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It’s clear now that many nations realize they will soon have the true epitome of barbarians at their gate — if they don’t already have them there now. As ISIS continues to become the world’s largest producer of the world’s most viewed snuff films, it’s making powerful enemies of the decision-makers and decision-dictators who now can see what their fate will be if they are allowed to advance. The latest countries: Egypt and Libya:
Egypt reported that its war planes had struck Isis targets in Libya, shortly after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed revenge for the release by Isis-affiliated militants of a video of a mass killing of Christians.
A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time Cairo had publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighbouring Libya.
The statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers”.
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” it said.
Libya’s air force meanwhile announced it had launched strikes in the eastern city of Darna, which was taken over by an Isis affiliate last year. The announcement, on the Facebook page of the air force chief of staff, did not provide further details.
Meanwhile, Italy is making it clear it feels directly threatened now and is asking NATO to meet to take up the crisis:
Italy warned that ISIS is at Europe’s doorstep as France and Egypt called for the United Nations Security Council to meet over the spiraling crisis in Libya.
The growing alarm came as Egyptian jets bombed ISIS targets in the North African nation as revenge for the beheadings — documented in an ISIS propaganda video — of 21 Coptic Christian Egyptian nationals in Libya.
The release of the video has underscored fears that ISIS is taking advantage of the chaos in Libya to expand its reach and stake a firmer foothold there.
French President Francois Hollande spoke by phone with his Egyptian counterpart, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, to discuss the situation in Libya on Monday, according to Hollande’s office. It said the two spoke of the growth of ISIS in Libya and “underscored the importance of the security council meeting and for the international community to take new measures” against the threat.
Libya has been unraveling since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. There are rival governments operating under separate parliaments — each with their own security brigades — and a plethora of armed Islamist groups jockeying for control.
Italians woke up on Monday to the worrying reality of a threat from Islamic State “signed with blood against the nation of the cross”.
Against the background of a video showing the apparent mass execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach, ISIS warned Italians: “You have seen us in Syria, now we’re right here, just south of Rome…”
The bloody film footage appears to confirm reports that ISIS has moved into parts of Libya, particularly around the capital Tripoli, which is 624 miles across the Mediterranean and south of Rome.
Prior to the threat, the Italian government had already warned Italians not to travel to Libya. The foreign office had organised a ship to evacuate Italian expatriates living or working in Libya.
The ship, the “San Gwann”, arrived in the Sicilian port of Augusta late last night, having been accompanied from Libya by an Italian navy vessel and by an Italian air force plane.
Libya is a former colony of Italy, particularly during the Fascist regime Benito Mussolini and modern Italian governments tend to be watchful of the North African country .
Speaking to Italian state TV on Saturday, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi expressed his concern, saying:
“We’ve already said to the EU and to the international community that it is time to stop sleeping, that something very serious is happening in Libya and that just because we are the closest ones, the guys who pick up the boat people, don’t think you can leave all the problems to us.”
Mr Renzi called for a much reinforced UN mission to Libya, adding that Italy was ready “to play our part in defending freedom and human rights”.
The Renzi government believes that some sort of international peace-keeping force should urgently be sent to Libya….
Are ISIS’ tactics backfiring? ABC News details the trend of ISIS creating active action against it:
But many have begun to wonder whether ISIS’ tactics will backfire: As their willingness to attack countries beyond their traditional territory grows, so too does the list of countries willing to confront the militant group.
“It’s clear that it is backfiring,” Matt Olsen, former Director of National Counter Terrorism Center who is now a contributor for ABC News, said “as we see more countries taking more aggressive tactics against ISIS.”
The history of World War II may be lost somewhat among some in the 21st century — but not totally:
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who seized power in a 2013 military coup, vowed to “avenge the criminal killings” on Egyptian State TV Sunday night.
Hours later, a spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces Command released a statement claiming they had struck four ISIS positions in the eastern city of Derna, killing about 50 militants, marking the first time Egypt had taken direct military involvement in Libya, a country still struggling to overcome a power vacuum brought on by the NATO backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” the statement said.
With the airstrikes carried out today, Egypt added its name to the growing list of countries willing to confront the militant group that now controls swaths of Iraq and Syria. The Egyptian response closely tracks that of other countries that have been targeted by ISIS. On Feb. 3, Jordan vowed revenge for the brutal killing of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh, and launched its own air campaign against the militants.
Officials in Yemen have begun contemplating a response to ISIS’ growing efforts to recruit militants in their country. The United States, which began its air campaign against ISIS in September 2014, listed 63 countries in its coalition to fight ISIS, although the bar for inclusion is apparently low, with most countries supplying humanitarian aid or promising to curtail the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.
Australia, Bahrain, Great Britain, France, Germany, Iran (which is not formally listed in the U.S. coalition), Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, and the Syrian Government remain the most active countries combating ISIS besides the United States.
Many fear attacks like the one in Libya help spread the ISIS brand of jihad in areas already reeling from upheavals caused by the Arab Spring. More than 20,000 foreigners from more than 90 countries have joined ISIS, according to a testimony by Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counter Terrorism Center.
“The whole point is to draw everyone into the conflict,” J.M. Berger, author of the forthcoming “State of Terror,” told ABC News. “They thrive on chaos and see a massive multipolar war as an ideal environment from which to seed the caliphate.”
While Olsen of the National Counter Terrorism Center believes the brutality of ISIS attacks helps galvanize the world against ISIS, he admitted “they may obtain some tactical gains in potentially gaining more recruits.”
Olsen also cautions that air campaigns alone are unlikely to defeat ISIS: “that will require a sustained presence on the ground.”
Concerns over ISIS’ attacking more countries outside their traditional territory have reached as far as Italy. In the video depicting the apparent beheading of 21 Egyptian hostages in Libya, an ISIS militant points northward and says, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
And, it’s fair to predict, countries that haven’t had ISIS attacks on their soil are making preps now on how to deal with it — or how to react once ISIS murderers hit their soil.
Here’s the White House’s statement on the murder of the Egyptian Christians:
The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Egyptian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens. ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity. This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL.
This heinous act once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya, the continuation of which only benefits terrorist groups, including ISIL. We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat. We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.
graphic via shutterstock.com
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.