ISIS Black flags on Europe’s doorstep: Inside ISIS’s new capital Sirte on Libya’s coast
THE brutal Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has founded a new capital in north Africa – its first outside Iraq and Syria and within touching distance of Europe.
The Mediterranean port city of Sirte, just a few hundred miles from Europe’s coastline, is now the de facto base of the jihadist group’s Libyan wing.
Terror experts now fear the Islamic State in Libya – or ISL – is strengthening its hold on the region, and Sirte could soon rival Raqqa in Syria or Mosul in Iraq as a headquarters for the barbaric organisation.
In June, ISL militants took Sirte’s power plant, giving them complete control of the city.
It triggered the looting of the homes of local politicians and the grudging admittance from senior Libyan officials that the city was no longer under government control.
Since early summer the ISIS-loyal extremists have now ramped up their “state-building” efforts as they establish a full-blown city state in Sirte.
In acts that bear a chilling resemblance to the establishment of their declared ‘caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq, ISIS-inspired fighters have plastered the group’s black flag across the city and have erected billboards promoting their hate-filled messages.
The group took control of the city’s TV and radio station, hospital and university and ISL are now using the city’s former internal security building as its command centre.
ISL is also engaged in a propaganda war to promote life in the Sirte ‘caliphate’ as peaceful and prosperous.
Aaron Zelin, a research fellow on the jihadist movement from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the group had “shown off the city’s landscapes, port, bustling markets, and fully stocked grocery stores” in a bid to appeal to new recruits.
Sirte is now regarded as the centre of ISL – and of ISIS in north Africa.