Abstract: As the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria comes under pressure from the international anti-Islamic State coalition, there are increasing expectations that it is trying to develop its affiliate in Libya as a “fallback” option. The particular characteristics of the Libyan landscape and the Islamic State’s limitations there make this unlikely. Nonetheless, the Islamic State in Libya will still be a dangerous threat to North Africa and beyond, including across the Mediterranean.
In the September 2015 issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s monthly English-language propaganda publication, the editors interviewed Abu al-Mughirah al-Qahtani, the leader of the Islamic State’s provinces (wilayat) in Libya. In the interview, al-Qahtani emphasized the importance of the Islamic State’s Libyan provinces and recounted the group’s vanquishing of other jihadi organizations there. In addition, he broadcasted the Islamic State in Libya’s need for personnel, including doctors, legal specialists, bureaucrats, and fighters, and encouraged them to make hijrah (to immigrate) to Libya.
The timing of the Dabiq interview was not happenstance. The Islamic State had established a beachhead in Libya less than a year earlier, and by 2015 it controlled Sirte, a small Libyan city, and a long stretch of surrounding coastline. As pressure from the anti-Islamic State coalition in Iraq and Syria intensified, it appeared that Islamic State leadership in Mosul was attempting to develop its Libyan territory as a “fallback” option. The dominant media narrative is that the Islamic State is expanding quickly in Libya, a view reinforced by a United Nations report last month that stated that “the relative ease with which groups such as ISIL have expanded their spheres of control and influence over the past few months is a matter of grave concern.”
But the Islamic State in Libya’s momentum is slowing, including setbacks in Derna, Benghazi, and Sabratha. Moreover, recent attempts to expand the territory under its control have failed as it runs up against territory controlled by powerful, violent non-state actors. Libya also lacks many of the attributes that the Islamic State has exploited in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State’s slowing momentum, its inability to expand, and the differences between the Iraqi/Syrian and Libyan landscape all beg the question of just how feasible it would be for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to shift to Libya. While there is no doubt that the Islamic State would remain a violent threat in Libya and elsewhere were it to be degraded in Iraq and Syria, it would be a poorer and more constrained organization, deprived of personnel, revenue, and the fundamental narrative tropes of governance and sectarianism that it has used to “remain and expand” (bâqîya wa tatamaddad) in Iraq and Syria.
Evolution of the Islamic State in Libya
In the immediate aftermath of Libya’s 2011 revolution and even before Libya’s full-blown civil war broke out in 2014, a multitude of jihadi organizations started to emerge. Some, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, had historical antecedents that pre-dated the fall of Muammar Qadhafi’s government. Others like the Islamic State were mash-ups of local jihadi groups and ideologues and fighters tied to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s first forays into Libya came shortly after its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the formation of the group. As early as 2013, al-Baghdadi sent an emissary to evaluate the possibility of exploiting the accommodating jihadi environment in Derna, an eastern Libyan city that had been associated with jihadi fighters for at least the last decade. Less than a year later, the Shura Council of Islamic Youth, composed of members of disparate jihadi organizations, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Al-Baghdadi signaled the importance of Derna by sending senior Islamic State leadership from Iraq and Syria to manage the newly allied group, who then tried to govern the city in the same way they had in cities in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, the Islamic State was expanding elsewhere in Libya, most notably in the central coastal city of Sirte, which it controlled by June 2015. It also managed to gain a foothold in some neighborhoods in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, as well as secure an outpost in the western city of Sabratha.
The Islamic State’s ideology and methods, however, provoked a backlash from other jihadi organizations in Derna, and in June 2015, a group of jihadis united under the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna and launched a campaign against the Islamic State that ultimately led to its withdrawal from the city. More recently, a combination of forces under the leadership of General Khalifa Haftar with alleged support from French Special Forces drove the Islamic State from some neighborhoods in Benghazi and a U.S. airstrike followed by a Libyan militia offensive squeezed the Islamic State in Sabratha. The center of the group’s presence in Libya, then, has been reduced to Sirte and some smaller nearby towns.
How Big Is the Islamic State in Libya?
