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Terrorism 2014-02-28

Slow death of Derna

By Aya Elbrqawi in Benghazi for Magharebia – 28/02/2014

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Derna residents live a life of fear. Al-Qaeda has transformed their eastern Libya port city into a new base for its global campaign and as the prime export centre for jihadists.

Known for its long history of fierce fighters and proud tribes, Derna has faced relentless violence. Now it will not have a say in national governance because it is too unsafe to vote.

The night before last week's constituent assembly elections, six polling stations were struck by bombs. The High National Election Committee (HNEC) had rescheduled the ballot for Wednesday (February 26th), but the Derna Local Council said elections could not be held since no one was securing the polling centres.

"The government has failed in everything in Derna," a source close to the council told the Libya Herald.

In just the last few days, the Derna port suffered a grenade attack and an armed group opened fire on security guards at the university.

The city of Derna endures bombings and assassinations amidst a suspicious silence from people who fear for their lives.

It has been four months since Ansar al-Sharia officially opened their Derna branch under the slogan, "A step toward building the Islamic state". The al-Qaeda-linked group also set up new accounts on Twitter and Google Plus to promote their outreach campaigns.

Sufian al-Quma, an al-Qaeda figure and former chauffeur for Osama Bin Laden, runs a large section of the city of 90,000.

"Derna is captive to al-Qaeda," 20-year-old Murad tells Magharebia. "Assassinations and bombings have also been occurring for a while in Derna, yet the media is silent and no one speaks about it."

As to the armed Islamists, "The group doesn't want any army; rather, they want to apply Sharia as if we weren't Muslims," local resident Feras Muftah says.

Another wanted terrorist, Ahmed Boukhtala, is also operating in the area, according to local resident Abdul Rahman Nasser.

Some suggest that Boukhtala could be behind the acts of terrorism in Derna, such as the killing of several civilians in recent days, because of ties with local extremists groups.

Boukhtala is accused of several crimes, including the 2011 murder of rebel military commander Abdul Fattah Younes and the attack on the US mission in Benghazi.

"Ansar al-Sharia and the Rafallah Sahati Brigade are there also, providing support and security for the perpetrators of assassinations. Since al-Quma and these militias are in Derna, no one objected," Nasser adds.

As if the terrorist takeover of the town were not bad enough, the city's young people are also prime fodder for jihadist recruitment, especially to fight in Syria.

"It is known that most of the youth of Derna who go to Syria join either Jabhat al-Nusra or Al-Qaeda in Iraq," teacher Basma Alsultani from Derna explains.

The two sides are "now waging a bloody war against each other in Syria", she continues. "This means that the young people of Libya who we think are heroes and mujahideen fighting to liberate Syria from Bashar are now killing each other."

"It is not enough for them to kill each other here in Libya, they are also killing each other there in Syria," she adds. "What is even worse than garlic is leek. Curses of God be on those who deceive gullible youth and tell them to fight in Syria, and then use them in terrorist wars where they are killing each other."

Retired Derna resident Khairi Mozainy is angry over what the extremists have done to his city.

"Dogs of hellfire, they used verses from the Qur'an revealed against the infidels and polytheists and turned them against Muslims," he tells Magharebia.

"I ask God Almighty to guide young people who do not know right. As for their leaders, like al-Quma, the stray one and those with him, the Kharijites who are misled and misleading people, I ask God almighty, Lord of the Great Throne, to precipitate their fall," the retiree adds.

Rajab Mohamed from Derna agrees, saying: "He who kills soldiers, police and security services and every patriot in Libya and charges the State with apostasy is a Kharijite."

"They will not spare believers and their only interest is corruption in the country and killing people treacherously and vengefully," he warns. "They look like angels while harbouring hatred, treachery, and betrayal, as if people in this country were not Muslims and not Sunnis from the Umma."

Daily life in Derna is a strange mix of normal activity and stunning violence. As local resident Fathi Meftah notes, "Business and transport are ok, but then assassinations and bombings are taking place randomly and without prior warning."

According to the Derna man, citizens have a good idea what or who is behind the terrorism.

"Frankly, despite what is said about al-Qaeda in Derna, for they never claimed anything officially, it's clear that it is the Islamist movement. There is a gap between what is said and reality," he notes.

As to identifying the perpetrators of the crimes, he says: "Things are recorded 'unknown' because no one is investigating, neither the state nor the population of Derna."

