The Islamic State’s Bloody Reign in Libya

When the Islamic State released a video, purportedly showing the killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya, anger flared around the region. Although it took some time to verify the authenticity of the video, government officials in Ethiopia have since confirmed that those were their citizens on tape.

The victims were referred to as “followers of the cross” from an enemy Ethiopian church and told they could either convert to Islam or pay a tax. The tax, known as Jizya, was an ancient tax levied on adult males during times of Muslim conquest.

During the highly edited video, the Ethiopians are separated into two groups, some of which were beheaded and some who were shot. The production of the video, like many of the Islamic State’s media, is heavily edited and involves slick post-production work.

Rallies and outrage erupted in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with many calling for an end to the terrorist group. However, there was also internal anger over the fact that Ethiopians were in Libya in the first place. One protesters told EuroNews that Ethiopians were often forced to seek work elsewhere because of the lack of jobs in their own country, “There are Ethiopian people who have degrees and diplomas but can’t find work here. Ethiopians don’t want to migrate. The situation forces them to.”

Governments around the world condemned the killings, but many are also wondering about the Islamic State’s reach within Libya.

Libya has undergone a series of hardships in recent yearswith growing civil strife and militant uprisings. This has left many areas of the country under little or no oversight, creating a haven for terrorist organizations. The most powerful ones in recent years have been affiliated with Al QaedaHowever, in October, it was reported that the coastal city of Derna had fallen under control of Islamic State militants.

While it’s true that members from the Islamic State went to Dera to recruit new members and establish a base, the Islamic State has less control than previously assumed. They do not fully control the city, and rival militant groups – mostly linked to Al Qaeda – are testing their power. According to one report, “a handmade bomb was detonated in a square hosting celebrations for al Baghdadi’s nomination [to the Islamic State caliphate of Derna]. The bomb exploded on a stand occupied by the Isis-affiliated Council of Islamic Youth.”

Still, the Islamic State has managed to pull off a number of influential terror tactics, bringing horror both inside the country and in surrounding states. They have waged attacks on oil fields, taken responsibility for a bombing in Tripoli and created two videos showing members executing Christians. The first one, from last February, showed the beheading of Coptic Egyptians.

However, one article by Foreign Policy points out that Libya presents many challenges to Islamic State expansion:

One of the challenges to the Islamic State’s expansion in Libya is that the country lacks the divide among Sunni and Shiite Muslims that exists in Iraq and Syria. That split enabled the Islamic State’s forerunner, al Qaeda in Iraq, to unleash a sectarian civil war in Iraq. But virtually all of Libya’s Muslims are Sunni, removing that potential source of strife.

Although the entirety of Libya is unlikely to fall, it is worrying to many that Islamic State militants have managed to expand their reach into the country. Especially when you consider the number of migrants making their way across the Mediterranean are originating from Libya.

The Egyptian military has launched a number of bombing campaigns on the region, trying to destroy their hold in Derna. However, many believe a far more coordinated effort will be needed to free the area from the Islamic State entirely.

Photo Credit: Maher27777/Wikapedia


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

Libya and Syria are being destroyed from the inside out.

Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell3 years ago


Ruhee B.
Ruhee B3 years ago

IS are such bad news in every respect - doesn't seem like we can easily get rid of them.

william Miller
william Miller3 years ago

thanks extra stars to Marianne C.

Elizabeth F.
Elizabeth F3 years ago


pam w.
pam w3 years ago

OK...Saddam is gone and the past is past. Why aren't the Libyans rising up against these bastards? Why aren't other Muslim countries joining together to kill ISIS? Can it be that they secretly approve of the CALIPHATE concept? After all, it's been the goal of that religion since it began.

RK Henry
RK R3 years ago

Makes Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi's reign seem kind.

Ruth G.
Ruth G3 years ago

@Ann M, anti american /anti uk person, what a load of drivel!!! I see you have hidden yourself away wherever you are from! Dont want to face the onslaught? " obsessed with ruling the world." Hellooo what about the roman empire, the austrian empire, the german potential empire, the ottoman empire, the spanish empire! " slaving genocidal past!", how naive you are , there was slavery in africa/asia/china my dear long before it appears in the west!" the middle east did just fine ", oh give me a break!, the middle east has always been a hotbed of trouble with its muslim factions & racist genocides (have you just seen this week the commemoration of the Turkish genocide of the armenians!!!)." destroying one country after another"!!! you are joking!, these countries really dont need any help , they are self destructive! Your ignorant uneducated biased statements are outrageous!! I could continue to batter your statement for another half hour but for the time involved. Read some history books madam! Just about the only thing you got right , is that the uk should keep out ofit all & save our lives & our money (we give the second highest rate of money in aid to poor countries & these warring idiots like palestine in the world, generous to a fault!) . Maybe you should keep your eye on China with its new ECONOMIC EMPIRE!,its insidious, & its in the present, ITS ON EVERY CONTINENT, AFRICA, SOUTH AMERICA, BUYING UP LAND, MINING, BUILDING DAMS AGAINST THE WISHES O