Assessing the size of the Islamic State in Libya is difficult. When the group first appeared in Libya, it was allegedly composed of fewer than 800 fighters. In December 2014, General David Rodriguez, commander of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), said there could be “a couple of hundred” Islamic State fighters in training camps in Libya, implying that these were in addition to fighters already on the battlefield. Estimates from February 2015 put the number between 1,000 and 3,000. The United Nations maintained in November 2015 that the Islamic State in Libya had 2,000 to 3,000 fighters. But by January 2016, some U.S. assessments suggested that it had grown to between 5,000 and 6,000 fighters. French sources believe that the group is much stronger, with as many as 12,000 members.
Even at the upper end of the range, the Islamic State in Libya still has fewer fighters than the most conservative estimates of the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, which is around 18,000 fighters. Late 2014 CIA estimates put the number between 20,000 and 31,500. More sensationalist analysts have argued that it probably has nearly 100,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Thus, the average assessment of the number of Islamic State fighters in Libya is roughly 30 percent of the average assessment of the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria. And this is in a country four times the size of Iraq (and three times the size of Iraq and Syria combined). While the concentration of Islamic State fighters in Libya is undeniably large, its size in comparison to the size of the organization in Iraq and Syria and relative to the enormity of Libya casts doubt on the group’s ability to expand without additional manpower, a point that was highlighted by the U.N. in a recent report and which is precisely what al-Qahtani was calling for.
Where the Islamic State in Libya’s fighters come from differs as well. The first Islamic State fighters in Libya were Libyans returning from Iraq and Syria. That core group was placed under the command of non-Libyans from the Middle East and has been augmented by fighters coming from other North African and sub-Saharan countries. One report indicated that approximately 70 percent of the Islamic State’s fighters in Libya were non-Libyans, with the majority coming from Tunisia and the remainder from Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan. An overtly anti-Islamic State TV channel based in Jordan claims the Islamic State had 3,000 fighters in Sirte alone in December 2015, of which only 12 percent were Libyans and 20 percent came from non-Maghreb nationalities. It remains unclear whether sub-Saharan fighters were members of Boko Haram or Islamic State sympathizers from elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. By February 2016, the Islamic State in Libya had begun to attract new European recruits, including some 70 men and women from France and Belgium. Importantly, according to one report, the Islamic State in Libya is paying fighters, particularly sub-Saharan Africans, to come, which would indicate that al-Qahtani’s call may be falling on deaf ears and that it is missing its recruitment targets despite reports that the number of Islamic State fighters in Libya may be increasing.
This is in marked contrast to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Not only are there more foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, but they have distinctly different backgrounds. For example, while there are hardly any Europeans fighting alongside the Islamic State in Libya, there were as many as 4,000 Western Europeans among a range of jihadi groups in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State. In addition, there were roughly 3,000 from countries of the former Soviet Union and a further 1,200 from South and Southeast Asia. Lastly, there were almost 10,000 fighters from throughout the Arab world, including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Tunisia, and Yemen. One source indicated that there were only 100 Sudanese fighters in Iraq and Syria. It did not identify any other sub-Saharan fighters who had joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Three Libyan Provinces?
Not only does the Islamic State in Libya have significantly fewer fighters than the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but the Islamic State in Libya controls less territory than the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
To be sure, Libya and its current state of affairs shares some characteristics with Iraq and Syria and affords the Islamic State a fertile environment in which to grow. Since 2014, the country has been embroiled in a simmering civil war, with militias allied with one or the other of Libya’s two rival governments in Tobruk and Tripoli fighting each other and other non-Islamic State jihadi groups like Ansar al-Sharia, constellations of militias allied with the old Libyan Islamic Fighting Group or al-Qa`ida, or the salafi Special Deterrent Forces.[a] As in Iraq and Syria, though, these groups have been overwhelmingly preoccupied with fighting each other rather than confronting the Islamic State. This created an opening in Libya into which the Islamic State has inserted itself. Ironically, the existence of the very forces whose tit-for-tat struggle for power allowed for the arrival of the Islamic State will ultimately limit the extent to which the Islamic State can expand in Libya.
