Al-Saadi Abdullah Ibrahim Abu Akhzayem (aka Al-Saadi al-Nawfaly) has been arrested today in Misrata as security agencies continue its crackdown against jihadis hiding in the city.
Nawfaly, 36, made the news in June 2015 when a farmhouse he owned just outside Ajdabiya was hit by a U.S. airstrike targeting Algeria’s Mokhtar Belmokhtar. A prominent al-Qaeda veteran who fought alongside Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq before returning to Libya in March 2005 when he was arrested by Gaddafi’s Internal Security Organisation and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment on 9 August 2006. He was freed on 21 August 2011 when a group of rebels stormed Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison.
Like many other jihadists, Nawfaly (also known by the jihadi alias Abu Abdullah) benefited from the security vacuum that followed the fall of Gaddafi regime. He wasted no time to form a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and to al-Mourabitoun. His group was based in farmhouses located to the south of Ajdabiya and operated mostly in the desert. The group played a key role in ensuring flow of weapons and jihadists between Darnah, Benghazi, Sirte and Ajdabiya during armed conflicts that followed the launch of Operation Dignity, by Khalifa Hifter, leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
In June 2016, he was featured in a video announcing the formation of the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) (photo below). He later formed another organization called ‘the Operations Room for the Libration of Ajdabiya and Support for Benghazi Revolutionaries’.
When al-Jufrah fell to the LNA on 3 June 2017, he was among dozens of dangerous Jihadists who fled to Misrata seeking refuge from the LNA. He was active on Facebook as recently as 5 October when he released a statement in his capacity as commander of ‘the Ajdabiya Libration Room’ offering condolences to the people of Misrata following the Islamic State attack on the city’s courts complex. It was clear from the apologetic and defensive language of his statement that he was expecting an action against people like him from Misrata’s security agencies. The statement focussed on denying any links between BDB and the Islamic State.
He was captured today among 24 others in raids by Misratan security forces on properties occupied by BDB and BRSC militants in which two jihadists and one policeman were wounded.
Abrayek al-Masriyah - whom we featured in the first part of our series ‘Libya’s Most Dangerous Jihadists’ - was rumoured to be among those arrested today. However, this is yet to be confirmed. On Sunday, 8 October, Masriyah posted the photos below on Facebook and accused Misrata’s security forces of storming his house and stealing his ID documents, a Pika rifle, an AK-47, a laptop, an Ipad and some cash. He also confirmed in a Facebook post that two of his younger brothers have been arrested in Misrata earlier this week.
UPDATE 13 Oct 2017: Security sources confirmed to this website that Masriyah was among those arrested in Misrata on Wednesday. “We are under huge pressure to release him,” the source added.