Islamic State terrorists are now using Libya as an "entry point" into Europe, with Libyan intelligence officials reporting that at least 30 ISIS fighters who left the country have been apprehended by Italian authorities in recent weeks.
The terrorists all claimed refugee status but American and European officials believe this is an indication that ISIS terrorists are now making their way into Europe virtually untouched.
"There is no way you can block it,” an official told reporters. “Libya is now an easy entry point into the EU and ultimately into the U.S. for ISIS. They are saying, this is the way to America."
One special forces operator in the region called Libya "a new ISIS route to the West." A congressional source confirmed that the Libyan government, which controls little in the country, has easily captured ISIS fighters crossing into Italy. Its likely they are streaming over the border each day given how little of the country is controlled by Libyan forces.
President Obama, despite authorizing 450 additional U.S. troops to deploy to Iraq, has admitted his administration does not have a strategy to deal with ISIS. Its present focus on ISIS operations in Syria and Iraq may be dangerously overlooking Libya, which is actually the most unstable country in the region and presents ISIS with its best opportunity for entry to the West.
Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ron Johnson, R-Wis., blasted the administration.
“This administration continues to deny reality and fails to adequately convey to the American people the severity of the security situation throughout the Middle East and the resulting threats America faces,” he said.
The Libyan port city of Sirte, which lies on the Mediterranean between Benghazi and Tripoli, was observed flying the black flag of ISIS last week and now appears to be under ISIS control. The militants control the airfield, forming a supply line just like they did in Iraq when they captured the city of Mosul.
Sources on the ground in Libya also report that hard drugs are now rampant in the country, sold by children on virtually every street corner. The drugs have been brought by outsiders who've come into the country freely, highlighting how porous the border is.
The country now appears to be part of a drug route into Europe and eventually the United States, with supply coming from Afghanistan and even South America. While prior to the overthrow drugs weren't popular in the country and were frowned upon, “all that has changed drastically as people and militias need money."
One longtime intelligence agent who works in the region said that “Oil and drugs are how the militias are getting their money to fund their terrorism and America should be very concerned.”
Libya has been in a downward spiral since Muammar Qaddafi was killed in 2011. Two of his sons are being held in the country, facing the death penalty and most of the country is lawless. There are no border controls in place, airspace is unmonitored and the country has become the crime hub.
“It has become a huge problem,” said an international intelligence specialist working inside the country. “There is no more trust for the Americans anymore.”
There's a strong argument by experts that if United States puts boots back on the ground in the region, it shouldn't be in Iraq or Syria "where ISIS can be somewhat contained," but in uncontrolled Libya.
“Everyone is now going to Libya. Terrorists are coming from all over because they can move freely and the U.S. really has nobody on the ground there. The Americans and West need to open their eyes,” said one source fresh from a trip to the country. “Libya is a mess and much worse than Iraq. ISIS has very good command-and-control building in Libya.”
One international intelligence officer was bewildered as to why there are no operations planned in Libya. "When and where will this stop? When will western powers open their minds and see that this is happening on the ground?" he said. "The West is underestimating ISIS and its military tactics. These guys are much more trained and much more dangerous than Al Qaeda ever was, and nobody is paying attention to Libya.”
Clearly there is much pressure on the U.S. to act, yet the Obama administration seems more concerned with preserving the President's legacy of withdrawing troops rather than looking out for the long-term best interests of the nation.