The Department of Justice announced today that Aaron Travis Daniels pleaded guilty terror-related charges after trying to join the Islamic State in Libya last November. Daniels had been in contact with an Islamic State “external attack planner” who encouraged him emigrate to North Africa for jihad, according to the DOJ.
During his last press briefing as Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter said that some of the Islamic State jihadists recently targeted in Libya were “external plotters, who were actively planning operations against our allies in Europe.”
The US bombed two Islamic State camps 28 miles southwest of Sirte, Libya last night. The camps were located in a remote desert location, but were part of the jihadists’ plan to mount a comeback in the more populated areas of Libya. The Islamic State lost control of Sirte late last year.
The Islamic State claims to have carried out 1,112 suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria during 2016. Additional suicide bombers were deployed in Libya and elsewhere. If the group’s claims are accurate, then the so-called caliphate has been using “martyrs” at a historically high rate.
The Defense Department has confirmed that Boubaker al-Hakim, a French-Tunisian Islamic State leader, was killed in Raqqa, Syria on Nov. 26. Al-Hakim had ties to Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, an al Qaeda-affiliated group, before defecting to the Islamic State’s cause. He admittedly assassinated one Tunisian politician in 2013 and knew the assailants responsible for a second slaying.
The Pentagon announced today that the Islamic State no longer controls any part of Sirte, Libya. The ground campaign to liberate the city began more than six months ago and the US has launched 495 airstrikes in support of the operation. The Islamic State’s “governor” in Libya vows to fight on, saying that his men have spread out across the country.
More than six months after a ground offensive was launched to dislodge the Islamic State from Sirte, Libya, the so-called caliphate’s fighters remain holed up inside a few blocks of the city. According to AFRICOM, approximately 200 jihadists are entrenched in their positions.
The Islamic State claims to have carried out 120 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq and Syria in October. Seventy-nine (79) of these suicide bombings were purportedly launched around the city of Mosul. The so-called caliphate has claimed 902 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Libya and Syria during the first ten months of 2016. If accurate, then the group is carrying out suicide attacks at a historically high rate.