‘Bridge to Europe? Libya turns into main hub for ISIS’
RT:Libya doesn't seem like an obvious route to Europe. Is this threat real?
Danni Makki: To an extent, Libya’s proximity to Italy makes it one of the most significant countries ISIS could use to attack Europe. There have been numerous signs that ISIS is willing to attack Europe. The latest of which is a series of letters which has been taken by the Quilliam Foundation, a UK based think tank. [It] essentially suggested that ISIS terrorists within Libya want to flood the south of Europe with militants, posing as refugees seeing as the illegal refugee route is huge between Libya and the rest of Europe.
These militants want to pose as refugees and inhibit the areas of Southern Europe until they reach a number significant enough to begin to cause social chaos and social problems, and to spread anarchy and terrorism from Middle Eastern countries and North Africa into mainland Europe. This is a sign which has been very clear and in fact stated by ISIS - that they have ambitions to invade what they described as Rome, an old ancient crusade which takes you back to the medieval times.
RT:Islamic State has made no secret of its ambitions in Europe. Can the EU's security services keep them at bay?
DM: There would be an extent of a threat. The thing is that the illegal trade of refugees coming from Libya, Algeria, and other countries into Europe in terms of the law and order it is not followed that well. And the security agencies can’t really do much about the illegal immigrants coming on ships via Libya to Italy and other places. The fact that militants could pose as refugees is in fact very conceivable. This is something that could happen.
There have been other signs. Libya is now turning into the main hub for ISIS, seeing that there is more popular support there. Libya is in a state of anarchy and chaos after these different militant groups have been in-fighting. The country has turned into a failed state. There is a strategic turning point here where ISIS is changing their tactics and strategy turning from Syria and Iraq into Libya because it is closer to mainland Europe - 350 km separate Libya from Italy. We’re discussing a sea route here, a route which is kind of inaccessible for security agencies. They can’t go near to Libyan sea territorial borders. It is very conceivable that ISIS fighters could flood the south of Europe from Libya; this is something that must be taken into account and a potentiality.
RT:If they are hypothetically able to execute this plan and get into mainland Europe would it be an extension of the Caliphate or will they employ different tactics once they are on mainland Europe?
DM: They would. I don’t think it will be the extension of Caliphate because mainland Europe is different to the Middle East. I don’t think they have plans to conquer mainland Europe. It’s more a case of spreading fear, this bankrupt ideology which was discussed. They want to spread this within mainland Europe. And this would signify an element of blowback where Western policy has yet again led to a direct attack on its own states, or its own territories, from a foreign policy which has been unconstructive, it has been naïve. It has aided the rise of ISIS within the Middle East and this will rebound in turn on mainland Europe.
This is why the security agencies and the think tanks are so concerned with this element of terrorism coming from Libya because it does pose a genuine significant threat to the security of the south of Europe and ISIS has plans to further its so-called empire. This is very clear and Italy with its proximity to Libya in a geographic sense would make the ideal place for ISIS to start promoting its ideology, its violent extremism within Italy.
RT:Will we see what's happened with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, happen in Libya?
DM: Libya is a state now where you have this plethora of jihadist groups and militants all inhabiting the major cities. And there is mass popular support for these jihadist groups. ISIS is not the biggest group in Libya, there is another group, also a jihadist group which has sent its pledge of allegiance to al-Qaeda, and it’s called Ansar al-Sharia. They control the East of Libya.
ISIS is growing at a very rapid rate. Its actions, its executions of journalists and civilians have prompted the Western nations to consider an intervention within Libya. The latest of [such actions] was the killing over 20 Coptic Christians from Egypt, an act which provoked uproar all across the Arab world and the Western world.
So Libya will be a prime location for a failed state if it’s not already. The influx of weapons which the West and the Gulf Arab states sent to Libya during the overthrow of Gaddafi is now all in the hands of extremist jihadist groups. These jihadist groups work with other jihadist groups within the region as part of a wider international policy of jihadism which is promoted by ISIS and al-Qaeda…
Libya is the next destination for ISIS. ISIS will most likely control Libya more than any other North African country. And Libya is full of weapons and money and it has oil…there is a vacuum in the state: there is no power for an institution or a state to actually control Libya. It is essentially a failed state filled with rivaling militant groups. ISIS would now look to use Libya as a platform to attack Western targets and to further spread within North Africa.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.