Two military checkpoints located to the south of Libya’s eastern city of Ajdabiya came under attack in the early hours of today.
The first attack is believed to be a suicide-car bombing which hit what is known as ’the 60-km checkpoint’, a military unit manned by the 152 Battalion of the Libyan National Army (LNA) located about 60 kilometres to the south of Ajdabiya. The attack killed two soldiers and wounded three others.
The second attack took place minutes later when LNA’s checkpoint to the north of Awjilah (160km south of Ajdabiya) was stormed by unknown gunmen and subsequently set ablaze. Two guards of the military unit manning it were reportedly kidnapped by the attackers, according to initial reports.
This is the fourth attack against Ajdabya’s southern checkpoints; all of the three previous ones were officially claimed by the Islamic State. We have warned in an article published in March that the terror group’s affiliate in eastern Libya was plotting a major attack in or near Ajdabiya. We have even predicted that the attack is more likely to take place in May 2018.
Open source intelligence data obtained by this website suggests that there is an active Islamic State cell operating underground inside the city. We think the cell is linked to Islamic State remnants who are currently roaming desert areas to the south of Sirte and Ajdabiya. The city’s eastern checkpoints seem to be blocking operational cooperation between the cell in Ajdabiya and its wing in the desert.
The same data suggests that the cell operating in Ajdabiya is being led by an Egyptian Islamic State veteran whom we would refer to as Abu Taha. The data suggests that he was member of the group that accompanied Abu al-Mughira al-Qahtani, Islamic State’s delegated emir of its Libya provisions, when Qahtani was based in Darnah before he was killed by a US strike.
If the initial reports about kidnapping of two LNA members were true, it is very likely that the terror group will feature them in a propaganda video. We think today’s attack are not the anticipated ‘major operation’ but could be its first stage.