"I remain at a loss of what is happening in Benghazi and Derna," he adds. "What is happening is foreign to the region. People here are good Muslims with good habits. We know each other through kinship, companionship, neighbourhood, or work. It is strange indeed," he concludes.

Things are particularly hard for Derna women. Fatima Zahra, in her 30s, says: "Almost all women in Derna became widows, and all infants are orphans."

"Next, the women of the city will have to work hard to feed their hungry sons and pay for their studies. Meanwhile the National Congress and the government are in a coma about the situation in Derna," she says.

According to attorney Hatem Ahmed, the tragedy of Derna evolved in stages. "In the beginning, the assassinations were taking place in late night and early morning hours, and away from the crowds," he explains. "The targets were limited to active members of the internal security service."

"Next, the targets expanded to include all security and military elements who were active either in the former regime or after the revolution… civilian judges, activists, and dignitaries," Ahmed continues.

But very soon, " it will be killing at peak times inside houses and the targets will be all those who don't share their beliefs," he adds.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    ولد البيضاء 2014-3-18

    One thing I ask of Derna residents is to treat Ansar of lies in the same way they treat them, act like one man. There is only one death. God will support you if you rely on Him.

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    نورى عبدالقادر 2014-3-18

    God's curse on them to the Judgement Day! God will severely punish these Takfirists who wreaked corruption on earth! They should be fought. Anyone who dies in this cause will be rewarded with paradise God willing! There is no power but from God!

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    المسلم الحق 2014-3-7

    By God, the messenger of God brought the religion of Islam to this Umma so that it will be a moderate Umma, to free slaves, eliminate slavery, oppression and injustice. We believe before any of these Takfirists that the messenger of God, peace be upon him, was sent by God to this Umma with the five pillars of Islam. Any Muslim must perform his prayers fully and better in the mosque, fast Ramadan, go to pilgrimage for those who can, offer alimonies from their own money and perform all the affairs of his life so that he can receive the blessing of God. These affairs include obeying parents, respecting the older, young, old, women, neighbour, unknown and even foreigner, grant them security and safety until they reach their destinations, sanctifying the blood of the Muslim, his properties and honour, preserving the tongue and hand, avoid doing anything contrary to the recommendations of God in His Book including drinking wine, adultery, taking money illegally, theft and other acts in addition to the principles of the great human behaviour enshrined in the true religion. Moreover, our religion was introduced to our souls and wants to make them clear of illnesses which mar their purity such as hatred, spite and gossip. It also recommends cleanliness of our clothes, houses, streets and urges us to preserve this. It also orders us consultation in all this. This is a succinct and simple display of most of what the Muslim should do. Libyans do this as much as they can beginning with purity of the personality to obeying the orders of God and abiding by His bans. So do those who kill innocent Libyans today or even innocents consider in their lives all these orders or bans? Or is He forgiving for them and inflicts a severe punishment on us? This is the reality we live bitterly and painfully every day. We ask God this is all a trial from Him, help us forbear it with patience and relief. But to see our sons coming out from among us to accuse us of apostasy and kill us in such a hideous way which isn't accepted in any religion or by reason, this is too much and amputation is necessary!

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  4. Anonymous thumb

    الفرجاني 2014-3-6

    O young people, I suggest that Derna gathers one day, bear arms and kill al-Ansar. If a fighting erupts, by God, Benghazi youth will come out with them because Benghazi is fed up with mean traitors Ansar of the demon who kill from the back. We are men and up to it God willing! The revolution didn't rise for these apostates!

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    Gamal Oamar 2014-3-5

    The article was sealed perfectly, the coming phase (now), "it will be killing at peak times and the targets will be all those who don't share their beliefs!"

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  6. Anonymous thumb

    رمضان الفرجاني نعم للسلف الصالح 2014-3-5

    The prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, said "Blessed be those who fight them and be killed by them!" The prophet also described them as Kharijites and hell dogs. O Lord turn their plots against them!

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  7. Anonymous thumb

    درناوي صح 2014-3-3

    Derna has been under the grip of terrorism ever since the first days of liberation.

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  8. Anonymous thumb

    زهرة النردين 2014-3-3

    There is no power but from God the greatest!

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  9. Anonymous thumb

    على 2014-3-3

    God is sufficient for me and He is the best protector against oppressors! May God protect Derna, its people and Libya!

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  10. Anonymous thumb

    وسام رشيد 2014-3-3

    O Lord relieve Derna from the chains of these terrorists!

