Islamic State jihadists plan to use Libya as ‘European gateway’

Document penned by Islamic State recruiter in Libya and translated by British anti-extremist think tank Quilliam Foundation claims that militiamen from Iraq and Syria should use Libya as gateway to reach 'southern Crusader states' using boats

Islamic State militants plan a takeover of Libya as a “gateway” to wage war across southern Europe, letters written by the group’s supporters published have revealed.

Quilliam – a British anti-extremist group that describes itself as the “world’s first counter-extremism think tank” – translated recruitment propaganda from a jihadist targeting adherents.

According to the dossier, Islamic State jihadists want to flood Libya with militiamen from Syria and Iraq, and then sail across the Mediterranean. The recruiter claims that militiamen should exploit human trafficking passageways as a means of gaining entry into Europe.

The document, published in The Telegraph, is written by an Islamic State propagandist who is believed to be an important online recruiter in Libya.

MaltaToday understands that the Quilliam Foundation has been funded by the British government in the past, and that it relies on private funding from Muslim and non-Muslim individuals and foundations based in the United Kingdom and all around the world.

Quilliam’s analysis focuses on a short essay entitled “Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State”, where the author lays down the reasons why IS’s jihad must expand to the country.

The Arabic message is intended for a “regional jihadist audience, written to convince other jihadists of the imperatives of assisting the IS mission in Libya” rather than a Western audience.

“Though this does not give an official, Islamic State-sanctioned view on the importance of country to the caliphate, it does present a window onto the mindset of the IS jihadist in Libya. Hence, it sheds light on some of the primary considerations, motivations and intentions of IS’s Libyan franchise,” Quilliam states.


  • Laments that IS supporters underestimated Libya’s critical significance as new “province” of the caliphate.
  • Claims that, if Libya was properly exploited, “pressure on the land of the Caliphate in ash-Sham and Iraq” could be relieved significantly. As much as anything else, Libya could be the key to IS’s defence against the “Crusader coalition”. 

  • Notes that “it has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat”. Therefore, the opportunities that lie in the exploitation of human trafficking rings make Libya unparalleled as a launching platform for attacking European states and shipping lines. 

  • Spends much time discussing the abundance of light, medium and heavy munitions in Libya, both those that ended up in the hands of revolutionaries and those stockpiled by al-Qadhafi during his reign, in which he “squandered all Libya’s oil revenues – which ranged between thirty and forty five billion dollars a year – upon the purchase of weapons”. 

  • Urgently calls upon jihadists to make their way to Libya as soon as possible, before inaction means that the weapons are “effectively surrender[ed] to the Crusaders”.

Quilliam recommended that bombing ISIS without a concerted approach to tackle its funding, recruitment and extremist radicalisation “will not have lasting results”.

Quilliam said that states should increase international cooperation to improve border security, crack down on arms smuggling and coordinate military responses to jihadist organisations, wherever they are located; and tha the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office takes a long-term view to the causes of violent extremism in the Middle East and North Africa region and invest in counter- extremism measures as part and parcel of its counter-terrorism strategy.

Sponsored by