Shortly after pledging allegiance to al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State announced the creation of three provinces in Libya: Wilaya Barqa (Cyrenaica), Wilaya Tarabulus (Tripolitania), and Wilaya Fezzan. These, however, are provinces in name only and the Islamic State in Libya is constrained to a thin coastal strip on either side of Sirte totaling under 200 miles.
While Wilaya Barqa was the Islamic State’s first hub in Libya, Wilaya Tarabulus is now the group’s epicenter and Wilaya Fezzan appears to be more aspirational than actual. As noted above, the Islamic State in Libya was pushed out of Derna, its initial foothold in the country, and is now sporadically active in small pockets in the city and in its surrounding hills, but unable to capture and hold territory, let alone govern. Similarly, it has been pushed out of its strongholds in Benghazi and while it is still trying to counter the recent offensive, it does not hold territory there either. In short, although the Islamic State in Libya is still fighting in what it calls Wilaya Barqa, it does not control, hold, or administer any territory or population there. The Islamic State may also have some members in Wilaya Fezzan in southern Libya where it may have access to a smuggling chokepoint outside of Sabha, but it neither controls nor governs any cities or towns there. In fact, the only territory it holds and administers is on the eastern edge of what it calls Wilaya Tarabulus. Its territory here consists of Sirte and the neighboring towns of Harawa, al-Nawfaliyah, and Bin Jawad to the east and up to the outskirts of Abu Qrayn to the west. In addition, it had maintained some operations in Sabratha, 40 miles to the west of Tripoli, but it did not control or administer territory there.
In total then, the Islamic State in Libya may be able to maneuver within roughly 4,550 square miles, and it imposes some form of control, though not complete governance, over approximately 110,000 people (the estimated combined populations of Sirte, Harawa, al-Nawfaliyah, and Bin Jawad). This is in comparison with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which at its peak controlled as much as 35,000 square miles, exerting uncontested authority over roughly 12,000 square miles. Some 6.2 million people lived under some degree of Islamic State influence in Iraq and Syria, about the size of the entire Libyan population.
Several factors limit the Islamic State’s expansion in Libya. The simplest is geography. Libya is an enormous country—equal in size to Mongolia—and much of it beyond the littoral is open desert. Deserts, in Libya and elsewhere, present violent non-state actors with a paradox. On the one hand, they are relatively navigable and sparsely populated, making territory easy to capture. On the other hand, they offer violent actors no refuge and the same characteristics that make territory easy to capture make it difficult to hold. This is not to say that Libya’s southern deserts are undesirable for the Islamic State—after all, some of Libya’s larger oil fields are located there as are many lucrative smuggling routes—but it is simply hard for the Islamic State to do much in them beyond episodic attacks.
Second, Libyans have strong municipal and tribal affiliations. These affiliations most clearly manifested themselves in the uprising against the Qadhafi government in 2011 when militias representing different regions like the Nafusa Mountains, or cities, like Misrata, or even neighborhoods, like Souq al-Jumaa in Tripoli arose. Libya’s tribes are also important, with tribal affiliations bleeding into politics and violent conflict alike. For example, the Awlad Suleiman have had violent turf wars with the Tebu in southern Libya and the U.N.-brokered Government of National Accord is loosely structured along tribal lines.
This is not to overemphasize the role that these affiliations can play. Tribal loyalties do not always count. For example, the head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard, a member of the Magharba tribe, refused to follow the Magharba tribal leaders’ demands that he end his blockade of Libyan oil terminals in 2013. Likewise, being from Misrata or Benghazi or Tripoli does not prevent one from living in other cities or towns. Many families in Tripoli claim origins in other Libyan towns and do not have allegiance to them above anywhere else in Libya.