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  11. Anonymous thumb

    علي الغرياني 2014-3-2

    What happens in Derna isn't the act of Al Qaeda or Ansar al-sharia. In my opinion, killing and criminality aren't part of the sharia of God. It is rather the law of criminals who violate the sharia of God. What was said or is said is just to mar everything Islamic. The alliance opposing Islam isn't discouraged by anything to commit such crimes. In spite of this, some people might be affiliated with some groups, allege to be Muslims but commit such acts mentioned in the article in order to distort the image of movements believing in the true religion of Islam. The religion of the noble prophet Mohamed, peace and blessings of God be upon him, was never with such morals and acts which are closer to apostasy than the humanity doctrine without religion!

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    • Anonymous thumb

      احمد الأوجلي 2014-3-24

      Your opinion isn't founded. Residents of Mecca know better its roads!

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  12. Anonymous thumb

    Hager Walid 2014-3-2

    Conference of the oppressors and disgraceful government!

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  13. Anonymous thumb

    زكي زين 2014-3-1

    Assassinations in Libya take lives of people every day. All the time of the day, morning and night, men, kids and women fall victim. The government and the congress know the perpetrator. The problem is that they say we know the perpetrator but can't confront him now.

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    sami 2014-3-1

    I am an ordinary young man. I am not radical and I am not a wanton. But I would like to say a word of truth. The Libyan people, with my respects to some families who understand, the Libyan people are first of all ignorant. Secondly, they are deceived. Unfortunately, they are following the media. They repeat whatever they hear like parrots. This is the truth. Instead of trying to find the truth, whatever happens, they say it is Ansar al-Sharia. Unfortunately, they use names used by the West such as "rebel, terrorist, militia, extremist, radical". They didn't think about the main target of America regardless of whether the revolution succeeded or failed. This is the first point. Second point I want to address to the media, stop dissent and defending the West! The third and last point, I ask you by God the greatest to address one question to the government: what's the reasons behind the presence of foreign security companies in some Libyans cities and what are the duties carried out by these companies? If you want to know or want to ask the Libyan government, learn a little about the duties of these security companies in the country such as Black Water company? When you learn about the issue, then you can accuse any side you want instead of the nonsense circulated by the media, the current media led by the American-Jewish system. The whole idea or the summary is that the goal of the West about Arabs after Arab revolutions is to cancel, eliminate or fight the religion of Islam. This comes through the Arab media which is considered the first agent of the West...

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  15. Anonymous thumb

    مسلم 2014-3-1

    No one objects to implementing the sharia. But how? This is the question. Will implementing sharia will be by bearing arms against Muslims? No, this is not the legitimate way. The legitimate way is to preach with wisdom, good preaching, be patient about results of preaching as results might be late. But the most important is to persevere in preaching, think good of the people, avoid arrogance and forbear their harm. In this way and with time, the good understanding of sharia will spread among people and thus sharia will be implemented.

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    ولد ليبيا 2014-3-1

    God is sufficient for me and He is the best disposer of affairs against you channels and papers of dissent! Fear God about the people and Muslims! These are Muslims who believe in God and don't believe in Taghout. Their first enemy is disbelievers and thus the aides of disbelievers including apostate Arab presidents and soldiers who sold their religion for money. These are apostate disbelievers. I swear by God Who is one, they are on the right way, they're not Kharijites as you say about them. This is the Sunna of Mohamed, peace and blessings of God be upon him. As for Kharjites, they accuse of apostasy those who drink wine, unveiled women and other things. As for these people, they consider the one who drinks wine as a disobeying Muslim, these women as disobeying Muslims who need advice and guidance from the stray path to the path of light. It is God Whose help is sought! Fear God about us and about Muslim youth! Fear God and return to Him! Stretch your hands to us and be slaves of God, don't be slaves of Taghout, to liberate Jerusalem!

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  17. Anonymous thumb

    مصطفى موسى 2014-3-1

    Responsibility in this lies with everyone. We have to be positive in order to eliminate extremism and unjustified violence by taking to the streets and condemning it. In addition, we should fight everything contrary to Including extremism and negligence. The cause for the spread of extremist is the growth of the secular ideology. Whenever apostasy and ideas contrary to Islam spread, the Takfir movement and armed confrontation also increase. So we must all stop as one hand against disbelief, apostasy, negligence and extremism.

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