ISIS To North Africans: Syria’s Too Far? Come To Libya

Jan 16, 2015 at 12:48 PM ET

Islamic State organisers are offering North African supporters an easier way to join the caliphate—travel to Libya. Directions on how to enter Libya via its porous southern borders are circulating online, and a social media campaign with the hashtag #TheMigrationToTheStateInLibya is encouraging Maghreb supporters to fight in Libya in the name of the Islamic State. It’s still unclear whether the campaign was initiated by official ISIS outlets, but supporters have been circulating it widely.

Loose directions on how to enter the country, including the above map, were shared in a JustPaste article first published on Dec. 15. The article starts with statement from a speech by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in which he embraces the previous pledge of allegiance by supporters in Libya and mentions several new institutions set up in Derna, such as an Islamic court, Islamic police and a “ministry of education.”

This series of tweets, for example, suggests a way to enter Libya via a crossing at Ghadames, where the Tunisian, Algerian and Libyan borders all meet.

“#TheMigrationToTheStateInLibya The easiest way for our brothers in Tunisia: Go to Ras Jedir crossing and enter without a visa, or through Ghadames, and from there to Sirte.”

“#TheMigrationToTheStateInLibya: Tunisia–Ghadames—Sabha—Bani Walid—Sirte.”

The article addresses the “brother in Tunisia, the Maghreb and sub-Sahara,” issuing several instructions and some clarifications about the current situation of ISIS in Libya.

It advises those traveling to Libya to link up with “coordinators” who maintain contact between the fighters in Libya and the rest of ISIS’ provinces, specifically in Syria. It also advises them to find local teams linked with Islamic State coordinators in North African countries, tasked with preparing and distributing the Mujahideen across Libya as needed.

The message also asks ISIS leadership to send financial assistance to the Mujahideen in Libya, saying:  “Weapons are available and abundant here. We need money to buy them.”

The call to action appears to be addressing fighters from Tunisia, who make up the largest contingent of foreign fighters in Syria, according to recent studies.

Islamist militants from the eastern city of Derna have already pledged allegiance to ISIS, and begun establishing the first ISIS stronghold outside Syria and Iraq. The group appears to be expanding its activity there. The Islamic State “Tripoli Province” in Libya claimed responsibility this week for abduction of 21 Coptic Christians. The group has also kicked off its state-building effort there, establishing courts, Islamic police, schools and more.

“#TheMigrationToTheStateInLibya If you find joining jihad in Syria difficult, you now have an opportunity in a closer battlefield. Don’t absent yourself from jihad and migration.”

“For those who have a long journey and find it difficult to arrive Syria, hurry up and migrate to Libya.”