But Libya’s open spaces and its intensely contested landscape leave little room for the Islamic State. In fact, the Islamic State was only able to establish itself in Sirte because the city was largely unwanted by other groups. Sirte was Qadhafi’s hometown and was consequently vilified by many Libyans after the 2011 revolution. Libya’s most powerful militias did not lay claim to it and focused their efforts on Libya’s bigger prizes like Tripoli or Benghazi or the nearby oil-rich regions. When the Islamic State has tried to expand beyond Sirte to the east and to the west, it has run into towns that are controlled by other militias that rebuff them, such as Abu Qrayn in the west and Ajdabiya in the east. In a recent interview, the Islamic State’s new leader in Libya, identified as Abdul Qadr al-Naajdi, acknowledged as much, saying that “the number of factions [in Libya] and their disputes” had prevented the Islamic State from expanding its control beyond Sirte.
Libya: A Ward of the [Islamic] State
The inability to control territory and govern populations has limited the Islamic State in Libya’s independent financial viability. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’s wealth and diverse revenue streams have been widely reported. The group has robbed banks of a reported total of US$1 billion. It engages in oil sales (both crude smuggled outside the Islamic State’s territory and retail sales of refined products within the area it controls) that allegedly earned it as much as US$500 million. It has trafficked in antiquities. It has raised almost an additional US$1 billion by taxing the population under its control and imposing tariffs on goods entering or leaving its territory. It also engages in extortion and kidnap-for-ransom operations to generate funds, totaling between US$35 million and US$45 million. And finally, it has relied heavily on donations from abroad.
The Islamic State in Libya’s finances are less well-documented, but even by rough estimates they are nowhere near the levels of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it has attempted to impose sharia-compliant taxes in Sirte and, according to Islamic State propaganda, all shops in Sirte were paying taxes by the end of August 2015. In addition, it is allegedly collecting tariffs on goods and vehicles on the coastal highway that runs east and west of the Sirte as well as on the highway heading out of town to the south. It is also involved in smuggling, including potentially human trafficking, selling antiquities, and the resale of the “spoils of war (al-anfâl).” Lastly, the Islamic State in Libya may be able to make money from small amounts of oil that it is able to bunker from nearby pipelines, but it is in no way involved in high-volume oil sales.
There are several reasons why the Islamic State in Libya has been unable to exploit Libya’s hydrocarbons resources. First, other powerful groups laid claim to different parts of the sector before the arrival of the Islamic State, and it is difficult for the Islamic State to oust them. Second, Libya’s oil infrastructure is spread out over an enormous area with terminals and storage facilities often hundreds of miles from the wellhead. While crude could be bunkered from pipelines, Libya does not have mom-and-pop teapot refineries that could refine crude into retail products. Neither does Libya have a history of smuggling networks that could transport crude to markets outside the country. Although these may develop in time, with crude trucked across the border into Egypt or Tunisia, this has not happened yet, and it is unlikely that the Islamic State would be the first beneficiary of them.
Ultimately, a November 2015 U.N. report concluded that “[Islamic State] operations in Libya do not generate revenue, nor are they currently organized, to the same extent as its operations in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.” In short, were the Islamic State to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, it seems unlikely that it would be able to replace lost Iraqi and Syrian revenue with revenue from Libya, nor would a sole Libyan Islamic State be able to support itself.
The Narrative’s Collapse
The significance of the Islamic State in Libya’s shortcomings in comparison with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria—fewer fighters, less territory, not much governance, and little revenue – is greater than the sum of their parts. A fundamental Islamic State narrative is that unlike its other jihadi rivals—and most importantly, al-Qa`ida—the Islamic State walks the walk. It governs. While al-Qa`ida is engaged in a Trotsky-esque permanent jihad, the Islamic State is building the caliphate, and instead of just talking about social justice in Islam, it is implementing it. But in Libya, it barely governs. Worse, contrary to its mantra of “remain and expand” (bâqîya wa tatamaddad), it has begun to lose ground and is shrinking in the face of counter-offensives from disparate Libyan armed groups that surround it, including other jihadi groups. It has lost its beachhead in Derna, and it recently lost its strongholds in Benghazi to forces grouped under the banner of Operation Dignity and its outpost in Sabratha to militias allied with the city-state of Misrata. Its inability to govern and to live up to its own slogan poses existential challenges for the Islamic State in Libya.
