The State Department has warned all Americans in Libya to get out of the country “immediately.”
The new travel warning stresses that “extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East region, including Libya.”
“The Libyan government has not been able to build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, U.S. and UN-designated terrorists, and other armed groups, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, the threat of kidnapping is high and various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya,” the warning states.
One U.S. citizen was killed in a January attack at the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli. ISIS claimed responsibility.
“Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted by violent extremist groups seeking to injure, kidnap or kill U.S. citizens, and should act accordingly with extreme caution,” the State Department said.
Embassy operations in the country were suspended in July 2014 — nearly two years after the Benghazi attack and murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Diplomatic operations for Libya are now based out of Tunis.
ISIS released a video two days ago shown the Benghazi murder of a Tunisian bakery worker they claimed was spying for the Libyan army.
The latest issue of ISIS’ magazine, Dabiq, featured an interview with Abu al-Mughirah al-Qahtani, the group’s “delegated emir” in Libya.
“The military situation in Libya differs from region to region, depending on the number of Khilāfah soldiers and the type of enemy in addition to the social composition and geography of the various regions. It also depends on the conflicts and coalitions that form in the ranks of the apostates themselves,” al-Mughirah said.
“…The Islamic State has military and security operations in Tarābulus, Misrātah, Tubruq, al-Baydā’, Sabrātah, and Ajdābiyā. The Islamic State is manifest with some control over neighborhoods in Darnah and Binghāzī in addition to its complete authority over the seacoast region stretching from Būqarīn to Binjawād, includes a number of cities and regions, most important of which are Sirte, al-‘ mirah, Harāwah, Umm Qindīl, and an-Nawfaliyyah.”
Al-Mughirah added that “many of the leaders and soldiers of Ansār al-Sharī’ah were from the first to pledge bay’ah in Libya to the Islamic State…. The Islamic State here in Libya is still young. It is in great need of every Muslim who can come, especially medical, shar’ī, and administrative personnel, in addition to fighters.”
Libya is important to ISIS, he said, “because it is in Africa and south of Europe” and “contains a well of resources that cannot dry.”
“All Muslims have a right to these resources. It is also a gate to the African desert stretching to a number of African countries. It is important to note also that the Libyan resources are a concern for the kāfir West due to their reliance upon Libya for a number of years especially with regards to oil and gas. The control of the Islamic State over this region will lead to economic breakdowns especially for Italy and the rest of the European states.”