Special to WorldTribune.com
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has capitalized on the chaos in Libya to recruit a large number of jihadists and expand its area of control, according to a United Nations report.
UN sanctions monitors, in their annual report to the UN Security Council, said ISIL now claims to be the key defensive force for the North African state against foreign military intervention.
The monitors also said Libya has become more attractive to foreign fighters who mainly arrive through Sudan, Tunisia and Turkey.
“The rise of ISIL in Libya is likely to increase the level of international and regional interference, which could provoke further polarization, if not coordinated,” said the UN experts who monitor sanctions on Libya.
“In anticipation, ISIL has been spreading a nationalistic narrative, portraying itself as the most important bulwark against foreign intervention,” they said.
Western officials have estimated the number of ISIL jihadists in Libya now to be as high as 6,000. Last year, the UN said ISIL had between 2,000 and 3,000 fighters in Libya.
In their latest report the UN monitors said “significant numbers of foreign fighters” had recently arrived in ISIL’s coastal Libyan stronghold of Sirte.
In an interview released by the Site monitoring group – a non-governmental counter-terrorism organization – a leader of ISIL in Libya said the organization is getting “stronger every day.”