On 24 December, a mass gave thought to contain the bodies of as many as twenty ISIS fighters was uncovered in the al-Manara neighborhood of Sirte following a report from a local resident. Al-Manara saw the most intense clashes between ISIS and the al-Bunyan al-Marsous forces prior to the former’s defeat in the city in December 2016.

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On 26 December, unknown attackers caused an explosion on the Zagout-Sidra oil pipeline. The explosion occurred on the pipeline 256km south east of Sidra and 25km north of Marada. The attackers are reported to have arrived at the site in two cars and planted explosives on the pipeline. Muftah Magariaf, the head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) affiliated Petroleum …

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There has been growing international criticism of Libyan National Army general commander Khalifa Haftar following his speech on 17 December where he declared the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and its institutions expired. On 21 December, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Haftar and had ‘frank discussions’ for an hour, after which he told press that he told Haftar ‘there …

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On 19 December, the House of Representatives voted for a new Central Bank of Libya (CBL) governor, replacing incumbent Al-Seddiq Al-Kabir with former Deputy Governor Mohammed Al-Shukri. The UN Special Mission in Libya has rejected the appointment saying that it violates article 15 of the Libyan Political Agreement and must be done within its accord. Abdurrahman Swehli (the head of …

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Al-Qaida’s Strategy in Libya: Keep it Local, Stupid

Rhiannon Smith, the Managing Director of Libya-Analysis and Eye on ISIS in Libya (EOIL), and Jason Pack, the founder of Libya-Analysis and EOIL, have written an article for Perspectives on Terrorism that looks at how al-Qaida-linked groups focus on the local struggle in Libya, how they have shaped their strategies and activities in the country, and what impact this has had on the communities where they are active.

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On 12 December, DMSC members arrested some alleged ISIS members in Derna including Mahmoud Mohammed al-Souainay. On 14 December, DMSC fighters arrested Souhail Rizk al-Oakley, in al-Maghar area in the centre of Derna, for the second time. On 13 December, reports indicated that the body of a young man which showed signs of being executed was found in Nufaliya, a town east of Sirte.

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The Derna Mujahadeen Shura Council (DMSC), the jihadi organization that controls the besieged city of Derna, stepped up its anti-ISIS operations throughout last week, arresting former ISIS members who had previously been detained or absorbed by the DMSC, and clashing with others. On 17 December, fighting between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and DMSC fighters east of Derna is reported to have left one LNA fighter dead and another wounded in the Kassarat area.

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On 17 December, a new joint statement was issued by the regional troika, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, reaffirming their full backing to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) and the military unification process. A statement issued by the UN Security Council President on 15 December, as well as statements by the UN envoy Ghassan Salame throughout the last two weeks, maintain that the 17 December date was a ‘non-date’ and that the LPA remains the only legitimate political framework. On December 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks with the GNA Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala in Moscow.

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The 17 December ‘expiry’ date of the LPA was marked by an official television announcement from Khalifa Haftar declaring the LPA and its institutions expired. Haftar also endorsed ‘elections’ as the only legitimate expression of the Libyan people’s will. The same day, Misrata’s municipal mayor Mohammed Eshtewi was abducted and killed shortly after landing in the city on a flight from Turkey.

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The anti-crime department of Misrata published a video ‘confession’ of an ISIS member who revealed details of the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians in 2015. On 10 December, the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC) undertook a raid on an ISIS cell in Derna that concluded with the arrest of the entire cell and the death of ISIS member.

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Ismail Kamoka and four other Libyans have successfully won a legal case to sue the UK’s M15 and M16 for unlawful detention and the unlawful use of counter-terrorism control orders. On 7 December, Human Rights Watch released a statement detailing the destruction of two historic Sufi mosques this year in Tripoli.

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On 10 December, Libyan military officers met in Cairo for the 4th round of the Libyan army unification talks. On December 4, Fayez al-Serraj and US Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin discussed the importance of continued cooperation between the U.S and Libya in countering the financing of terrorism.

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On 6 December, UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame co-chaired the official launch of the voter registration process for elections in 2018. On 8 December, almost all of Libya’s mayors and municipal councils met in Tunis. The newly formed ’17 December’ movement called for civil disobedience in Tripoli and for LNA control of the city.

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On 3 November, Zarouk Asuiti, the head of the activation committee of security services in Sirte, stated he has received information suggesting ISIS is regrouping in the valleys south of the city. The Libyan Air Force are said to be flying Mi-35 helicopters over Nawfaliyah-Bin Jawad area following reports of ISIS activity in the area.

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On 28 November, Libyan national Ahmed Abu Khattala, was convicted of terrorism charges related to the 2012 September 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi and the attack on the nearby CIA annex on the 12th. The jury acquitted Khattala of 14 of the 18 charges, which included finding him not guilty of murder. Abu Khattala faces life …

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On 30 November, Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj met with Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Pentagon to discuss defense relationships and regional security challenges. This included concerns about how ISIS and al-Qaeda are “taking advantage of ungoverned spaces in Libya to establish sanctuaries for plotting inspiring and directing terrorist attacks.” Serraj said he was …

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