ISIS told residents that anyone caught celebrating Libya’s independence day, Christmas or New Year’s Eve would be punished. Last week, a young local who participated in the revolt against ISIS in the summer was also executed…. New reports suggest that the group is using land in Harawah previously owned by Col. Abdallah Mansour, a Qadhafi loyalist, as training grounds for their fighters.

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Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libyan ambassador to the UN, told La Stampa newspaper: “Italy, France, Britain and the United States are preparing air strikes to hit the bases of ISIS in Sirte. I believe that as soon as the political conditions allow, they will take action.”

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The threat of ISIS in Misrata been bolstered after reports of a local group calling itself ‘Mujahedeen Misrata’, announced loyalty or ‘Baya’ to the international group in an audio message…. The local council of Sabratha issued a strong statement rejecting sensational claims made by a new Libyan satellite TV channel (218) that ISIS is in ‘‘control’’ of its city.

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Without local ownership and unity behind the GNA, those claiming rightful Jihad against a western imposed colonial government will be vindicated, providing all the ingredients for a potent mix of local ISIS terrorism, civil war and long term chaos in the country.

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Rumors are rife throughout Sirte and local social media regarding the arrival of key ISIS personalities from Iraq…. In Tripoli, a Sufi Zawiya (shrine) was bombed in the city center area of Abu Meshmasha in the late hours of Monday 21 December.

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On Sunday night 20 Dec, there were new reports of ‘unidentified’ low-flying, surveillance aircraft over ISIS territory east of Sirte, near Noufaliyah, Um Qandil and Bin Jawwad, a town just 40km from Sidra and Ras Lanuf, the largest oil terminals in Libya. Sources speculate that the aircraft are likely French jets flying from the French Carrier Charles De Gaulle…. In fact, prominent Islamists and political hardliners in Tripoli are saying that the purpose of the GNA is to rubber stamp international intervention against all Islamist forces, a potently dangerous rhetoric as it risks emboldening extremist groups and IS even further. In a recent statement by Dar Al Ifta, the religious establishment headed by the Grand Mufti in Tripoli, Sadeq Al Gheryani, the GNA is deemed against Sharia due to its illegitimate and unconstitutional origins.

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Clashes broke out in Ajdabiya on 15 December after LNA units, headed by Ltn. Mohammed Daooud Al Gabsi of border guard brigade, and Ltn. Mohammed Ebsit, deputy commander of the Ajdabiya operations room, began manhunts for members of the Ajdabiya Revolutionary Shura Council (ARSC) in the city, allegedly affiliated with Ansar Al Sharia. … In Benghazi, The Revolutionary Shura Council (BRSC) published some photos, showing an IED exploding against LNA soldiers in the district of Bu-Atni.

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In Sabratha, after the latest explosion destroying the old intelligence building in the city, the council issued a strong statement and began taking urgent steps to mitigate the threat, implementing a state of emergency throughout the city, establishing a joint operations room, setting up barricades and checkpoints and beginning a registration of all foreigners throughout the city…. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE A PHOTO COLLAGE OF ISLAMIC STATE ACTIONS AND VISUAL MATERIAL FROM THE PAST WEEK, CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS SAFE ZIPFILE.

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Establishing a New Social Contract for Sirte: A recent edition of Dabiq, the official magazine of IS, published an interview with the current ISIS leader in Libya, Abu Mughira, shedding light on how its senior leaderships view the strategic value of Libya to its overall expansion. In the article, Abu Mughira underscores Libya’s location and resources as the key pillars for the ISIS expansion in the country, adding that all Muslims have a right to these resources, and that control over them will lead to economic breakdowns for Europe, especially Italy.

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After months of measured statements by foreign ministers and top officials dismissing the notion of direct military intervention in Libya, recent reports indicate that the UK and possibly France could extend ‘Syria-style’ anti-ISIS strikes to Libya, subject to the establishment of a GNA which invites them to do so.

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In Sabratha, the short-lived emergence of an Islamist militia, mistakenly referred to by the international media as ISIS, and their temporary manning of checkpoints on the main road in the city, led to a temporary closure of schools and public administrations.

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French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced on 14 Dec that the Islamic State group was spreading from its stronghold on the Libyan coast to the interior of the country with the aim of getting access to oil wells.

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In Tripoli, pro-GNC militias captured an alleged member of ISIS last week. The captive, a Tunisian, detailed ISIS activities throughout Libya, implicating Murad Al-Gumati, leading to his murder by the Tripoli Rada militia (AKA special deterrence forces or – قوة الردع الخاصة). The incident follows on last week’s assault on an official of the religious affairs ministry who was accused of having ISIS affiliations. Although the Rada enjoys popularity in the capital as a keeper of law and order (such as these concepts are understood in Libya) the Salafist affiliation of Rada’s commander, Abdulraouf Kara, may have encouraged him to provoke a “black-on-black” fight between Islamist militias that are pro and anti-ISIS.

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This week, both the Italian and French PMs explicitly dismissed the notion of boots-on-the-ground military intervention against ISIS in Libya. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also ruled out such an intervention…. France confirmed that it carried out ISR flights over Sirte on 20 and 21 November, aimed at collecting intelligence on ISIS movements.

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Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) bragged about their control of central Derna and released a statement eulogizing the emir of Ansar Al Sharia’s Derna branch, Hamid al-Sha’iri. According  to it Al-Sha’iri and his men were killed last week “as a result of a treacherous ambush laid by the soldiers of the taghut [Haftar].” The group left Derna to …

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Al-Hassi was previously the commander of LNA operations in Derna where he has performed well and succeeded in getting anti-ISIS Islamist militias to work together with anti-Islamist Haftar forces. In short, Hassi represents the “broad Mosque” model that is needed to forge any feasible anti-ISIS coaltion in Benghazi.

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