreign countries; and
  • are done with the intention of intimidating the public or sections of the public.
​​​​​​​​​