Director of SITE says Libya new ISIS threat for Europe

Rita Katz tells ANSA 'ISIS was gone from Libya, now it's back'

05 September, 19:52

    (ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV - Rita Katz, director of Search International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group, told ANSA that Libya is "without a doubt the new danger for Europe".

    SITE monitors Islamic radicalism on the web, and its director said the situation in Libya has changed drastically from one year ago. Katz spoke to ANSA on the sidelines of the International Institute for Counterterrorism (ICT) World Summit, an annual conference in Herzliya.

    "Last year, ISIS didn't exist in Libya, it had zero suicide operations," Katz said. "This year, there have already been a dozen across the country, not in one or two places but everywhere. And this means that probably some of the fighters were able to return from Iraq and Syria. And we have seen them move through northern Africa and settle in that area," she said. She said the majority of the attacks ISIS or other groups in the region, such as AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) in Tunisia, targeted Western structures, "whether they were oil companies or investments, anything that is a legitimate enemy and doesn't regard Muslims". Katz said ISIS's "media reflect the situation in the field and what can happen in the future". Responding to a question on the most recent message attributed to al-Baghdadi, she said that ISIS is calling for attacks on the West, including Italy and France, "especially now that Italy is part of the war coalition against terrorist organisations". Katz said that in Italy in particular, "ISIS channels constantly supply translations in Italian and the organisation has Italian members. The threats for Italy are the same as, and perhaps even higher than, those on any other European country.

    Let's not forget that their publications and messages always speak about Italy, highlighting that 'Rome is our eye'. In nearly all previous messages by Al Qaeda and ISIS leaders, Rome was mentioned". "This being said, it doesn't mean that you have to raise the level of alarm and be ready for an attack. I think it's important to know that this threat exists," she said.

    To complete the picture on web activity by terrorist groups, Katz brought figures to the conference on the period from April through August 2018 that showed 23,267 links, 2,365 messages and more than 100 platforms.

    Of the links, 19,492 (83%) were from ISIS and 17% from Al Qaeda.(ANSAmed).

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