Il nostro dirimpettaio sta lentamente riempendosi di jihadisti affiliati allo Stato islamico iraqeno. Cosa ancora più grave, la Libia sta diventando una sorta di "rifugio" per combattenti stranieri che, sotto la (peraltro modesta) pressione in Iraq e Siria si ricollocano nel paese africano. La situazione sta degenerando ad una tale velocità che l'intelligence americana arriva ad ipotizzare che la Libia possa diventare una sorta di rifugio dove il gruppo guerrigliero iraqeno si possa rifugiare nel caso in cui la situazione in Medio-Oriente degeneri (dal New York Times):
[…] Today Surt is an actively managed colony of the central Islamic State, crowded with foreign fighters from around the region, according to residents, local militia leaders and hostages recently released from the city’s main prison.
“The entire Islamic State government there is from abroad — they are the ones who are calling the shots,” said Nuri al-Mangoush, the head of a trucking company based here in Misurata, about 65 miles west of the Islamic State’s territory around Surt. Many of its employees live in Surt, and five were jailed there recently.
As the Islamic State has come under growing military and economic pressure in Syria and Iraq, its leaders have looked outward.
One manifestation of the shift is a turn toward large-scale terrorist attacks against distant targets, including the massacre in Paris and the bombing of a Russian charter jet over Egypt, Western intelligence officials say. But the group’s leaders are also devoting new resources and attention to far-flung affiliate groups that pledged their loyalty from places like Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and elsewhere. There are at least eight in all, according to Western officials.
Of those, by far the most important is based in Surt, a Libyan port city on the Mediterranean about 400 miles southeast of Sicily. Western officials familiar with intelligence reports say it is the only affiliate now operating under the direct control of the central Islamic State’s leaders. In Libya, residents of Surt and local militia leaders say the transformation of the Islamic State group here has been evident for months.
"Libya is the affiliate that we’re most worried about,” Patrick Prior, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top counterterrorism analyst, said at a recent security conference in Washington. “It’s the hub from which they project across all of North Africa.”
The leadership of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is now clenching its grip on Surt so tightly that Western intelligence agencies say they fear the core group may be preparing to fall back to Libya as an alternative base if necessary, a haven where its jihadists could continue to fight from even if it was ousted from its original territories.
“Contingency planning,” said a senior Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence. Western officials involved in Libya policy say that the United States and Britain have each sent commandos to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence on the ground. Washington has stepped up airstrikes against Islamic State leaders. But military strategists are exasperated by the lack of long-term options to contain the group here […].