Two videos were posted on the Internet this week showing IS militants right in the heart of Benghazi. The first of the videos that was posted by the Information Office of IS – Cyrenaica Wilayat was titled ‘A message to the soldiers of the Taghut (false deity)’. The second video is a message to foreign fighters, calling on them to come to Libya because “the state of Islam is expanding.” Notably the video shows the militants moving around Benghazi with ease. Although there has long been talk of an IS presence in Benghazi, this is the most overt sign yet that the group is operating in there.
At the time it was also being rumoured that IS was poised to take over in Sebha. Although this is unconfirmed, the group clearly had some sort of presence in the southern town and may attempt to following the footsteps of IS in Sirte and take over parts of it. Although IS is still a relatively small group in Libya, it is spreading fast and is clearly able to attract recruits, many of them apparently coming from the ranks of Ansar Al-Sharia.
As anticipated the UN-sponsored peace talks that were due to take place in Morocco on 26 February were postponed following the HoR’s announcement last week that it was suspending its participation in the process. The HoR’s decision to stay away was in part a response to the IS bombings in Qubbah on 20 February, which prompted some members of the House to declare that they would not engage in dialogue with “murderers.”