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: IS–Libya; Islamic State–Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant–Libya; Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham–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 the Islamic State in Libya (IS-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 Attorney-General must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  1. is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act; or
  2. advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

For the purposes of listing a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, the doing of a terrorist act includes the doing of a specific terrorist act, the doing of more than one terrorist act and the doing of a terrorist act, even if a terrorist act does not occur.

Background to this listing

The Australian Government has not previously proscribed Islamic State in Libya (IS-Libya) as a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code.

Terrorist activity of the organisation


IS-Libya is an officially recognised Islamic State affiliate that adheres to Islamic State's global jihadist ideology and follows an extreme interpretation of Islam which is anti-Western, promotes sectarian violence and targets those that do not agree with its interpretation as infidels and apostates. IS-Libya seeks to assist Islamic State with its long-term goal of creating an Islamic caliphate.

IS-Libya supports Islamic State's goals of consolidating territory under its control and aims to expand its territorial gains within Libya. The group has stated its aim is for Libya to be the 'vanguard of the Caliphate'. IS-Libya aims to establish three Islamic State provinces in Libya: Barqah, Fezzan and Tripolitania and remove the United Nations-backed transitional Government of National Accord. This is substantiated by public statements made by IS-Libya to that effect.

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 include:

  • 7 January 2016: at least 47 people were killed when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated at a police training centre in Zliten, Libya. IS-Libya claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • 4 January 2016: IS-Libya militants attacked an oil export terminal in As Sidrah, Libya, killing two people and setting an oil storage tank on fire.
  • 6 March 2015: nine foreign oil workers were kidnapped by IS-Libya militants from the al-Ghani oilfield, near the town of Zalla, Libya. Eight Libyan guards were killed during the abduction.
  • 21 February 2015: three VBIEDs exploded in the town of Qubbah, Libya, killing at least 31 people. IS-Libya claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • 27 January 2015: two IS-Libya militants attacked the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya, killing nine including five foreigners.
  • 12 January 2015: IS-Libya claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 21 Coptic Christians in Sirte, Libya. IS-Libya subsequently released a video on 15 February 2015 depicting the execution of the hostages.

Advocating the doing of terrorist acts

IS-Libya has publically advocated terrorist attacks in order to further its objectives. Public statements in which IS-Libya has advocated terrorist attacks include:

  • 26 March 2016: IS-Libya released a video praising the March 2016 attacks in Brussels and threatened similar attacks on countries that attack IS branches.

Details of the organisation

IS-Libya was formed in the city of Dernah in Libya 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, Abu Bakr 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 Dernah as its headquarters; Tarablus (Tripoli) with Sirte as its headquarters; and Fezzan (southern Libya).


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.


IS-Libya's membership is estimated between 3000 and 5000. The majority of its members are foreign, emanating predominantly from North African and sub-Saharan African countries. Within this, the majority are from Tunisia and Sudan.

Recruitment and funding

Both Islamic State and IS-Libya have called on Muslims to fulfil their obligation of immigration to the lands of Islam and called upon foreign fighters to immigrate to Libya. Further, IS-Libya has called upon other groups within the region to commit to Islamic State and has paid fighters, particularly sub-Saharan Africans, to join the group. Within Libya, IS-Libya uses domestic issues to attract recruits, drawing on locals who felt aggrieved and marginalised in the post-Gaddafi Libya. The group has encouraged defectors from local Libyan groups.

IS-Libya is largely self-funded through taxation within and in the vicinity of Sirte, Libya, and receives relatively small amounts of funding from Islamic State in Syria and Iraq through emissaries. Other funding sources include extortion, 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.

  • 2 December 2015: IS-Libya released a video lauding the November 2015 attacks in Paris and threatening attacks in the United States.
  • 24 February 2015: IS-Libya released a video claiming its presence will serve as a base to launch attacks in Europe.

Listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries

IS-Libya is listed as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the government of the US and is included in the UK government's listing of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The United Nations and other like-minded countries have not listed IS-Libya at this time.

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.


On the basis of the above information, 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.