Islamic State to launch Sat-TV station in Libya – Herald

Libyan Herald says that Islamic State will launch satellite TV station Tawheed broadcasting from Sirte

ISIS rally held in Derna on 3 October.
ISIS rally held in Derna on 3 October.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS and Daesh, is reportedly about to launch a satellite TV station called Tawheed, broadcasting propaganda from Sirte – the Libyan Herald has reported.

Although the English-language online website was down on Wednesday morning, an official page for the new station which appeared on social media says that it will be transmitting a “call for uniformity to all parts of the world”.

The page claims that Tawheed (unity) will broadcast messages from various religious figures. Mustafa Zand, a leader of the Libyan Popular National Movement, a group with strong ties to the former regime and which was banned from taking part in elections in 2012, has claimed two other television channels are under the direction of the co-called Islamic State.

Jihadist groups inside Libya are believed to have opened up a new front: in the port city of Derna, whose unique environment places it between green mountains, the Mediterranean Sea, and the desert, both Al Qaeda and now the Islamic State are embroiled in a turf war.

Earlier last week, it emerged that the Libyan jihadist group – the Majlis Shura Shabab al-Islam, or Islamic Youth Shura Council (MSSI) – had announced Derna was claimed as part of the ‘caliphate’ that the Islamic State is seeking to extend over the Muslim world.

Foreign affairs minister George Vella, who said that the presence of jihadists in eastern Libya was not new, said the advances made by fundamentalists allied to the Islamic State in the North African country were “alarming”.

“This incursion is not new to North Africa – Tunisia and Algeria have been concerned for a while with the presence of ISIS fighters returning from Syria and Iraq.”

ISIS leaders have not commented on this alleged ‘annexation’ of Derna, but the move was enough to deepen rivalry with the Al Qaeda-affiliated Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade, which has nationalistic aspirations.

Vella said that Derna has been home to the most extremist Islamist factions in Libya since the fall of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Asked whether this was of concern to Malta and other nations, Vella said: “such developments are of great concern, especially for the Libyan government in Tobruk and Egypt, which is only a few kilometres away from Derna.”

Photos and videos on Twitter have delivered images of masked members of the MSSI taking to the streets of Derna, wearing military uniforms, driving pickup trucks, and brandishing rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, and anti aircraft cannons.
On 3 October, they formally claimed Derna as part of the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’, refashioning the city as Wilayat Darnah – the province of Derna within the Islamic State.

Derna has a long history of jihadism: in 2007, United States troops in Iraq uncovered a list of foreign fighters for the insurgency there, finding that 52 of the 112 Libyans on the list came from Derna.

Since May, MSSI has been conducting security patrols in Derna, and calling individuals to account for their “non-Islamic” behaviour, sometimes through vigilantism. The group also instituted hudoud – criminal punishments under Shari’a law – in mid-July, with a public execution at a football stadium on 18 August.