Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Islamic State confessions

More details emerge about the killing of 21 Copts in Libya in 2015, reports Kamel Abdallah


Islamic State confessions
Islamic State confessions

Al-Seddik Al-Sour, head of the investigation bureau at the office of Libya’s prosecutor-general, has revealed new information about the deaths of 21 Egyptian Copts at the hands of Islamic State (IS) militants in Libya in February 2015.

At a press conference in Tripoli on 28 September Al-Sour said the video showing the murders of the 21 was shot in the coastal city of Sirte, behind Al-Mahary Hotel. The five-minute clip which showed the Egyptian hostages marched onto a beach in orange jumpsuits before they were forced to kneel on the sand and killed by knife-wielding executioners was filmed by a Syrian crew and a leading IS figure who goes by the name Abu Muaz Al-Tikriti.

Hours after it was posted the video spread across the Internet and President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi ordered air strikes on IS training facilities and weapons stockpiles in Libya. The Libyan army conducted simultaneous strikes on IS hideouts in Derna.

According to Al-Sour, IS began operations in Libya in 2012 under the name Al-Tawhid and Jihad. It quickly formed cells which won control of Derna and Sirte, dividing its strongholds into provinces as it had done in Syria and Iraq.

During investigations captured IS members told the Libyan authorities where the bodies of the 21 victims were buried. Egyptian Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek has ordered a committee to coordinate with the Libyan authorities to deliver the bodies to their families and follow up on the cases of Egyptians who had joined IS and are currently in prison in Tripoli.

Al-Sour told journalists most foreign nationals who joined IS came from Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan, followed by Senegal, Chad, Niger, Ghana, Mali and Somalia. African recruits to IS in Libya arrived via the trafficking channels the group has set up.

Al-Sour’s press conference came in the midst of a flurry of activity as Libya followed up on security developments on the regional and international fronts.

On the same day the new information was made public the Egyptian army announced it had thwarted a terrorist attempt to infiltrate Egypt’s western borders with Libya. Army Spokesperson Colonel Tamer Al-Refaai said military aircraft had been deployed to destroy10 four-wheel-drive vehicles loaded with weapons.

It is not the first time such attempts have been stopped. Protecting Egypt’s western borders is made more challenging by the absence of effective Libyan security bodies.

The security situation in Libya remains volatile, particularly in the west of the country. In Sabratha violent clashes are taking place between armed groups competing for control of the city and with it the trafficking routes used in the lucrative business of smuggling illegal migrants to Europe.

During September conflicts erupted across Libya between groups seeking control of the trade, lending greater urgency to attempts by concerned capitals to push forward the Libyan peace process which has been stalled for more than two years now.

Saturday saw the end of the first round of talks sponsored by the UN with the aim of restructuring Libya’s official bodies. The UN’s three-phase plan for Libya includes drafting a new constitution followed by the holding of legislative and presidential elections.

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