Libyan Army Chief Warns ISIS Will Invade Europe

General Hafta urges West to arm recognized government, warning 7,500-strong local ISIS will infiltrate Europe via smuggling routes.

Ari Yashar,

ISIS terrorists in eastern Libya (file)
ISIS terrorists in eastern Libya (file)
Reuters

General Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan army, warned that Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists running rampant in the north African state are set to infiltrate Europe and expand their reign of terror into the West.

Haftar, who represents the army of Libya's government that has received international recognition but was driven out of Tripoli by a rival government backed by Islamist militias, demanded the West supply his army with weapons to stave off the expanse of ISIS.

ISIS will "spread in even the European countries if (the West) does not offer real help to the Libyan people, especially the Libyan army," he told the Associated Press. He warned the ISIS terrorists "will head with the illegal migrants to Europe, where corruption and destruction will spread just like Libya. But there it will be hard to confront them."

His warnings are given greater weight by a video last month of ISIS terrorists vowing that their conquest in Libya will serve as a springboard for a European invasion.

ISIS has rapidly gained influence in Libya, aided by several Islamist militias that pledged allegiance to it late last year. The state is located near Italy, and is a regular smuggling route for illegal immigrants into Europe, leaving the threat of ISIS infiltration wide open as Haftar noted.

Haftar said ISIS has already taken over at least two cities on Libya's Mediterranean coast and is strongly represented in several other cities, with the state being its first major spread of power since capturing large swathes of Syria and Iraq last year.

In Libya ISIS has between 7,000 to 7,500 fighters according to the army chief, including those from African and Middle Eastern countries who trained in Syria. In combating them, he said "we want weapons and ammunition only. We have the men. The army is increasing in number every day."

Adding greater urgency to Haftar's words was ISIS on Thursday claiming responsibility for an attack Wednesday at a museum in Tunisia which is adjacent to Libya, in which 23 people - mostly foreign tourists - were murdered.

In February ISIS's presence in Libya hit headlines, when it broadcast the brutal mass-execution of 21 Coptic Christians, triggering reprisal air-raids from Egypt and a mass-exodus of Egyptian workers from the country.

The UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, is to meet delegations of Haftar's government as well as the rival government in Tripoli on Friday in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, reports Al Jazeera.




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