(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
On Thursday the US State Department designated Libya’s ISIS branch as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
The US added the ISIS branches from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Libya to its global terrorism blacklist.
The three ISIS branches were declared “specially designated global terrorists,” meaning that the US can sanction any individuals or organizations that are helping these ISIS affiliated groups.
Sanctions include freezing bank accounts, seizing property, and other assets.
The three branches became affiliated with ISIS after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accepted oaths of allegiance from fighters in Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia in November 2014.
While the extremist group’s presence in each of the three countries “is limited to specific geographic locations,” ISIS militants have carried out many deadly attacks.
The Libyan branch of ISIS is blamed for kidnapping and executing 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, killing dozens of Libyan citizens, and carrying out attacks on oil fields.
In Libya, ISIS militants were able to taken advantage of the ongoing political conflict in the country since the ouster of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, allowing them to take control of a 250 kilometre stretch of land around the coastal city of Sirte.
Sirte has become ISIS’s largest stronghold outside of Iraq and Syria, and up to 6000 ISIS militants are reported to be in Libya.
The US along with other western powers are hoping that the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) will be able to defeat ISIS and have promised to provide assistance in the form of military training and weapons to aid in their battle against the extremist group.