ISIS Claims Revenge for Al-Libi, Targets Rival Islamists in Hotel Attack

ISIS appears ready to make a major play in Libya. Today four armed jihadists blew themselves up in the culimination of an attack on the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli, Libya. Five foreigners and three guards were killed in the attack. Islamic State supporters claim the attack on the Corenthia hotel in the capital city of Libya is revenge for the death of Abu Anas al-Libi, according to media reports. Al-Libi is an al Qaeda member who was captured by US Special Forces in Libya and died this month in a US hospital. He was held for his role in al Qaeda’s bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998.  Libi was a major Al Qaeda leader, known to be closer to AQ senior  leadership.

Prime Minister Omar al-Hasi, the head of Libyan Dawn, the Islamist faction which declares itself the government, is said to have been present during the attack, but was not injured. Libyan Dawn took control of the capital of Tripoli expelling the the internationally-recognized Al Thani government in August of 2014. The Al-Thani government currently resides in Tobruk. Following the hotel attack, The Muslim Brotherhood-linked Libyan Dawn has accused General Khalifa Haftar, a former Qaddafi army officer leading an anti-Islamist militia, of being behind the attack.

If the Islamic State was responsible for the attack, which seems likely, and if Libyan Dawn’s PM was the intended target, it shows that the Islamic State may now be prepared to combat other Islamic forces for control over Libya. Previously The Islamic State established itself in Derna, Libya beginning in November of 2014 having dispatched experienced Libyan fighters from Syria.  By early December, U.S. African Command reported that ISIS Libyan training camps had as many as 200 fighters receiving instruction. In early January, ISIS targeted Libyan government troops in southern Libya, killing 14, and claimed the abduction of 20 Egyptian Christians near Tripoli.