The Islamic State has launched a series of attacks on oil fields in northern Libya in recent months. While the jihadists have attacked a number of oil fields in Ajdabiya causing damage, the group has been unsuccessful in previous attempts to seize the fields. However, officials fear that things may soon change as the Islamic State sends more troops to northern Libya to carry out attacks on the oil fields.
The Daily Mail reports that oil field workers in Libya have been evacuated at three separate facilities over growing fears of an ISIS attack on the wells in northern Libya. The attacks on oil fields near Ajdabiya have been ongoing for months, but the terrorists have been unable to seize any of the facilities. In response to their inability to seize the fields, the terror group has reported sent additional jihadists to the area in order to gain control of the facilities.
The terrorist group has previously held oil fields in Iraq and Syria, but if the group is able to overtake an oil facility in Libya it will be the first time that the group has secured a facility within the Libya border. The Daily Mail claims that an oil official in Libya, Mohamed al-Manfi, has admitted that three facilities have already been evacuated in anticipation of an ISIS attack.
“Wafa field had been completely evacuated and the Tibesti and Bayda fields were partially evacuated after security forces warned of possible planned attacks.”
The concerns were sparked as security forces revealed that “a large number” of Islamic State militants were gathering between the ISIS held Libyan city of Sirte and oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. With the militants building forces between their current stronghold and the oil field area, it is feared that a terror attack is imminent.
Even with the oil field evacuations, the Libyan oil officials say that oil production will remain steady in Libya as production was already cut significantly in the past due to a variety of conflicts in the region.
“Production currently stands at less than one fifth of the 1.6 million barrels per day the OPEC member was producing before the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.”
According to the Libyan Express, there was a deadly attack by Islamic State militants on the Bayda field earlier this month. The attack left five members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard dead with ISIS taking credit for the attack. That particular attack was located about 155 miles from Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, where ISIS is believed to be targeting oil fields.
The ISIS stronghold in Sirte has been part of the Islamic State’s push to promote militant police forces. A recent video taken in Sirte shows the ISIS police force standing guard with weapons in hand.
Oil fields aren’t the only concern in Libya with regard to the Islamic State. CNN reported that US General David Rodriquez voiced concern over the growing number of Islamic State fighters in Libya. The General reported that the number of Islamic State fighters in Libya had doubled over the last year. General David Rodriguez, commander of U.S. Africa Command, says that the total number of ISIS fighters in Libya is around “4,000 to 6,000,” which signifies a significant increase in the area. Rodriguez says that the ISIS problem goes back and forth across North Africa and extends all the way back to strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
“Several types of foreign fighters are flooding into Libya, many of whom come from other northern African countries. The foreign fighter flow goes back and forth across North Africa, which generates a lot of the foreign fighters who go all the way across to Syria and Iraq.”
[Image by AP Photo, Files]