In addition to being unable to leverage its claims to govern, the Islamic State in Libya is also unable to exploit a second narrative that is central to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, namely Islam’s sectarian divide. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has framed its fight as a sectarian struggle. It is not fighting just to advance its own salafi jihadi interpretation of Sunni Islam, but more importantly, it is fighting to eliminate adherents to Shi`a interpretations of Islam. In fact, for the Islamic State, Shi`a interpretations of Islam are not Islam at all and the Islamic State’s struggle should be the struggle of all Muslims.
There are, however, no Shi`a in Libya. Consequently, the Islamic State in Libya is unable to prey upon sectarian divisions in order to rally support. In lieu of the Shi`a, it has turned its ire toward Sufi interpretations of Islam, which are widespread throughout Libya. Jihadis are hostile to Sufi practices, but Libya’s Sufis are nonetheless Sunni. In addition, unlike the Middle East’s Shi`a, Libya’s Sufis are not supported by any state and cannot be easily depicted as proxies for those states. As a result, it is more difficult to frame the fight in Libya around them than it is around the Shi`a of Iraq and Syria.
Alternately, the Islamic State in Libya has tried to frame its fight as one against injustice. But there are already plenty of groups in Libya claiming to wage the same battle, including other jihadi groups and salafi Islamist groups, and some of them are confronting the Islamic State directly, like the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna. The battlespace for “commanding the right and forbidding the wrong” (al-‘amr bi al-ma`rûf wa al-nahî `an al-munkar) is crowded and the Islamic State has to compete with other groups not only for supporters but for its very raison d’être.
Minus sufficient manpower, revenue, and its two fundamental narrative tropes—governance and sectarianism—the ability of Libya to be a “fallback” for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is doubtful. Thus far, the Islamic State in Libya has only demonstrated a limited capacity to capture and hold territory, and it cannot fund itself. If large enough numbers heed al-Qahtani’s call, this could change, with new fighters allowing the Islamic State in Libya to launch new offensives that could restore its ability to seize cities and thereby restore its ability to generate revenue and one of its central narratives. But with al-Qahtani’s hijrah invitation now some six months old and the Islamic State in Libya’s numbers increasing only incrementally, this does not appear to be the most likely outcome.
But the Islamic State in Libya does not have to be a replica of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to be dangerous and disruptive for Libya and it neighbors. In early February, clashes between the Islamic State and the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna resulted in at least two deaths. Islamic State members murdered 17 police officers in the aftermath of the U.S. airstrike in Sabratha, and it is still in control of Sirte where it is meting out unconscionable violence on the city’s inhabitants. And even though it is unlikely that Islamic State leadership in Iraq and Syria will be able to transplant its Middle Eastern project to the shores of the Mediterranean, the Islamic State in Libya is still al-Baghdadi’s most potent affiliate.
Even though the Islamic State has been unable to hold territory that it has captured with the exception of Sirte, the reach of its attacks throughout the country is expanding. In addition, it has already demonstrated the capacity to use Libya to strike other countries, having undertaken two devastating attacks in Tunisia in 2015 and mounted an assault on the Tunisian border town of Ben Gardane in March 2016 that resulted in the death of 12 army and security officers and seven civilians.[b] In the aftermath of the latter attack, several large arms caches allegedly belonging to the Islamic State were found in the town, indicating that the Islamic State had a long-standing presence there and was able to move freely across the border to Libya.
There also remains the very real possibility that the Islamic State in Libya could serve as a springboard for attacking Europe. The November 2015 Paris attacks showed that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is able to move its supporters back and forth from its territory to Europe, and it will likely attempt the same thing in Libya. In February, French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian warned of just such an eventuality. As summer months bring warmer weather and calmer seas, crossing the Mediterranean by boat becomes easier, and Le Drian fears that jihadis from Libya are likely to try to blend in with the increased refugee flows departing Libya’s shores. And the Islamic State does not need to have three wilayat to do that.
