International Business Times (IBT) warned that the United States and Russian airstrikes against the Islamic State IS) in Syria and Iraq could have unintended consequence, which is the expansion of the so-called caliphate to neighboring countries such as Lebanon and fanning out the militants to create a new front in North Africa, headquartered in Libya.
The American online publication said that the IS is trying to emulate in Libya’s oil-rich city of Sirte what it achieved in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq, implementing a system of ultraconservative Islamic governance and plunder the area’s resources.
It warned that the group is on the brink of controlling Libya’s vast oil and weapons supply, pointing that the IS could team up with other jihadi groups in neighboring countries, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria.
IBT said that Algeria would be the IS’s next target after Libya, as Libya also sets the stage for the IS to expand its reach throughout North Africa. From there, the militants have their sights set on taking Algeria, where the militants can easily link up with other terrorist groups that already active in the country.
IBT quoted Harleen Gambhir, counterterrorism analyst at the Institute for the Study of War saying “as the IS becomes stronger, Libya becomes more of an option. He warned that Libya is becoming a hub for foreign fighters hoping to join the militant group but unable, or unwilling, to travel to Iraq or Syria.
IBT’s report said that the reason why the IS is becoming strong is that large number of recruiters are joining the group, both foreign and local, beside fighters who fled Syria and Iraq.