ISIS media activities have increased noticeably since their assault on the Oil Crescent and attack on the Ras Lanuf pipeline on Jan 13th . In addition to other material published by ISIS media affiliates inside Libya, three short films were published outside of Libya.
The releases entitled “Bewitching and Terrorizing people”, “Country of Liberators” and “Message to the Islamic Maghreb” contained messages from ISIS members from Libya, Tunisia and Maghreb, addressing Islamist supporters in the region. They are recruitment videos advocate that the listeners scorch the earth in their homelands and/or urge them to migrate and join ISIS in Libya.
In Benghazi, ISIS released a new video titled (Signs of Steadfastness 2) highlighting their exploits in the city throughout 2015, displaying heavy artillery, sophisticated drone reconnaissance and beheadings. The video is further evidence of the force IS commands in Benghazi, alongside the BRSC militias.
The latest video released by their Wilayat Barqa media affiliate also displays the attack that killed Salem Al-Naili, the famous commander of the Al-Saiqa (thunderbolt) Special Forces Battalion who was killed by ISIS in their stronghold of Lithi, also Salem’s hometown.
Another video was also released by yet another media affiliate of ISIS (Al Thabat institute), titled “Libya’s Tawagheet (oppressors) and the coming retribution”. The video displays images of General Haftar and Sisi as the oppressors and threatens them with bloody retaliation.
The Pro-ISIS al-Amaq magazine also reported that ISIS killed five LNA soldiers in Sabri District of Benghazi.
ISIS continue to reinforce their hold control over of the city as they push eastward taking control of nearby towns Nawfaliyah, Harawah and Bin Jawwad. They now control a 150 Km strip east along the Mediterranean coast.
IS also executed another young man in Sirte whom it accused of being a spy for Libya Dawn. The victim was crucified on a disused billboard in the middle of a roundabout in the town.
A new manhunt is being mobilized by IS for local agitators who may be planning an uprising and managed to kill an ISIS member using a sniper and bombed one of their locations.
IS forces have also begun raiding and confiscating the mostly empty ‘656 homes’ complex in Sirte and threw out some residents. Locals believe that the accommodation is needed for foreign fighters coming into the town.
In trying to convey a sense of business as usual in the city, ISIS’s media arm Amaq released a photo gallery showing maintenance work in the city, but the desertion of the place is highly noticeable.
Finally, ISIS blamed Libya Dawn for the recent airstrikes west of Sirte that targeted ISIS locations (camps in al-Sabea area) accusing them of killing “innocent Muslims”. The execution of the supposed spy from Libya Dawn is reportedly related to this incident, which indicates that moves are already happing inside Sirte by locals to provide ISR for tactical airstrikes.
The IS attempt to capture Sidra and Ras Lanuf launched in the second week of January seems to have finally lost steam and the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) have regained control over these ports.
Last week, on 13 January, IS attacked and sabotaged the main pipeline connecting the oil fields Tebisti and Bayda to Ras Lanuf port causing excessive damage. Four members of the PFG were also abducted during the attack.
ISIS also attacked the field offices of a Turkish oil service company in Maradah reportedly also killing four soldiers from the PFG. The terrorist group issued a statement claiming responsibility for the raid, adding that the fighters returned safely with weapons and vehicles looted.
Reports also say that ISIS have taken more than 200 residents of Bin Jawwad and Harawah prisoners to Nawfaliayah, mostly members of security and police forces including members of the PFG. The prisoners are reportedly undergoing torture due to their refusal to join ISIS.
Targeting oil installations is always an ISIS priority in Libya but attack on pipeline comes amidst NOC plans to move oil from Ras Lanuf. Maybe this is a coincidence, but more likely it is an ISIS attempt to capitalize on opportunity to do even more damage to the oil industry revenue