Dr. Geoff D. Porter is the president of North Africa Risk Consulting, the political and security risk consulting firm specializing in North Africa. Follow @geoffdporter
[a] The Special Deterrent Forces is a Tripoli-based radical salafi militia, but it is not a salafi jihadi militia.
[b] The Islamic State-linked gunmen who carried out the attacks on the Bardo museum in March 2015 and a beach in Sousse in June 2015 trained together in Sabratha, Libya. Greg Botelho and Barbara Starr, “49 killed in U.S. airstrike targeting terrorists in Libya,” CNN, February 20, 2016.
 Dabiq, Issue 11, September 2015, p. 60.
 Ibid., p. 63.
 Andrew Beatty, “The anti-ISIS coalition is stepping up its bombing campaign in Syria,” Agence France Presse, September 10, 2015.
 David D. Kirkpatrick, Ben Hubbard, and Eric Schmitt, “ISIS’ Grip on Libyan City Gives It a Fallback Option,” New York Times, November 28, 2015.
 Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, United Nations Security Council, February 25, 2016, p. 16.
 Ibrahim Darwish, “`âm `ala al-khilâfa: al-dawla al-islâmîya, hal hiya bâqîya wa tatamaddad?” al-Quds al-Arabî, July 4, 2015.
 “Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team submitted pursuant to paragraph 13 of the Security Council resolution 2214 (2015) concerning the terrorism threat in Libya posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Ansar al Charia, and all other Al-Qaida associates,” United Nations Security Council, November 19, 2015, p. 8; Brian Fishman and Joseph Felter, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq: A First Look at the Sinjar Records (West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2007), p. 7.
 Wolfram Lacher, “Libya: A Jihadist Growth Market,” in Guido Steinberg and Annette Weber eds., Jihadism in Africa, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Research Paper, June 2015, p. 41.
 Frederic Wehrey and Ala’ Alrababa’h, Rising Out of Chaos: The Islamic State in Libya, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 5, 2015.
 “Rafik Chelli: l’autuer de l’attentat de Sousse s’est entrainé à Sabratha,” MosaïqueFM, July 1, 2015.
 Essam Zuber “Libya officials: Jihadis driving IS from eastern stronghold,” Associated Press, July 30, 2015.
 Nathalie Guibert “La guerre secrete de la France en Libye,” Le Monde, February 24, 2016.
 Ahmed Elumami “Libyan forces battle Islamic State in Sabratha, three killed,” Reuters, February 25, 2016.
 Darwish, pg. 8.
 “Islamic State setting up Libya training camps, US says,” BBC, December 4, 2014.
 Kate Brannen and Keith Johnson, “The Islamic State of Libya Isn’t Much of a State,” Foreign Policy, February 17, 2015.
 United Nations Security Council, p. 9.
 “The US Military in Libya,” North Africa Risk Consulting, February 9, 2016.
 Issandr El Amrani “How Much of Libya Does the Islamic State Control,” Foreign Policy, February 18, 2016.
 Barbara Starr, “U.S. officials say 6,000 ISIS fighters killed in battles,” CNN, February 22, 2015.
 “ISIS driving up fighter numbers in Iraq, Syria: CIA,” Agence France Presse, September 12, 2014.
 Claims that the Islamic State had close to 100,000 fighters or double that number are investigated in Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, “How many fighters does the Islamic State really have?” War on the Rocks, February 9, 2015.
 United Nations Security Council, p. 11.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 Colin Freeman, “Isil recruiting migrant ‘army of the poor’ with $1,000 sign-up bonuses,” Telegraph, February 1, 2016.
 YouTube, “Sirte alati Yusaytir `alayha Da`ish mundhu Qurabat al-Sana.” [Sirte that has been Under Da`ish Control for Close to a Year], December 8, 2015.
 Jacob Zenn “Wilayat West Africa Reboots for the Caliphate,” CTC Sentinel 8:8 (2015).
 Nicolas Beau, “Syrte, une cinquantaine de français aux cotés de Daech,” MondeAfrique, February 12, 2016.
 United Nations Security Council; Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr, and Kevin Liptak, “ISIS fighters in Libya surge as group suffers setbacks in Syria, Iraq,” CNN, February 4, 2016.
 Peter R. Neumann, “Foreign fighter total in Syria/Iraq now exceeds 20,000; surpasses Afghanistan conflict in the 1980s,” International Centre for the Study of Radicalization, January 26, 2015.
 “Libye: ‘Il y a des risques de passage’ de djihadistes vers l’Europe, alerte Le Drian,” 20Minutes, February 1, 2016.
 YouTube, “Liqa’ ma` al-Akh Sa`ad al-Tayrah, al-Qa’id al-Maydani bi-Majlis Shura Mujahidi Derna wa-Dawahiha” [An Interview with Brother Sa`ad al-Tayrah, a Field Commander at Mujahidin Shura Council in Derna and its Suburbs], December 8, 2015.
 Personal communication, UNSMIL, February 4, 2016.
 Rebecca Murray, “Libya’s Southern Rivalries,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, December 10, 2014; Patrick Haimzadeh, “Libya’s uncertain new government,” Le Monde Diplomatique, March 3, 2016.
 “Deal to resume oil exports in the east collapses,” Economist Intelligence Unit, December 19, 2013.
 Personal communication, Anas al-Gomati, November 13, 2015.
 “New Islamic State leader in Libya says group ‘stronger every day,’” Reuters, March 10, 2016.
 Colum Lynch, “The Islamic State Will Survive America’s Military Onslaught,” Foreign Policy, February 11, 2016; Matthew Levitt, “Terrorist Financing and the Islamic State,” Testimony submitted to the House Committee on Financial Services, November 13, 2014.
 “Tanzim al-Dawla fi Libya…Tughayr al-Khitab min Tatbiq al-Shari`a ila al-Saytarah `ala al-Naft” [IS in Libya Changes Its Speech from Implementing Shari`a to Controlling Oil], Akhbar Libya, August 25, 2015.
 Personal communication, UNSMIL, February 4, 2016.
 Callum Paton, “Libya: Inside Sabha the heart of Libya’s smuggling and human trafficking network,” International Business Times, July 24, 2015; Patrick Kingsley, “Libya’s people smugglers: inside the trade that sells refugees hopes of a better life,” Guardian, April 24, 2015; Emergency Red List of Libyan Cultural Objects at Risk, International Council of Museums, October 28, 2015.
 Jonathan Schmitt, ISIS in Libya – Exploitation and Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, Working Paper 36, September 2015, p. 36.
 Geoff D. Porter, “Why ISIS is Destroying Libya’s Oil,” The Cipher Brief, January 27, 2016.
 Geoff D. Porter, “Terrorist Targeting of the Libyan Oil and Gas Sector,” CTC Sentinel 8:2 (2015).
 United Nations Security Council, p. 8.
 Laith Alkhouri and Alex Kassirer, “Governing the Caliphate: the Islamic State Picture,” CTC Sentinel 8:8 (2015).
 Sayyid Qutb, Social Justice in Islam, trans. John B. Hardie, (Cairo, Egypt: American Council of the Learned Societies, 1953).
 Cole Bunzel, From Paper State to Caliphate: the Ideology of the Islamic State, The Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, Analysis Paper, No. 19, March 2015, p. 36.
 “Fidiyu Yuzhir Mumarasat Da`ish al-Wahshiyya bi-Haqq Ahali Sirte fi Libya.” [A Video Features IS Barbarian Practices Against the People of Sirte in Libya], Akhbar Alan, February 11, 2016.
 “Several killed, others wounded as clashes got aggravated between Derna Shura Council and IS/Daesh,” Libya Observer, February 15, 2016; Ahmed Elumami, “Islamic State militants kill 17 in Libya’s Sabratha: officials,” Reuters, February 25, 2016.
 “Second weapons cache found in Ben Guerdane,” Agence Tunis Afrique Presse, March 9, 2016; “Tunisia: We Won Ben Gardane Battle but War Continues,” Middle East Monitor, March 9, 2016.
 “Libye: ‘Il y a des risques de passage’ de djihadistes vers l’Europe, alerte Le Drian,” 20Minutes, February 1, 2016.